How to Make Frisco Sauce

How to Make Steak ‘N Shake’s Frisco Sauce

Daniel Frankel Uncategorized 8 Comments

Steak ‘N Shake: Famous for Frisco Melts

Steak ‘N Shake’s tag line, “Famous For Steakburgers” can be a little misleading. While steakburgers are certainly the dominant menu item at the American fast food diner, true blue-blooded SNS fans will tell you the menu starts and ends with the Frisco Melt. And for those of you who don’t eat fast food 3 times a week, a melt (technically, patty melt) is definitely NOT a burger.

The Frisco Melt is a juicy, greasy amalgamation of beef, sourdough toast and cheese that’s renowned for its world-famous Frisco Sauce, a Steak ‘N Shake original that has remained a closely kept secret since its inception.

As a secret recipe sauce that’s delighted customers for decades, Frisco Sauce has garnered its fair share of imposters from other restaurants, as well as dozens of copy cat recipes online.

Since Condiment Connection shares home headquarters with Steak ‘N Shake in beautiful downtown Indianapolis, we have taken it upon ourselves to crack the Frisco Sauce code for the rest of the world. That’s right, through careful analysis and blind taste tests, we have reverse engineered Frisco Sauce to bring you the secret recipe. But it wasn’t easy, and it took a great deal of trial and error.

Cutting Through the Condiment Clutter

It’s not difficult to find imitation recipes for Frisco Sauce online. Perhaps that’s how you found this article. Well, that’s how we started, too.

Our plan was simple: recreate every single legitimate Frisco Sauce imitation recipe we could find, and then compare them in blind taste tests to the original Frisco Sauce from Steak ‘N Shake. Seems simple, right? Here are the ingredients we started with.

Making Frisco Sauce

Jamhands and LifesATomato both offer recipes for Frisco Sauce made from a ratio of 2 Thousand Island : 1 Russian Dressing. And not gonna lie, we were more than a little disappointed with this recipe. While the color was pretty much spot on, the end product was too runny and far too spicy. The peppery Russian dressing simply overpowered the flavor of the Thousand Island and, in our opinion, didn’t complement it.

Frisco Sauce Comparison 1

Frisco Sauce vs. Thousand Island/Russian Combo

SewYouThinkYouCanCook says Frisco Sauce can be recreated with a mixture of 6 Thousand Island : 4 Catalina Dressing. While this recipe was certainly closer in flavor than the previous one, the end product had just a little too much sweetness to it. Also, the color was red rather than orange, and the texture was still a little too runny.

Frisco Sauce Comparison 2

Frisco Sauce vs. Thousand Island/Catalina Combo offers perhaps the simplest Frisco Sauce recipe of all: 2 Thousand Island : 1 Ketchup. It’s surprisingly effective for such a simple and readily available combination, but still definitely not right. While the texture of this mixture at least matched the thickness of true Frisco Sauce, it was sorely missing the tangy-sweet pop that’s the signature of the flavor. Also, the color was just not orange enough either.

Frisco Sauce Comparison 3

Frisco Sauce vs. Thousand Island/Ketchup Combo

Finally, a random responder on lists a Frisco Sauce imitation recipe (apparently directly from a server at SNS) that’s made from a 2 Thousand Island : 1 French Dressing combo. Bingo! Kind of… As we quickly discovered, French dressing holds the secret to the tangy-sweet flavor we had been looking for, but we still had some issues with the recipe. The tang of the French dressing was clearly overpowering the Thousand Island, the texture of the mixture was far too runny, and the color was clearly not dark enough.

Frisco Sauce Comparison 4

Frisco Sauce vs. Thousand Island/French Dressing Combo

Now, we were out of legitimate Frisco Sauce recipe leads. Whatever were we to do?

One Recipe to Rule Them All

Sauron with Frisco Melt

After trying all the imitation recipes above, we became certain of 4 things:

  1. The base of the secret recipe is Thousand Island
  2. The tangy-sweet flavor comes from French Dressing
  3. The recipe shouldn’t include Russian Dressing
  4. The recipe shouldn’t include Catalina Dressing

From there, it became a simple game of mixing proper proportions from our closest imitation recipe (Yahoo). We took our two essential ingredients, Thousand Island and French Dressing, and examined what it was lacking: flavor balance, darker color and thicker texture. And you know what it needed?? Yep, you guessed it, ketchup.

2 Thousand Island : 1 French Dressing : 1 Ketchup

Our final creation was spot on. The perfect balance of savory goodness with tangy-sweet bite. A medium orange tint like the hue of Donald Trump’s face. And a texture thick enough to make a “glop” sound when thrown onto a plate.

Frisco Sauce Final Formula


Frisco Sauce vs. Frisco Sauce
(2 Thousand Island : 1 French Dressing : 1 Ketchup)

So there you have it, folks. The secret to making your own spot-on Frisco Sauce. Cheers!

P.S. Stick to Heinz on the ketchup, seriously.

P.P.S. Yes, those sample cups are actually shot glasses.


Daniel Frankel
Follow me

Daniel Frankel

Condiment Crusader at Condiment Connection
I eat a lot of wraps. With condiments, of course.
Daniel Frankel
Follow me

Comments 8

  1. Sue

    If you want the real sauce ingredients it is ketchup, French, thousand island but, your missing a few dashes of Worcestershire sauce for that added bite of flavor!

    P.S. Worked at SnS years ago. Made the sauce!

    View Comment
    1. megan

      That means 1 part, 2 part etc. Meaning whatever measurement you choose just stick to it. So you make as much as you want.
      So if you do 1/4 cup. You’d just multiply that do 1/2 cup for thousand island. 1/4 cup for the others. Lol

      View Comment
  2. John

    The point is that it doesn’t matter what the sizes are as long as the ratios are correct; the measurements you use depend on how much sauce you want. If you just want a small amount then you do 1 tbsp thousand island, 1/2 tbsp French dressing and 1/2 tbsp ketchup… ?

    View Comment
  3. 86Darci

    I have noticed you don’t monetize your website, don’t waste your
    traffic, you can earn extra bucks every month because you’ve got hi quality content.
    If you want to know how to make extra money, search for: best adsense
    alternative Wrastain’s tools

    View Comment
  4. dewey vigoda

    Thanks, Sue! But are those the correct ratios (two parts Thousand Island, one part French, one part Heinz ketchup)? I made a batch (also with Wish-Bone dressing), and it seems too Thousand Island-y. I’m experimenting with different amounts of Worcestershire sauce as I put it in smaller containers. With my next batch I’ll try one part Thousand Island. Most French dressings out there are redder and tangier too.

    Thanks also to Condiment Connection for performing this invaluable service!

    View Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *