Here’s What’s Worth It (and What’s Not) on the In-N-Out Secret Menu

Spoiler alert: Nothing Animal Style won.

Photo by Dustin Downing for Thrillist
Photo by Dustin Downing for Thrillist

In-N-Out’s timeless appeal is simple. With just a couple of items on the menu, made fresh, without frozen ingredients, and to-order every time, it’s clear why it’s at the very top of the fast-food hierarchy. But what those in the know know is that that menu is customizable. The In-N-Out secret menu is a not-actually-very-secret-at-all list of ways to upgrade from a pretty good burger to a totally amazing burger with just a couple of words. But what are the best things on that secret menu? That’s where we came in. We ordered in every single way possible (well, that we know of) and ranked the In-N-Out secret menu so that you can next-level your next order. Spoiler alert: Nothing Animal Style won:

15. Extra-toasted burger

Let's be honest; this is barely a secret menu item. Basically, they let the bun toast a littttttle eeeennnnssie bit longer on the grill so that you can see browning. This is also called "the way the bun is most of the time and you just don't notice it." Delicious? Of course. But let's call a spade a spade: this is just a burger. A great burger. But just a burger.

Photo by Dustin Downing for Thrillist

14. Flying Dutchman

The Flying Dutchman—two patties with cheese melted between them—inches up the list because it's, you know, an actual secret menu item that’s super fun to say. But it's just two patties with cheese melted between them. Does anyone not ranking secret menu items ACTUALLY ORDER THIS? No. No, they definitely don't.

Photo by Dustin Downing for Thrillist

13. Protein Style

Why is this ranked so poorly? Duh: it has no buns. IT HAS NO BUNS. That said, I try to eat healthier these days, and I can order this at In-N-Out without feeling guilty about it, so there is that.

Photo by Dustin Downing for Thrillist

12. Grilled cheese

If you're a vegetarian, this is No. 1 on the list. I am not a vegetarian.

11. Neapolitan shake

Frankly, I'd probably have ranked a half-and-half shake with just vanilla and chocolate higher up on the list than this classic, which for some reason allows strawberry into its unholy trinity. Also, by the time I got around to drinking it, it was sorta melty, which is a risk you're gonna have to take if you order it.

10. Mustard-grilled patty burger

Mildly more flavorful than a traditional burger, this is like Animal Style for people who don't like pickles or grilled onions. Which is something I'll never understand. How can you not like pickles or grilled onions??

Photo by Dustin Downing for Thrillist

9. Cheese fries

Are they better than regular fries? Yes. Are they better than well-done fries?

8. Well-done fries

No. They are not.

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7. 4x4 burger

Right now, you are saying, "I do not trust anyone who clearly ranked a 3x3 higher than a 4x4." But you should, because a 4x4 is just too much: you can't get it all in one bite, and when you do stuff it in your mouth, the meat ratio is off.

Photo by Dustin Downing for Thrillist

6. Whole grilled onion burger

Because Animal Style uses the grilled onions that have been sliced and sitting on the grill for an untold amount of time, you may not even know you can order a freshly grilled, perfectly circular onion to top your burger. I'm here to tell you that you can, and if you're not gonna go full-on Animal Style (why are you not doing this??), you probably should.

Photo by Dustin Downing for Thrillist

5. Root beer float

This tastes like childhood. And the fact that it's soft-serve makes it even better than childhood.

Photo by Dustin Downing for Thrillist

4. Animal Style burger

It's the most well-known secret menu item for a reason: the balance between the mustard-grilled patty, the pickles, and the grilled onions smothered in that cheese make it tasty in all the right ways.

3. 3x3 burger

If you thought a standard Double-Double had the perfect meat-to-everything-else ratio, I've got some news for you: a 3x3 is even better. I said it, and I mean it.

Photo by Dustin Downing for Thrillist

2. Animal Style fries

You may only eat these covered-in-sauce-and-cheese heart-attackers once in your life, but that once in your life will be SO WORTH IT. Promise.

Photo by Dustin Downing for Thrillist

1. Add peppers & pickles

You're saying to yourself, "Self, is this guy from Thrillist crazy? He's saying add peppers -- which puts the spicy-and-sweet banana peppers that you've never even spotted sitting by the ketchup station right on the burger, along with pickles – PICKLES -- is THE BEST secret menu item?" Yes, I am saying that, and yes, you should try it yourself: the hit of spice and vinegar is the extra flavor you never knew you needed. I regretted that the burger was just a cheeseburger and not a Double-Double. Or a 3x3...

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Jeff Miller is the founding editor of Thrillist LA. Follow him at @jeffmillerla on Instagram.