I've tried everything on In-N-Out's secret menu. This is my roundup of what's best.
If you visit California and ask residents which fast food restaurant is best, most of them will say In-N-Out. It's so hyped up that many out-of-state visitors make a point of eating at this restaurant during their stay. Some people will say the restaurant is over-hyped, and others will say they love it. Many chefs, in fact, praise In-N-Out for its fresh ingredients and amazing taste (see the Anthony Bourdain video above for an example; may he rest in peace!).
For those who don't get the hype, it's likely because they aren't used to the taste of actual fresh food or the fact that they don't know about the secret menu. Some of the most delicious food is on the secret menu—but it's not really the kind of thing you would know about the first time you go. Knowing about the secret menu requires hearing about it from friends or doing some online digging.
I've lived in Southern California all my life, and I know all about the secret menu. However, there are many items on this menu I've never tried. And while you might think I am biased because this restaurant is one of my all-time favorites, you probably wouldn't be looking at this review if you didn't enjoy it, too.
So let me take you on a journey through all of the delightful secret offerings at In-N-Out. I'll tell you which ones are better than others. Hopefully, this will help guide your decisions next time you visit this restaurant.
Secret Menu Burger Items
- Extra Toasted Bun - When you order a burger, they always toast your bun, but this makes it extra toasted. Not burnt, but toasted even more. I love toasted food, so this sounds delicious, but I didn't notice much difference in taste. I think the only difference was that the bun didn't fall apart as easily.
- Animal Style - This is the most popular menu item you can get at In-N-Out. Most burgers come with thousand island dressing, cheese, lettuce, tomato, and onion if you ask. This one replaces the whole onion with chopped up caramalized onions, the patties with mustard fried patties, and adds pickles. It's delicious.
- Flying Dutchman - I've actually ordered a flying dutchman on many occasions. It's kind of like a grilled cheese sandwich, except instead of buns, there are two burger patties acting as the bread. Some people might not like this burger because it's kind of plain and I get that, but I do like it sometimes when I'm tired of all the toppings on all the burgers and want something more simple to eat. Most fast food patties can't stand alone like this, but In-N-Out genuinely has high quality ingredients, so this is still really tasty.
- 4x4/3x3 - I'm not of the mindset that more meat equals more deliciousness. Like when I eat at McDonald's, I might get the quarter pounder, but never the double quarter pounder. It's just too much meat and it grosses me out, so when I see excessive patties like this, I feel apprehensive. But In-N-Out meat and cheese is so delicious that extra patties and cheese just add to the deliciousness. The only problem is that the burger is so big, it's hard to fit your mouth around it.
- Grilled Cheese - You order a grilled cheese at most fast food places, they are going to give you a hamburger bun fried with melted cheese in the middle. Not In-N-Out. This is the vegetarian option, so they include everything except the meat. This includes the spread, the tomatoes, the lettuce, and the onions (if you want them.) I've never tried this before because honestly it sounded disgusting to me, but the toppings on In-N-Out burgers are so flavorful and wonderful that this is actually delicious. I almost didn't notice that the hamburger patty wasn't there.
- Grilled Cheese Plain - If you want a real grilled cheese, then ask for the grilled cheese, but make sure to ask for it plain. It's all right. I mean the bun is good and the cheese is good, but it's nothing too exciting and if you let it get cold, it gets really hard and gross.
- Protein Style - I don't enjoy protein style very much. It's not gross, it's just other things are better. It's like eating a salad using your hand and personally I'd just rather eat a regular salad than this if given the option. It's a great option for people going low carb, but I prefer other menu items.
- Mustard Grilled Patty - When they make animal style burgers, they fry the patties in mustard. It gives it a nice tangy, mustard flavor, which is delicious. But some people don't want the pickles and grilled onions, they just want the mustard patties. So here is an option for those people. Personally, I prefer to go all animal style or nothing.
- Whole Grilled Onion - There's chopped up caramelized onions and whole raw onions, this is the compromise: caramelized whole onions. I feel this has a lighter taste than the raw onion, but isn't quite as caramelized in flavor as the chopped onions. It's still great, but I prefer one of the other two options. You might like this if you want onion, but want something subtler than the other two.
Secret Menu: Fries
- Well Done - When I get fries at In-N-Out, I always get them well done. Just a warning, they make them really crispy, so this isn't for everyone. Some of the fries are so crunchy in fact, it's like eating potato chips which I enjoy. It also enhances animal style fries and cheese fries. The toppings on those fries can make the fries stick together or get soggy, so I prefer them well done when I order them so that is less likely to happen.
- Light Well - This is the opposite of well done. These are fries that aren't cooked all the way. If you have trouble chewing things, I understand why you would order these fries, otherwise I'd avoid them. They're too mushy. Fries need some crispiness.
- Cheese Fries - Just a slice or two of American cheese melted on some fries. At most fast food places, I would think this sounds disgusting, but In-N-Out has high quality ingredients, so it's actually flavorful and delicious.
- Animal Style Fries - There is nothing else in the world like Animal Style fries. Some people aren't going to like them because they have a very unique taste, but most people love them. These fries have thousand island dressing, onions, and cheese on top of them. If you hate thousand island dressing, you probably won't like this, but if you already enjoy the Animal Style burgers, then you'll love these too!
Secret Menu: Shakes
- Neapolitan Shake - I don't know if it's all the shakes or just the one I got, but the strawberry flavor was very strong with this shake. I'm not a big fan of strawberry ice cream, but it tasted all right.
- Root Beer Float - It's just like any other root beer float. If you have a craving, then you should go for it! It's a great complement to the other In-N-Out food.