Golden Corral: It may not have the best reputation in the world, what with its stuffed buffet packed with simple, oftentimes dubious-looking foods, but you’d be surprised at how many people it pulls in. It’s a favorite for school field trips, grandparents, and when you have to get off the highway on a trip to get something to eat. And while a lot of the foods there are somewhat subpar, there are other items on the menu that are actually pretty tasty. It all just comes down to knowing what to grab from the buffet. While everyone will have their own distinct taste, it’s safe to say that there are some menu items that are better than others.
Wondering what to get when you’re there? No worries — we’ve got you covered. We did the digging to bring you this ranking of some of the most popular Golden Corral menu items. We started with the worst of the worst, the stuff that we wouldn’t dare put on our plates at the chain buffet restaurants. We then made our way to our favorite dishes that we’d actually go out of our way to try. So, what are you waiting for? Let’s take a closer look at what you’ll want to eat at Golden Corral.
We know that you’re probably not going to Golden Corral for all of their delicious vegetarian dishes, but that doesn’t mean that you won’t want to get some veggies on the side. After all, a plate full of meat and vegetables isn’t very appealing if you don’t have something to break up the monotony and add some freshness to your plate. That’s why you might consider getting the carrots. However, we’d advise against it. Why? These are the most flavorless carrots we’ve ever tasted.
Carrots are amazing when they’re roasted, and they’re pleasantly crunchy when they’re served raw. But when you order them at Golden Corral, you’ll get something in the middle: not nice and crispy and browned or crunchy and satisfying, but sad and soggy instead. The fact that they taste like they have no seasoning on them at all certainly doesn’t help. With so many other veggie dishes on the menu, we think that you should just pass by the carrots entirely.
Meatloaf isn’t exactly the most luxurious, high-end meat you can order from a restaurant, but that doesn’t mean it’s not tasty when it’s done right. The magic of meatloaf is the fact that you can sneak in a ton of other ingredients to up the flavor ante even though it just looks like a hunk of meat. That may be what you’re expecting from the meatloaf at Golden Corral, but chances are, you’re going to be pretty disappointed. Why? This meatloaf is incredibly bland. There’s just nothing going on there at all. In fact, you pretty much need some sort of sauce to even help it go down.
And it’s not just about the flavor. Sure, some people like food that’s relatively unseasoned. But this stuff is really dry as well. You may think that of course meatloaf is dry — that’s just the way it is. But this meat isn’t just a little dry — it’s incredibly dry. If you want to have a good experience at Golden Corral, you’ll want to avoid the meatloaf like the plague.
18. Green Beans
Here’s another side dish that seemed like it had potential. After all, how can you mess up green beans? They’re pretty much the simplest vegetable you can prepare to go alongside all the other tasty dishes on your plate. While this veggie seems to be slightly more seasoned than the carrots, they don’t taste significantly more flavorful. They have enough salt on them, to be sure, but other than that, you’re not getting anything special here. And if you’re trying to convince your little one to enjoy their veggies? Good luck.
We think that it’s important to get plenty of vegetables in your diet on a regular basis, but if you’ve eaten green beans like the ones at Golden Corral for your whole life, we would understand if you never wanted to touch them. They’re not cooked down into mush, but they’re also missing the nice, crispy snap you might expect from a fresher green bean. We wouldn’t suggest getting the green beans unless they are truly an afterthought on your plate.
17. Carrot Cake
Look, we know that the issue of carrot cake is contentious. Some people absolutely love the veggie-packed dessert, while others would rather eat the aforementioned Golden Corral carrots than convince themselves that this is a real dessert. However, we tend to reserve our judgment of carrot cake to individual cases — and the carrot cake you’ll find at Golden Corral is just not good.
First of all, we’ll start off with the texture. It’s incredibly dry, and even the frosting on top doesn’t help the cake go down any smoother. You might think that flavor could make up for the absolutely abysmal dryness in this dessert, but that’s not really on point either. This cake is somehow both way too sweet and also bland at the same time. We’re not sure how that can be possible, but it seems like Golden Corral has managed it.
Add to that the fact that it’s covered in way too much frosting and doesn’t even really look that appealing. You’re better off putting in the effort to make carrot cake at home. Don’t worry, though — there are plenty of other desserts on the menu at Golden Corral that you can choose from.
16. Awesome Pot Roast
Yes, the name of this dish really is "awesome pot roast," and you may think that the name tells you everything you need to know about the food. However, we don’t think that the adjective "awesome" is very reliable here. Is this pot roast as bad as the meatloaf? Definitely not. But do you want to put it on your plate? Again, probably not.
