For much of my life, I believed that the special sauce on a McDonald’s Big Mac was just thousand island dressing. I mean, how could it not be? It’s a dead ringer for the stuff. The sauce is faintly pink, it’s got pickle relish in it, there’s a tangy note—all the thousand island boxes are seemingly checked. But former McDonald’s corporate chef and social media personality Mike Haracz (who, full disclosure, was a former coworker of mine prior to his McDonald’s gig) has revealed a big secret about the sauce by divulging his copycat recipe on TikTok. The biggest surprise isn’t related to what’s in the sauce, but rather, what’s not in it.
The minute-long video, which has a whopping 2.2 million views so far, reveals Haracz’s version of Big Mac sauce. One big detail he notes in the video is that this condiment has no ketchup in it. That’s right, no ketchup. Instead, the mayo--based sauce gets its tangy qualities from a combination of Düsseldorf mustard and white wine vinegar. That pink hue isn’t from what I originally thought was ketchup; it’s just a small dose of paprika, which acts as a coloring agent in addition to lending a flavor boost.
Aside from the mustard, vinegar, and paprika, the rest of the ingredients are pretty simple. There’s mayo, sweet pickle relish, onion powder, granulated garlic, and white pepper. Once you whisk it together and let the seasonings settle (by resting it for a minimum of 30 minutes), voila, you’ve got a dead ringer for Big Mac sauce.
Haracz says that it’s as close to the real recipe as you’ll get. I believe him, because if you look at the ingredients in Big Mac sauce on McDonald’s website, you’ll see this:
Ingredients: Soybean Oil, Sweet Relish (diced Pickles, Sugar, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Distilled Vinegar, Salt, Corn Syrup, Xanthan Gum, Calcium Chloride, Spice Extractives), Water, Egg Yolks, Distilled Vinegar, Spices, Onion Powder, Salt, Propylene Glycol Alginate, Garlic Powder, Vegetable Protein (hydrolyzed Corn, Soy And Wheat), Sugar, Caramel Color, Turmeric, Extractives Of Paprika, Soy Lecithin.
Notice that there’s no ketchup listed, nor any tomato-based products to speak of. While mustard isn’t listed as an ingredient in the official list, it can technically fall under the “spices” category, which doesn’t legally have to disclose exactly which spices are being used (frustrating, I know). The American Spice Trade Association has more detail here, but basically, there’s a large stable of spices that aren’t required to be disclosed in an ingredients list, one of which is mustard flour. The rest of the stuff in there is stabilizers and such, stuff you wouldn’t really ever need for home cooking.
If any of you are curious, I’d give Haracz’s recipe a shot sometime. There’s a million copycat recipes out there for Big Mac sauce, but I think this is as close to the source as you’re ever going to get. Simply watch Haracz’s TikTok video; he gives you the entire recipe. Just be sure to grab those all-beef patties, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions, and a sesame seed bun while you’re at the grocery store.