Big Mac Sauce

You’re just minutes away from enjoying your favorite fast-food burger sauce right at home. You may be surprised at the common ingredients that make this versatile, delicious “special sauce” so special!

Copycat McDonald's big mac sauce in a small bowl and burgers behind it.

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McDonald’s Big Mac Special Flavor

It’s undoubtedly the world’s most famous burger, from Philadelphia to the Philippines. The Big Mac has become a true food and pop culture icon, complete with a catchy jingle seared into the memory of millions of people around the world. But among the list of ingredients, there’s one that truly makes the Big Mac “special” — the Big Mac Sauce. This creamy, tangy, perfectly spiced, and ideally textured sauce is what elevates a Big Mac over any old double burger.   

Naturally, McDonald’s knows customers love it, even occasionally selling bottles of the sauce that can sometimes end up resold online for thousands of dollars. But you don’t need to drain your savings account or constantly make trips to the Golden Arches just to enjoy this tasty, distinctive condiment. With a deceptively simple group of ingredients, it’s easy to whip up at home for use on all of your favorite burgers, sandwiches, and other dishes. 

The Birth of the Big Mac and Big Mac Sauce

The Big Mac traces its roots back to the late 1960s. It wasn’t invented by McDonald’s itself; it’s actually the product of early franchise owner Jim Delligatti, who served the burger at his Pittsburgh-area locations in 1967. But it didn’t stay a Western Pennsylvania specialty for long. Within a year, corporate had taken notice, and the Big Mac was popping up on menu boards around the country. 

In the Big Mac’s earliest days, the sauce varied somewhat from restaurant to restaurant while sticking to the general theme and flavor profile. That all changed in 1972, when Mickey D’s standardized the recipe, ensuring each and every Big Mac has the same mouthwatering flavor. 

As for that flavor, don’t be fooled — McDonald’s special sauce is not just Thousand Island dressing in disguise, as many believe. While they certainly bear some similarities, there are notable differences that introduce the subtle differences that make Big Mac sauce so craveable.  

Why this is the best recipe for Big Mac Sauce

There are few things better when home-making a sauce than lots of flavor and an easy process. This Big Mac Sauce recipe has both, using common ingredients that may already be in your fridge or on your spice rack. Plus, it costs just pennies to whip up a batch, and comes together in just a few minutes of active work. 


There are no big surprises among the Big Mac sauce ingredients:

  • Mayonnaise
  • Relish
  • Brown mustard (like Gulden’s)
  • White vinegar
  • Paprika
  • Onion powder
  • Granulated garlic
  • Ground white pepper

While you can use any old relish, India relish produces the tastiest and most authentic results. This more complex relish has more of a spicy and tangy kick, along with the addition of other veggies beyond pickles. It’s available at many larger supermarkets as well as online, but you can also use ordinary sweet pickle relish if that’s all you have on hand but do not use dill pickle relish. Those who are feeling especially adventurous can even make their own India relish

Copycat McDonald's big mac sauce ingredients in bowls.

How to make Big Mac Sauce

This copycat Big Mac Sauce recipe is very simple to make! Here’s how:

  1. Simply measure the ingredients and place them in a bowl
  2. Stir until fully combined.
Copycat McDonald's big mac sauce ingredients in a mixing bowl.
Copycat McDonald's big mac sauce in a mixing bowl.
  1. Allow the sauce to rest for at least an hour to let the flavors meld before using.
Copycat McDonald's big mac sauce and two big mac burgers.

Tips for making and storing homemade Big Mac Sauce

  • Try to make ahead of time for the best taste. Like with many sauces, giving it a few hours to rest allows a true blending of the varying tastes into a cohesive, delicious final result. 
  • Don’t use the sauce cold. Remove only as much sauce from the fridge as you anticipate using in advance of cooking your meal, and allow it to come to room temperature gradually. For food safety reasons, you should throw out any of this sauce that doesn’t get used, not put it back in the larger container in the fridge. 