A good pot roast is nice and juicy. While it may not be the moistest and most tender cut of meat out there, you still don’t expect it to be all sad and dry. Unfortunately, that’s just what you’re going to get from the awesome pot roast at Golden Corral. We couldn’t believe how dry this stuff was. Take just a few bites, and you’re going to have such a hard time chewing through it that you won’t ever want to order it again.
That being said, when it comes to flavor, the pot roast is quite a bit better than the meatloaf. We can’t really get over the incredibly dry texture here, but at least you’re not going to feel like you’re chewing on nothing if you decide to take a bite.
15. Signature Sirloin Steak
If you know anything about sirloin, you know that it’s a decent cut of steak. Is it the best cut of meat out there? Most would say it’s not. The NY strip and filet generally come out on top far ahead of the sirloin. But that doesn’t mean that this cut of meat can’t be enjoyable. Is the signature sirloin steak at Golden Corral particularly enjoyable? No. Like a lot of the other meat options at this buffet, it’s shockingly dry. However, we realize this is probably because it’s a buffet, and a lot of people aren’t going to like a rarer steak. So while this sirloin steak isn’t anything to write home about, it’s not the worst item on the menu.
If you’re lucky, you’ll get a nice cut that isn’t too overcooked and has plenty of browning on the outside. Just take a look at the different pieces of steak and choose one that looks more appealing than the others. We can’t promise you’re going to love it, but you probably won’t want to throw it in the trash either.
We were so hopeful that the broccoli at Golden Corral would change our minds about the green veggies offered at this buffet chain. However, we weren’t particularly impressed by this healthier option either. It really feels like veggies are an afterthought at this restaurant because, almost across the board, they seem to be severely lacking much seasoning. While the broccoli here is more well-cooked than the carrots or the green beans, it’s not particularly noteworthy either. That’s a bummer because broccoli can be really delicious when it’s cooked well.
But listen: You have to get at least a little bit of green on your plate. Therefore, you may want to grab some broccoli even if it isn’t the most appetizing item on the menu. Your taste buds may not be too pleased, but your body will thank you for giving it the nutrients it needs. Unfortunately, we don’t think the flavor of this dish will be enough to entice you to eat more veggies, though.
13. Baked Fish
There are a lot of different meat options on the menu at Golden Corral, but what if you want something that’s on the lighter side? There are some dishes that you’ll want to check out. One of them is the baked fish. This is a solid option if you want some protein that’s a little less heavy than the beef-heavy dishes on the menu, and you won’t have to worry about feeling too full after you eat it. But while it may be a healthy choice, it’s not necessarily a particularly attractive one if you really like seafood.
The fish is slightly seasoned, but we think they could have made it a lot more interesting by adding additional spices or even adding a sauce on top. The fish is cooked through, but you’re not going to get a crispy exterior that adds some texture to the dish. Mostly, it’s just a boring piece of baked fish that you could easily make at home. If that’s what sounds good to you, go ahead and order it. But we wouldn’t go out of our way just to grab some baked fish at Golden Corral.
12. Bourbon Street Chicken
When you first see the Bourbon Street chicken at the buffet in Golden Corral, you’re probably going to think that it looks delicious. And we have to admit, the spices that this chicken is covered in are really, really tasty. It has a rich, savory flavor that’s quite salty — but in a good way. There’s also a slight hint of sweetness to this chicken, which helps balance out that umami flavor really well. Overall, we were really impressed by the way this chicken was prepared when it comes to flavor.
However, when we get to the texture, that’s a whole other story. Though this chicken tastes good, it is pretty dry. While it might depend on the time you go to Golden Corral, you can’t count on this chicken being nice and moist how you would probably like it. Instead, you’ll get dry, hard pieces that can be difficult to chew. That delicious flavor may make up for the bad texture at least somewhat, but it definitely doesn’t get the Bourbon Street chicken very close to the top of this list.
11. Pumpkin Pie
Who doesn’t love pumpkin pie? It’s one of those essential dishes that we’ve probably all tasted at one time or another. And while it may seem like it’s only something you should eat during the holiday season, that’s far from the truth. In reality, you can eat this stuff whenever you want if you’re looking for a sweet and creamy dessert. And when you go to Golden Corral, you’ll find that a slice of pumpkin pie is just waiting for you to come pick it up and eat it.
What do we think of the pumpkin pie at Golden Corral? Well, we don’t have a super strong opinion on it. Is it the best pumpkin pie we’ve ever eaten? Definitely not. It’s nothing special — it basically just tastes like the stuff that you’d find in a plastic container at your local grocery store’s bakery. At the same time, there’s nothing necessarily wrong with it. It just tastes as average as can be.
