When you’re starving and craving comfort foods but don’t want to drop a lot of money, your answer is Golden Corral.
Buffets seem to be a thing of the past or something found on cruise ships, but believe me, Golden Corral is alive and well with yummy mashed potatoes and hefty servings of meat.
Whatever you think of when you imagine comfort food, they probably have it. From build-your-own burgers to build-your-own salads, you get to be in charge of your plate.
As far as buffets go, Golden Corral has a great selection whether you want something salty and meaty or a fried piece of seafood.
I tried 10 of the best golden corral menu items and reviewed them, so you know what to B-line toward and what to avoid. Check out my list and then visit Gold Corral and taste these dishes for yourself!
Fried chicken is the most popular Golden Corral menu item for good reasons.
It’s called Aunt B’s fried chicken. I don’t know who Aunt B is, but that woman sure knows how to fry up a bird.
The outer coating is moderately seasoned, I’d like a bit more flavor, but that’s just me.
What’s undeniable is the beautiful golden color of the breaded chicken. Of course, eating at a buffet is a masterclass in timing, and these taste exceptional when they are first put out.
Fresh from the fryer, this fried chicken is heavenly. hot, crunchy, juicy, and tasty, there’s not much more I could ask for from a piece of fried chicken.
Signature Sirloin Steak
Ordering your steak to your liking at a buffet can be quite a risky game.
However, Golden Corral seems to know what they’re doing regarding steak temperatures. I won’t pretend this is the best cut of meat I’ve ever had, but the sirloin steak is surprisingly good considering it is a buffet.
Unlike the chicken, the steak is thoroughly seasoned, so get ready for a salty flavor!
The marinade avoids any BBQ flavors and leans right into the salt, which some people like, and some people don’t.
The steaks are very tender, though, so don’t expect to saw through this sirloin like a tree, as they cut like butter.
My absolute favorite dessert at Golden Corral is their carrot cake, which is perfection.
The cake is moist but light with the ideal amount of spices and shredded carrots, so the cake has a phenomenal flavor and texture.
I can’t stand a super sugary frosting. Luckily, Golden Corral’s carrot cake frosting is anything but overly sugary. It has the perfect balance of sweetness with the sharpness of the cream cheese for a luscious white frosting.
The cake also has a delicate crumb crust around the outside, an added detail I don’t require for carrot cakes, but it’s a lovely addition.
Build Your Own Burger
The burgers at Golden Corral are good but not great.
They tend to cook the burgers well done, no matter what temperature you request. So keep that in mind when you approach the burger bar.
However, their array of toppings is a dream—different kinds of onions and leafy greens and oh so many sauces.
The burgers come on a warm yeast roll that cradles all the toppings I throw on, which are many because I love a good mix of toppings.
The fries that you can get with your burger are fantastic. They are salty, crunchy, and crispy, checking off all my boxes for what makes a good french fry.
Fish and buffets aren’t always the best pairing, but the Golden Corral fish can hold its own and your plate without disappointment.
The pieces are relatively small, implying they are small fish rather than large cod or bass. The outside crust is similar in flavor and seasoning to the fried chicken.
However, I don’t think Aunt B was involved with the fish.
As with any fried item, it’s best when first made, so I strongly suggest waiting to grab fish until you see them refill the tray with a fresh batch.
My biggest complaint is the fish is a bit dry, but this is common with fried fish; it would benefit from some zesty tartar sauce.
It’s hard not to love shrimp, and Golden Corral makes it even harder with their tasty, well-seasoned shrimp.
Unlike fried fish, the shrimp are juicy, plump, and practically addictive. Much like the fried fish and Aunt B’s chicken, you’ll want to scramble for these when they’re fresh from the fryer.
The outside is a beautiful golden crust that is crunchy with a hint of sweetness that goes perfectly with the shrimp.
Seafood can be a bit scary at buffets, but I urge you to dive in with confidence when it comes to Golden Corral’s butterfly shrimp.
I will not beat around the bush. I am obsessed with golden Corral mashed potatoes.
They are creamy and soft without being soupy and have an excellent garlicky and salty flavor. They are warm and yummy with a pad of butter plopped on top, or you can kick it up a notch and go for one of their two gravies.
They have both white and brown gravy, neither of which is incredible, but if you love some warm, meaty gravy on your mashed potatoes, they have it for you.
I would never even think of visiting a Golden Corral without getting a heaping spoonful of their mashed potatoes, so don’t miss out on these creamy taters.
A salad bar is an essential but often underestimated aspect of any decent buffet.
The salad bar at Golden Corral is typically well-stocked with lots of vegetables, fruits, meats, cheeses, and pieces of bread for a side.
The dressings tend to rotate, but they have a spicy ranch which is my favorite, especially with bacon bits on top.
I wish they offered more leafy green options, but it’s usually iceberg or romaine. I think some spinach or arugula would provide more variety to people.
You can check out their nutritional menu if you have allergies or a special diet.
Pulled BBQ Chicken
Golden Corral offers different barbecue items, but I always enjoy the pulled BBQ chicken.
They also have pulled pork, one of my favorite foods. However, it isn’t the best. It’s dry and overly peppery, but the pulled chicken steps up to take its place.
The pulled chicken has a subtle smokey flavor and is still tender and juicy when you get to it. Pulled meat can dry out quickly, as the pulled pork does, but this chicken helps Golden Corral redeem their barbecue game.
I also love their BBQ sauce that’s slightly sweet with a whole lot of tang.
First off, Golden Corral carrots are massive.
They slice them like an inch thick, and they’re also an inch or two wide. I don’t even know where you find carrots that massive.
However, they are scrumptious. The carrots are sauteed and come out buttery with the slightest crunch on the outside that reveals the tender inside.
I know they’re just carrots, but I could eat them as my entire meal.
Don’t be afraid to drizzle a little gravy on their to combine the meaty sauce with the refreshing and slightly sweet carrots.
Buffets sometimes get a bad wrap, but if you’ve never visited a Golden Corral, I hope this list convinces you to give it a chance.
If you want some affordable comfort food and you’re hungry, this restaurant offers classic mains and sides that are sure to satisfy almost any palette. Offering both healthy salads and vegetables and decadent cakes, they have a little something for everyone.
At less than $20 for a refillable plate, it’s hard not to get excited about the feast ahead. Although I took a solo trip, Golden Corral is an excellent place for a family dinner or friendly get-together! Check out their FAQ if you have more questions about this restaurant.