All The Reasons Whataburger Is Superior To In-N-Out

As a Texan, I heard a ton of buzz about In-N-Out Burger's first Austin location when it opened in 2013. California transplants raved about the classic drive-in's burgers, fries, and shakes and it was dubbed a "must-try" by many Austinites after they experienced In-N-Out for the first time. Upon the restaurant's opening, the drive-thru lines were long and the hype was real. However, I was ultimately disappointed in the fast food chain's burgers, especially when comparing it to the ultimate Texas mainstay of fast food—Whataburger.

Whataburger, which originated in Corpus Christi, Texas in 1950, has been Texans' go-to for burgers and fries for decades. The orange and white Whataburger sign is, for many Texans, more like a beacon of home than just a signifier that there's food ahead. Kids in high schools across the state, myself included, have made a trend out of stealing Whataburger's plastic, orange order number table tents as a sort of souvenir to commemorate late nights, post-game meals, and friend-filled snack breaks. Whataburger is more of a culture in Texas than just a restaurant, so the arrival of In-N-Out pitted the West Coast against the South in a battle of tradition, lifestyle, and, yes, food.

While it is my humble opinion that Whataburger is far better than In-N-Out, I know that loving something for personal connection and nostalgia's sake is not enough to sway In-N-Out devotees. That said, emotions aside, I've cultivated my comprehensive list of reasons why Whataburger is superior to In-N-Out.

Whataburger offers additional entree choices besides burgers

If all you and your family want are burgers and fries, then In-N-Out Burger is an option. However, if you or anyone else with you wants something extra or different outside of In-N-Out's very small menu of burgers, fries, and shakes, then someone will be disappointed. The fast food chain doesn't even offer a chicken sandwich option for those who don't eat beef, a common offering with nearly every other fast food burger chain.

Whataburger, on the other hand, has a menu that is extensive without being overwhelming. Its food falls into five main categories – burgers, favorites, chicken, salads, and breakfast. The burger menu includes standard burgers as well as unique creations like the Avocado Bacon Burger, which is served on Texas toast, while the chicken menu includes grilled or breaded chicken sandwiches and chicken strips. The Whataburger favorites menu includes signature offerings like the Honey Barbeque Chicken Strip Sandwich as well as the chain's iconic patty melt. This gives diners much more variety than In-N-Out and makes Whataburger a better choice for groups of people and individuals who like options.

Whataburger's side choices include more than fries

Once you've made your entrée choice, it's time to pick a side. And while fries may be the most popular option on the side of any burger, regardless of where it's served, some diners may want additional options. At Whataburger, you can choose between traditional French fries or crispy onion rings. In addition, the restaurant offers packages of apple slices and salads to meet the needs of customers looking for something healthier and not fried.

At In-N-Out Burger, side choices are limited to French fries. Yes, some ride-or-die fans of In-N-Out may boast about the "Not So Secret" menu, which features "Animal Style" fries smothered in In-N-Out's special sauce and grilled onions, but that is the extent of the California chain's side offerings. No onion rings, no apples, no salads. Might be enough for some folks, but for others, like myself, this limited array of sides can be a point against In-N-Out Burger.

The Texas-based chain offers salads and healthier options

Speaking of options, Whataburger is killing it compared to In-N-Out in terms of offering healthier alternatives. Whether you go for a grilled chicken sandwich with apples on the side instead of fries or choose one of the chain's filling and flavorful salads, you know you can have something healthier from Whataburger when on the road or if you're looking for a quick dinner to pick up on your way home.

Whataburger's salads aren't your typical fast food salad with plain ingredients and lackluster dressings. The chain offers meal-worthy salads like its Apple & Cranberry Chicken Salad with fresh apples, grilled chicken, shredded cheese, dried cranberries, and carrots. In addition, the dressing options are great. Whataburger offers dressings like creamy pepper, ranch, balsamic vinaigrette, jalapeño ranch, honey mustard, and 1000 Island.

At In-N-Out, diners must go burger or bust, which can be a definite turn-off for the health-conscious. While it's true that most people don't go to drive-throughs to eat healthy, it's helpful to have healthy options just in case. For example, when eating out is the only option, I enjoy places where I can occasionally get something lighter even if others with me want to indulge.

Diners can make more customizations to burgers at Whataburger

One of the key things about a burger that makes it such a staple American dish is that it can be customized in so many ways. From how many patties you want, to what kind of cheese, to what sauces and toppings you'll add to it, a burger is a vessel ripe for customization. Next to your star sign, how you take your burger might tell me more about you than anything else.

At Whataburger, diners are encouraged to customize every burger on the menu, including those that are listed as specialties. The chain is true to its slogan, "just like you like it," by ensuring all burgers are made to order so that every customization can be made. This means if you want extra jalapeños, no mustard, and double meat but your partner wants a single patty with extra grilled onions and creamy pepper sauce, Whataburger has your back.

