14 In-N-Out Burger Hacks

If one fast food outlet has a cult following, its In-N-Out. The restaurant chain has spent over 75 years winning the hearts of West Coasters with its high-quality, affordable burgers, with customers so enthusiastic that they've developed a 'secret' menu of hacks to take In-N-Out's already stellar menu to the next level.

Of course, like most secret menus, these hacks aren't as secret today as they once were. Thanks to the combined efforts of fast food vigilantes on Reddit, YouTube, and TikTok, the majority of hacks are now borderline public knowledge, with In-N-Out itself even adopting several of the best-known for its Not-So-Secret Menu.

But that doesn't mean there aren't more secrets to uncover. While some of the tips shared by fans will get you nothing more than a glare from the In-N-Out worker unlucky enough to take your order, the internet is full of helpful tricks to maximize your meal. From how to get more food for less, to transforming In-N-Out's lackluster fries (sorry, it's sad but true) into something not just edible but downright tasty, make a note of these hacks before placing your next order.

1. Get two burgers for the price of one

Whether there are two of you ordering food (or whether you just want to stretch your money further and get yourself a second meal for later), all you need to do is order a 3x3 — which, in In-N-Out terms, is a burger with three beef patties and three slices of cheese — and ask for extra lettuce and whatever vegetables you want in your second burger on the side.

Once you get your burger, you can easily separate each element to transform one burger into two. Remove one of the patties and one slice of cheese and transfer this to the spare lettuce to create a protein wrap (AKA a lettuce wrap). You'll be left with everything you need for a Double-Double Cheeseburger, and have paid only slightly more than it would have cost to order yourself a regular burger. Bargain.

2. Turn any soda into a soda float

It may not be on the menu, but you can actually get your soda float fix at In-N-Out. Every outlet offers three flavors of milkshake(a menu item that didn't join the lineup until the '70s) in addition to Coke, Diet Coke, 7Up, Dr Pepper, and root beer. By ordering a drink that's half milkshake, half soda, you'll have yourself a delicious, nostalgic beverage. 

Alternatively, if you're too shy to order something that isn't on the menu out loud — or if you and a friend want a float each — you can just order yourself one vanilla milkshake, one soda, and an extra cup. Pour half of your milkshake into that cup. You then top up both of these half cups of milkshake with the soda of your choice (we recommend doing it with a crisp Dr Pepper or a root beer), and voila: you've got a soda float to-go.

Getting the ratio right can be tricky. If you're trying to create a root beer float, one wise soul on Reddit has perfected the formula. "In two water cups on the side you run some of the carbonation out of the root beer until a thin line of bubbles remains," they wrote. "Then you pour the root beer to the side of the shake cup so it runs under the shake and makes it float [...] With the root beer left over you pour a bit on top of the now floating shake mix for presentation."

3. Control the temperature of your meat

By default, every burger ordered at In-N-Out is cooked medium-well. In days gone by, those who preferred their beef pink could request that their burgers were cooked medium rare, or even rare. Unfortunately, this all changed in 2017 due to a change in California state law. In-N-Out explained in a now-deleted Facebook post that "because of a change in state law, we are no longer able to serve medium rare meat patties at any of our locations" and that this came about thanks to the then-new California Health and Safety code that went into effect on January 1 that year.

All In-N-Out burgers are still cooked to order, and you can still technically make requests for the temperature of your meat. However, you'll only be able to dictate whether it's cooked more, not less. If that's what you're after, just ask for your burger to be cooked well done, not medium well.

4. Go for protein style (or a tomato wrap)

Plenty of people know about the not-so-secret option of getting your In-N-Out burger Protein Style — in other words, having it wrapped up in lettuce instead of slotted between two slices of bread. It's a solid option for those looking to cut back on carbs, those who are unable to eat gluten, and anyone who believes that the lettuce can help the finer flavors of the meat and other veggies shine through.

If lettuce isn't really your thing, however, there's another, lesser-known veggie substitute for your burger bun: tomato. Instead of wrapping all that meaty goodness up in green, you can encase it in not two but four slices of juicy tomato. Lettuce isn't included unless you go out of your way to request it, but you can still get your regular dose of melted cheese and onion. This combo definitely isn't to everyone's taste, but if it sounds like a colorful treat you'd enjoy — or if you're curious enough to give it a whirl — just ask for your burger in a Tomato Wrap. Whether you opt for lettuce or tomato, you probably won't get a discount for ditching the bread (but you also likely won't have to pay extra for the change).

