One of the most famous items on In N Out’s menu, is not even actually on the menu! It’s the Animal Style Burger on their not-so-secret menu! And now, you don’t have to travel to the fast food restaurant to get one, you can easily make it at home with this simple copycat recipe.

animal style burger on plate

When I first visited California for college tours many years ago, my Mom and I made our first stop off the plane at In-N-Out. Up until recent years, In-N-Out was this mythical place, only found in California, and talked about everywhere else!

Now you can find In-N-Out locations in Arizona, Nevada and Texas, but there are still many states across the country missing out on the animal style double-double goodness, and that’s where I come in today! After eating about 5,000 In-N-Out Burgers over the years of living in California, I can tell you for sure that this copycat recipe is the closest you’ll get to the real thing without visiting the drive thru of an actual In-N-Out restaurant.

The burger patties are thin and fried in mustard, topped with American cheese and served with grilled onions, and of course, the “secret sauce”. They’re loaded with flavor, easy to make, and will give you the feeling of being inside a red and white tiled In-N-Out restaurant!

Pair the burgers with animal style fries and a chocolate milkshake, and you’ve got yourself my go-to order at In-N-Out!

animal style burger ingredients

Ingredients

  • Ground beef – In N Out uses ground chuck for their burgers, but if you don’t have a butcher that will ground chuck for you, or a meat grinder at home, 80/20 ground beef will do the trick. Each In N Out burger patty is 2 ounces, so you’ll need 4 ounces of beef per double double.
  • Kosher salt + black pepper – to season the burger patties.
  • Vegetable oil
  • Yellow mustard
  • Hamburger buns – I used a brioche bun, slightly toasted, to try to match the In N Out buns, which are custom made only for their restaurants.
  • American cheese – you can purchase the cheese sliced from the deli counter, or use prepackaged slices.
  • Tomato – I recommend hot house tomatoes, sliced into 1/4 inch thick slices.
  • Iceberg lettuce
  • Pickle chips – I recommend standard dill pickle chips to match a traditional In N Out burger.
  • Burger spreadbasically thousand island dressing, this spread is easy to make at home with 4 ingredients. Simply combine mayonnaise, ketchup, finely chopped pickles and dijon mustard and you have yourself a delicious burger spread or “secret sauce”.
  • Caramelized onions – click the link for my step by step guide on how to caramelize onions. Do this ahead of time and it only takes a few minutes to whip up an Animal Style Burger!

Instructions

I’ve included step by step photos below to make this recipe super easy to follow at home. For the full detailed recipe instructions and ingredient quantities, scroll to the recipe card at the bottom of this post.

If you don’t already have caramelized onions prepared, be sure to caramelize the onions before starting this recipe. You’ll also want to prepare the burger spread before making the burgers. To do this, combine 1/2 cup mayonnaise + 2 tablespoons ketchup + 2 tablespoons finely chopped pickles (or pickle relish) + 2 teaspoons dijon mustard in a small bowl.

These burgers cook quickly because they’re so thin, so I recommend toasting the buns first and assembling the toppings on the bun before cooking the burgers. To do this, heat a griddle over medium-high heat. Add 1/2 teaspoon oil to the griddle and place the buns face-down on the griddle. Toast the buns for approximately 1 minute, or until browned around the edges.

Remove the buns from the griddle, spread the burger sauce on the bottom half of each bun, top with 4 pickle slices, 1 slice of tomato and 1 lettuce leaf. Set aside and prepare the burgers.

  1. Form the ground beef into 2 ounce balls. (I recommend using a kitchen scale to get the precise measurement.) Flatten each of the balls of beef until they’re approximately 4 inches round. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. On the griddle that you toasted the buns, add another teaspoon of oil over medium-high heat and wait until it begins to smoke. Place the burger patties on the griddle and cook for 2 minutes and 30 seconds.
  3. Spread 1 tablespoon yellow mustard on the raw side of each beef patty. (Yes, it seems like a lot, but this is what makes it animal style!)
  4. Flip the burger patties, so that the mustard side is now down and continue cooking for 1 minute.
  5. Top each patty with one slice of American cheese.
  6. Add about 2 tablespoons of diced caramelized onions on top of the cheese on half of the burger patties. Place the other patties directly on top of the onion-topped patties.

