Shake Shack’s Secret Weapon Is “Flavor Dust,” And We’ve Got the Recipe

Their new summer menu includes fries and chicken bites dusted with a proprietary hot honey seasoning

July 6, 2021 5:42 am
Chicken bites dusted in hot honey seasoning
Shake Shack's new chicken bites come dusted in hot honey seasoning.
Shake Shack

The so-called “chicken wars” that began when Popeye’s introduced its infamous sandwich in 2019 should come as no surprise to anyone who understands American eating habits. Fried chicken is so beloved in this country that 16% of your fellow Americans said they would marry the popular poultry preparation in a recent survey.

And in any state where such a union would be allowed, July 6th would be the perfect day to get hitched, as today happens to be National Fried Chicken Day.

That being the case, we thought it’d be prudent to introduce you to a new competitor in the chicken wars that arrives courtesy of Shake Shack, and does so armed with a spicy secret weapon: flavor dust.

Shake Shack's Hot Honey Chicken Sandwich
Shake Shack’s Hot Honey Chicken Sandwich spawned the new dust.
Shake Shack

Unveiled last week, Shake Shack’s new summer menu showcases the hot honey chicken sandwich, a new offering featuring a honey-glazed crispy chicken breast topped with habanero mayo sauce and shredded lettuce served on a toasted potato bun. Sweet, savory and a little spicy, the sandwich inspired Shake Shack executive chef and VP of culinary innovation John Karangis to create a seasoning that mimics the flavors of the sandwich itself. His hot honey seasoning — a delectable dust that lingers on the fingers in a way that might make Doritos jealous — comes sprinkled all over Shake Shack’s new hot honey chicken bites and crinkle fries.

“When we started developing our summer menu, we wanted our chicken sandwich to feature two unique sauces that complemented one another — a savory honey and a spicy habanero sauce,” Karangis tells InsideHook. “Once we were happy with the flavor profile of the sandwich, we searched for a way our guests could experience the same great flavor in an elevated, unique way on our chicken bites and fries, and the hot honey seasoning was developed. Our custom blend includes honey granules, aji amarillo, apple cider vinegar and other spices and ingredients.”

It may seem like a small addition, but the custom-designed dust makes all the difference on the bites and fries, and is proof that Shake Shack takes imparting big flavor into its dishes very seriously.

Shake Shack's dusted frie
Shake Shack’s fries can now be dusted with hot honey.
Shake Shack

“It’s important that our big flavors are well balanced,” Karangis says. “With our hot honey spice, we wanted to achieve that balance by leading with some mildly aggressive heat, a little sweetened floral notes, salinity and just enough acid to bring it all together. We’ve been ‘dusting’ our crinkle cut fries for years with unique spice blends. Our guests have told us they love the unexpected flavors the seasoning brings, and, because of that, we’ll keep developing.”

While Shake Shack wasn’t able to share the proprietary secret blend of spices and ingredients that make up the summer menu’s hot honey seasoning, Karangis and his team did share a modified recipe for hot flavor dust that can be made at home. It ain’t the original — which you should try — but it’s worth a whirl.

“This hot honey seasoning recipe is close to what we’re using on chicken bites and fries,” Karangis says. “Our recipe is top secret, but you can make a similar blend in your own kitchen. The cayenne pepper, aji amarillo pepper, chipotle powder and smoked paprika bring heat to each bite and the honey granules temper the blend with sweeter notes.”

Shake Shack’s Homemade Hot Honey Seasoning


  • 1/2 tbsp. honey granules (available on Amazon)
  • 1 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp. chipotle powder
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. aji amarillo pepper
  • 1/8 tsp. vinegar powder
  • 1/8 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1/4 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/8 tsp. salt


  1. Measure all ingredients and place them in a bowl.
  2. Mix thoroughly with a whisk.
  3. Place in a sealed container and store at room temperature in a dark area. This will stay fresh for one month.


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