If you love pumpkin pie and that’s how you want to end your meal, by all means, try a slice of the stuff at Golden Corral. You just shouldn’t be expecting this to be a dessert that’s going to blow you away.
10. Cinnamon Apples
Here’s another fall favorite that we think is appropriate at any time of the year: cinnamon apples. If you’re like a lot of people out there, cinnamon apples aren’t something you make at home on a regular basis, so when you go to a restaurant that serves them, you may want to give them a try. At Golden Corral, the cinnamon apples are solid. They’re not amazing, but they get the job done if that’s the kind of flavor you’re craving. A warning here: These apples are quite sweet, so make sure you have a serious sweet tooth before you dig in. There’s also a lot of cinnamon in them, so get ready for that fall-flavored spice.
Cinnamon apples may seem like the kind of dish that you should only eat for dessert, but we’re here to tell you that the possibilities are endless. Sweetened apples are delicious with pork, so make sure to check out the featured pork entree of the day if you decide you want to pair them. You can thank us later.
9. Salad Bar
We’ve complained about a lot of the veggies you’ll find at Golden Corral, but one thing we won’t complain about is the salad bar. The salad bar is one of the main reasons to visit Golden Corral. It’s so fun to get to pick out what kind of veggies go best together. In fact, if you always had access to a salad bar, you’d probably find yourself eating way more salad than you do now.
Luckily, you have lots of options when you visit the salad bar at Golden Corral. Of course, you’ll get to choose from all different kinds of greens and veggies. Pretty much anything you want on a salad, you’ll find it here. There are also protein options, cheese, and a ton of dressings that you can use to make your salad even more flavorful. This allows you to choose pretty much anything you want.
Don’t fancy yourself a good salad maker? No worries. There are also prepared salads at the salad bar, including a seafood salad that’s light and refreshing on a hot day. Are there better salad bars out there? Of course. But when it comes to the veggies on the Golden Corral menu, we think that the salad bar is probably your best bet.
8. Fried Chicken
There are a few chicken options at Golden Corral, but if you’re wondering what the best one is, then you have to try the fried chicken. While the Bourbon Street chicken was too dry for our linking, you’re not going to have the same experience with the fried chicken. That’s because it’s generously coated in a crispy fried skin that will crunch as you bite into it. Is your mouth watering yet? The chicken itself stays nice and juicy, so every bite is intensely satisfying. We really think they did a great job with the texture of this chicken, which is why we keep going back for more.
However, when it comes to the flavor, it’s not particularly strong or interesting. That doesn’t mean it’s not good — it just tastes like most of the other batches of fried chicken you’ve had in your life. Sometimes, though, you don’t need something too different or out of the ordinary. If you’re just looking for a solid piece of fried chicken, you’ve found it here. No matter what you decide to pair it with from the rest of the menu, there’s a good chance that you’re going to love this stuff too.
7. Italian Pasta Bake
One thing that Golden Corral is definitely not is an Italian restaurant. You’re not going to see any carbonara or handmade pizza on the menu, but that doesn’t mean that you have to give up on your pasta dreams completely when you go to this buffet. That’s because you can still get a bite of the Italian pasta bake. This stuff may not look amazing at first glance, but trust us: Give it a try. It’s one of the few pasta dishes on the menu, and it’s actually surprisingly good. We thought that the pasta itself might be a bit overcooked, but that’s simply not the case.
There’s also an appropriate sauce-to-cheese ratio. Oftentimes, there will be either too much sauce or too much cheese in a pasta bake, and it ruins the whole dish. That’s not a problem here though. The sauce really works its way into the pasta, making every bite incredibly flavorful. The cheese gets nice and melted on top, which means you’re going to get that delicious cheese pull that makes eating a cheesy dish even more enjoyable.
Luckily, you can get this dish at both lunch and dinner, so you can grab it whenever you find yourself at Golden Corral. There may be other dishes on the menu that we like more, but this Italian pasta bake is where it’s at if you’re looking for something that feels Italian-inspired.
6. Banana Pudding
We may not have been huge fans of the other desserts on the menu, but that doesn’t mean that every dessert at Golden Corral is lacking in taste. In fact, there’s one dessert that we like a lot, and that’s the banana pudding. When was the last time you had this light and creamy dessert? If it’s been a while, you’ll definitely want to grab some while you’re at the buffet. What we love about this dessert is the fact that it’s not heavy at all — it’s smooth and creamy, but it’s not too rich or overwhelming. And if you love the flavor of bananas, then it’s clear that this dessert is a winner.
