This copycat Big Mac Sauce recipe is so close to the McDonald's special sauce, you won't be able to taste the difference! Use it to recreate your own homemade Big Macs, or as a topping and sauce for your favorite foods.
What is it?
Big Mac Sauce has wonderfully creamy, tangy, and sweet. This flavor combination stands cuts through the richness of a fatty cheeseburger, making it a perfect burger topping. It is said to taste very similar to Thousand Island dressing, despite not being tomato-based.
Created by Jim Delligatti 1967, the original Big Mac wasn't actually called a Big Mac. It first went by different names - "The Aristocrat" and the "Blue Ribbon Burger", neither of which caught on with customers. The third name, "Big Mac" was created by Esther Glickstein Rose, a young corporate McDonald's employee. This sandwich went on to worldwide fame, popularizing the iconic special sauce.
The earliest McDonald's advertisements didn't refer to Big Mac Sauce as we now know it, but rather, called it "secret sauce". However, in 1974 a new advertising campaign came up with the famous jingle "Two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions – on a sesame seed bun." It has been known as "special sauce" ever since!
What are the Ingredients?
How do I know there are no tomatoes in McDonald's Special Sauce? Because, I looked up the ingredient list. This is what is in McDonald's Big Mac Sauce:
Soybean Oil, Pickle Relish (Diced Pickles, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Sugar, Vinegar, Corn Syrup, Salt, Calcium Chloride, Xanthan Gum, Potassium Sorbate (Preservative), Spice Extractives, Polysorbate 80), Distilled Vinegar, Water, Egg Yolks, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Onion Powder, Mustard Seed, Salt, Spices, Propylene Glycol Alginate, Sodium Benzoate (Preservative), Mustard Bran, Sugar, Garlic Powder, Vegetable Protein (Hydrolyzed Corn, Soy and Wheat), Caramel Colour, Extractives of Paprika, Soy Lecithin, Turmeric (Colour), Calcium Disodium EDTA (Protect Flavour)
How to make it
I'm going to go out on a limb and assume you don't have a pantry full of preservatives and chemical binders, and neither does your grocery store. So let me break this down into simple ingredients you'll understand. Based on McDonald's ingredient list, you will need sweet relish (not dill pickle relish), mayo, vinegar, American yellow mustard, garlic powder, onion powder, and paprika to make homemade Big Mac sauce. That sounds a lot more reasonable, doesn't it?
Make this famous sauce simply by mixing the ingredients together in a small bowl, then store it in the refrigerator overnight in an airtight container to allow the flavors to meld. You can enjoy it immediately if you are impatient, but letting it meld makes a big difference.
Store your homemade sauce in an airtight container in the refrigerator. As a mayo-based sauce, Big Mac sauce will spoil at room temperature if left outside of the fridge. It will also develop off-flavors if it is not sealed properly in a covered container. I do not recommend freezing it. For best flavor, any leftover sauce will keep for about a week in the fridge.
Big Mac Sauce is not Thousand Island dressing. Thousand Island dressing requires tomatoes, which aren't an ingredient in authentic Big Mac Sauce.
For this same reason, I firmly believe the best Big Mac Sauce recipe you'll find will always exclude French dressing. Unfortunately, it seems 95% of the Big Mac Sauce recipes on the web call for French dressing but don't be fooled. Although I will admit the flavor is in the right ballpark as the real thing, *spoiler alert*, it still tastes like French dressing.
How to Use This Sauce
Serving McDonald's Special Sauce on savory homemade burgers isn't the only way it can be enjoyed. Try these new ideas as well:
- Homemade Big Macs - To make McDonald's Big Mac, lightly toast a sesame seed bun, and grab an extra bottom bun to use as the middle piece. Spread the special sauce on the bottom bun, sprinkle with diced onion, shredded lettuce, and top with a slice of American cheese. Place one thin burger patty on the cheese, then add the middle bun, top with more sauce, lettuce, and add pickles. Finally add the second burger patty, top with the crown of the bun and enjoy!
