How to Eat Vegan at In-n-Out
If you’re from the West Coast or even some Southern states, you already know In-n-Out. The fast-food burger chain enjoys a stellar reputation when it comes to burgers. But what if you’re a vegan? How to eat vegan at In-n-Out?
Well, there’s no shortage of good vegan burgers these days, with major chains like TGIF, Bareburgers, and Shake Shack offering plant-based burger patties. Nevertheless, In-n-Out is a different league for many, as they prefer their burgers over anything else.
When it comes to eating vegan at this restaurant, there’s good news and some bad news. Also, there are workarounds!
Is In-n-Out Vegan-Friendly?
The unfortunate thing about In-n-Out is that it’s not super vegan-friendly. There are vegan options on the menu, but they are very (read extremely) limited. This is a bit sad and also surprising, given the popularity some vegan burgers like Beyond Meat and Impossible Burgers are enjoying, even amongst non-vegans.
Calls for the restaurant chain to add vegan burgers have only been growing louder over the years, but they have yet to embrace a vegan burger officially. There was even a Change.org petition that thousands of people signed. While you can eat vegan there, don’t expect too much, especially if you’ve had a tasty plant-based burger elsewhere.
So what are the vegan options at In-n-Out?
Yes, In-n-Out fries are vegan. According to their allergen guide published on the website, the fries are made of potatoes and sunflower oil. And, by the way, the fries really are delicious.
Many vegans tend to be wary of fries in non-vegan restaurants because of the fear of contamination. Since they don’t really have anything fried on the menu other than fries, you can rest easy that their fries really are vegan.
You can order the fries to be ‘well done’ or ‘light well’, either of which is quite crispy, but the former is even crispier than the latter.
Now, this is a bit funny. In many places, veggie burgers typically use veggie patties made from vegetables. However, the veggie burger at In-n-Out is, well, just vegetables.
It’s just tomatoes, onions, and lettuce, with In-n-out spread inside buns. If you just want some veggies with some bun, this is a comparatively healthier option than their other burgers. However, if you’re looking for an authentic vegan burger experience, this isn’t for you.
All hope is not lost, as you can try to make this a little better. You can swap the regular onions with whole or chopped grilled onions.
You also have to avoid the sauce as it’s mayo-based, so not vegan. Add some yellow chilies as well to add a bit of spice.
That’s about it! Oh, you can also have their lemonade, which is vegan.
You can try making do with this so-called veggie burger, but there are better options out there. Since In-n-Out is really popular, people are even sneaking in their own vegan burgers to turn this bland veggie burger into a delicious plant-based burger.
If you have to cook your own burger to go eat it at a restaurant, you might as well enjoy it at home and save the money for something else.
Why Doesn’t In-n-Out Have Vegan Burgers?
You might think that it’s peculiar that a chain like In-n-Out doesn’t offer decent vegan variety to its patrons when so many of the other big burger chains are readily doing so. Well, it’s hard to determine the exact reason why, as even after requests from people, they haven’t done so.
One possible reason for this could be the fact that this particular chain is known for its consistency. Perhaps, adding a new line or even one product that’s considerably different from their existing menu may be a step away from that very ingredient that makes them so popular.
Obviously, vegan burgers would require special ingredients, at least burgers and sauces. Also, they might have to get new equipment to grill those burgers to avoid contamination. And, of course, they will need to train the staff accordingly as well.
Yes, they do have a secret menu, which could rather easily accommodate a vegan option every once in a while, but for some reason, they haven’t used it for that. Perhaps because of the very reasons just mentioned.
It’s high time that In-n-Out officially introduced a vegan burger, considering how high the demand is and that people are willing to cook their own burgers and take them into the restaurant to have that In-n-Out experience with their delicious fries.
The Alternative Vegan In-n-Out
Since eating vegan at In-n-Out is a bit difficult, you should consider alternatives. You can enjoy a decent vegan burger in many franchises around the country, as well as in specialty restaurants.
Here are some vegan alternatives to In-n-Out:
Monty’s Good Burger
There aren’t that many burger chains you can equate to In-n-Out in terms of taste and value, but there’s one in Los Angeles that hits the mark pretty well.
If you’re looking for a truly In-n-Out vegan burger experience, Monty’s Good Burger is the best option. People who have had it and also had In-n-Out burgers have found them to be very similar.
Food Insider conducted blind tasting with some burger enthusiasts giving them Monty’s Good Burger and the In-n-Out Burger. Non-vegans leaned towards the latter, but they did agree that Monty’s burger tasted really good. So it’s safe to say that it fares way better, at least when compared to the vegan burger (not even a burger) that In-n-Out is currently offering.
Bareburger enjoys a special place in the vegan world, thanks to the fact that it has a whole vegan menu. Where most restaurants offer just one or two vegan burger choices, Bareburger offers plenty. You can pick from the burgers on the menu or even customize them to get your burger exactly how you like it.
