How To Make Your Own Big Mac At Home

The Big Mac remains the most iconic of McDonald's products, but you can reproduce the experience in your own kitchen with an amazingly accurate replica of the "special sauce" that helps define the Big Mac. The secret ingredient? Vegemite.

Full credit for deconstructing the Big Mac recipe goes to the Serious Eats blog Burger Lab, which regularly features burger recipes from the elaborate to the basic. Kenji Lopez-Alt wanted to reproduce the Big Mac experience, while also making it "better". One discovery during that process was that a small amount of Vegemite (or a similar yeast derivative) helped reproduce the Big Mac special sauce flavour. That's not to say Maccas does that itself, but it's a useful trick, especially for Aussies.

I adapted the Serious Eats recipe to my own home burger needs. To be honest, I wanted a lazier approach (as you can see in the picture at the top). Lopez-Alt's method includes mincing your own beef and applying sesame seeds to the buns by hand. I'm perfectly happy to buy quality supermarket mince and purchase ready-made buns. (I actually cheated and bought seedless buns, as I don't like sesame seeds, but there's no shortage of seeded hamburger rolls at your local supermarket or bakery if you want to go that route.)

I thought it was important to double-check that the local Big Mac was produced in exactly the same way as the US one. This did indeed turn out to be the case on inspection:

Outside of reproducing the special sauce, there's three other notable tricks involved in creating a Big Mac at home: the burgers, the buns and the onions. As McDonald's itself is keen to point out, the Big Mac burger itself contains nothing but beef. You don't need anything other than mince to make it happen. What McDonald's doesn't emphasise is that the burgers themselves aren't that large: you only need around 50g of mince to make each patty. (For that reason, I've given the recipe below for four burgers; if you're going to this much effort, why stop at one?)

Unlike most burgers, the Big Mac incorporates a middle layer in the roll. To reproduce this at home, you need to slice the top and bottom off the roll. I'm a total knife klutz, but I managed this OK — though I purchased jumbo hamburger rolls to make that easier. Also, while you might not realise it when eating them, the buns for a Big Mac are slightly toasted.

The onions are also an important element. McDonald's uses dehydrated onions, which makes for a sweeter flavour. You can get the same results by dehydrating freshly-chopped onions on low power in a microwave. I was sceptical about this, but it totally works.

Is all this cheaper than buying a Big Mac yourself? Probably not. But it's still a cool trick to pull off, and it's surprising just how accurate the special sauce flavour is. I won't be making this every day, but it's probably a trick I'll pull at a dinner party at some point in the future.

The basic recipe is below; again, you can hit the Serious Eats post for a more MasterChef style approach.

DIY Big Mac (makes 4)

  • 500g or so of premium-grade mince
  • 1 cup finely chopped onion
  • Four hamburger rolls
  • Oodles of shredded lettuce
  • Sliced dill pickles (unless you're in the anti-pickle crowd
  • 4 slices of cheese (of the pre-wrapped variety if you're trying to be authentic)

For the sauce:

  • 1 tablespoon onion, grated on a fine grater or minced
  • 6 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 6 tablespoons sweet pickle relish
  • 1 tablespoon yellow mustard
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon Vegemite (you can briefly nuke it to make it easier to mix in)

To make the sauce, combine all the ingredients. (It tastes better if you refrigerate it and let it sit for a while.)

Divide the mince into eight equally sized portions, and flatten with your hand into patties. Refrigerate while you do the other prep work.

Place the onions on two sheets of paper towel and microwave on the lowest power setting for 10 minutes.

Slice the rolls horizontally to produce a separate middle layer. Toast lightly under a grill or in a low oven, with the cut sides of the top and bottom facing up. (This took about 10 minutes for me in a very low oven, matching the onion time nicely.)

Spread sauce over bottom and middle layer of each roll. Add onion on top of sauce. Add lettuce on top of onion.

Heat your frypan to high. Place burgers in pan and cook for one minute each side, flipping once.

Assemble your faux Big Mac by placing one burger on the bottom, adding a slice of cheese, adding the middle layer, adding a second burger, then the top. Serve immediately.

The Burger Lab: Building A Better Big Mac


Comments

    Funny thing is that the McDonalds business model is so efficient that even if you made this at home, it would probably be more expensive per burger than if you just buy it from McDonalds. The ingredients you purchase probably wont be as fresh either.

    And then you take into account the opportunity costs of your time and you're running at a huge loss.

    GO MCDONALDS!! Great business!!

      i think you might be looking at this in the wrong light, its not about being cost-competitive with MacDonalds which ultimately due to the 1000000+ bugmacs they would make each year means we are never going to win.... but freshness? are you fucking serious bro, where do you buy your groceries? mine are about as fresh as its ever going to get as opposed to frozen-transported shit that maccas palms off as "fresh"

      though i do like me some maccas.

      hah, ask them how long their rolls last for

        Put it this way only thing on our cheese burgers that won't last 4 years is a bun, it will go solid due to air. It that's is loads of preserving

    Is there a trick to making premium mince taste as bad as a real Big Mac?

      Or as grey.

      They also forgot that it needs to be left for an hour before serving.

      Oh and the spit. One blob of spit unless you're a cop.

    I use a "mould" (basically the container my Xmas cookie cutters came in) to make perfectly round patties. Also, the Coles brand $1.99 round hamburger rolls are perfect for the buns. They put the Big in Big Mac too.