- Chicken sandwich - In India, Mcdonald's sells a Chicken Maharaja Mac, which is essentially a chicken Big Mac. Use this creamy condiment on your own chicken burger, or even chicken patties.
- Burger bowls - Skip the sesame seed bun, this condiment is a great way to whip up some delicious low-carb creations.
- Salads - This makes a delicious salad dressing to enjoy your own Big Mac Salad.
- Cheeseburger Sloppy Joes - These sloppy Joes are great without sauce, but can certainly be enjoyed with it as well!
- Fries - Use this as a dipping sauce for French fries, onion rings, and steak fries
- Potato Salad - This is the perfect sauce to add an exciting twist to any potato salad!
Big Mac Sauce
- 1 cup Mayo
- ¼ cup Sweet Pickle Relish
- 1 ½ tablespoons Prepared Yellow Mustard
- 1 teaspoon White Wine Vinegar
- ½ teaspoon Paprika
- ¼ teaspoon Garlic Powder
- ¼ teaspoon Onion Powder
- Place all ingredients together in a small bowl and whisk to combine.
- Can be enjoyed immediately, but the flavor is best when allowed to sit in the refrigerator overnight. Store in an air-tight container.
This recipe is good BUT I would NOT call it a copy cat recipe. This is more of a "MY VERSION OF BIG MAC SAUCE RECIPE". Very mustard forward as another reviewer stated. Maybe French Dressing really matters to get more of an authentic taste.
Also, Big Mac sauce is NOT Thousand Island Dressing (ex McDonalds employee here). It's just their version of a Thousand Island Dressing.
Hello, thank you for this recipe. Is there any chance you can do the Mc'donalds chicken mayo recipe please?
Mark E Rogers
Define Mayo! In the southeast that is Dukes, in the northeast it is "miraclewhip," Then there is Hellman's, Kraft, etc.... all have DRASTICALLY different tastes.
Fox Valley Foodie
Miracle whip is not technically mayo, but rather a "dressing" according to the FDA. Personally, I use Hellmans myself. The mayo only adds a subtle flavor to the recipe, it's primary purpose is to provide a creamy base for this sauce so Duke's, Kraft, and Hellmans would each work in the recipe.
Made exactly as recipe on this post and let it marry in the fridge overnight. Tastes exactly like the Big Mac sauce and is DELICIOUS. Thank you for posting. Remember people, you have to use the Sweet Pickle Relish for this sauce, not DILL It's really delicious on my home grilled burgers!!
And I recommend Dukes Mayo, btw, It's the creamiest and best mayo ever!!
This is absolutely delicious! My husband couldn't stop dipping his fries in it and finally he begged me to put it away before he ate it all! I used Kewpie mayo, which is a brand no one has mentioned. I think it was perfect. Different mayos have different textures and flavor and I really think your choice or mayo ( and vinegar, mustard etc. ) are going to affect the final product in subtle yet noticeable ways. Kewpie is a Japanese mayo ( you can get it on Amazon - just make sure to get the Japanese version and not the American ) and is very creamy. I can't explain it, but it's just another level of mayo. I also used white balsamic vinegar and added a tiny drop of ketchup at the end just because that felt right to me, but honestly it was already 'there' without it. Honestly, this is such a great recipe! I'm going to be very popular at BBQ's this summer, lol. Thank you!!! ( PS - You can make a very good vegan version with Veganaise ( original or grapeseed ). It'll just take some slight adjustments. )
I worked at McDonald’s and the sauce is 1000 island dressing. The containers that we used to add the “special sauce” all said 1000 island dressing on them. Unless they had the manufacturing company put incorrect labels on them to properly lie
Fox Valley Foodie
That is very interesting, particularly because McDonald's own website lists different ingredients. Obviously, it would be against the law to lie about the ingredients in your product. I am guessing you worked at McDonald's a few decades ago when franchises had more control over their products perhaps? Thanks for sharing your experience.
