Whole30 In-N-Out Burger (Protein Style & Animal Style!)

This post is dedicated to Mark, who loves a good In-n-Out burger. ❤

I was never so obsessed with the food itself, but I can’t deny that there was always something fun about chowing down on that Insta-famous burger when I lived in LA. It might have been that when you see the classic red palm tree pattern you’re just thoroughly reminded of L.A, which in turn conjures up all these other appealing, idealistic images of that town: bougie eateries, glamorous Hollywoodites, the beach, etc. Or it could be that ordering a “double double animal style protein style” is just simply more fun than ordering “a quarter pounder with cheese”.

Regardless when I saw this recipe for a Whole30 In-N-Out Burger, I knew I had to try it. Whole30 fast food dupes are probably the most fun recipes to make and figure out. And Mark will undoubtedly ask for this once he moves away from L.A, so better to perfect it now so that he gets as close to the real deal as possible. He deserves that!


So for anyone who isn’t familiar with the In-N-Out lingo, it’s like this: a “double double” is two burger patties. “Animal style” refers to this special animal sauce & heavily caramelized onions that they add to the burgers & fries. “Protein style” means to wrap the burger in a bunch of lettuce, as opposed to using a traditional hamburger bun. So, it’s not uncommon to order a “double double cheeseburger, animal style and protein style”. That’s what this recipe is for, minus the cheese.

My order would always be a double double cheeseburger protein style & a chocolate shake. Mark would get the double double cheeseburger animal style, animal style fries, and a vanilla shake. So you can see this is truly RIGHT UP HIS ALLEY!


The real star of this recipe is the animal sauce. You can tell in our orders above that while I never really cared for it (I like my burgers no-nonsense), Mark is all about the animal sauce. With that being said, in this case it’s what takes a good burger and turns it into an In-N-Out burger. And this stuff is GOOD. Sweet and tangy, but not overpowering.

The other thing to remember about animal style burgers is the caramelized onions. These are crucial. You caramelize them for seriously 30 minutes. Again, I typically prefer onions lightly sautéed or even raw. But I can’t deny that it makes the whole burger taste totally authentic.

Pro tip: Make these items the night before. Especially the ketchup and mayo that are needed for the sauce. The onions can be reheated and the sauce can be stored in a mason jar in the fridge, which makes the whole project seem just a tad more manageable (although it’s fairly easy anyway so whatever). 



Whole30 In-N-Out Burgers (Protein Style & Animal Style!)


1 egg, room temperature

1/2 cup + 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

8 oz tomato sauce

6 oz tomato paste

6 oz water

2 tbsp apple cider vinegar

6 tbsp & 2 tsp coconut aminos

1/2 tsp garlic powder

salt & pepper

2 tbsp dill pickles chips, chopped into small bits + more chips for garnish

1/2 tsp white vinegar

2 white onions, finely chopped

1 medium head of iceberg lettuce

1/2 lb ground beef

1/4 cup yellow mustard

1 tomato, sliced


First, make whole30 compliant ketchup and whole30 compliant mayonnaise. To make the mayonnaise, place 1/2 cup of olive oil and the egg in a wide-mouthed mason jar. Use an immersion blender and move from the bottom of the jar towards the top to emulsify and form the mayo. Set aside.

In a saucepan, combine the tomato sauce, tomato paste, water, apple cider vinegar, 5 tbsp of coconut aminos, garlic powder, and a pinch of salt. Combine these ingredients well and simmer until ketchup is slightly reduced. Transfer the ketchup to a mason jar and let cool completely in the fridge.

To make the animal sauce, combine 1/2 cup of the mayonnaise, 3 tablespoons of the ketchup, 2 tbsp of chopped dill pickles, the white vinegar, and 1 tbsp + 2 tsp of coconut aminos in a bowl. Mix until well combined.