What makes Bareburger special is that anything you could think of in a burger, they have the vegan version for it. Thinking about bacon? They have the tempeh bacon. Craving mayo? They have the habanero mayo which is vegan. Like that melted cheese? They have vegan cheese.
You can also enjoy vegan shakes at this restaurant.
The only drawback is that Bareburger is present in only a few states, including New York (where it originated), Connecticut, New Jersey, Ohio, California, and Florida. It’s also present in Canada, Japan, and Germany.
While Carl’s Jr. doesn’t offer a variety like Barburger, it’s still somewhat better than In-n-Out for vegans. At least you’ll have an actual burger in your sandwich.
Carl’s Jr. offers the Beyond Burger patty that you can swap into any burger on the menu. However, watch out for the sauces and go for only the vegan ones.
Shake Shack finally caught the vegan fever and introduced a veggie burger in 2018 at select locations. Now, when they say veggie burger, they really do mean veggie burger. It’s their own proprietary veggie patty made with black beans, brown rice, and roasted beets.
Now, this is a little different from other vegan burgers that rely on burgers like Impossible and Beyond Burgers. Shake Shack hasn’t tried to mimic meat or its taste. Rather, they are treating this veggie burger as a burger made of veggies, so don’t expect meat-like texture or taste. That said, it’s not like the mushy patties we’ve all had in one place or another in the name of ‘veggie’ burger.
In case you didn’t know, they also have another vegan option called the mushroom burger, which you guessed it, only has mushrooms.
Native Foods is another veggie burger mecca that pioneered these plant-based burgers back in 1994. They have multiplied their locations since and are present in many places on the West Coast.
What really separates Native Foods from the rest is the freshness of ingredients. Everything is fresh and made from scratch. Of course, everything is also vegan.
You also have the ‘build your own’ menu where you can choose the veggie patty you want, the toppings and sauces to go along with it.
The buns are mostly made of whole grains, which makes this one of the healthiest burger joints in the country.
How to Make In-n-Out Style Vegan Burger at Home?
Rather than limiting yourself to the limited vegan options at In-n-Out, why not try making a similar burger at home with vegan ingredients?
You might not get the exact same results, but you can enjoy a tasty, guilt-free burger with the healthiest of ingredients. The internet is brimming with burger recipes that emulate In-n-Out burgers. Just find one that’s vegan or even if it’s not vegan, you can swap non-vegan ingredients with plant-based ones.
So here’s what you’re going to need to make that In-n-Out vegan burger at home:
If you have time on your hands and want your burgers to be very homely, you can make your own buns. Try out this whole wheat vegan burger bun recipe.
Alternatively, you can get something from the supermarket that’s vegan-friendly. If you’re lucky, maybe you have a bakery near you that makes them fresh.
Now, we already learned that the In-n-Out sauce is not really vegan because it has mayo. However, the good news is that it’s very easy to make and you can substitute mayo with any vegan store-bought mayo. The other ingredients to this delicious sauce are ketchup, relish, and vinegar.
Mix everything up in a small bowl and you have your In-n-Out copy sauce ready.
Alternatively, use any of your favorite vegan ready-made sauces like BBQ sauce, Mexican chipotle, or just plain vegan mayonnaise like Best Foods Vegan Dressing and Spread.
Caramelized Onions and Veggies
Take a medium-sized onion (for two burgers) and chop it into small pieces. Splash some vegetable oil on a griddle or pan, and saute the onion until they are golden brown.
For other veggie toppings, take some lettuce, slice a tomato, and maybe some chopped pickles from the jar lying in your fridge.
You could also add yellow chillies like they have at In-n-Out.
Now, you can find vegan burgers in your nearest supermarket or vegan grocer easily. You could go with the popular choices like Beyond Burgers or Impossible Burgers. There are other decent veggie burgers as well, including:
Just grill these with a little bit of plant-based oil, and top with a slice of vegan cheese. Like Monty’s, cover it with a lid to give the cheese some steam to melt beautifully over the patty.
Even in vegan cheese, there are just so many options. Daiya Dairy-Free Cheddar Slices are perfect for making the In-n-Out vegan equivalent. They are soy-free, cholesterol-free, and generally taste really good.
Violife Just Like Smoked Provolone Slices are also a good choice if you want that strong hit of cheese when you bite into the burger.
Now, you just pretty much put together the delicious burger.
If you’re wondering how to eat vegan at In-n-Out, your choices aren’t that great. Perhaps if you’re just looking for a snack, you could enjoy their fries, which are plant-based. However, the veggie burger they offer is far from anything else they offer on the menu, which you can’t consume as a vegan.
Until In-n-Out gets serious about introducing vegan alternatives, it’s best if you took your money earmarked for burgers to one of the many alternatives.