How to Make In-N-Out Animal Style Fries at Home

In-N-Out Animal Style Fries — Thrillist Recipes
Laura Murray/Thrillist
Laura Murray/Thrillist

I live in New York City, which is ideal until I'm faced with a craving for In-N-Out's Animal Style fries. I can easily track down the chain's basics, like fresh-cut fries, and you may have heard of the East Coast's In-N-Out burger rival Shake Shack, which sates my burger needs, but that combination of caramelized onions, melted cheese, and creamy special sauce piled atop French fries is approximately 1,527 miles away (hey Rockwall, TX!), making it practically unattainable.

Because I can't even write about the stuff without drooling, I decided to figure out the recipe. The basics -- caramelized onions and cheese -- were simple, but it was that sauce that took a lot of tinkering. I essentially made a Thousand Island dressing and, with the help of my taste testers, worked up to the right amount of relish. The end result has the seal of approval from multiple Thrillist California natives and In-N-Out fanatics, and, importantly, it lets me stop planning road trips to Northern Texas.

In-N-Out Animal Style Fries  — Thrillist Recipes
Laura Murray/Thrillist

In-N-Out Animal Style Fries Recipe

Total Time: 1 hour
Yield: 2 servings (about 3 cups)

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, plus 1 quart for frying
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 8 ounces frozen regular-cut fries
  • ⅓ cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon sweet pickle relish
  • ½ teaspoon yellow mustard
  • ½ teaspoon white vinegar
  • ¼ teaspoon sugar
  • 2 slices American cheese
  • Heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add onion and salt, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 30 minutes. If the onions brown too quickly, reduce the heat to low.
  • Uncover, increase the heat to medium-high and continue to cook, stirring often, until caramelized, about 8 minutes. Add ½ cup water to the skillet, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Simmer, stirring, until the water evaporates, about 2 more minutes; transfer to a bowl and set aside.
  • Preheat 1 quart vegetable oil to 375℉ in a deep fryer or heavy pot fitted with an oil thermometer. Fry French fries until deeply golden and very crispy (you want to overcook them a little), about 15 minutes.
  • While the fries cook, mix together mayonnaise, ketchup, relish, mustard, vinegar, and sugar in a bowl; set aside.
  • Drain and plate the hot fries and place cheese directly over fries, top with caramelized onions, and a generous smothering of the sauce.