Last summer, I visited Arizona to see the Grand Canyon. While I was there, I couldn’t help but visit In-N-Out Burger, a fast-food chain primarily located on the West Coast. Although they are known for their burgers, the dish I was most eager to try was their famous “Animal Style Fries.”
For those that don’t know, In-N-Out’s Animal Style Fries are a part of their secret menu. The dish is a tray of hot french fries topped with cheese, In-N-Out’s “secret spread” and caramelized onions on top.
Despite being cold after the 15-minute drive back to the hotel from the restaurant, I savored every single bite. The cheese was cold, but all the tanginess of the sauce mixed with the soft cheese flavor was irresistible.
Over a year later, every now and then, I still crave a warm, cheesy order of Animal Style Fries. However, it’s hard to satiate my cravings here in Charlottesville since the chain is mainly located on the West Coast.
Since my first time having this meal, I have seen countless videos on TikTok about copycat recipes of the infamous Animal Style Fries. My roommates, a few friends and I finally decided to try out one of these recipes this past weekend as a way to spice up our simple dinners and bring the West Coast flavors to Charlottesville.
We decided to follow @mizzerybelltiktok’s recipe and tweaked it slightly to feed four people, which was as follows:
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 15 minutes
- 2 large french fries from McDonald’s
- 4-6 slices of American cheese
- 1 white onion
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- 3 tablespoons ketchup
- 2 tablespoons pickle relish
- 1 ½ teaspoons sugar
- 1 ½ teaspoons vinegar
- ½ tablespoon butter
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Warm up a pan and add butter, onions and salt. Keep stirring until onions are caramelized.
- When heated, place fries on an oven-safe tray and put them into the oven for five to 10 minutes until crispy.
- In a mixing bowl, mix mayonnaise, ketchup, pickle relish, sugar and vinegar. This is the “secret sauce” to be used later.
- Once all components have been cooked, plate the fries, cheese, secret sauce and onions in that order.
- Serve and enjoy.
The final product was just like I remembered. The fries were crispy and savory. The gooey cheese melted in my mouth while it was complemented by the tangy secret sauce with a slightly acidic undertones. The flavoral combination was topped off by the sweet and crunchy onions — creating a unique, contrasting taste.
Second-year College student Anisha Ponugupati tried the copycat Animal Style fries and thoroughly enjoyed tasting them. She rated the fries as a 9/10 and sees herself preparing and eating them again.
“I thought that they were really flavorful and delicious,” said Ponugupati. “The secret sauce had a really nice sweet flavor and the onions were the star of the dish — they really brought the flavors together. As someone who likes to cook myself, I really appreciated the variety of flavors and the hints of spicy and savory notes from the secret sauce.”
Second-year College student Saahiti Tammisetty echoed her enjoyment of the Animal Style fries sauce. She rated the fries an 8/10.
“I can tell there’s a lot of different hints of different flavors in the sauce,” said Tammisetty. “I also really liked the texture of the fries. I felt like they were really crispy which made them super tasty and I also thought the cheese in the fries was the perfect addition underneath the secret sauce, and it really brought all the flavors together really well — it was really cohesive.”
Second-year College student Asmita Kadam found that she just couldn’t put them down, emphasizing how each component of the dish enhances one another. She rated the fries a 10/10.
“I really liked that the fries had many various textures incorporated into them,” said Kadam. “When they were put together, I think they just had the perfect consistency. The crispy fries, warm gooey cheese and zesty sauce complemented each other really well and blended together perfectly.”
These fries would be a fantastic weeknight treat. They were not only wildly delicious, but simple to make. There are several “swaps” a student could take to make the process even faster, such as buying fries from another fast-food restaurant or buying frozen fries. A student could also buy pre-diced onions to save even more prep time. This was not only a fun activity for friends, but the product was a fun, new dish that could be made over and over whenever I crave my favorite fries.