At In-N-Out, however, you're limited to a handful of toppings like lettuce, onions, tomatoes, cheese, and special sauce. The chain doesn't even offer bacon or avocado, two of the best ingredients that can be added to burgers. If this lack of variety annoys you as much as it does me, turn to Whataburger where you can customize your burger with an array of different cheeses (Monterey Jack, American), bun styles (regular, brioche, Texas toast), toppings (bacon, jalapeños, avocado), and sauces (ketchup, mayo, creamy pepper sauce, jalapeño ranch).

Whataburger serves breakfast

The start of a road trip in Texas is not complete without heading through the Whataburger drive-thru for breakfast. The chain's breakfast menu goes far beyond the typical sausage, egg, and cheese biscuit that most fast food chains rely on. It features everything from standard biscuit sandwiches to a full pancake breakfast. Whataburger also offers biscuits and gravy, breakfast burgers, cinnamon rolls, breakfast bowls, and taquitos, which are Whataburger's spin on breakfast tacos and served with your salsa of choice.

The best breakfast item on the menu, however, is Whataburger's famous Honey Butter Chicken Biscuit. This biscuit sandwich has a cult following and for good reason. It starts with a fluffy buttermilk biscuit that is stuffed with a crispy chicken strip and drizzled with Whataburger's iconic honey butter. The result is a sweet, savory, and filling treat that is sure to perk up anyone's morning. Pair with freshly brewed coffee and an order of hash brown sticks and you've got a great road trip breakfast.

Want breakfast at In-N-Out? You're out of luck.

The Texas chain's menu offers dessert options outside of shakes

A late-night spin through the drive-thru for a sweet snack is a classic way to end the night, whether you're heading home from a game or ending a date with dessert. Although it's not necessary for fast food places to have a ton of dessert options, it helps to have a little variety.

When it comes to desserts, In-N-Out Burger has one thing available—milkshakes. And when it comes to flavors of milkshakes on In-N-Out's menu, diners are limited to vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry. For the more adventurous eater, Whataburger's lineup of shakes might be more appealing. Not only does Whataburger offer vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry milkshakes, but it also offers the same flavors available in the form of malts. In addition, there is a rotating seasonal shake offering. For example, as of publication, Whataburger is currently showcasing its banana pudding milkshake, the perfect summer treat. The restaurant has also featured shake flavors like Dr. Pepper, root beer, salted caramel, and more.

Moreover, Whataburger has dessert options beyond shakes for those looking for something warm or ice cream-free. It offers chocolate chip cookies, cinnamon rolls, hot apple pies, brownies, and individually-sized packages of graham crackers or fruit snack gummies for children and adults alike.

Seasonal and limited-edition menu items are available at Whataburger

Speaking of variety, Whataburger is known (and loved) for its rotating menu of limited-time-only specials that feature unique and exciting versions of the drive-thru chain's burgers, sandwiches, salads, breakfast items, and shakes.

As of publication, Whataburger's featured specialty items include the BLT sandwich, the Southern bacon double burger, and the banana pudding shake. In addition, Whataburger has brought back a fan-favorite breakfast item, the jalapeño cheddar biscuit, which can be used as the base of any of Whataburger's breakfast sandwiches or eaten on its own as a spicy breakfast delight. Other popular limited-edition Whataburger items from the past include the buffalo ranch chicken strip sandwich, the sweet and spicy bacon burger, and the coffee milkshake.

In-N-Out is a restaurant focused on simplicity and tradition, which is all well and good if its small menu offers what you're looking for. But for many, the lack of originality and variety of In-N-Out Burger's menu simply pales in comparison to what Whataburger is offering.

There's something to be said about driving up to a Whataburger restaurant and realizing your favorite limited-time item is back or that a new one has been added. It definitely, at least in my opinion, makes the dining experience more fun than knowing there are only a handful of items on the menu.

In-N-Out's merch pales in comparison

Both In-N-Out and Whataburger have extremely dedicated fan bases. As a result, both chains offer online stores through which fans can order themed and branded merchandise like shoes, jewelry, and drinkware.

In-N-Out's store is just okay. It offers a good array of apparel items like t-shirts, shoes, accessories, and baby clothes, and it hits the nostalgia that the brand is known for on the head with its vintage-inspired designs.

However, there's absolutely no question that Whataburger has far superior merch for its fanatics than In-N-Out Burger. The company has made its merchandise an arm of its brand in a way that I haven't seen other fast-food companies replicate. From the expected (t-shirts, shoes, and drinkware) to the utterly unbelievable (the Dip Trip to hold your Whataburger sauces in the car, the Whataburger Loteria game, a "Just Married" Whataburger table tent, an Igloo brand Whataburger cooler), there's almost any item you could think of available through Whataburger's Whatastore.

The restaurant has even curated collections with top companies like Magellan Outdoors, Sportique, James Avery, and The Comfy to release special collaboration-specific items.

