Golden Corral offers homestyle foods on seemingly endless rows of buffet tables, allowing just about everyone in your family or friend group to find something they want to eat. Well, maybe. Based on experience and reviews from others, it’s a sad truth that not all food on the Golden Corral menu is worth trying. And while some dishes are crowd pleasers, others are inconsistent in quality and taste, depending on what location you visit and the time of day trays hit the buffet. Even some Golden Corral workers don’t love the food if one employee’s unappetizing description of burned and overcooked food is any indication (via VICE).

We’ve frequented Golden Corral locations in different states and found some inconsistencies in some popular dishes and a few foods that we typically steer away from, no matter what restaurant spot we visit. We’re dishing up all the details on a few foods you might want to save for elsewhere or make yourself rather than spending your money on them at Golden Corral.


Meatloaf seems to be one of the most debated foods at Golden Corral. There is no in-between: diners either love it or hate it. As one person tweeted, "Golden Corral meatloaf is unmatched, I said it." However, another Twitter user warns, "Stay away from the meatloaf at Golden Corral unless you enjoy having explosive diarrhea."

Love it or hate it, most of the meatloaf we’ve tried at various Golden Corral restaurants has been pretty tasty, especially when it’s fresh. However, we don’t know exactly what it’s made out of, which has us questioning things a bit. You could probably ask your local restaurant for a list of ingredients, but this information isn’t immediately available for reference on the website. What’s more, Golden Corral’s nutrition information lists three different meatloaves: Meatloaf, All-Beef Meatloaf, and Homeward All-Beef Meatloaf. No, we don’t know the difference. When you visit a Golden Corral, the meatloaf is usually just labeled "meatloaf." Further adding to the confusion, it all tastes pretty much the same to us. Ultimately, you might be better off making your own meatloaf. At least you’d know for sure what’s inside.


The flavor of Golden Corral pizza isn’t necessarily its problem, at least not in our opinion. However, this Twitter user disagrees: "Just had a harrowing flashback to eating golden corral pizza as a child." Still, we think that this meal has the potential to be good — when it’s fresh. Unfortunately, the popularity of the pizza at Golden Corral seems to vary significantly by location. Some locations seem to have more pizza lovers ready to go, grabbing the pizza off the pan as soon as it’s made. This means that it’s almost always hot and fresh. Others locations we’ve visited have slow-to-disappear pizza, leaving it to sit beneath the heat lamps and become increasingly unappetizing.

If you’re a true pizza fan, you’re probably better off going to a dedicated pizza place or a pizza buffet to get your fix. Otherwise, you could end up waiting a while for Golden Corral to either meet the crazy pizza demands of a busy dinner rush or for its workers to replace the not-so-fresh pizza no one’s grabbing off the buffet line.

Chicken wings

Let us start by saying that we love Golden Corral’s chicken wings. We love them to the point that they’ve ended up on this list because they’re so good. They’re fairly diverse, too. Depending on your location, you can find barbecue, Nashville hot, buffalo, Bourbon Street, and other varieties of chicken wings awaiting you on the buffet line.

While we encourage every wing lover to give them a try, we also want to warn you that Golden Corral wings run out quickly. What’s more, it can be tough for the restaurant’s workers to keep up with restocking them. That’s because some locations offer all-you-can-eat wings, drawing crowds of people solely visiting to see how many wings they can gobble up. After all, paying just one price for a buffet is one of the cheapest ways to enjoy chicken wings, which can be costly when purchased even in large, wholesale-level packs.

When you’re in the mood for Golden Corral’s wings, stick to locations that you’ve visited before and where you know the employees are efficient when it comes to the all-important wing restocking.

Beef pot roast

Golden Corral claims that its beef pot roast is cooked slowly overnight to achieve the perfect texture. Now, that could very well be true. We’ve tried the pot roast at multiple locations, and some of them have tasted as though they were home-cooked by our moms and grandmas for a classic Sunday beef pot roast meal.

But others … not so much. It seems that, as with many Golden Corral flubs, the timing might be an issue at some locations. That’s made all the more true if the pot roast really does have to cook for several hours. Those texture issues can also be compounded by a lack of availability. It’s not uncommon to stroll into Golden Corral hoping for some pot roast in between typical lunch and dinner times, only to find no pot roast on the buffet line and a bunch of lonely vegetables swathed in gravy. During lunch and right before dinner rushes, it also seems more likely that you’ll find an unappealing dry pot roast that looks like it hasn’t been stirred in a while.

