For us on the west coast, it doesn’t get more classic than sinking into a Animal Style In-N-Out Burger. Here’s a walkthrough and copycat recipe to enjoy this iconic burger no mater where you live.
We are lucky to have so many regional food treats across the land. As a lifelong pacific coast denizen, I have missed out on White Castle burgers and Church’s Fried Chicken. Of course, I timed my moves poorly to benefit from a west coast icon; In-N-Out. It wasn’t until 2016, after flying into Dallas, TX, that we took the first off ramp for In-N-Out, and Starbucks…it had been a long flight, but I digress. I couldn’t believe their menu was precisely 3 burgers, Fries, and beverages. You’d think they would have more items. Look at this pic, the whole menu in that little box in the upper corner. Oh, wait…this menu is from 40 years ago…still the same.
Of course, I had heard about the “Secret Menu”!! (It deserves an echo or that movie guy’s voice). I made the young person on the intercom tell me what exactly made an animal style burger what it was. Little did they know I was a lousy cheating copycat, and took that information right back to my restaurant and made my best rendition of the dish. It was by far the best selling special, often getting requested on nights it wasn’t the special of the day. I blame them though, they had exactly one restaurant in Oregon at that time, still 5 or 6 hours from where I lived. Woohoo, as of 2022 they have two in Oregon, only a 90-minute drive now. All of this is part of why we are sharing how to make this tasty burger at home.
In so many ways the founders, Harry Snyder and family, were precognitive about what people wanted. Love it or hate it, they made the first effective drive through set up with the two-way intercom to start your order. Mr. Snyder could see how we Americans indulge our lazy side, or put differently, really enjoyed staying in our newfangled cars everyone was getting in the late forties. The defining of our culture or the peak from which all developments only take us further down hill for there. It doesn’t matter which perspective you prefer drive through dining is here to stay.
Initially a west coast rumbling of activity, In-N-Out started in 1948 in a suburb of Los Angeles. Any body who thinks tiny houses or food trucks with confined kitchen are new and all the rage need to study up on their history. Harry’s first restaurant measured a whopping 100 square feet at 10’by 10’. Uphill to school both ways, you pikers, try a sweatbox in California with a deep frier, flat top grill, and you.
You have to admire a guy who looks at the burgeoning success of McDonalds and Carl’s Jr. and completely ignores their business model. He bought fresh burger and potatoes every day, as opposed to the growing trend of frozen pre-made patties and fries. Ten years after opening, and growing to five SoCal locations they finally added milkshakes to the menu.
I may have spoken too harshly about their slow expansion. Again, as trend buckers, they manage their growth based on proximity to their own distribution centers and the ability to get the fresh products to their stores. Really?! Using fresher and better products as a reason to control their growth. Business doesn’t usually work that way, or at least it didn’t, now everybody brags about fresh. I guess they were prescient. And, they don’t even keep adding things to their menu, even if the trend of new popularity demands it. Apparently, a weak demand to the Snyder family and Harry’s heirs. Yes, yet another trend bucked right out of the arena, they still run the company as a private family entity.
And this has to be mentioned because it flies so strongly in the face of convention. If you order an item, without a particular ingredient, say tomato (yes, that’s me, mine is the one sans tomato, deal with it) They take that amount off your bill. Is that crazy or what? You ask for less and you pay less for it. Talk about making your head explode, that kind of fair play doesn’t exist in much of the world. I know businesses who charge extra for any changes to their oh so special food, even eliminating an ingredient. Just wow.
Animal Style Burger (Copycat Recipe)
- ½ Cup Mayo
- ⅓ Cup Ketchup
- 3 Tablespoons Brown deli mustard
- 3 Tablespoons Pickle relish
- 18 Ounces Ground beef, plus or minus
- 4 Burger buns 3-1/2” to 4”
- 6 Slices American cheese
- 1 Tomato sliced
- 1 Onion finely diced
- 1 Tablespoon Canola oil
- 16 Dill pickle slices
- 3 Tablespoons Prepared yellow mustard, approximately
- Dice onion into 1/4” pieces
- Preheat skillet, Medium-Low, with 1 Tablespoon canola oil, add onion
- Add a couple tablespoon water to onions
- Place wet sauce ingredients into a bowl
- Whisk until smooth
- Add relish and stir together
- Add a couple tablespoon water to onions
- Preheat patty cooking surface, and bun warming surface
- Shape six patties at 3 ounces each
- Squeeze a small spiral of yellow mustard on each patty
- Place patties mustard side down on cooking surface
- Add a spiral of mustard to the top side of each patty
- Place buns on warming surface
- Turn off onions if they are deep brown color
- Turn the burger patties if you have not already
- Slice tomatoes and tear lettuce leaves to fit bun
- Add sauce to bottom buns
- Add cheese slices to burgers
- Add lettuce, tomato, dill pickle slices
- Stack patties on prepped buns
- Add caramelized onions atop patties
- Sauce the top buns, stack and serve