The Homemade Big Mac

For five years in college I lived like a bankrupt hermit off of ketchup packets and instant noodles. By the time I graduated, half my meals were just rice and water and I weighed in at a paltry 152 lbs. It was only on payday or when I had unexpected windfalls through scholarships that I would eat out at a burger joint or a Denny’s. Yes you heard that correctly, McDonald’s was my special occasion restaurant.

Unfortunately the first thing I did after finding employment was gain about 15 pounds due to my constant eating out. It was two years of fast food, buffets and grill houses before I finally reeled my spending under control and returned to a consistent kitchen life. During those two years, however, I began hoarding recipes for food that I could (and should) be cooking at home and last summer I came across the creme de la creme.

The Big Mac Recipe

The Biggest Mac

Long story short, the head chef at McDonald’s put up a short video describing how to make the (in)famous Big Mac at home using ingredients from your local grocery (video here). Unfortunately he doesn’t list the exact ingredients or the amounts but he does a good job of outlining the build. The ingredients for the sauce can be found at a number of different sites all with different ingredients and preparations.

After spending the better of a week researching, I eliminated recipes which were too exhaustive or required ingredients I either didn’t have or couldn’t get access to. I do live in Korea after all. Finally, I cobbled together my own personal build for a DIY Big Mac.

The burger can be prepared in two parts, there’s the sauce and then everything else. The sauce takes about ten minutes to measure out and mix, then the rest of it is really cooking time. Cooking time is about 10 minutes, sauces takes about 10 and then the build takes about 10 minutes (chopping onions and lettuce) which brings us to a total of 30 minutes from start to end.

Old McDonald’s Secret Sauce

All from my local E-Mart and Home Plus (except the Paprika).
Ingredients for the Big Mac Secret Sauce (dog optional).

The sauce is the most important part, otherwise you’re building yourself just a random burger. You can look online and get several different recipes but here’s a list of ingredients that are readily available at your local E-Mart or Home Plus.

  • 3/4 cup of mayonnaise
  • 1/5 cup of yellow mustard
  • 1/8 cup of sweet pickle relish
  • 1/2 tablespoon of garlic powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon of paprika
  • 1 tablespoon of white wine vinegar (I used white grape vinegar)
  • salt and pepper to taste (a dash, maybe two)

Basic Addition

The recipe can be adjusted a little here and there but the sweet relish, mayo, mustard and garlic powder are integral. If you’re having trouble finding sweet relish, I’d recommend heading over to Costco and ordering yourself a hot dog and using the relish that comes with that. The rest of the ingredients aside, the paprika is probably the hardest to come across. If you can’t find it then I’d suggest just skipping over it since it’s hard to find at grocery stores. This isn’t helped by the fact that ‘paprika’ is the Korean word for ‘bell pepper’.

Everything Else

The beef patties, buns and cheese were a little harder to come by. The patties that I found at my local grocer’s were on the fatty side so I headed over to Costco to get the patties, buns and cheese. Normally the recipe calls for American Cheddar but as this is Korea… I went with something that was pricier and tasted more exotic. I have no idea what it was called, but it cost me about 12,000 Won. The buns were easily available and the patties were as lean as I could find.

Before cooking the patties (and this is key) they must be tenderized with a meat tenderizer or by some other method. If you don’t the patties will be stiffer and the end product will suffer for it. The actual cooking is quick and painless. It didn’t require any extra oil or effort on my part before the apartment was smelling of relatively lean beef.

Burger Patties

Lastly, I diced some lettuce and onions for the build. It only took a minute or two and I finished before the patties were done cooking. Easy as pie.

Lettuce and Onions

Some Assembly Required

Unexpectedly, the build was a little tricky. Most of the sites I visited weren’t very clear on the build while others were quite explicit. In the end I consulted the McDonald’s head chef video that hit the web a few months ago and followed as closely to his recipe as I could given the ingredients available.

The Homemade Big Mac Blueprint

Word of warning, the Full Stack is a monster which isn’t the easiest mountain to conquer. I’d recommend cutting it at the Half Stack for your first time and trying for the Full Stack once you’re confident. In the end, I had 30,000 Won in groceries which was enough for ten burgers which was a decent trade off considering each Half Stack measures out larger than an actual Big Mac.

I hope you enjoy the recipe and I’m always open to questions if there are any (my ability to answer them notwithstanding). Bon apetit!

Half Stack'd

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