Friday, May 10, 2013

Make Steak-n-Shake or In-n-Out Style Burgers at Home...

I grew up eating Steak n Shake burgers in the Midwest so when I was in my twenties I moved to Arizona. Sadly there is no Steak n Shake in Arizona but there was the famous In-n-Out burger. Holy Cow...famous for a reason! It was a great substitute when craving a Steak n Shake burger. Both are made with super fresh ingredients and both have that skinny patty with the crispy edges and the crispy grilled bun. After many failed attempts at making a "slider" at home I finally came up with the perfect burger that I honestly think could give these two fine establishments a run for their money. At least I think that's what my husband said when his mouth was full of burger. It was something like "Oh m blob babe, bis burgrrr izz cra goooo! ewo shoed pen a reameaiot ngn". Something like that. I promise, they are that good if you follow my directions to a T.

OK Lets get started!

First you will need a spatula that has no holes in it and a heavy fork generally used for carving. I get 6 patties out of 1 lb of lean ground beef. I use Laura's Lean...or whatever I can find that has the least amount of fat. I know that people will say better flavor with higher fat content, but I don't think that applies to these. But if you were going to grill your burgers I would go with a higher fat content. About 20 mins before I'm going to make my burgers I go ahead and take the meat out, don't shape a patty or be tempted to handle the meat, just divide it up into 6 sections and leave it alone.

Next step is to prep your buns and toppings. Remember, we're just letting the meat sit out to get it close to room temp for about 20 minutes. Put a dollop of butter in your skillet, I use the cast iron for this, and grill your buns. To get a more authentic Steak N Shake or In-n-Out Burger I just use plain old hamburger buns, nothing fancy. 

Next I prep everything, you want to have it all ready to go so you can eat your burger hot. Now, In-n-Out burger has a special sauce that they put on their burgers, you can find plenty of copy cat recipes for it online but I've found that it's basically Thousand Island dressing, so to save myself I just use the bottled stuff and it tastes fantastic. I also think it's important to use American cheese to have a more authentic tasting burger. Velveeta is great for a grilled cheese, but not this. Obviously you can do Swiss or whatever your favorite is, but for our purposes of trying to make this like Steak n Shake or In-n-Out, American cheese is the way to go. I find Kraft deli slices are a little better than wrapped singles. If you want the In-n-Out sauce I mix 3 parts thousand Island with 1 part ketsup. I think they use mayo, ketsup, sweet relish, and a little
onion...not far off from Thousand Island. 

MEEEEAAAATTTT. haha Ok, get your skillet nice and hot...just before it starts smoking! Sprinkle your favorite seasoning salt on the side you will be putting face down in the skillet. I'm assuming Steak n Shake uses Lawry's season salt because it's on their tables but I guess they could be just salt and peppering the meat too. I also really like Famous Dave's Steak Burger seasoning, I alternate between the two and season them quite liberally. Here is one of the critical elements. You should hear a sizzle when you put the meat in the skillet and the burger will sit like this for 1 minute. No more, no less.

When you flip the burger it should look like this, nice and dark on top and the top quarter should be just barley brown, it should not be brown half way down the burger otherwise you may run the risk of over cooking it.

As soon as you flip the meat start smashing...this takes a lot of muscle and a little technique. I start in the middle and smash with the spatula and push as hard as I can with the fork, start moving your utensils around to the edges and really smash the edges into the skillet. SMASH SMASH SMASH. The key is to work fast, if you don't work fast you will start to see juice running out of the patty and we don't want that as it will result in a dry burger... yuck! So remember flip smash fast and hard, really get those edges thin. In-n-Out edges are not as crispy or flat so if you're going for that don't smash as much.

Hamburger is so ugly. Anyway, You will be able to tell that your burger is ready to be flipped for the final time once your edges start to get nice and brown, they also will start to lift from the pan, I think the low fat content makes them stick a little to the pan, but we want that, it's what makes them crispy! 

Once you flip them just cook them to your taste, if you like it a little rare go ahead with your cheese, I give mine about another minute. I like mine cooked with just a tiny pink or just done though.

I made oven fries, they are not as good as Steak n Shake matchstick fries or In-n-Outs fresh cut fries but they are also not deep fried. With a little seasoning they are not's not really about the fires though is it. :-)

So there you have it! Let me know if you guys try and make these, it may take a few tries to get your technique of smashing down, mine were a little thick the first time. I didn't realize how much smashing force these really took!

I also have to say thank you to my husband, he took the photos of the meat for me while I was flipping and smashing! He's not very comfortable with the camera so I had him use the flash since the kitchen was a little dark. Good job honey!

I hope you guys are enjoying your day, it's very rainy here. Off to do laundry and maybe some soup for lunch...feels like a soup day!   


  1. Tried your method for making skinny hamburger patties today for lunch. I was so happy; they turned out well! (I grew up in Illinois and LOVED Steak N Shake burgers. I've missed them since moving away.) Thanks for sharing your tips. :)

    1. Hi Tara! I'm so glad you liked it! Thanks for stopping by! :-)

  2. I worked for SnS last year, and your recipe is pretty on par. They do use the seasoned salt on the patties. At 390F the patties cook perfect in about 120 seconds.

  3. Made several burgers tonight with this recipe. The thinner the better, makes the edges nice n crispy. I tried several seasoning combos and liked ground garlic salt and onion powder. Thank you for posting.

  4. THANK YOU for a straight to the point recipe which is so hard to find these days! I now follow your blog :)

  5. Yay!!!!!! This is so amazing! Best burgers I have ever made, and they do taste just like Steak n Shake's!! Bravo!!

  6. This recipe sounds pretty good and darn close to the way it's done at Steak & Shake. But I see the author is concerned about the oil in the fries, yet suggests Velveeta which isn't even real cheese. Velveeta is a Pasteurized Prepared Cheese Product, the FDA made them change their labeling back in 2002. Don't worry about them Fries, that unaged prepared cheese product will most likely get you first.

  7. Hey there actually it says don't use Velveeta ;-)


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