In-N-Out burgers are the best true fast food burger, and second place isn’t even close. But fitting In-N-Out into a balanced diet can be tricky. This Kinda Healthy recipe hopes to make In-N-Out more in than out with a protein boosted, lower calorie spin of the not so secret animal style double-double. While the original double-double has 670 calories and 41 grams of fat, this version has just 415 calories and 18 grams of fat.
And as you’d expect from fast food, these In-N-Out copycat burgers are easy to make. It may take you longer than their cooks, but you should be able to serve up healthy double-doubles in about 20-25 minutes. Let’s dive In!
Ingredients for In-N-Out Burgers
The difference between a regular double-double and an animal style double-double is the addition of caramelized onion, pickle, two layers of In-N-Out spread, and mustard grilled on each burger patty. As you’ll see in the recipe card’s notes section, this version has a few minor tweaks like grilling freshly diced onions and chopped chiles along with the mustard on one of the patties.
If you have the time, I would recommend making caramelized onions instead. The chopped chiles don’t come on the standard animal style burger, but they’re a must add ingredient in my opinion.
The only other ingredient difference you’ll see is the bun selection. Since I had Martin’s potato rolls for my healthy Shake Shack burgers, I used that instead of a classic white hamburger bun that In-N-Out uses. They make their own buns, but a standard store bought hamburger bun would be close enough.
To learn more about In-N-Out’s ingredient selection, check out their page about food quality.
The In-N-Out spread is a pretty simple mix of light mayo, sugar free ketchup, relish, vinegar, and a dash of granulated sugar. I’ve tested it with and without the vinegar and sugar, and you’d be fine without it. If you’re not a big mayo fan, you may like a more ketchup-heavy, tangy burger sauce like the one in my keto cheeseburger skillet.
I reference J. Kenji López Alt’s sauce research in the recipe card. You can watch him make an animal style double-double in the video below.
If you’re a burger enthusiast, you’ll enjoy scrolling through the archives of The Burger Show.
How to Make In-N-Out Animal Style Double-Doubles
Like I mentioned in my Shake Shack burger recipe, cast iron or stainless steel will be the superior choice for making smash burgers. But I wanted to test a nonstick griddle to see if the minimalist cooks could still make a good smash burger.
Spoiler: You can.
The lean ground beef won’t get as brown and extra crispy as the fattier cuts. But as long as you really smash the burgers down and give the Maillard reaction time to work its magic, you’ll be good to go. I like to use a small square of parchment paper when smashing to prevent any sticking to the spatula.
Also, it’s best practice to use a second spatula to press down instead of your fingers. (Do as I say, not as I do.)
If you’re going with the diced onion instead of caramelized onion, you’ll want to get them on straight away so they can start to soften. Once you flip, the mustard and chopped chiles cooking with the onion creates a nice blend of flavors of textures. Some onion that’s in contact with the pan will cook more than others so you get the best of both worlds.
Once you flip the burgers, they’ll be pretty much cooked. Throw on some American cheese (don’t go for low fat cheese here) and cook for another minute or so to finish cooking the burgers and melt the cheese. Stack the patty with the onion and chiles on top of the other and you’re ready to assemble your Kinda Healthy animal style double-double burgers.
Lower Calorie In-N-Out Secret Menu Options: Protein Style and the Flying Dutchman
One item on In-N-Out’s Not So Secret Menu is to get your burger wrapped in hand-leafed lettuce. They call a lettuce wrapped burger protein style, and it’s a great way to cut the carbs from your bun.
To make protein style In-N-Out burgers, you’ll assemble the burger all the same. But instead of starting with a bun, you’ll put the spread and burger patties straight on some leaf lettuce.
You could also go the Flying Dutchman route, which is simply two slices of cheese sandwiched between two patties. Since this recipe is for animal style, you can make an animal style Flying Dutchman by adding some onions (and chopped chiles) to the cheese in the center and topping with pickles and the low fat spread.
Serving Your Healthy Animal Style Double-Doubles
While an In-N-Out burger reigns supreme in the fast food space, the fries from In-N-Out are widely accepted as mediocre at best. So, why not make your own? If you have an air fryer, you’ll want to check out my air fryer cajun fries, crinkle cut fries, or spicy sweet potato fries.
For more ideas on what to serve with burgers, check out this post with the best cookout side dishes.
Well, that’s a wrap, err burger. Be sure to let me know what you think about this copycat recipe for In-N-Out animal style burgers. If you love them, I always appreciate recipe reviews! And if you have a recipe question I forgot to cover, leave a comment at the bottom of the post.
- 8 oz Lean Ground Beef (96/4)
- Salt and Pepper, to taste
- 1/4 C (30g) Diced White Onion*
- 1/4 C (30g) Diced Banana Peppers*
- 1 Tbsp (15g) Yellow Mustard
- 4 slices American Cheese
- 2 Hamburger Buns
- Iceberg Lettuce, Sliced Tomato, and Pickles (optional)
For the In-N-Out Spread**
- 2 Tbsp + 2 tsp Light Mayo
- 2 Tbsp Sugar Free Ketchup
- 2 tsp Relish
- 1/2 tsp White Vinegar
- 1/2 tsp Granulated Sugar
- Begin to preparing the diced onion and banana peppers, all toppings for burger assembly, and the In-N-Out spread.
- Toast the buns well in a large skillet or on a griddle. Optional: spread 1/2-1 tablespoon of light mayo on the buns for extra browning. Set the toasted buns aside.
- Divide the ground beef into four 2-ounce portions. Don't over handle or roll into balls like meatballs. Add a pinch of salt and black pepper and set aside.
Cooking the Burgers
- Heat your skillet or griddle over medium-high heat.
- Once hot, carefully place the ground beef, one portion at a time, in the skillet. Place a small square of parchment paper or a large non-stick spatula on top of the beef and press firmly into the skillet. You want to smash them into a thin, lacy-edged patty. Repeat with the remaining beef.
- Add the diced onion, chopped banana peppers, and yellow mustard on top of two of the four patties.
- Continue cooking until a dark brown crust forms on the bottom of each patty before flipping and adding a slice of American cheese to each patty. (Don't worry about losing some onion/chiles when flipping.)
- Cook for another minute or so after flipping. Once the cheese has melted, place the patty with the onion and peppers on top of the other patty and remove from the heat.
- Add spread on both buns, place the lettuce, tomato, and pickles on the bottom bun, followed by the burgers. Close, serve, and enjoy!
*True animal style at In-N-Out comes with caramelized onion, but I wanted a quick cooking burger. If you have time to caramelize onions, omit the diced onion from cooking and add caramelized onions during burger assembly. The chopped chiles are optional. In-N-Out uses sport peppers, but banana peppers are easier to find in my experience.
**In-N-Out's spread is a secret, but our favorite food scientist, J. Kenji López Alt, did some sleuthing to calculate ingredient ratios based on nutrition facts. This recipe makes enough sauce for about 4 burgers. So you can either cut it in half, use the extra for a fry sauce, or save for later.
For Protein Style Burgers, you can wrap the burgers in leaf lettuce instead of using buns. You can also make Flying Dutchman burgers by sandwiching the patties with two slices of cheese, no buns. Make them animal style by still adding the diced onion and topping with spread and pickles.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 2 Serving Size: 1 Burger
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 415Total Fat: 18gCarbohydrates: 28gProtein: 33g