Should we or should we not add burgers to the list of things not to talk about in polite company — in addition to religion and politics? Because burger choice is very personal, and just think about the number of times you’ve innocently waded into a pool of steaming hot water over talk of the best burger place: In N Out or Shake Shack? Or what about Five Guys? (The answer is Shake Shack btw).
People get fired up about their burgers, and I get it. A perfectly pink-middled, well-built cheeseburger is more exciting to me than most things. And even though I’m team Shake Shack, I am fascinated by how beloved In N Out is on the west coast. A few years ago, on a trip to California, I went to In N Out and ordered a Double Double burger and I have to say, I got the hype. Everything was fresh, full of flavor, and reeked of quality.
Homemade In N Out Burger Recipe with Lighter Secret Spread
In full-on summer grilling mode, I was inspired to make a homemade In N Out burger, with 2 ultra-thin patties–each patty weighing only 1/8th pound, rather than 1 slightly thicker ¼-pound patty. If you’ve ever eaten at a fast food place, you know how thin those patties are. Having 2 to stack, even though the portion of meat stays the same overall, gives you a sense that you’re eating more. And that’s just plain fun.
I seasoned the patties with salt, pepper, and garlic powder, and grilled them on my Staub Cast Iron 12-inch Steam Grill—which is a large grill pan I can set on my stovetop, and the great thing is, after I get those perfect grill marks on my burgers, I can put the cheese on top of the patties, cover the pan with with the lid, and let the cheese melt. It’s the best indoor grill pan.
Since the patties are so thin, they only require a quick sear on both sides. Once done, I top them with the In N Out traditions: cheddar cheese, finely chopped sautéed onions, shredded lettuce, tomato, and homemade “spread.”
My remake is 450 calories — 220 calories lighter than the classic Double Double at In N Out, which clocks in at 670 calories!
Shred the Cheese
Cheese is the struggle, isn’t it? In order to cover 2 patties, I decided to shred my cheese rather than using 2 slices, since each slice of cheese typically weighs around an ounce and can run you between 80 and 100 calories. Shredding the cheese myself allowed me to top each patty with about 2 tablespoons of shredded cheese—which is plenty for such thin patties, especially knowing there are
A Lighter Secret Sauce, aka “Spread”
The famous “spread” that you find smeared on In N Out burgers tastes a whole lot like Thousand Island dressing. To achieve that same sweet and tangy pickled flavor with a creamy consistency, you need 3 main ingredients: mayonnaise, ketchup, and sweet pickle relish. Some recipes will call for white vinegar, too, (Food Network’s fabulous adaptation of In N Out’s famous burger does), but I used nonfat Greek yogurt in place of half of the mayo (to reduce calories), and the natural tang it provides is enough to skip the vinegar altogether. That slightly tart note of yogurt is so appreciated in this spread because it balances the sweetness of the ketchup and relish.
Eat It Protein Style!
If you want to lighten it even more, feel free to ditch the bun and eat the burger “protein-style”–an option at In N Out–and wrap the burger in crisp lettuce. Your bunless burger will clock in at 345 calories, sauce and all!