5. Boost flavor by requesting mustard-grilling

Nobody could really accuse In-N-Out burgers of being bland. However, if you are after an even more flavorful burger, you can ask for your patties to be mustard-grilled — a technique often used for In-N-Out's famous Animal Style burgers that takes your beef to a whole new level.

For the uninitiated, mustard-grilling does exactly what it says on the tin. One side of the burger is slathered in mustard, which allows the flavors to sizzle and soak into the meat once it's flipped on the grill. As a bonus, any burger cooked in this style also automatically comes with pickles for an extra tangy kick and crunch, as well as the usual In-N-Out secret sauce.

Even if this combo didn't taste absolutely incredible — which many claim that it does — we'd recommend requesting this (reportedly free!) upgrade purely for the heavenly smell it produces. It's also especially tasty if you also request your burger Protein Style, as ditching the bread allows you to appreciate that smoky grilled-mustard flavor.

6. Create your own side salad

The menus at the likes of McDonald's, Burger King, and Wendy's may have diversified to include leafy side salads (of admittedly questionable levels of freshness and healthiness, mind you) over the years, but you won't find the same at In-N-Out, which has remained surprisingly rigid concerning its menu offerings since its inception. However, there's still a sly way for you to secure a side of veggies with your burger.

When placing your order, request extra lettuce, tomatoes, and onions on the side. These will probably come in a Double-Double Cheeseburger wrapper at no extra charge, which you can then unfold to reveal your bonus side salad. If you ask for extra spread or a lemon wedge, you'll also have a makeshift dressing to liven it up a bit. Sure, it's not the biggest serving in the world, and it doesn't quite hit exactly the same as a fresh, crisp Caesar salad, but it's better than nothing.

7. Combine your milkshake flavors

It's a well-known fact that fast food milkshakes can be hit or miss. When they're among the best milkshakes in the U.S., they're borderline life-changing. When they're bad, they're bad. Fortunately, as far as fast food chains go, In-N-Out is pretty reliable with its shakes, delivering the same creamy, tasty goodness no matter which flavor you order.

The only thing that could possibly make an In-N-Out shake better is not having to choose a flavor at all. If you have a sweet tooth and some indecision, the best thing you can do when placing your order is to ask for a Neapolitan Shake. This will combine all three possible flavors — vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry — into one drink, just like the classic ice cream of the same name. Another option is to order a mix of just two flavors, namely vanilla chocolate, vanilla strawberry, or chocolate strawberry. If you have the self-control not to down the final result all at once, we recommend saving a bit to use as a dip for your fries (trust us, it's sweet-and-salty perfection).

8. Treat your dog to a burger

Back in 2021, a TikTok went viral for suggesting that dogs can get their own In-N-Out burger, free of charge. It turns out that this is not entirely true. Rather, you'll need to pay at least $1, with customers reporting varying prices in different areas. However, the important thing here is that you can order a "Pup Patty" at most In-N-Out locations.

Also known as the "Scooby Snack," this is essentially an unsalted plain hamburger free of any garlic or onions (both of which are toxic for dogs). While you won't have to worry about your dog's sodium intake by giving them a Pup Patty over a regular patty, one thing worth noting is that it does contain 17 grams of fat, which may mean you'll want to reserve it for bigger dogs or split it into several smaller treats for a smaller breed.

9. Enjoy extra meat

For those in the know, the Flying Dutchman is one of In-N-Out's most popular burgers, even though it isn't on the actual menu. Aside from having a cool name, it's earned itself a cult following thanks to the fact that it's all meat and practically no filler. Literally.

More specifically, a Flying Dutchman swaps out the usual bread bun for two beef patties. This leaves you with the most indulgent stack of protein possible, stuffed with two layers of gooey American cheese. By default, it comes without any lettuce or veggies, but you're free to request whichever extras you see fit to include in your meat feast. For many In-N-Out regulars, the most popular choice is to combine it with a whole grilled onion, or request your burger Animal Style (that would be mustard-grilled with extra spread, pickles, and onions).

