McDonald's Special Sauce Recipe

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

There is no juicy Big Mac without special sauce. As the jingle says, "Two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions, on a sesame seed bun." But the sauce, while special, is not so secret. We have the original recipe so you can replicate its flavor and texture to top your homemade burgers, hot dogs, and fries.

The famous condiment has been a hit since it was first used in 1968. Our recipe is actually from the "McDonald's Manager's Handbook," published in 1969. The booklet 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, a little 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 a store. The original text includes references to brand-name products, so if you want to recreate the exact formula, then this is the way to go. Other brands are also acceptable, and if you need to alter sodium, food coloring, or sugar content, use what you'd normally use in your kitchen.

Our homemade version has all of the flavors you want from the special signature sauce. Use it to turn an ordinary burger or slider into something really special. Or serve it alongside other fast-food staples like fries, chicken nuggets, or sandwiches.

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 one hour before serving. The sauce will keep covered in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

    Serving burgers with McDonald's Famous Special Sauce
     The Spruce
  5. Enjoy.

Why Use Miracle Whip Dressing?

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 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. Without the sauce, its good, but isn't special anymore.

How to Use Special Sauce

The special sauce is tangy, creamy, and has a zesty flavor: savory with a hint of sweetness. Use it in other dishes:

  • Pasta: Make short pasta and finely chop a few pickles, a red bell pepper, red onions, cucumbers, and iceberg lettuce. Combine pasta and vegetables with the sauce, and serve as a side dish at BBQs and picnics.
  • Veggies: Thin out the sauce with lemon juice or apple cider vinegar and use it as a salad dressing. Pour over steamed asparagus, broccoli, or carrots.
  • Marinade: Place chicken breasts and thighs in a zip-top bag. Add the special sauce with additional lime or lemon juice and let marinate overnight. Grill, bake, or pan-fry the chicken.
  • Dip: Use it for dipping crudités, chips, or mozzarella sticks.

The famous fast-food sauce is sometimes confused with Thousand Island dressing, but even if they share some common ingredients, such as mayo, they are not alike.