Ultimately, this is a mixed bag. If you’re going to Golden Corral to load up on pot roast, you could be a super happy diner or leave very disappointed. There’s no knowing for sure until you get there and scope out the offerings.

Soft serve ice cream

This one’s probably going to be highly debated, and that’s okay. Many Golden Corral lovers really enjoy finishing off their meal with the restaurant chain’s popular vanilla soft-serve ice cream. We completely understand why. When the machine is working properly and the ingredients are added to the mix in the way they’re supposed to be, the ice cream that comes out is soft, creamy, and tasty. However, we’d say about half the Golden Corrals we’ve visited haven’t quite figured out the soft serve magic.

Two reporters for described their sad experience with weirdly icy and texturally unpleasant soft serve at their local Golden Corral. To avoid their sad dessert fate, you can always test out what’s coming out of the soft serve machine the day you visit. If it’s not up to your standards, at least there’s usually employee-scooped ice cream available as a backup.

Fried fish

It’s true that some Golden Corral patrons visit mostly for the fried fish, it’s true. One thing that we’ve noticed, though, is a significant problem. No matter how much people love this dish, they still rarely know what kind of fish has been fried. Even Golden Corral itself doesn’t make this information clear on its website, further adding to the confusion.

Now, we love a good fish meal at a restaurant, but only when we know more precisely what kind of fish is in front of us. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, fish can carry some potential dangers, like mercury and pesticide contamination. That’s especially true for specific kinds of fish (like large, predatory species) and fish that have been farmed using unsafe practices. Therefore, it’s always best to know where your fish comes from. Unless you know how to get the specifics from your Golden Corral restaurant, it might be best to avoid the fried fish for now.

Green beans

Golden Corral’s green beans are the restaurant’s take on southern-style green beans, which typically have loads of flavor thanks to bits of bacon or pancetta in the mix. They also typically come with a hint of sweetness to brighten things up. But while the green beans from Golden Corral are suitable for some palates, others might find them way too salty. It makes sense, considering that they have about 520 milligrams of sodium in just one half-cup serving (per Calorie King). We suppose the final verdict depends on the person making the green beans and how much seasoning they like to use, but we’ve certainly tried our fair share of unpleasantly salty green beans at Golden Corral buffets.

Some patrons agree that the green beans are definitely not on their list of buffet must-haves. One Twitter user claims that "No one even looked at green beans at Golden Corral." Feel free to try them, but be warned: if you’re not a fan of salt, these green beans might just send your taste buds into a tailspin.

Hush puppies

Not all Golden Corral restaurants serve hush puppies, but at some locations, these little round balls of flavor fly off the buffet table pretty quickly. What’s a hush puppy, exactly? It’s a southern dish made primarily with cornmeal and fried to a crisp, making for a tasty addition to some of the best dishes of the American South. At Golden Corral, hush puppies are yet another food that people seem to love or hate with no gray area allowed in between.

We think that the reason some people don’t like them is that hush puppies are their best when they’re fresh out of the fryer. When they sit for longer than 20 minutes or so, they lose that delightful texture and simply don’t shine as they should. It’s evident in some customers’ comments, like this tweet that mentions "stale, set out too long, lukewarm hush puppies." Another customer complained on Facebook that the fried foods they ate at Golden Corral (including the hush puppies) all tasted as though they were cooked in old, broken-down oil. Perhaps honing in on some quality control could make the hush puppies at Golden Corral the stars they were meant to be.


This one is a little different than other foods we’ve mentioned so far from Golden Corral. That’s right — it’s the restaurant’s beloved cornbread, and yes, it’s as good as you’ve heard … at least most of the time. Golden Corral cornbread is moist, buttery, and has just the right amount of sweetness like it was picked straight from Grandma’s recipe book. If you don’t believe us, consider all of the rave reviews, like this Twitter user who claims, "I swear Golden Corral has the best cornbread ever, [it’s] so soft and sweet."

But there’s a dilemma lurking here. If you eat one piece of cornbread, you’ll soon find that it’s extremely difficult to stop. This tweet even compares the cornbread to cake, and they’re not exaggerating. The thing is, you could end up loading up on cornbread and miss all the other good stuff at the buffet. So, when considering the cornbread at Golden Corral, you must weigh the pros and cons. If you think you can stop at just one or two pieces, go for it. Otherwise, don’t make eye contact with the cornbread and move on.


