Here’s How to Make McDonald’s Special Sauce at Home

It just wouldn't be a Big Mac without that special sauce. Here's a Big Mac sauce recipe that tastes just like the real deal.

C’mon! Sing it with me: “Two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun.”

That’s the classic McDonald’s Big Mac! But back up for a second… “special sauce”? What does that mean? Let’s take a closer look at the Big Mac sauce recipe to find out how to make it at home.

What’s in the Big Mac Sauce Recipe?

Not surprisingly, many people assume it’s an off-the-shelf salad dressing since the pinkish-orange color and creamy texture bear a strong resemblance to Thousand Island dressing. But even Thousand Island is hard to pin down, since there are dozens of variations, including some with chopped olives and hard-cooked eggs.

Though Big Mac Sauce and Thousand Island dressing have ingredients in common, McDonald’s sauce is their own, unique balance of sweet and savory ingredients. The sweetness comes from ketchup and sweet pickle relish; the savory from yellow mustard, fresh onion and a little vinegar. The ingredients are blended with mayonnaise to create a creamy, piquant sauce that is really delicious on burgers.

How to Make Big Mac Special Sauce

Ingredients for Big Mac Sauce including mayonnaise, ketchup and mustard.Nancy Mock for Taste of Home

This recipe makes about a half-cup of sauce.


  • 1/4 cup real mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon finely diced yellow onion
  • 1 tablespoon sweet pickle relish
  • 2 teaspoons yellow mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon white vinegar
  • Tiny pinch cayenne pepper


Step 1: Mix the first three ingredients

Stir the mayonnaise, ketchup and diced onion together in a small bowl.

Step 2: Add the pickle relish

Squeeze the excess liquid from the sweet pickle relish, then add the relish to the bowl.

Step 3: Stir

Glass jar with Big Mac Sauce on a white plate with a spoonful of sauce as well.Nancy Mock for Taste of Home

Next, add the remaining ingredients and stir everything well to make a creamy sauce.

Use the sauce immediately or refrigerate it to let the flavors deepen. Store your Big Mac sauce covered in the refrigerator for up to one week. Learn how to make a copycat of McDonald’s sweet and sour sauce at home.

How to Use Big Mac Sauce

Cheeseburger on a roll served on a white plate.Nancy Mock for Taste of Home

Of course, you know that it’s outstanding to top hot-off-the-grill burgers. Use it in your burgers, too: Fold a spoonful of this special sauce into your beef or turkey burger mix before you shape the patties.

This sauce is also delicious drizzled over a fresh wedge salad. (You can add a few more drops of vinegar to thin the sauce, if necessary.) Try it as a spread on sandwiches too, like a turkey club or a Reuben with pastrami and rye. At my house, we use the special sauce as an awesome as a dip for french fries!

Another great way to use this Big Mac sauce is in homemade meat loaf, to add moisture and sweet-savory flavor. Just add a quarter-cup to your standard meatloaf mixture in place of the eggs.

Build Your Own Big Mac

Stacked double cheeseburger with lettuce on a white plate.Nancy Mock for Taste of Home

Feeling really hungry? To make a towering, 12-layer Big Mac-style sandwich at home, here is the order for the ingredients, top to bottom:

  • Sesame seed bun
  • Hamburger
  • Pickles
  • Shredded lettuce
  • Diced onion
  • Big Mac sauce
  • Bun
  • Burger
  • American cheese
  • Shredded lettuce
  • Big Mac Sauce
  • Bun
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Reader's Digest
Originally Published on Reader's Digest

Nancy Mock
Nancy has shared her home cooking and baked goods with loved ones her entire life. Taking inspiration from her northeastern roots and Irish heritage, she shares her comfort food recipes on her site Hungry Enough to Eat Six. An expert in New England cuisine, Nancy enjoys delving into food history, viral recipes and regional dishes. Since becoming a Taste of Home contributor, she’s written about Fluffernutter sandwiches (a New England classic), re-created vintage Betty Crocker recipes, shared how to make “marry me chicken” and much more. When she’s not whipping up developing new recipes or testing cooking techniques, she loves finding vintage cookbooks from the last century to add to her growing collection.