In a nonstick skillet, heat 1 tbsp olive oil on medium high heat. Once the skillet is hot, add the onions and a couple pinches of salt and immediately bring heat down to medium low. Stir the onions occasionally and allow them to caramelize and brown. This takes 15-20 minutes. Eventually, when the onions are browning and they start to look a little dry, add a tablespoon of water. Continue to cook until they look a little dry again. Add another tablespoon of water. Cook until really, really caramelized. Finally, transfer them to a bowl and allow to cool.

Take the ground beef and season with some salt and pepper. With some of the beef, form a little meatball. It should be about 1- 1.5 inches in diameter. Flatten this into a patty. Make it REALLY, really thin. Like so thin that you think “this won’t work”. The patty will shrink and thicken as it cooks. Trust me!

In a fresh grill pan, heat last bit of olive oil over medium high heat. Once pan is really hot, add the patties. Immediately squirt some mustard onto the top facing sides of the cooking patties, and spread the mustard around a bit. Cook for 3 minutes on one side, then flip so that the mustard side is down. Cook again for 1 more minute. Remove patties from heat.

To prepare your lettuce buns, hold the iceberg head so that the stem faces up. Twirl the iceberg head so that the lettuce leaves appear to fan out to the left and right of the stem. Get as close to the stem as possible, position knife so that handle is facing you and blade is facing directly out from you, and cut to the immediate left and right of the stem. You should have one flat piece that includes the stem but no round leaves, and then two half-spherical shapes of mostly lettuce leaves. Discard the flat stem piece. With the two half-spherical parts, gently separate 2-3 concave lettuce leaves out at a time. It’s best to make sure each “bun” is actually 2-3 pieces of lettuce so that you have more support for your burger.

Finally, assemble the burger! Take one lettuce bun and add a tablespoon of animal sauce. Then add a couple of dill pickle chips. Next add a tomato slice, followed by the first beef patty. Add some caramelized onions. Top with another beef patty, some more caramelized onions, and a little more sauce. Cover with the other lettuce bun. Wrap the whole thing up in some parchment paper (another classic west coast fast food move) and eat immediately.


Day 19 of January Whole30 and I’m a little bit in disbelief that we’re 2/3rds finished! I’ve loved getting creative in the kitchen again and getting some control over my sweet tooth. But I won’t lie, I’m so looking forward to eating a tuna melt and enjoying some chocolate again. 😉


Moving Update

I’m so sorry for my radio silence, guys. It’s been wild over here!

I got so many positive responses to my recent big news both on and off social media. Thank you!!! Every day I get more and more excited about this and feel certain it’s the right thing to do, which feels incredible. I can’t wait to be home again. I thought it would be fun to share a little update on how things have been going.

So. I found an apartment (can’t wait to share more on that soon!) in Raleigh super close to where I’ll be working. Two huge items off the to-do list! I’m already dreaming up how I’ll be decorating the place and I can’t wait to share that process here, too. The only obstacle is the lease doesn’t start until June, so I’m packing up most of my belongings, storing them with Mark here in Los Angeles until my move-in date, and then shipping them out. Packing is fun! I’m using it as an excuse to purge everything. I’m stealing lots of boxes from work and had a friend donate packing materials, so it’s been pretty cost effective so far. V important. Shipping will be a whole other story.

My mom will be flying out to LA the second week of May and we’ll be driving across the country together! We always did summer road trips together while I was growing up, so I’m actually pretty excited for this. Currently in search of really great books on tape, so suggestions are welcome! Once I’m in Raleigh I’ll be staying with a family friend until I can move in to my place.

Mark decided to stay in our current apartment and is having a friend from work move in. Our landlord offered him a 6 month lease and then he’ll go month to month until December when he’ll finally join me on the east coast! We’re currently working on getting the place fixed up a bit for them (professional carpet cleaning, repainting, some minor repairs) which has things a little chaotic. We had to remove all of the furniture from the bedrooms for the carpet cleaner, so we’ve been sleeping on a mattress in the living room. Like a slumber party! It’s not been the most restful experience, but it’s temporary. Once we can move Mark back into the bedroom, things will certainly appear more calm.

