Copy Cat In-N-Out Burger


There are many gifts that California has given to the world. Disneyland, the Kardashians (totally kidding) and one of my favorite things  In-N-Out (to name a few).  Even Gordon Ramsay loves it! We all know that guy doesn’t like anything!

For those of you living east of Arizona that have never experienced this delicious treat, In-N-Out is a Southern Californian institution. If you ever have the chance, get in line, but be prepared to wait. The waits are usually long but that is because the food is fresh and delicious. They don’t ever need or use a sale or a gimmick. There are only four food items on the In-N-Out menu: Hamburger, Cheeseburger, Double-Double and French Fries. There are Coca-Cola brand beverages and three milkshakes: chocolate, vanilla and strawberry. There is a so-called “Secret Menu” or way of ordering. For example, you can order the popular “Animal Style” burger or fries. The Animal Style burger is fried in mustard and topped with their “spread” sauce,  American cheese, extra pickles and grilled onions. The “Animal Style” Burger is what I will be making today.

On recent trip to visit my husband’s family in Los Angeles we made a special stop at In-N-Out to introduce our little daughter Mia to one of my husband’s nostalgic favorites. (He was born and raised in Los Angeles)


She loved it!

So a few months later on a cold, boring, grey day (about as far away from an In-N-Out as you can get in North America) I got an idea to see if I could surprise my family and find a replica recipe for the “Animal Style” Burger online. I came across Your Home Based Mom’s blog which included a post of her attempt to Copy Cat a recipe for In-N-Out burgers.

I’ve been told that the order of which you put the ingredients is key. So during art and craft time with my daughter I made this illustration of how I built my burger 🙂

Art by Lisa Arlotti

Art by Lisa Arlotti

Now it was time to get out all of my ingredients and make some food art!

The Ingredients

The Ingredients

I started by making the “spread” sauce. It is a mix of ketchup, relish, mayo and a bit of white vinegar. I added a bit of onion and garlic powder for flavor. Next time I would add a bit of finely minced white onions.

Sauce Ingredients

You end up with a sauce similar to thousand island dressing, or Big Mac sauce.

IN N OUT Sauce

If you plan on making oven fries, now would be the time to start. You have about 30 minutes of work left till the burgers will be ready.

While it would have been lovely to be in So-Cal having the real thing, there were benefits to being my own In-N-Out chef… things like having a beer while I cook… you definitely can’t get that in the restaurant 🙂


…and catching little smiles from someone with sneaky little fingers as they steal your pickles…

The Sneak

The Sneak

Next I prepared the grilled onions. I chopped one medium onion to a small dice. The onion will reduce down. I was making four burgers and only two of the burgers would be served with onion. So if your family loves onions I would suggest doing 2-4.  Finely chop your onions and then cook them in vegetable oil.  Cover them and allow them to cook slow for about 30 minutes until they are golden and soft.  Watch your heat and don’t let them burn.  Uncover them once they have started to brown and caramelize and cook for about 5 more minutes.  Add in 1/2 C water and simmer until the water evaporates.  These can be made ahead of time and set aside.

Grilled Onions

Next I prepped the rest of my toppings. I sliced up a few dill pickles, tomatoes, and whole leaves of iceberg lettuce.

One of the best things about IN-N-Out burgers is the toasted buns. Now is a good time to get your buns ready. I buttered my buns and grilled them in a frying pan. (Similar to the way you would make a grilled cheese.)

Toasted Buns

Now set all that aside because it’s time to make the burgers. This is a purist burger in the sense that it’s only beef. No fillers, eggs, bread crumbs, etc… In-n-Out Burgers are typically thin. I portioned my lean ground beef and rolled them into round balls. I then placed them between sheets of plastic wrap and flattened them as thin as I could by pressing down on them with a plate. Season with salt and pepper on both sides and they are ready to cook. I like to let my beef come to room temperature. I find that when they are cold they tend to puff up.

Burgers before

Burgers Cooked

Once the burgers are finished, assemble!


This was the end result. IT WAS SO GOOD! If you’re craving a fresh, no-frills burger, this is everything I think that a burger should be. It tasted very similar to the burgers that I have had at In-N-Out Restaurants in Los Angeles. It received rave reviews from my husband. After eating his burger he claimed if I ever achieve my dream of having a food truck that this burger should be on the menu. And then he ate a second…


from Your Home Based Mom


  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil and more for brushing griddle
  • 2 large onions, finely chopped
  • salt
  • 1/4 C mayo
  • 2 Tbsp ketchup
  • 1 Tbsp sweet pickle relish (I used tangy dill)
  • 1/2 tsp white vinegar
  • 2 lbs. ground chuck (60%)
  • 4 hamburger buns
  • pickles ( I left off)
  • 1 C shredded iceberg lettuce
  • 4-8 slices of tomato
  • pepper
  • 8 slices of American cheese


  • Heat oil in pan and add onions.
  • Cook onions covered, over medium heat for 30 minutes or until onions begin to turn golden brown and caramelize. Watch them so they don’t burn.
  • Remove lid and cook for 5 more minutes and then add 1/2 C water. Allow water to evaporate.
  • Set aside, onions can be made several days ahead of time and refrigerated.
  • Mix together the mayo, ketchup, relish and vinegar in a bowl and set aside.
  • Form meat into 8 patties about 4 inches wide and 1/2 inch thick.
  • Heat griddle and lightly brush with vegetable oil.
  • Toast the buns on the griddle, split side down.
  • After they are toasted golden brown spread the bottom bun with 1 Tbsp of the mayo mixture.
  • Top with tomato and lettuce.
  • Salt and pepper both sides of hamburger patties and cook on the griddle for 3-5 minutes.
  • Spread top of patty with 1 1/2 tsps mustard and flip.
  • Top patty with cheese and allow to cook until desired doneness.
  • Add hamburger to bun and top with caramelized onion.