If you know nothing else about me, know these three things: I am one of the pickiest eaters on the planet, I watch way too much YouTube, and I freakin’ love Las Vegas. Okay, not the three most important things about me, but important for this post. Living in good ol’ Greenville, North Carolina does not give me much opportunities to eat In-N-Out so I have to improvise. And this is where the YouTube comes in. If you haven’t watched Hot For Food with Lauren Toyota you are missing out. She makes bomb vegan food that even I have tried and liked. The other day I found this recipe of a copycat vegan animal style fries. Yes, you heard me right VEGAN ANIMAL STYLE! Whether you are vegan, vegetarian, taking part in Meatless Mondays, cutting out dairy, or just trying to be a little healthier here is your way to enjoy one of the most iconic fast food recipes known to man.
Wash the potatoes well, but leave the skin on. Preheat your oven to 450 F or 475F – it kind of depends how hot your oven tends to get!
It’s best to shoestring the fries so it’s real authentic. I used a mandolin to do so, but you can also cut the fries by hand. Just ensure they’re uniform in size so they bake evenly. Submerge the fries in cold water until ready to bake.
Then caramelize the onions in a large pan over medium heat. Sauté the onions in butter for 12 to 15 minutes. At this point they should be starting to get some brown colour throughout. Then add salt and agave or sugar and stir to combine. They will take another 25 to 35 minutes to get a deep golden brown colour. In order to caramelize evenly you’re only stirring the onions occasionally and adjusting the temperature of your burner as needed so the onions don’t burn on the edges.
Meanwhile prepare the thousand islands dressing by combining all the ingredients together in a jar or bowl and refrigerate until ready to assemble.
While the onions are still caramelizing but have about 10 to 15 minutes left, bake the fries. Remove the fries from the cold water and pat them dry with a tea towel or paper towel. Lay them out onto a large baking sheet and toss the fries in oil, chili powder, garlic powder, sea salt, and ground pepper using your hands. Then take half of the fries and lay them out onto another large baking sheet and spread them out around each sheet so they have a bit of space between each fry.
Bake for 10 to 15 minutes until golden brown and crispy.
While the fries are baking prepare the cheese. I cubed the brick and added it to a sauce pan over medium heat. Once it started melting a bit I added small portions of non-dairy milk while I stirred it together. You need to stir it constantly. Add in the brine just as it’s starting to get smoother. In order for it to get really smooth, I did run it through the blender once it was mostly melted. I would recommend using our nacho cheese sauce recipe instead and making it ahead of all these other components. Then you can just heat it up again over the stove before assmebling the fries.
To assemble, portion fries into a serving dishes. Drizzle with a generous amount of cheese sauce, top with caramelized onions, then a generous amount of thousand islands dressing, then more onions on top. Serve immediately while still hot and use a fork… you’re not an animal after all!