    My recipe for the Big Mac sauce is slightly different.
    1/2 cup mayonnaise
    2 tablespoons French dressing
    4 teaspoons sweet pickle relish
    1 tablespoon finely minced white onion
    1 teaspoon white vinegar
    1 teaspoon sugar
    1/8 teaspoon salt

    Of course my burgers patties will always be superior. Secret ingredients, that keep people guessing, rock!

    @James... it is far from premium mince... it is the cheapest off-cuts solidified in beef fat...

    Really not sure why anyone would want to replicate something that is so far from an actual burger all the same...

    Useless bit of info... it's not Vegemite it's simply a yeast spread for the MSG value (the main ingredient that keeps punters coming back)... but as Vegemite contains the highest amount of MSG out of any household product other than it's seaweed derivative... you're not far off...

    Far too much bun there. The Big Mac buns are very thin.

    I'm interested in making this sauce though. I quite like the Big Mac sauce, would use it on my own burgers, wouldn't bother trying to replicate the Big Mac experience at home.

      The bun was definitely a case of "what I want to eat", not trying for a close match.

    We found with the meat patties when making burgers at home, we get a better result (with less fat) if you flatten the patty out on a plater (dinner size) then microwave it on high for 1-2 minutes to drain the fat and any liquids that might be present and reduce cooking time. It will shrink in the process and end up about the size in the actual picture there.

    Also when cooking adding a bit of salt and pepper to the patty helps it flavour wise as well.

    Fair enough if you want to replicate the Big Mac @Virus... but if you're trying to make a 'real' Burger... those steps are pure desecration!

    Our Burger we grill on charcoal (griddle on the stove at the very least)...

    Standard recipe (extras can be added too)

    500g Porterhouse put through the mincer (with some of the fat)your butcher can do this too.
    50g Bread Crumbs
    2 eggs
    1 tbs Worcestershire Sauce
    1 tbs Ketchup
    1/2 a finely diced red onion
    1 tbs fresh Thyme
    Salt and pepper to season (at least a tsn of salt)

    Mix the above together well and divide into 5 equal balls and compress between two plates to make perfect shapes and place in fridge to set for an hr.

    Before grilling bring to room temp, char-grill (preferably over coals) until Medium... then let rest for 5mins before adding to buns, home made mayo, homemade ketchup, salad (tom, iceburg, red onion) and jalapeno's, Comte cheese slice and pickles...

    Enjoy that beef "taste" but that's the result of MSG and who knows what artificial flavouring.

    McDonalds product is so far from 'fresh' food that I would fail my children if I could produce that junk and its taste, faithfully, at home.

      McDonald's site lists beef and nothing else as the ingredient for its Big Mac patties. So not sure your MSG claim stands up.

    Thanks Angus - I'm giving this recipe to the missus. Maybe we can slim it down to mini mac size and therefore have our burger and eat it.

    Don't forget to add some chopped mint for extra flavour.

    James - if you've ever eaten at McDonalds in the UK you'll have a whole new respect for the quality of burger meat they serve us here.

    Which is not to say that Australian McDonalds patties are good - they just appear that way compared to the minced up newspaper they seem to use in old Blighty.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=seog5JxLqLA

    I use a bit of french onion soup mix, breadcrumbs, tomato sauce and egg in my hamburger patties, try it, Yum.

    Good thing I haven't had lunch, or the last picture would make me lose it.

    Big Mac's my favourite fast food because in most cases it actually is fast. Hate waiting.
    The other best thing (and yes this makes me a sukka for marketing) is the playground. Two Happy Meals and a McDonalds playground and I get to read the Sunday Papers. Happy meals have orange juice and apple slices in and the kids spend an hour running.

    So this Sunday, you can either take the kids to church where they sit on their rear and watch the adults queue to drink alcohol, or take them to a place where they run with other kids and eat fresh fruit and fruit juice.
    I know where I'll be ;)

      Brought to by....

      I have had McDonald in the UAE and was actually edible. The Aus stuff is not the same "restaurant" experience. Unless you could diarrhea as an experience. But thanks for letting us know how to make our own burgers.

    If you go to subway, a simple combination of southwest and honey mustard will give you a great big mac tasting sauce. Pair that with a steak sub, old english cheese and lettuce, and you have yourself a 12 inch big mac.

    Angus what do you think the yeast derivative in the sauce is?

    What do you think is in your Vegemite (which has the largest amt of MSG out of any household product)?

    What do you think all those 'E' numbers like E621 and their derivatives are in almost every snack food in Australia?

    Bryce, what is the big issue with MSG? Glutomates occur in foods naturally. If the food standards people don't have a problem with it, why do you? #notsohiddenagenda

    Like it or not, this article presents a healthy alternative to a popular meal. What's your solution?

    w0w, im sorry but that last pic just looks gross. Way to yellow

    You lot will probably flame me but I am tempted to try this with veggie patties :p.

      I tried this and made a veggie burger for my girlfriend. She enjoyed it.

    There is no MSG added to vegemite ! I am not a huge fan myself but it is still a reasonably healthy food high in B vitamins when used in small amounts. Believe me, you can't use too much. The glutamates present in Vegemite are naturally found in the yeast extract.

    umm yea first time in my life i ever had even a bite of a big mac was january of this year and i love them. i really need an easy recipe to make this big mac sauce at home. i heard of one made with thousand island. if someone can please get back to me asap i wanna burger for lunch and that isnt very far away man. and i need this sauce for my masterpeice. thanks!

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