If you're really into your onions, a TikTok craze in summer 2023 saw customers request a Flying Dutchman wrapped with two whole grilled onions. However, In-N-Out workers have mixed opinions when it comes to making these, with some complaining that the orders take too long and hold up the line for other patrons. So, you may want to use your best judgment before placing this order on your next visit and save it for another time if the restaurant is looking extra busy.

10. Score free (or cheap) hot drinks

When you hear In-N-Out, odds are you don't think of hot drinks, but maybe you should. The fast food chain boats a surprisingly good take on hot cocoa, which it first added to its menu in 2018. That hot cocoa had the honor of becoming In-N-Out's first new menu item in a decade. It's made with hot water, not milk, so isn't as luxurious as it could be, but many claim that the beverage makes up for it by containing a winning combo of powdered Ghirardelli chocolate and freeze-dried marshmallows.

The hack here is that this hot cocoa can be secured for free — but only in certain circumstances. First things first: you'll need to be either ordering with or for a child under the age of 12. Most importantly, this cocoa is only free when it's snowing or raining. Of course, this is more likely in some locations than others (this hack isn't overly useful if you're frequenting In-N-Out outlets in southern Arizona, for instance), but it's still worth knowing in case the opportunity arises.

11. Ask for extra spice

While In-N-Out isn't exactly known for having the spice factor, it does stock yellow Cascabella chilis (or sometimes milder banana peppers, if there's an ongoing Cascabella shortage). These taste similar to jalapeños, only less intense. That means it's possible to give your burger some extra heat or even secure yourself a spicy snack on the side.

To make it happen, ask your server if you can get complimentary chopped hot chilis added to your burger. You can also request the same for your fries, which is what's known as In-N-Out's Animal Style fries (if you add a slice of grilled onion, too), but you'll need to pay for them. If you'd rather eat them separately or add them in for yourself, In-N-Out also sometimes provides the peppers in packets. You may be able to pick these up for yourself by the condiments station, but most of the time they're stocked in a fridge behind the counter, so you'll have to ask the servers nicely.

12. Order two milkshakes for less

If you take the In-N-Out menu as gospel, you'd be forgiven for thinking that vanilla, strawberry, and chocolate milkshakes only come in one size at In-N-Out. Fortunately, this isn't the case, as the chain will typically let you pay a small fee to upgrade to either a large or an extra large, meaning you can score even more creamy deliciousness.

While the standard shake comes in at 15 ounces, the large is 22 ounces and the extra large is double the original size at 30 ounces. While you can keep all that extra shake for yourself, requesting an extra large shake is a useful hack if you're ordering for two. When placing the order for your supersized shake, either ask for it to be split half-and-half in two cups or just request an extra cup to split them yourself. You'll end up with two shakes for only fractionally more than the price of one.

13. Say two words for perfect fries

Let's be honest — if you ask someone where they get their favorite fast food fries, you're more likely to hear them speak of fries from McDonald's, Wendy's, or Five Guys than you are In-N-Out. Stellar though the chain is in all other areas, its fries are often denounced as under-salted, soggy, and greasy. Indeed, they were even dubbed the worst fries in the world by the Los Angeles Times in 2019.

While there's no hack to change the way In-N-Out cooks their fries (although it's always worth trying to manifest that it gets its act together one day), you can specifically order a batch of well-done fries. These will be cooked for longer than usual and may help you avoid that dreaded soggy finish and give them an extra crunch. If you're taking your food to go, you can also request that your fries are cooked light-well. Then, take them home, toss them in your air fryer, and refry them for a perfectly crispy finish.

14. Spice up your fries

If you're still underwhelmed by the In-N-Out fries, don't give up all hope just yet. In-N-Out's trusty supply of helpful condiments includes lemon wedges (which are usually for those who order an iced tea or lemonade) and pepper sachets. Both of these can be provided on the side upon request.

Once you've got your food, squeeze the lemon juice all over your fries, then finish with a dusting of pepper. There's no way around doing this for yourself, as the busy staff at In-N-Out won't be able to whip up lemon pepper fries upon request (and we don't recommend looking them in the eye and asking them to do so). However, it's worth the effort to secure yourself some fancier fries with heaps more flavor than In-N-Out's regular take on the side item.

Other options include requesting cheese slices on top of your fries for makeshift cheese fries, or, if you're feeling extra adventurous, the rather crudely-nicknamed Roadkill Fries, which involves combining a crushed Flying Dutchman and a portion of Animal Fries to create one big, gooey, delicious mess.