In-N-Out's Chili Pepper Topping Shortage Is Leaving Customers Heated

The California-based burger chain, In-N-Out, is famously known for its secret menu hacks, such as its mustard grilled patty or burgers that can be ordered "protein" or "animal" style. In fact, these menu hacks are encouraged by the burger chain as it advertises them on its website.

One beloved secret menu item for many In-N-Out patrons is the cascabella pepper, which can be requested as a side or diced and placed into burgers. Cascabella chiles are yellow-green peppers that taste fruity with a subtle punch of sweetness. They are not for the faint-hearted, as they can be as spicy as jalapeño peppers.

If you're a diehard In-N-Out lover, then you have already most likely noticed a missing ingredient from the chain. Is your go-to order a cheeseburger or a Double Double animal style with a side of cascabella peppers? If so, unfortunately, you'll be out of luck for a while. A shortage of these yellow peppers is affecting all In-N-Out locations.

Customers are getting fiery about the pepper shortage

For a couple of months, In-N-Out has not been topping burgers with cascabella peppers due to a shortage, a company spokesperson told SFGATE. The burger chain is temporarily replacing cascabella chiles with banana pepper rings.

However, the cascabella peppers shortage has some customers up in flames. "I love In-N-Out. But replacing yellow peppers with banana peppers is Not the move," one customer tweeted earlier this month. "The new peppers from in n out are not it," another customer complained about the banana pepper substitution. It seems that there are a few fans of the banana peppers, though. "The new In N Out peppers are better than the old ones," one person wrote.

Despite the recent commotion over the shortage, an alleged employee actually alerted Reddit to the situation around December. In a post on r/innout, u/samsal03 claimed that a plague had caused the peppers to be "wiped out." Locations with a stockpile of cascabella chilies will continue to offer them until they run out. If banana peppers aren't for you, one Redditor in the comments suggested ordering a stash of Giuliano or Mrs. Klein's cascabella peppers at a grocery store to fulfill your pepper needs. On TikTok, one patron shared a video of them bringing their own stash of cascabella peppers to a location of the burger chain.

It is unclear when the beloved yellow peppers will return to In-N-Out, but SFGATE reports that the peppers are expected to return soon.

This isn't the first shortage

If this latest shortage of peppers seems like a case of déjà vu, that's because In-N-Out faced the exact same situation a few years back. In 2016, an "unprecedented" shortage of cascabella peppers affected numerous restaurants in California, including Carl's Jr., Zankou Chicken, and In-N-Out, according to VICE, which called the shortage "the greatest in industry history."

The shortage was caused by a "combination of bad weather, disease, and poor soil conditions," resulting in a reduction of 60% in supply of cascabella peppers. VICE reported In-N-Out at the time instructed its employees to remove the chiles from the condiment stations and to hand out "one soufflé cup (or two whole chiles) per request." 

In the Reddit post about the current pepper shortage, people reflected on the previous shortage in the comments. The author of the thread said in the comments that In-N-Out customers were "going crazy" amid the 2016 shortage, but customers are more understanding this time around.