There will always be easy-going consumers who order from the set menu and experience food exactly as the chef intended. However, it behooves restaurants to accept that some diners will require accommodations.

Some have allergies or intolerances to certain ingredients, while others simply may not like specific flavor profiles. The option to modify dishes can help ensure that every patron has a positive and enjoyable experience.

Of course, some establishments go above and beyond when it comes to altering recipes, even going so far as to maintain a “secret” menu of the most popular modifications. 

This commitment to customization not only shows customer care, but it makes patrons who are in the know feel like part of an elite club, helping strengthen brand relationships.

If you want to take a page from this service-centric playbook, here are some of the trendiest secret menu items from well-known eateries.


Shake Shack PB Burger

Anyone who doesn’t salivate at the thought of pairing a juicy, savory beef patty with creamy peanut butter and rich, salty bacon should check their pulse. 

In truth, adding peanut butter to a burger doesn’t appeal to everyone (especially those with peanut allergies), but putting it on the secret menu is a great way to make it more desirable to diners who love it while creating word-of-mouth appeal that will bring those on the fence to the table.


Five Guys Grilled Cheese Cheeseburger

Customization is par for the course at Five Guys, but some customers have taken it next level with menu item mashups like the grilled cheese cheeseburger. The order consists of little more than adding a burger patty to the grilled cheese sandwich (although patrons can also add any toppings they like).

The bun-cheese-burger-cheese-bun stack is a greasy, buttery, melty pile of deliciousness, and the secrecy makes ordering even more thrilling. So it’s no surprise this secret menu item has gone viral.


Related: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About the Original Cheeseburger


In-N-Out Animal Fries

Fans of this west coast burger joint may already be aware of the opportunity to order sandwiches “animal style,” with extra pickles and sauce (a Thousand Island-type spread), as well as mustard grilled patties and onions cooked in meat juice on the griddle.

Patrons can also order animal fries, which feature grilled onions, a slice of melted cheese, and the restaurant’s famous sauce slathered over fresh French fries, cut and cooked on-site and never frozen. Animal fries go great with another secret menu item — the Neapolitan Shake, featuring vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry flavors all in one cup.


Cold Buster

Consumers can literally mix any ingredients in a cup to curate the perfect, personalized concoction. Grande, triple shot, no whip, almond milk, cinnamon dolce latte, add two pumps of vanilla, not too hot? No problem.

Even so, there’s a secret menu with combos you won’t find on the overhead flatscreens. One of the most popular is the Cold Buster, a combination of equal parts hot water and steamed lemonade paired with two steeping tea bags — Peach Tranquility (herbal) and Jade Citrus Mint (green).


Find more trends in our weekly newsletter HERE


Off-Menu McFlurry

It’s always sad when a favorite McFlurry flavor leaves the menu, and limited options can leave customers wanting. Luckily, there are ways to expand the McFlurry menu with the addition of other dessert items.

Case in point: the chocolate chip cookie McFlurry. Customers can simply order both desserts and request that the cookie be blended into the McFlurry. The apple pie can also be broken up and blended into this soft-serve treat.


Satisfying Customer Customizations

The customer may not always be right, and fast-paced restaurants might lack the resources to offer true customization. However, adding a secret menu of popular modifications to existing recipes is a great way to encourage social sharing, build excitement, bring in new customers, and in an oblique way, meet consumer demand.


To learn more about our products and insights, get in touch with our team at Symrise today, Contact us here! 

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