Making A Copycat In-N-Out Burger Means You Can Use Endless Sauce

In-N-Out occupies rarefied air. Maybe it's the Golden Globes after parties, maybe it's the world-famous secret menu, but this California icon undoubtedly has more clout than similar outfits like Texas's Whataburger. Beyond the cultural status In-N-Out enjoys, their standing among foodies is unmatched thanks to their unwavering commitment to quality ingredients — a commitment that has limited their ability to dominate the globe like McDonald's, which was also founded in California in the 1940s.

Although there are signs that In-N-Out may be gracing the East Coast soon, for decades devoted fans who weren't fortunate to live near an outlet have had to find ingenious ways of recreating the In-N-Out experience. We asked Mashed recipe developer Lindsay D. Mattison to take on the challenge of creating a copycat In-N-Out burger recipe that would convince a homesick Angelino that they were back Westside with just one bite.

The key to recreating the In-N-Out experience at home is the sauce, which they call spread. The most famous phrase on the not-so-secret menu is "animal style" — it can be applied to burgers or fries equally, and means there'll be cheese, grilled onions, and extra spread. In-N-Out keeps its true secrets very secret, so there's no word from the company on what really goes into their secret spread, however, thanks to some detective work on Mattison's part, you can add as much extra sauce as you like when you make it at home.

Unleash your inner animal style with unlimited copycat sauce

In-N-Out's success is built on simplicity. Pure beef patties, iceberg lettuce that is leafed by hand, fries that are cut on-site — these are all admirable ideals for a chain to hold, but it makes copying their formula all the more difficult. Because of their consistent, clean, and simple approach, each compromise you make to create In-N-Out at home will be picked up on by a true fan. There's just nowhere to hide — unless you use a ton of their secret sauce.

We are supremely confident in this sauce recipe. For the base, Mashed recipe developer Lindsay D. Mattison began with the work of Food Lab scientist J. Kenji Lopez-Alt, whose In-N-Out obsession led him to recreate the sauce recipe based on the calories listed, which we know is a great starting point. However, for Mattison's tastebuds, this spread was a little sweet still — so she swapped the pickle relish for finely minced dill pickles to give the mayo-based dressing the tangy lift it needs.

The idea of animal style is that it's a messy eating experience, and an overload of sauce is at the heart of that. Making a DIY In-N-Out burger means that you can make a bucket of sauce to keep in the fridge and add to any sandwich you like, but more importantly, it takes the pressure off of the other aspects of copying a huge company that's been famous sticklers for tip-top quality for 75 years!