If we’ve seen one running theme at Golden Corral, it’s that some foods just aren’t consistent in quality and taste from one location to another. That’s the case with the restaurant’s broccoli, too. In most places, the broccoli looks great and comes out hot, steamy, and fresh. But we’re usually left disappointed when we bite in and discover that it’s bland and perhaps a little too crunchy for our liking. However, we’ve also heard others saying it’s way too full of sodium, like this Twitter user who colorfully described their attempt to be healthy by choosing Golden Corral’s broccoli, only to discover it was immensely salty.

The true broccoli greatness at Golden Corral lies with the broccoli and cheese. Sure, it’s not the healthiest option, but it’s seriously popular. If you’re not opposed to dousing your nutritious broccoli in some cheese sauce, we suggest you opt for the cheesy version instead of the plain, boring broccoli.

Fresh fruit

As you may guess, the Golden Corral fresh fruit selection varies by restaurant and season, but the chain’s nutrition information lists multiple fruits that you might find by the salad bar or dessert area. Apples, limes, oranges, bananas, pineapple, watermelon, mango, and cantaloupe are all potential options.

While it’s great that Golden Corral gives a few fresh fruit options for you to enjoy during each meal, we wish it would exercise a little more quality control here. On our trips to this chain, we’ve had some very underripe cantaloupe, lackluster apples, and unpleasantly crunchy pineapple chunks. We aren’t the only ones questioning the actual freshness of the fruit at Golden Corral, either. This Twitter user is skeptical when it comes to the freshness of the restaurant’s fruit, saying: "Never in my wildest dreams did I think Golden Corral would advertise fresh fruit. This is truly the end of days…" Another tweet keeps it real: "The only time Golden Corral sees fresh fruit would be when it’s being bathed in chocolate."


Apparently, the steak is so popular at Golden Corral that it causes fights. In early 2022, a Golden Corral in Pennsylvania saw a massive fight break out between dozens of people when the restaurant was low on steak. The scuffle began when someone cut the line to get some (via NBC12). It’s clear that some people really love their Golden Corral steak. For example, one person on Twitter writes that their friend is darn near addicted to the chain’s steak. "I am now begging Golden Corral to release her from these shackles," they write.

However, for everyone who loves the steak at Golden Corral, others definitely don’t. Frequently, complaints center on the protein’s toughness. We think the problem is a matter of skill. You really need to do a bit of homework to cook a good steak, and we aren’t sure that chefs at Golden Corral are fully trained to handle the intricacies of crafting a delicious steak. Take the testimony of one worker, who admits to overcooking steaks while they worked at Golden Corral for three years (via VICE).


It’s hard to keep cheeseburgers fresh for longer than five minutes, so we aren’t sure why the small cheeseburgers at Golden Corral are even an option for a buffet. Sure, they seem to go relatively fast at most of the locations we’ve visited, but they quickly get soggy mere minutes after they’ve been put out. It’s similar to what would happen if you left your Burger King Whopper sitting around for 10-15 minutes before eating it.

A TikTok shows what one person’s burger looked like once they began eating it, and we spoil it for you: this is not the most appealing food. More specifically, the meal looks greasy and unstable, possibly because it was sitting for a few minutes too long at the buffet. Our opinion? Unless you’re scoping out the buffet table to pounce when new cheeseburgers arrive in their freshest form, you might want to skip them and fill your plate with other, more cohesive goodies instead.

Chocolate fountain

The chocolate fountain has become one of the most talked about attractions at Golden Corral. You can dip marshmallows, crispy bars, cookies, fresh fruit, and just about anything else your heart desires into the flowing fountain of chocolate. It’s delicious and a spectacle, for sure. But its sanitation is questionable. That’s especially so when you’ve witnessed children sticking their hands in it and people dropping bits of food into the lake of recirculated chocolate.

We aren’t the only ones who have seen some interesting things happening at the fountain. Redditors have commented quite a bit about events they’ve witnessed at the Golden Corral buffet that have made them swear off the chocolate fountain forever, like seeing children put their entire faces in the dripping chocolate.

There may be some issues on the staff side of things, too. One Redditor who said they worked at Golden Corral claimed that the staff would recycle the chocolate at the end of the day, reserving it for tomorrow’s crowd. Whether or not that’s true, there are enough worrisome stories about the infamous chocolate fountain that keeps us staying far, far away.