Transfer the burgers from the griddle to the prepared bottom buns with the pickles, lettuce, tomato and spread. Serve immediately.

hand holding animal style burger

Pro tips

  • The onions can be caramelized ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator or freezer. Caramelized onions can be frozen for up to 3 months. I recommend freezing them in ice cube trays or small containers, so you can just defrost what you need to make a couple of animal style burgers at a time!
  • To make these burgers “protein style”, ditch the bun and replace it with two large leafs of iceberg lettuce. This is actually my favorite way to order the burger at In-N-Out. It’s delicious and you really get to soak in the flavors of the caramelized onions, melty cheese and salty beef. This is also a great option to make the burger gluten-free and low carb.
  • Do not press down on the burger patty once it’s on the griddle. This will press out the juices and the flavor.
  • Season the patties after they’ve been flattened. The more the ground beef is handled, the more likely it is to be tough. Forming it into balls, smashing it, then adding the seasoning, means minimal time handling the patties, which means juicy, tender burgers!
  • If you don’t have a griddle, you can make the burgers in a skillet. Depending on the size of your skillet, you’ll probably only be able to fit 2, or maybe 4, burger patties in the skillet at a time.

What to serve with it

cheeseburger on plate with fries and sauce

More copycat recipes

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Animal Style Burger

One of the most famous items on In N Out's menu, is not even actually on the menu! It's the Animal Style Burger on their not-so-secret menu! And now, you don't have to travel to the fast food restaurant to get one, you can easily make it at home with this simple copycat recipe.

Ingredients

Burger Spread

  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped pickles
  • 2 teaspoons dijon mustard

Animal Style Burgers

  • 1 ½ teaspoons vegetable oil, divided
  • 4 hamburger buns
  • 16 dill pickle slices
  • 4 slices tomato, I recommend 1/4 inch slices
  • 4 leaves iceberg lettuce
  • 1 pound ground beef, 80/20 – divided into 2 ounce balls
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ cup yellow mustard
  • 8 slices American cheese
  • ½ cup caramelized onions, diced

Instructions

  • If you don’t already have caramelized onions prepared, be sure to caramelize the onions before starting this recipe.
  • Prepare the burger spread by combining the mayonnaise, ketchup, finely chopped pickles and dijon mustard in a small bowl. Set aside.
  • Heat a griddle over medium-high heat. Add 1/2 teaspoon oil to the griddle and place the buns face-down on the griddle. Toast the buns for approximately 1 minute, or until browned around the edges.
  • Remove the buns from the griddle, spread 2 tablespoons burger sauce on the bottom half of each bun, top with 4 pickle slices, 1 slice of tomato and 1 lettuce leaf. Set aside and prepare the burgers.
  • Form the ground beef into eight 2 ounce balls. (I recommend using a kitchen scale to get the precise measurement.)
  • Flatten each of the balls of beef until they’re approximately 4 inches round. Season with salt and pepper.
  • On the griddle that you toasted the buns, add another teaspoon of oil over medium-high heat and wait until the oil begins to smoke.
  • Place the burger patties on the griddle and cook for 2 minutes and 30 seconds.
  • Spread 1 tablespoon yellow mustard on the raw side of each patty.
  • Flip the burger patties, so that the mustard side is now down and continue cooking for 1 minute.
  • Top each patty with one slice of American cheese.
  • Add about 2 tablespoons of diced caramelized onions on top of the cheese on four of the burger patties. Place the other four patties directly on top of the onion-topped patties.
  • Transfer the burgers from the griddle to the prepared bottom buns with the pickles, lettuce, tomato and spread. Add the top bun and serve immediately.

Notes

  • To make these burgers “protein style”, ditch the bun and replace it with two large leafs of iceberg lettuce. This is a great option to make the burger gluten-free and low carb. Without the buns, these burgers contain 8 net carbs per double-double.
  • The onions can be caramelized ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator or freezer. Caramelized onions can be frozen for up to 3 months. I recommend freezing them in ice cube trays or small containers, so you can just defrost what you need to make a couple of animal style burgers at a time!
  • Do not press down on the burger patty once it’s on the griddle. This will press out the juices and the flavor.
  • Season the patties after they’ve been flattened. The more the ground beef is handled, the more likely it is to be tough. Forming it into balls, smashing it, then adding the seasoning, means minimal time handling the patties, which means juicy, tender burgers!
  • If you don’t have a griddle, you can make the burgers in a skillet. Depending on the size of your skillet, you’ll probably only be able to fit 2, or maybe 4, burger patties in the skillet at a time.
  •  

Nutrition Facts

Calories 806kcal (40%)Carbohydrates 32g (11%)Protein 34g (68%)Fat 60g (92%)Saturated Fat 20g (100%)Polyunsaturated Fat 15gMonounsaturated Fat 19gTrans Fat 2gCholesterol 134mg (45%)Sodium 2477mg (103%)Potassium 656mg (19%)Fiber 4g (16%)Sugar 9g (10%)Vitamin A 811mg (16%)Vitamin C 8mg (10%)Calcium 578mg (58%)Iron 5mg (28%)
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