This week, fast-food chain Shake Shack is shaking up its menu with new offerings at all of its more than 260 locations nationwide. Starting today, customers can try Shake Shack’s new Non-Dairy Chocolate Custard ($4.69) and Non-Dairy Chocolate Shake ($6.39), both of which are entirely plant-based.
To create these sweet treats, Shake Shack worked with The Not Company (“NotCo”), a Chilean company that uses an artificial intelligence-powered platform, affectionately known as “Giuseppe,” to create plant-based versions of animal products.
Both items—which Shake Shack is adding to its core menu—are made with NotMilk, a functional vegan milk that mimics dairy in every way that matters.
“Since we started Shake Shack in 2004, our mission has been to serve up elevated versions of the classics that not only taste great, but are crafted with premium ingredients,” Jay Livingston, Chief Marketing Officer at Shake Shack, said in a statement.
Starting May 5, Shake Shack is also expanding the Veggie Shack ($8.29) to its national menu. This meatless burger—which took the fast-food chain five years to develop—features mushrooms, sweet potatoes, carrots, farro, and quinoa, and comes topped with American cheese, crispy onions, pickles, and ShackSauce.
“We take a fine-dining approach to culinary innovation and spent five years testing and refining our new Veggie Shack with our culinary team,” Livingston said. “It’s packed with garden-variety vegetables and powered by farro and quinoa for a crave-able, substantial bite.”
Shake App users have exclusive early access to this item starting today. The Veggie Shack is not considered vegan-friendly because it contains animal-derived ingredients in the cheese, sauce, and bun.
Shake Shack gets into AI-powered vegan shakes
Shake Shack first unveiled its partnership with NotCo in May 2022 when it began testing the dairy-free milkshakes and frozen custards at 10 locations in New York and South Florida. Now, the items are expanding nationally after being well-received in these select regions last summer.
To make the new shakes and custards, Shake Shack tapped NotCo’s proprietary technology, which analyzes animal products on a molecular level and pulls from a database of more than 300,000 edible plants to replicate the inputs sans animals.
“We’re also excited about our new non-dairy items—the Non-Dairy Chocolate Shake and Non-Dairy Chocolate Frozen Custard—are made with plant-based milk from food tech leader NotCo,” Livingston said.
“These impactful additions to our core menu give our guests more options, and we can’t wait to roll them out for Shack fans across the country,” he said.
While the Chilean food-tech company has gained wide distribution at major chains across South America, its Shake Shack partnership represents the first time NotCo’s products have been available in the United States foodservice sector.
For the Shake Shack launch, it took Giuseppe and the NotCo team four months to determine the plant-based components that seamlessly replace animal products in Shake Shack’s new menu items.
“Partnering up with Shake Shack used to be a dream of mine and one of the most ambitious milestones for NotCo,” Matias Muchnick, CEO and Co-Founder of NotCo, said in a statement. “Having a tailored NotCo product in Shake Shack stores nationwide is a clear statement of our ability to create elevated tailored-made delicious and profitable versions of products in record time that appeal to the mass market.”
In addition to Shake Shack, NotCo works with a number of major brands in other regions, including Starbucks which expanded NotMilk to its Colombian shops last year, bolstering NotCo’s existing partnership with the international coffeehouse chain.
Last year, the company also entered a joint venture with The Kraft Heinz Company—the “Kraft Heinz Not Company”—which will result in a number of co-branded products. Currently, a NotCo developed version of dairy-free Kraft Singles in three flavors are headed to grocery stores with a vegan Kraft Mayo in the works, along with other innovations across seven categories planned for 2024.
To fund its global ventures, NotCo closed a $235 million Series D funding round in 2021 with participation from vegan race car champion Lewis Hamilton, musician Questlove, and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey.
Vegan at Shake Shack
Shake Shack first began exploring meatless burgers back in 2018 when the chain tested the Veggie Shack for a limited time at select locations in New York City. In 2020, the chain expanded the test of a new iteration of the Veggie Shack—featuring a patty made with greens, grains, and herbs, which came topped with avocado, roasted tomato, shredded lettuce, and non-vegan lemon mayonnaise—again for a limited time, to locations in six states.
Shake Shack also offers a meatless ‘Shroom Burger on its permanent menu. It also cannot be ordered vegan as the portobello mushroom patty is stuffed with cheese.
Back in 2021, Shake Shack did offer a vegan burger for a short time through its collaboration with Slutty Vegan’s Pinky Cole, which put the SluttyShack burger on the menu at locations in Harlem and Atlanta for one day. Last year, the chain’s owner, prolific restaurateur Danny Meyer, helped Cole raise $25 million in a Series A funding round to expand her Slutty Vegan burger empire.
Shake Shack has tested several vegan burgers outside of the US, too. In 2021, the fast-food chain added the Vegan Crispy Shallot Burger—which featured mushroom-based vegan patty topped with a smoky vegan cheddar cheese, beer-marinated fried shallots, lettuce, and Dijonaise sauce—to all of its United Kingdom locations for a limited time. This test followed another limited-time offer of The Vegan Shackburger at its UK locations in 2020.