Saying goodbye to Los Angeles is bittersweet for sure. I’m looking at everything through rose colored glasses. There’s certainly things I won’t miss, and I definitely feel more excited than I am sad, but there’s also quite a few things that I’m finding it hard to part from. My favorite workout studios. My favorite coffee shops. My favorite coworkers and clients. I’ll miss the weather (except I’m SO EXCITED FOR SEASONS!) and I’ll miss the beach (even though I went like twice in the past year) and I’ll miss having so many experiences right at my fingertips. I’ll miss the “vibe” of this city. I’m even finding things about my apartment that I’ll miss. The natural light in the kitchen, my cozy bedroom, the sound of my neighbor playing the piano. I just keep reminding myself that it’s a blessing to have things that make saying goodbye hard.


So yeah! That’s where we’re at. It’s been a lot to handle but everything’s getting done and so far no catastrophes. Let’s hope that lasts. 😉

Love you all, thanks for being patient while we go through a bit of a transition here!

Sharing Some BIG NEWS!

Let’s take a break from the food posts, just for a sec.

I’ve been holding out on you.

A few posts ago I mentioned that our roommates, who are also a couple, sprang news on us that they wanted to finally pull the trigger and move out of our apartment. This is great news – I’ve been gunning for a parting of ways for a while now. BUT since we hadn’t had a single conversation about it prior to that notice, it was also really sudden and unexpected, and it left Mark and me sort of scrambling for answers.

I’m gonna be real with you: Los Angeles is not a cheap place to live. Rent is almost just as much as it is in Manhattan, and cost of living is just as high. With roommates, it’s manageable (albeit not entirely enjoyable). But without them, it gets dicey. Mark and I have reliable, steady jobs, but even so, affording an apartment out here would mean a number of sacrifices: Less money going into savings. Less money allocated to actually enjoying ourselves. Possibly relocating to somewhere further away from both of our jobs.  Probably downsizing. We love each other a lot and enjoy each other’s company, but a studio for the two of us is kind of a non-option.

So, we were feeling really panicked. Because we had about two months to find a new home that seemed really impossible to find.

And then there were other things to consider. Mark and I both felt like it was nearing time to move back to the East coast. We missed our families, we hated not getting to visit our friends enough. I also didn’t get into any of the vet schools I wanted to this round, and knew I would have to start being strategic with how I accomplished this major goal (and spending all my time working to just afford to live in LA didn’t seem very strategic).

I stress-cried a lot for two days. And then I called my mom, my best friend, my sister, my mom again. And then I talked to Mark. And we talked a lot more. And we considered our options and weighed everything. And then I got to werk figuring this sh*t out. And now, I can finally announce…

I’m MOVING! Back home, to North Carolina!!!

MOVING, y’all.

I’m sure you noticed the “I’m”. Mark is staying in Los Angeles for what I really hope is only 8 more months. He’s going to be involved in some research that will keep him here, and then once that’s finished he’ll join me. I’m not thrilled with doing long distance (again), or the idea of doing this all alone, but I’m staying optimistic.

Anyway, moving!

I’m both sad and really happy. I love North Carolina and have missed it every single day, so going back is thrilling. I’ll be so much closer to family and so many friends! I’ll be moving to Raleigh and I am so so so excited to start exploring a new area and really making a new life for myself (any suggestions for areas to look in for nice apartments are welcome!). With that being said, I know I’ll also miss L.A. I’ll miss all the things there are to do, the good weather, the epic food, the trendiness, the routine I’ve established, and most of all the people I’ve grown to love here. I can feel in my bones that this is the right thing to do, so I’m going for it, but I’m also going to make sure to really make the most of my remaining time here in Los Angeles. I’m sure I’ll be back to visit, though!

Whew. It was hard keeping that secret. I’m so excited to share this adventure on here, I think it will be really fun to document so many exciting changes. As you might imagine, since all my stuff will be in boxes for a little bit, I won’t be able to post as many recipes (temporarily!). But I really will do my best to make the upcoming updates as fun as possible. Thanks for following along!