For true Texas style, you can even purchase a cup from Texan-owned Yeti that looks like a Whataburger to-go cup, complete with the restaurant's trademark orange and white stripes. It's simply a must-have for Whataburger devotees.

Whataburger offers regular and spicy ketchup

Maybe it's a regional thing, but there's something to be said about the South's desire for spicy flavors. Whataburger knows its audience, and as a result, it has made a name for itself by offering a signature spicy ketchup in addition to plain, non-spicy, what the company calls "fancy" ketchup. Originally released in 2011 as a limited-time offering, the spicy ketchup became so popular the chain brought it back for good and continues to offer it in its restaurants, in grocery stores, and online via its Whatastore. The spicy ketchup is made with red jalapeño peppers for just the right amount of kick on your burger, or as a dipping sauce for fries.

In true Whataburger fashion, the chain has used the spicy versus regular ketchup debate as a brand strategy, offering "spicy" and "fancy" ketchup merchandise like t-shirts, charms, and baby clothes for any fan looking to showcase their unique preferences.

Not only does In-N-Out not offer anything spicy, but it also doesn't offer any trademark sauces outside of its special sauce (which I'm pretty sure is just jazzed up 1000 Island dressing) to help set its burgers and fries apart from its competitors. What's left are fairly bland burgers that could definitely use some spicing up.

Diners can use Whataburger's rewards system for free food

If you are a frequent visitor to any fast food restaurant that has an app, you're likely aware of the benefits of rewards systems. Using the app often means earning points towards rewards like discounts, free food, and more. Whataburger is no stranger to the ever-growing world of loyalty rewards systems, and frequent diners of the restaurant can quickly and easily earn points for more Whataburger by signing up for the rewards program and using the chain's app when driving through.

When diners order online or have their app scanned in the drive-thru, they earn 10 points per $1 spent. The points add up and can be put towards free food like sides, entrees, and desserts.

In-N-Out, on the other hand, does not feature any kind of reward system or online ordering. This, unfortunately, keeps In-N-Out Burger behind the curve as other chains embrace technology and offer customers rewards for coming back time after time.

Whataburger sells its signature sauces in grocery stores

If you can't get enough of Whataburger's spicy ketchup, you're not alone and you're in luck. The chain offers an array of its sauces commercially through local grocery stores and big box stores. If fans of the sauces can't find them in the local grocer's aisles, they can head to Whataburger's Whatastore online to buy them and have them shipped directly to their doors.

The sauces available include Whataburger's signature yellow mustard, ketchup, spicy ketchup, jalapeño ranch, honey BBQ sauce, mayonnaise, honey mustard, buffalo sauce, honey butter, salsa verde, picante sauce, buttermilk ranch, and creamy pepper sauce. And if that isn't enough Whataburger for your home kitchen, the chain also sells pork sausage and pancake mix so fans can recreate a Whataburger-style breakfast at home.

Although In-N-Out fans love to marvel over the chain's special sauce, lovers of the sauce can't enjoy it at home because In-N-Out doesn't package it commercially.

In-N-Out still doesn't offer online ordering

In 2023, it's hard to believe that any major restaurant chain would choose to not offer online ordering, however, In-N-Out is apparently so committed to its vintage drive-thru vibe that it is not keeping up with technology by offering any kind of online ordering. The In-N-Out website does not offer ordering functionality, and though the California-based chain does offer an app, you can't order food on it. Instead, the app that is currently available is simply a restaurant locator. Despite some rumors that it does, a representative for In-N-Out Burger confirmed to Mashed that the chain does not offer any form of online ordering.

Comparatively, Whataburger's app offers online ordering both on its website and its app for everything from custom burgers to family meals for your next get-together. This allows diners to skip the line, order their meal with as many customizations as they want, and snag points via Whataburger's previously mentioned rewards system.

Whataburger serves bigger and better burgers

Of all the reasons listed here, this one just might be the most important. We can debate each brand's merchandise, technology, culture, and menu offerings all day, but when we talk about Whataburger versus In-N-Out Burger, what we really should be comparing are the restaurant chain's best-selling item and namesake—the burger.

When you get right down to it, In-N-Out's burgers are just not as good as Whataburger's.

The burgers at In-N-Out are smaller and less filling. (Why do you think the restaurant's secret menu offers a 4x patty option? Likely because the burger is just too small.) For those who like In-N-Out because they want a smaller burger, remember that Whataburger offers the Whataburger Jr. Comparatively, those who want more for their meal at In-N-Out have no other option than to add more meat.

More than being inferior in terms of size, In-N-Out burgers are simply less flavorful, less customizable, and just not up to par when compared to Whataburger. I'm sorry to all of the In-N-Out fans out there, but it's just no contest. If you're ready to switch sides, the Whataburger family is ready to welcome you. There's an orange and white table tent with your name on it!