Yeah? well, I also worked at mcdonald's throughout high school and know for sure this guy is full of it. The containers definitely do NOT say anything about thousand island. Nice try.
Big Boy sauce is like thousand island in Cali. hee in Ohio it's white. No way McDonalds is TI sauce. he is delerous!! Lol
I've tried countless recipes over the years so I was a bit skeptical about this one as well.
I've cut down the recipe in half without adding or removing any ingredients to try it out... And let me tell you this is sooo darn close! It's really tasty!!?
The original Thousand Island dressing (by most accounts, created in the late 19th or early 20th century) did not contain tomatoes and did contain French dressing. Semantics, but all of the fast-food versions (McDonalds, Carl Jrs, In and Out, etc, etc) are in fact Thousand Island based with minor differences.
Something was missing...added two teaspoons of sugar and onion and garlic salt...that did the trick. Thanks for the rest of the recipe though! It's similar and the best one so far.
It’s pretty close! Too much relish, half the relish and you need a tsp of turmeric to get the real colour and tang.
I have tried this copy cat recipe and it was fantastic. I didn't have relish so i just minced pickle cucumbers that i had bought in a jar. Served the sauce with my beefburgers and all my guests were thrilled.
P.s. i just found you on Instagram too.
I used gherkin relish, the taste was spot on.
I didn't care for it much.
The easiest big mac sauce that tastes exactly like McDonalds Big Mac Sauce is mix Marzetti's Refrigerated Thousand Island Dressing and Kraft's Tartar Sauce together. I eyeball it and use pretty much equal portions. And I like to add a little ketchup to my Big Macs so I add some ketchup to this recipe. It's easy and tastes like Big Mac sauce without the measuring. Give it a try
That is waaay too much mustard, all I can taste is mustard now. I suggest a teaspoon not 1 and a half tablespoons!
Yesss exactly my thoughts and the Mayo comes thru too much as well.
I guess I’m shocked that there is no sugar or salt called for here. I added both and viola hello Mac. I mean the exact ingredient list from McDee’s lists both sugar and high fructose as sweeteners and salt as well.(and high on the list) We can’t expect to omit these and rely on the other ingredients to provide those important components. Can we?
Well thanks for the base recipe.
I only have tangy dill pickles at home - think i could use those, add some sugar, and leave out the vinegar?
Fox Valley Foodie
Dill will add a different flavor, but it will still taste good.
Holy smokes! Tastes exactly like the Big Mac sauce! A must !
Try mixing Kraft Tartar Sauce and Marzetti's Thousand Island dressing and tell me that it doesn't taste like Mac Sauce.
What proportions do you use?
Good to know that works too! I learn so much from you as well! Keep it up great post.
This taste JUST LIKE the Big Mac sauce. Thumbs up and many thanks for taking the time to figure this perfection out and thank YOU for sharing it. I ate Big Macs all the time when i was little, and this brings back great memories. I don't go to McDonald anymore, it doesn't taste the same. Many thanks!!!
What if I cant find pickle relish can I use tomato or corn relish or pickle and relish please
Fox Valley Foodie
The taste will change considerably if you don't use sweet pickle relish. My recommendation would be to look up a recipe for it or order it online.
You can sub in minced sweet pickles and a dab of honey or corn syrup, 1/8 tsp of mustard seed.
Hi. Would you still use 1/4 cup if mincing your own pickles? How much would a dab of honey be?
A dab is approximately 2.5 metric dashes
I just use about half a cup of minced pickles and it turns out great.
I grew up in the back of the folks Jack in the Box and used to make secret sauce back when each store had to make their own, but what's helpful making a copycat BM is to find a larger chunk jar of grocery store dehydrated onions and rehydrate them for when you cook the burger careful not to burn them, you'll get that fastfood diced onion flavor and it helps to trim the bottom crust off a bun bottom for the middle layer so the grease soaks in better.