Homemade Big Macs are Amazing


Posted on 17th January 2010 by Pia Simeoni in Recipes


I saw a clip from the movie Food, Inc. about how hamburger filler is made and then treated with ammonia to kill E. coli. After seeing it I decided that, however much I love to indulge in a Big Mac once in a while, I just..can’t…EAT one again. Nor will my 9 year old daughter. So one Thursday night I promised her that as a special treat on Friday night, we would be making homemade Big Macs. My mind went back to the homemade hamburger segment in Eddie Murphy’s “Raw.” If you haven’t seen it, you must watch. If you have seen it, watch again, just because it’s SO funny:

Homemade Hamburger from Eddie Murphy Raw

The Research

Most important to me (I thought at first) was nailing the Special Sauce recipe. There were plenty of recipes across the internet, but I settled on a site that claimed to have “Supposedly the recipes from Mac D’s.” I sent the link to my fiancee, Ron, who was going to do the shopping and have all the ingredients purchased or pulled out of the cupboards and fridge by the time I got home from work.  I neglected to read that there was also a special way of preparing the burgers, as well. But first:

The Special Sauce

We tried to substitute the indredients on the list for healthy ones as much as possible, trying to avoid corn syrup, preservatives, and MSG.

Here is what we ended up with:

Special Sauce Recipe

  • 1/4 cup KRAFT Miracle Whip (ingredients actually didn’t look too bad)
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise (Hellman’s)
  • 2 Tablespoons, heaping, French salad dressing (we used Brianna’s; the French’s brand had propylene glycol in the list of ingredients. That’s antifreeze.)
  • 1/2 Tablespoon HEINZ sweet relish
  • 2 teaspoons, heaping, VLASIC dill pickle relish
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon dried, minced onion (we used fresh onions)
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon ketchup (organic)
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

I dumped all the ingredients in a bowl, stirred well, had a taste, and it was SPOT-ON! I didn’t microwave or chill for one hour as the site recommended.

Two All-Beef Patties

We got one pound of grass-fed beef from Whole Foods. We seasoned with onion powder, salt and pepper (we passed on the Accent which is MSG.) The instructions then guided us to divide the beef into ten equal sized balls, (we made eight) forming a patty 1/4 inch thick and 4 inches in diameter on waxed paper. Then freeze for an hour, so they won’t fall apart when cooking. We didn’t freeze for an hour but did put them in the freezer for a little while until we were ready to start cooking. We cooked them in our stainless frying pan with a light coating of olive oil. They didn’t fall apart. We cooked until done, with slightly crispy edges.

…Lettuce, Cheese, Pickles, Onions on a Sesame Seed Bun

Ron forgot to buy iceberg lettuce. I was fine with that. I didn’t expect him to follow the ingredients list exactly. We had a bag of Earthbound Farm Organic “Baby Lettuces,” so I chopped some up. He found some real American cheese (not pasteurized processed cheese food) and I sliced up some dill pickles. The recipe recommended reconstituted onions but I would have none of that and I had none of that; I finely minced a yellow onion. I was hoping for some nice whole grain buns, but this is where Ron followed the ingredient list too closely. He bought cheap bleached flour buns, per web site instructions. No matter, we’ll get better buns next time. We counted out six heels and three crowns and toasted them on the stainless fry pan with a little butter.

Scrambling to Assemble

We tried to synchronize everything perfectly but the burgers were done, the buns toasted, and I hadn’t started assembling. A frenzied dollop of special sauce on every inside surface, cheese on the bottom layer, lettuce on both layers, slap the patties on both layers, and the crown on top. THEN, we microwaved each for 15 seconds, allowing the flavors to “meld” (according to the web site instructions.)

The Epiphany

We picked up our burgers, took a bite. The special sauce was gloriously tangy, the beef patties were deliciously crispy, I forgot the onions and added those, and it made them even better.  My daughter absolutely loved her homemade Big Mac. We decided that the special sauce was not the most important component, but also the thin, crispy beef patty. I’m sure we’ll make them again and come up with a healthier way to make the special sauce and use whole grain buns–and they will be just as delicious.

The Cost

After buying all the ingredients, Ron had calculated that we spent $5.80 per burger for four burgers, and we hadn’t even bought the meat yet. An additional $5.99 for a pound of grass-fed beef, yielding eight patties, or $0.75 per patty, two patties per burger, bringing the total up to $7.30 per burger. Throw in some “potato puffs” (tater tots) from Whole Foods, and we’re over $8 per meal. Ron claimed that we’d need to make about a billion of these to reach economies of scale…but they were probably the tastiest burgers we’ve ever had, we had fun making them and documenting via Twitter along the way. And we are fully stocked with condiments.

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