We also like the fact that the banana pudding isn’t too sweet. It’s definitely got some added sugar in there, which helps make it truly taste like a dessert. But it’s not so sweet that you’ll only be able to take a few bites before setting it down. And the banana flavor? It actually tastes like the real thing — not like artificial bananas. Are you sold yet?
5. Scalloped Potatoes
If you love potatoes, then you’re certainly in luck when you make your way to Golden Corral. There are so many different potato dishes on the menu, in fact, that it may be difficult to choose just one (not that you have to!). But when you’re trying to decide whether you want a baked potato or mashed potatoes, you don’t want to overlook the scalloped potatoes. That’s because, in our opinion, this is the one of the best potato dishes on the menu. In this recipe, the potatoes hold on to some of their firmness for a bite and texture that you’re going to love.
The creamy, cheesy sauce adds not just flavor but just the right amount of moisture to make these potatoes go down easier. And when you pair them with just about any type of rich, dark meat on the menu, they’re going to be even more satisfying. Look, all potatoes are amazing, but if you want something different and a little out of the ordinary, trust us and go with the scalloped potatoes.
4. Fried Fish
At Golden Corral and looking for seafood? If you’re the kind of person who loves seafood, then you’ve probably already considered the baked fish. However, you already know how we feel about that stuff. It’s okay if that’s what you’re really craving, but it’s certainly not our favorite protein on the menu. If you’re looking for seafood but want something that features a bit more flavor and a better texture, you can’t go wrong with the fried fish.
The fried fish is surprisingly tasty, and we might even make a special trip to Golden Corral just to eat it alone. First of all, the breading on this fish has been fried to perfection, which leaves it with a crispy, crunchy crust. You’ll actually hear the crisp as you dig into the filet, which will make it seem even more appealing. And with that fried, crunchy exterior, you’re also getting a lot more flavor. We’re not sure if the improved taste comes from more seasonings or simply from the fat the fish is fried in, but we’re here for it regardless.
The fried fish may not seem like an obvious choice at Golden Corral, but make sure you don’t pass it up the next time you’re there.
3. Sweet Corn Pudding
If you’re not from the South, you may not have had sweet corn pudding before. If you’re looking for an excellent place to try it, you don’t have to look any further than Golden Corral. The flavor of this corn pudding is out-of-this-world good. Is it sweet? Absolutely. But the sweetness isn’t overwhelming, and it’s balanced by a saltiness we absolutely love. The top of the corn gets nice and crispy, which adds a lovely texture to every bite. And the inside portion is rich and creamy, making you crave more with every bite.
Is this sweet corn pudding amazing on its own? Of course. But it’s even better when you decide to spoon it over some of the other dishes on the menu. Because it’s so sweet, it pairs well with especially savory dishes, like pork or even a steakburger. And if you want to add a little kick for an even better flavor, we encourage you to add some hot sauce to mix things up a bit. All in all, we think you’re going to fall in love with this sweet corn pudding just as much as we did. Who knows? You may even want to learn how to make it yourself at home.
2. Baked Potato Bar
How could the baked potato bar not end up in our top two? The baked potato bar at Golden Corral may just be one of our favorite parts of the restaurant as a whole. That’s because you can completely personalize your baked potato to taste any way you want. What’s not to love about that? It all starts with a perfectly cooked baked potato. We suggest adding butter to it first, but that’s totally up to you. Then, you get to choose from a variety of toppings. Bacon bits are a must if you eat meat, but cheese and scallions are also go-to options.
There’s something about the ability to choose whatever you want here that will really take your baked potato to the next level. It’s a super simple idea, but it’s still somehow one of our favorite parts of the restaurant. Make sure you don’t pass the baked potato bar by if you want to add some carbs to your meal.
1. Golden Delicious Shrimp
Wondering what our favorite dish of the whole menu is at Golden Corral? You may be surprised to learn that it’s a seafood dish. That’s right: The Golden Delicious shrimp is fantastic, and you have to give it a try as long as you’re not allergic to shellfish. While fried shrimp isn’t always the best seafood you can get, this stuff is downright delicious. The breading on the shrimp isn’t so thick that it overwhelms the seafood, but it is thick enough that it provides a nice crunch to it that you won’t get from just any old fried shrimp. The flavor is good too — though that shouldn’t stop you from dipping your shrimp in the sauce of your choice.
This shrimp pairs really well with a light, refreshing salad or rich, heart beef for a surf-and-turf situation. Whatever you choose to eat it with, we can guarantee that you’ll be in for a treat when you choose the Golden Delicious shrimp. Are you on your way to Golden Corral yet?