McDonald's Famous "Special Sauce"

A burger with McDonald's Famous Special Sauce
The Spruce
  • Total: 6 mins
  • Prep: 5 mins
  • Cook: 1 mins
  • Chill: 60 mins
  • Yield: 1 cup (serves 8)

We are all familiar with the jingle: "Two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions, on a sesame seed bun." And that "special sauce" is really what makes this McDonald's hamburger a Big Mac, right? Well, now you don't need to head to the golden arches for this fast-food phenomenon—with this recipe, you can make the coveted condiment at home.

This "top-secret recipe" is actually from the "McDonald's Manager's Handbook," published in 1969. It was meant to be used only in an emergency if stores ran out of the premade sauce. In fear of other burger chains learning the recipe and using the sauce in their restaurants, this page of the handbook was quickly removed. But, it was too late—the recipe was made public the following year and has been available ever since.

This recipe is made up of ingredients you can easily purchase at the store. The original recipe includes references to brand-name products; if you want to recreate the exact formula, then this is the way to go, but other brands are also acceptable. At some point, McDonald's decided to ditch the other brand-name products and make the sauce from scratch, but this homemade version still has all of the flavors you want from the special sauce. Use it to turn an ordinary burger or slider into something really special. It also tastes great served with french fries.

1:15

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Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup salad dressing (like Miracle Whip)
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 3 tablespoons French salad dressing (Wishbone brand)
  • 1/2 tablespoon sweet pickle relish (Heinz brand)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons dill pickle relish (Vlasic or Heinz brand)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon dried minced onion
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon ketchup
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    McDonald's Famous Special Sauce recipe ingredients
     The Spruce
  2. Add all of the ingredients to a medium microwave-safe container and mix.

    Stirring sauce in a bowl
    The Spruce
  3. Microwave on high power for 25 seconds and stir well.

    The sauce is covered in a white bowl with a lid
    The Spruce
  4. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving. The sauce will keep covered in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

    Serving burgers with McDonald's Famous Special Sauce
     The Spruce
  5. Use on your burgers and enjoy.

Tip

Whether you are a fan of Kraft Miracle Whip dressing or not, there is no denying that it plays a big part in giving this sauce its signature tang. If need be, you can use all mayonnaise instead, but the resulting flavor will be quite different. Miracle Whip has a much lower oil content than mayo (for a product to be considered mayonnaise, it has to be 65 percent vegetable oil) as well as a sweet and spicy taste.