There's no denying that In-N-Out has acquired quite the loyal following over the years, as it's become a go-to favorite burger joint of Californians and celebrities alike. Don't believe us? Just take a look at the 2019 Vanity Fair Oscars Party, which treated its famous guests to a generous helping of juicy burgers. Not even Hollywood's elite can resist the allure of this fast-food haven. So what about the options on the menu? Which are the best and worst ones?
While a double cheeseburger definitely seems like anything but healthy, registered dietitian Katey Davidson MSc, RD, says that it's possible to still be committed to your wellness goals if you make the right meal choices at this popular restaurant. To help you decipher which burgers, shakes, and fries are worth indulging in, Davidson breaks down the best and worst menu options available on the In-N-Out menu below. And yes, that includes options from their famous not-so-secret menu!
Best: Regular Hamburger With Lettuce, Tomato, Onion, ½ Sauce
When dining at this popular fast-food chain, Davidson recommends keeping your burger order simple if you are looking out for your waistline. "Once you start adding additional ingredients, you're also going to add extra calories, fat, and sodium," she says. With this in mind, it's best to stick to a simple, regular hamburger, she advises.
Best: Regular Hamburger With Lettuce, Tomato, Onion, ½ Sauce—Protein Style
A major bonus for In-N-Out fans is that you can get your burger fix in a way that's still satisfying and yet slashes empty calories. And that's thanks to their lettuce wraps that replace the traditional burger burns, which they call "protein style."
"Protein style is a great option for those looking to cut down on carbohydrates or save some calories," Davidson explains. On average, you'll save about 100 calories by switching from a bread bun to lettuce, she adds.
Best: Regular Cheeseburger With Lettuce, Tomato, Onion, ½ Sauce, Cheese
You know when you add cheese to your burger that changes things, and in this case, the fat and sodium counts have risen, but there is an upside.
"Cheese (keep it to one slice) will add about 100 calories and eight grams of fat to your meal," Davidson explains, but she did note that this order does provide a decent amount of protein, which may help satisfy your cravings and hunger overall.
Best: Regular Cheeseburger With Lettuce, Tomato, Onion, ½ Sauce, Cheese–Protein Style
Going protein-style is always a solid option because, as Davidson explains, adding in extra veggies when you can is something to always keep in mind when you're indulging in a fast-food burger.
"Always try to add lettuce, tomato, and onion," Davidson says. First, they will give you some nutrition, which is always beneficial, she explains. Second, they will help to fill your stomach up, which may help you feel full quicker, she adds.
Best: Grilled Cheese With Tomato, Lettuce, Onion
Although this option contains no protein whatsoever and isn't technically a burger, the sandwich is a beloved "secret menu" item. Davidson suggests that it's a decent low-cal choice overall for those who are in the mood for something other than a burger.
Best: Double Meat With Lettuce, Tomato, Onion, ½ sauce—Protein Style
Although she says it's a pretty suitable choice to order at In-N-Out, Davidson recommends trying to ask for half the sauce on this order if you are really looking to save on calories. "Most restaurants use too much sauce, so even half will still provide good flavor," she explains.
Worst: Double Double
Unlike the Double Meat option, which has two patties but no slices of cheese, Davidson explains that the Double Double has two patties and two slices of cheese. "Cheese can really contribute a lot of calories," she explains. It's best to stick to one slice if you're in the mood for some cheese on top of your meat.
This option is off the secret menu, and it's a burger that's made up of three patties. "As portions go up, so do calories, fat, and sodium. For example, a double-double is 200 calories more than a regular hamburger," Davidson says. With this in mind, she explains you can only imagine how much sodium and calories a triple serving of this meat will add to your meal.
Much like the 3×3 option, Davidson strongly advises against choosing this huge order when dining at In-N-Out, as it goes high on the calories, fat, and sodium. And four burger patties is just a lot to be eating at one time. Your waistline isn't going to be too happy with this secret menu option!
Worst: Animal Style
The fast-food restaurant is known for its "animal style" order upgrade, which is when a burger has all the fixings and is slathered in a secret sauce that can also be added on an order of fries. But, as Davidson explains, adding a sauce of any kind is simply adding more calories.
"Choosing animal style is probably your worst option," Davidson explains. This is because it adds all the extra toppings to an already overloaded burger, and the sauce is very high in calories and fat. So yes, even adding a few tablespoons can make your meal extremely high in calories.
Best: French Fries; Small
When it comes to adding a little something extra on to your meal, the less and plainer, the better it is for you. "For fries, order a small and skip on sauces," Davidson explains. People can really overdo it with ketchup, which is actually quite high in sugar and salt, she adds.
Worst: Chocolate Shake
Davidson says that it wouldn't really make a huge difference which flavor of shake you choose because they're pretty equal nutrition-wise, with strawberry coming in at 590 calories and vanilla at 570. But the chocolate shake does come out on top for containing the most sodium. If you're trying to be mindful of calories, she suggests skipping the shake altogether, as these drinks have a lot of sugar, something your waistline doesn't need more of when you're already consuming a fast-food meal. But if you really do want to satisfy your sweet tooth, she advises choosing a small size.