This week, fast-food chain Shake Shack is shaking up its menu with new offerings at more than 260 of its 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 completely 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 nutmilk, a functional vegan milk that mimics dairy in every important way.
“Since we started Shake Shack in 2004, our mission has been to serve up enhanced versions of classics that not only taste great, but are made with premium ingredients,” Jay Livingston, Shake Shack’s chief marketing officer, said in a statement.
Starting May 5, Shake Shack is 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 is topped with American cheese, crispy onions, pickles, and salsa.
“We take a fine-dining approach to culinary innovation and spent five years testing and refining our new Veggie Shack with our culinary team,” says Livingston. “It’s loaded with garden-variety veggies and powered by farro and quinoa for a hearty, substantial bite.”
Shake App users have exclusive early access to this item starting today. Veggie Shack is not considered vegetarian-friendly because it contains animal-derived ingredients in the cheese, sauce, and bun.
Shake Shack goes AI-powered vegan shakes
Shake Shack first unveiled its partnership with NotCo in May 2022 when it began testing 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 create the new shakes and custards, Shake Shack tapped NotCo’s proprietary technology, which analyzes animal products at a molecular level and replicates non-animal inputs from a database of more than 300,000 edible plants.
“We’re also excited about our new non-dairy items—Non-Dairy Chocolate Shake and Non-Dairy Chocolate Frozen Custard—made with plant-based milk from food tech leader NotCo,” said Livingston.
“These impressive additions to our core menu give our guests more options, and we can’t wait to roll them out to Shack fans across the country,” he said.
While the Chilean food-tech company has achieved extensive distribution in major chains across South America, its Shake Shack partnership marks the first time NotCo’s products are available in the US foodservice sector.
For the Shake Shack launch, it took Giuseppe and the Notco team four months to determine which plant-based ingredients would seamlessly replace animal products in Shake Shack’s new menu items.
“Partnering with Shake Shack has been 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 customized NotCo product in Shake Shack stores nationwide in record time is a clear statement of our ability to create advanced custom-made delicious and profitable versions of products that appeal to the mass market.”
In addition to Shake Shack, NotCo works with several major brands in other regions, including Starbucks, which last year expanded NotCo into its Colombian stores, strengthening NotCo’s existing partnerships with international coffeehouse chains.
Last year, the company entered into a joint venture with The Kraft Heinz Company – the “Kraft Heinz Knot Company” – which will result in a number of co-branded products. Currently, a NotCo-developed version of dairy-free Kraft Singles in three flavors is working with a vegan Kraft Mayo in grocery stores, along with other innovations in seven categories planned for 2024.
To fund its global venture, 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 explored meatless burgers in 2018 when the chain tested Veggie Shack for a limited time at select New York City locations. In 2020, the chain expanded to experiment with a new iteration of the Veggie Shack – featuring a patty made with greens, grains and herbs, topped with avocado, roasted tomatoes, shredded lettuce and non-vegan lemon mayonnaise. A limited time, six state location.
Shake Shack also offers a meatless ‘shroom burger on its permanent menu. The portobello mushroom patty is stuffed with cheese so it can’t even be ordered vegan.
In 2021, Shake Shack offered a vegan burger for a short time through a collaboration with Slutty Vegan’s Pinky Cole, which put the SluttyShack burger on the menu for one day at its Harlem and Atlanta locations. Last year, the chain’s owner, noted restaurateur Danny Meyer, helped Cole raise $25 million in a Series A funding round to expand his Slutty Vegan Burger empire.
Shake Shack has also tested several vegan burgers outside of the US. In 2021, the fast-food chain added the Vegan Crispy Shallot Burger—which features a mushroom-based vegan patty topped with smoky vegan cheddar cheese, beer-marinated fried shallots, lettuce and dijonnaise sauce—for a limited time at all its UK locations. The trial follows another limited-time offer of Vegan Shackburger at UK locations in 2020.