Five Guys vs. In-N-Out: Chefs Sound Off on the Clear Winner for Best Burger
For years, Five Guys and In-N-Out have been whipping up delicious burgers and fries for the masses. Five Guys, founded in Virginia in 1986, is most known for its large selection of burger toppings, whereas In-N-Out, a West Coast staple, has been around since the 1940s and is famous for its cheeseburgers. But although both make delicious food and have become national sensations, which one is actually better?
To help us answer the age-old question, "Is Five Guys better than In-N-Out?" we enlisted chefs to weigh in. The results? A resounding "not a chance." Read ahead to learn the reasons why chefs think In-N-Out is far better than Five Guys.
They use simple, high-quality ingredients
Many chefs love In-N-Out burgers because they taste great and use simple, high-quality ingredients. "Personally, I have a soft spot for In-N-Out," says Jakob Miller, barbecue pitmaster and founder at Barbecue Pals. "Their burgers are made with fresh, never frozen beef, and the toppings are always crisp and flavorful," Miller also comments on how In-N-Out always uses soft, warm buns and offers a secret sauce that "adds the perfect amount of tang." "I also appreciate that they use real potatoes for their fries, which are always crispy and delicious," Miller adds.
Chef Jeff Osaka, the owner of the conveyor belt sushi joint, Sushi-Rama, has been eating at In-N-Out for nearly 40 years and agrees it's an "all-around better burger." "Simple ingredients—from the fresh, never frozen, ground beef, hand-torn lettuce, and an always fresh bun," he adds. The fries? Osaka says he's not really a fan. "They're not great and never were," he adds. "They even used to use premium potatoes—Kennebecs—but it never made a difference."
Each burger is perfectly balanced
Jessica Randhawa, the head chef, recipe creator, and writer behind The Forked Spoon, prefers In-N-Out over Five Guys any day. "The quality and quantity of the ingredients on a basic In-N-Out hamburger or cheeseburger are just about as close to perfection as possible on a burger," Randhawa says. She also shares that none of the ingredients in In-N-Out burgers overpower each other, and the burgers are just the right size. "The size of the burger itself is also not too big, meaning you can get every ingredient in every bite," Randhawa adds.
The menu is simple and more straightforward
Chef and author Allen Bixby says that, although this was a difficult choice, he prefers In-N-Out because of its simple, high-quality menu options that make ordering a breeze. " I love the Five Guys format where you get exactly what you want on your burger, but there's a lot of decision-making there," says Bixby. "I'm going to go with so easy and so good at In-N-Out."
Chef Kevin Tien, chef of Moon Rabbit and 2023 James Beard Award Semifinalist , echoes this sentiment and feels that In-N-Out's smaller menu allows them to focus more on the quality of their burgers. "My decision is solely on the burger—I would pick In-N-Out," Tien explains. "I find that even though the options and menu may be smaller, it gives them a better focus on the quality of the burger they are putting out."
Tien shares that at Five Guys, there are often too many topping options to choose from. "While the burger is tasty, I find that it is normally all squished or smashed in between the buns and hard to discern the flavor of a classic simply well-executed burger," Tien adds. "The In-N-Out burger is perfectly layered and presented whether dining in or taking out."
The burger meat is never overcooked
Celebrity chef Gerald Harley is a fan of In-N-Out because its burgers are always perfectly seasoned and never overcooked, unlike Five Guys burgers which are often greasy. "An In-N-Out burger is undefeated and always my top choice," says Harley. "The meat is never overcooked or over seasoned—'animal style' me any day!"