In-N-Out Animal Style Burger

Go beast mode with this copycat cheese burger animal style. It comes with enough caramelized onions, cheddar cheese, special spread, lettuce, tomatoes, and pickles to satisfy even the most primal hunger.

Copycat In-N-Out animal style burger on a plate and fries beside it.

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What makes the In-N-Out Animal Style burger so good?

In-N-Out Animal Style hamburgers may be the worst-kept secret menu item ever. But when something is this delicious, people will talk.

Still, the question remains, what is an Animal style burger? It all starts by brushing the hamburger patty with mustard before it hits the pan. Add thick-cut cheddar, caramelized onions, crispy lettuce, juicy tomato slices, tangy pickles, and a signature spread. You wind up with an unforgettable cheeseburger.

Why you’ll love this Animal-style burger recipe

Although you can find dozens of In-N-Out locations on the West Coast, they don’t exist in most other areas of the country. Those not lucky enough to live near one can now recreate one of the most iconic fast food items in your own kitchen with this copycat version.

Even if there’s an In-N-Out around the corner, why not make your own and save money while ensuring you use only the best ingredients?

In and Out Burger Animal Style ingredients 

For the spread, you’ll need:

  • Mayonnaise
  • Ketchup
  • Sweet pickle relish
  • Ground black pepper
  • Salt
  • Apple cider vinegar

For the onions, you’ll need:

  • Olive oil
  • Brown sugar
  • Yellow onion chopped

For the burger patties, you’ll need:

  • Ground beef
  • Ground black pepper
  • Salt
  • Yellow mustard

Use 80/20 medium ground chuck. 

For finishing the Animal Style Cheeseburgers, you’ll need:

  • Cheddar cheese, sliced
  • Hamburger buns
  • Dill Pickle chips
  • Green leaf lettuce
  • Tomatoes, sliced 

Thick-sliced yellow American cheese is what they serve at the restaurant, but feel free to substitute your favorite cheese. 

Copycat In-N-Out animal style burger ingredients on a marble surface.

How to make an Animal Style Burger

To prepare the spread:

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the mayo, ketchup, sweet pickle relish, ground black pepper, salt, and apple cider vinegar. 
  2. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place it in the fridge.

To caramelize the onions:

  1. Put a pan over medium-low heat.
  2. Dice the yellow onions and add to the hot pan with olive oil and brown sugar. Stir well. The brown sugar speeds up the caramelization process, and you can leave it out if you want. 
  3. Cook uncovered for about 10 to 15 minutes (longer without the brown sugar) or until the onions caramelize. Stir from time to time. You have plenty of time to finish cooking the burgers while the onions are on the stove. 
Collage of making spread sauce and caramelized onions for animal style burger.

To cook the burgers:

  1. In a medium bowl, use your hands to lightly mix the ground chuck with ground black pepper and salt. Try not to compress the meat too much, or you’ll end up with overly dense burgers. 
  2. Form four patties that are just slightly wider than the buns you are using. Set off to the side to rest.
  3. Heat a non-stick large skillet, grill pan, or flat top to medium.
  4. Place the beef patties on the top of the cooking surface and cover. Cook for three to four minutes, depending on how you like your burgers. 
  5. Brush yellow mustard on top of the patties and flip. Cook the opposite side for another three to four minutes. 
  6. Transfer the cooked burgers to a plate and cover each patty with a slice of cheese. 
Collage of cooking burger patties for animal style burgers.

To finish Animal Style Cheeseburgers:

  1. Pour out the excess fat from the skillet, return to the heat, and lightly toast the cut side of the buns to golden brown.
  2. Start assembling the burgers by spooning the special spread onto the bottom bun. Put the pickle chips on the spread. 
  3. Next comes a leaf of lettuce and a slice of tomato. Place the patty on the tomato and top with the caramelized onion.
  4. Put more spread on the top bun, and then place the top bun on the burger.
  5. Repeat with the remaining ingredients. 
Collage of assembling an animal style burger.

What to serve with Animal Style Cheeseburgers

  • French fries. Crisp, golden French fries are the classic side dish to have with a cheese burger Animal Style. Or go all out with animal style fries.
  • Shakes. Thick and creamy milkshakes go great with a burger. Keep things simple with chocolate or vanilla, or try something more exotic. Try dipping fries in the shake. It’s so much better than it sounds!
  • Onion rings. From light and airy to thick and hearty, onion rings combine salty and sweet flavors and add a lot of crunch to your meal. 
Copycat In-N-Out animal style burger on a plate.

How to store it 

Assembled burgers will get soggy after only a few hours in the fridge, so try to keep each component of the recipe in a separate airtight container. Do not refrigerate the buns. 

What is the best way to reheat the burger?

Reheating burgers on the stovetop tends to dry them out. It is much better to warm them in the oven.

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. 
  2. Remove the cheese from the burger patty and reserve.
  3. Place the burger on aluminum foil and sprinkle some water on top. 
  4. Wrap the burger loosely in the aluminum foil and place it directly on the rack. Heat for 7 to 10 minutes or until hot.
Copycat In-N-Out animal style burger on a small wood serving board.

Favorite fast food burger recipes

Check out more of my easy burger recipes and the best copycat fast food recipes on CopyKat!

Copycat In-N-Out animal style burger on a plate and fries beside it.

In-N-Out Animal Style Burger

You can make a tasty animal style burger at home with this easy copycat recipe.
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Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: In-N-Out Recipes
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 4
Calories: 804kcal


Spread Sauce

  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons sweet pickle relish
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 small yellow onion chopped
  • 1 pound ground beef (80/20)
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons yellow mustard
  • 4 slices cheddar cheese (thick slices)
  • 4 hamburger buns
  • 4 slices tomato
  • 8 leaves green leaf lettuce


  • Prepare the sauce by adding mayonnaise, ketchup, relish, vinegar, salt and pepper to a small bowl and mixing until thoroughly combined.
  • Heat olive oil and brown sugar over medium heat in a saucepan.
  • Add onion and cook for 10-12 minutes until caramelized, stirring frequently. Set aside.
  • In a medium mixing bowl, add ground beef, pepper and salt. Mix until thoroughly combined.
  • Divide into 4 equal portions, rolling and compacting with hands before flattening into ½-⅓ inch patties.
  • Over medium heat, lightly coat a skillet with non-stick cooking spray and add patties.
  • Using a spoon, spread a tablespoon of yellow mustard over the top of each burger.
  • Cover with a lid and cook on medium heat for 3-4 minutes until browned, flip and cook another 3-4 minutes. Burgers should reach 160°F internally.
  • Once burgers are done, remove from heat and place them on a plate. Allow to cool slightly then top each burger with a slice of cheese.
  • Lightly toast the buns by placing them face down in a skillet over medium heat for 2-3 minutes.
  • Assemble the burgers by adding a teaspoon of sauce to the bottom buns. Next add lettuce, tomato, patty, caramelized onions, additional sauce and top bun.


Calories: 804kcal | Carbohydrates: 39g | Protein: 30g | Fat: 59g | Saturated Fat: 17g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 15g | Monounsaturated Fat: 22g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 109mg | Sodium: 1693mg | Potassium: 616mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 16g | Vitamin A: 2723IU | Vitamin C: 9mg | Calcium: 242mg | Iron: 5mg

About Stephanie Manley

I recreate your favorite restaurant recipes, so you can prepare these dishes at home. I help you cook dinner, and serve up dishes you know your family will love. You can find most of the ingredients for all of the recipes in your local grocery store.

Stephanie is the author of's Dining Out in the Home, and's Dining Out in the Home 2.

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