In-N-Out Burger

In-N-Out Burger by Jeremy Hall (CC BY)

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In-N-Out’s greasy delights outshine competitors thanks to its signature spread: a creamy, tangy, light-orange spread filled with chunks of sweet relish. It’s like the Krusty Krab’s coveted secret sauce — a concoction so delicious that the "SpongeBob SquarePants" villain, Plankton, devotes his life to stealing the recipe. Trader Joe’s, the Plankton of our universe, debuted Magnifisauce — its own version of In-N-Out’s spread — in winter 2021. But can Trader Joe’s burger sauce compare to the original, or do you have to trek to the west coast for a true animal-style burger? We answer that question in an epic spread head-to-head.

In-N-Out Spread

Price: Free with order

Calories: 80, according to MyFitnessPal

Overall Rating: 5/5

While In-N-Out keeps details about its spread on the down low, it’s obvious that the pink-orange sauce is thousand island dressing: a mixture of ketchup, mayonnaise, and sweet pickle relish. And In-N-Out nails it. The marriage of sweet, salty, tangy, and creamy makes for a mouthwatering melange of junk food’s greatest attributes. The sauce also tastes fresh and somehow unrefined, in large part because the chunks of relish are crunchy, flavorful, and full of pickle juice.

In other words, it tastes homemade. It’s impossible to know what exactly goes into the sauce, though experts have tried to recreate the spread with scientific precision. Whatever is in it, know that it’s a near-perfect condiment that I’m content eating straight out of the packet.

In-N-Out Animal-Style Fries
Photo credit: In-N-Out Animal-Style Fries by Andrea (CC BY-NC-ND)

Trader Joe’s Magnifisauce

Price:$3.49 for 9 ounces

Calories: 110

Overall Rating: 3/5

If you live across the country from the nearest In-N-Out, Trader Joe’s Magnifisauce is a tolerable substitute that tries to mimic the qualities that make the original excellent. Like In-N-Out's spread, the Trader Joe’s variant is creamy, tangy, sweet, and salty — and yet, the “tangy sauce of secret proportions” ultimately falls short. The small chunks of relish are so dry and flavorless that you hardly notice them. The too-sweet sauce is poorly balanced, unable to match the depth of the In-N-Out sauce’s flavor. And there’s just too much mayonnaise in the mix, leaving an eggy taste in your mouth.

That’s not to say Trader Joe’s Magnifisauce is bad. It tastes exactly like what it is: a store-bought copycat.

The Verdict

Trader Joe’s Magnifisauce copycat can’t compare to In-N-Out’s burger spread. But not everyone lives near the fast food chain, so Trader Joe’s sauce is a half-decent substitute for internationals and East Coasters. That said, why not just make the sauce yourself? In-N-Out copycat recipes abound online, and you can customize them to your liking. Otherwise, just stick with the original. 

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