“Big Malc” (A Visual Recipe)

homemade-big-mac

Notes: As it turns out, the reason McDonald’s hamburgers (with some exceptions) aren’t very good isn’t because their team of food scientists haven’t worked out some delicious flavor combinations; they have. All you have to do is use fresh ingredients. Today’s sandwich uses 1/3 pound of ground sirloin, divided in half, pressed thin, and grilled, a homemade “special sauce” that combines almost equal parts mayonnaise, ketchup, and sweet relish, shredded iceberg lettuce, sliced processed American cheese, sliced dill pickles, and minced white onions, piled high on a sesame seed bun (with an extra bottom serving as the interstitial bun) grilled in butter. The result is as delicious as it is tall; a burger you have to put your whole face into.

Malcolm Bedell

Author

Malcolm Bedell is co-author of the critically acclaimed "Eating in Maine: At Home, On the Town, and On the Road," as well as the taco-centric blog "Eat More Tacos," with writing and photography credits including Serious Eats, Down East, L.A. Weekly, The Guardian, The Huffington Post, and more. His seasonal food truck, "'Wich, Please," was named "Hottest Restaurant in Maine" for 2015 by Eater, and he finds it very silly to be trying to write this in the third person.

30 Comments
  1. I’ve done this before, though for my “special sauce” I used a traditional 1000 islands dressing recipe, complete with cornichons and hard boiled eggs. My result was also 3 feet tall, like yours. That same night, my roommate and I bought every single type of chili that Hannaford’s carries to see which one made the best popper – the result? Cherry Peppers.

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    1. I think there were some things I could have done to make this hamburger more delicious, but less true to the original. For this one, I was trying to do a true copycat. What if we took classic fast-food burgers and made them the best possible versions of themselves, rather than straight copies? Could be a fun series.

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  2. For years I struggled to duplicate the “special sauce.” Being a Heinz ketchup and Hellman’s mayo die hard turned out to be my achilles heel. Recently I needed to make “special sauce” using generic ketchup and mayo…
    And like a scientist accidentally stumbling on a cure for cancer, I found the “secret;” use the cheapest ketchup and mayo you can find and mince your own sliced pickles (not relish). The flavors of the “big boys” are too pronounced for the subtle burger sauce. It’s incredible Malcom, try it.
    Russell

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    1. I have been making these Big Macs for years. I just figured out what was in them and made them, everybody loves them, although I used sweet pickles instead of dill much better taste. The special sauce is basically thousand island dressing. It is better homeade than bought dressing.

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  3. I love this. My little brother works at McDonald’s, which is sort of a sad state of affairs. But, he has some great stories. My favorite is when he knocked over an entire bucket of “rehydrating onions” and then had to spend 30 minutes mopping up tiny onion bits. He also has to store his work shoes outside so the pug doesn’t lick / hump them to pieces.

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  4. On the west side, almost entirely in Utah, we have a local chain that started a dipping sauce for fries that has become the new Utah craze, but in all actuality it is mcdonalds special sauce without the relish. Maybe with some spices thrown in for more subtle flavors, but I find the best “fry sauce” as it is called here, is made with miracle whip, or salad dressing, instead of mayo.

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  5. We have a McDonald’s nearby to where we live in Iguala (Mexico). In the window you see lots of pictures featuring their different sandwiches. The Big Mac has always been my favorite but as I’ve gotten older they just don’t sit well in my stomach. But I still crave them. So we decided to go ahead and try our Mexican McD’s. The first thing you notice is that the sandwich is nowhere near in appearance to what it is on the poster in the window. The quality and taste are horrible too. After trying this recipe we were happy to know that we can now get our burger fix in our own kitchen. Without a stomachache! And guess what? The picture above is exactly what you can expect to be able to sink your teeth into. Great job, guys!

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    1. I’m really surprised to hear that! Where we lived in Yucatan, the McDonald’s was consistently excellent, I suspect because a combo meal cost more than most people earned in a day, putting a meal at McDonald’s on par with a fancy restaurant. But that was just a theory.

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    1. I didn’t know “everyone” knew that, Cheryl. I wish I’d thought to consult you before writing this up! Seriously though, my goal here was not to provide an ingredient-by-ingredient clone of the Big Mac, just offer a way to approximate the same results at home. I maintain that a mixture of ketchup, mayonnaise, and pickle relish will get you pretty close to Mac sauce.

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  6. Gotta ask. Am I the ~only~ one who remembers when the contents of a Big Mac were made into a commercial? To this day, easily 35 years later, I can rattle off the ingredients list. And growing up in the 1,000 Islands region of NY, you ~know~ I KNEW…

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  7. they need to teach the people in McDonalds how to make a Big Mac.They dont even care,they just slap it together and calls it done.Meanwhile the customer goes to open it and it falls apart.I dont even go to McDonalds anymore i cant stand the sloppiness.So i go to their competitor.

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