What goes well with Big Mac Sauce

While this sauce is obviously a perfect fit for its namesake burger, it’s just as good on any other kind of sandwich or wrap, providing a convenient and creamy flavor boost. It’s also an ideal choice as a dipping sauce for chicken nuggets, French fries, tater tots, onion rings, potato chips, or even fresh veggies. You can even use it as the salad dressing on a Big Mac Salad.

See how to use this sauce for a homemade Big Mac.

How to store

Store your Big Mac sauce in an appropriately sized, airtight container in the fridge. It’ll be good for up to a week. We don’t recommend freezing it for textural reasons and because it’s so easy to make fresh. 

A bowl of copycat McDonald's big mac sauce and three burgers behind it.

More Tasty Sauces

Be sure to check out all my easy sauce recipes and the best copycat McDonald’s recipes.

Copycat McDonald's big mac sauce in a small bowl and burgers behind it.

McDonald’s Big Mac Sauce

You can make McDonald's special secret sauce at home with this easy copycat recipe.
4.77 from 17 votes
Print Pin Rate Add to Collection
Course: Sauces
Cuisine: American
Keyword: McDonald’s Recipes
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Resting: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
Servings: 16
Calories: 103kcal


  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup sweet pickle relish (Heinz India relish is preferred)
  • 2 tablespoons brown mustard (such as Guldens)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons white vinegar
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper


  • Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl and mix well.
  • Let the sauce rest for 1 hour before serving.


Heinz makes India relish and can be found in the same section of the grocery store as pickle relish.


Calories: 103kcal | Carbohydrates: 2g | Protein: 0.3g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 6g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 0.03g | Cholesterol: 6mg | Sodium: 141mg | Potassium: 14mg | Fiber: 0.2g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 134IU | Vitamin C: 0.1mg | Calcium: 4mg | Iron: 0.1mg

About Stephanie Manley

I recreate your favorite restaurant recipes, so you can prepare these dishes at home. I help you cook dinner, and serve up dishes you know your family will love. You can find most of the ingredients for all of the recipes in your local grocery store.

Stephanie is the author of's Dining Out in the Home, and's Dining Out in the Home 2.

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Reader Interactions


  1. Bill J.

    This recipe is okay, but it does not include certain ingredients that appear within the ingredients list on the nutritional info on McDonald’s packaged secret sauce, specially mustard and paprika. And there is no tomato product listed in McDonald’s ingredients disclosure.
    The pink color comes from paprika extract.

  2. Crystal

    I saw a video that former corporate McDonald’s chef Mike Haracz posted where he gave the actual recipe. He said this recipe is as close as you’re gonna get to the real Mac sauce only because there are some ingredients that are not available to the general public but I made this & let me tell you this recipe tastes just like the real thing

    1 cup hellman’s mayo
    1/4 cup sweet pickle relish
    2 tbsp of Düsseldorf mustard
    1 tsp of white wine vinegar
    1 1/4 tsp paprika
    1 tsp onion powder
    1 tsp granulated garlic
    1/8th tsp of white pepper
    Let sit for 30 min

    • Bill J

      Chrystal I agree with you, but I used granulated onion or dehydrated onion flakes and mixed them with the pickle relish and garlic granules until the dehydrated flakes soaked up the pickle relish brine.
      Also, there is a specific Kraft Red French salad dressing that does NOT contain tomato products and gets its deep red color from paprika and paprika extract. You can use a small amount of this non-tomato French dressing to achieve a pink finished color rather than the yellow color achieved without paprika extract.

    • Wayne Thomason

      4 stars
      I tried both recipes listed in comments, the one from the former McDonald’s Corporate chef and the one from the 1969 McD manager’s handbook. Neither of these is exactly right. side-by-side comparisons show the 1969 recipe to be much sweeter and redder than the McD Chef’s recipe. The one from the chef is similar to the Mac sauce I remember from my last Big Mac a few months ago, but in my memory, the copycat sauce is still a bit brighter than the OG MAC sauce and maybe a tad sweeter. I didn’t have Dusseldorf mustard and substituted spicy brown mustard on that recipe but everything else was spot-on including the recommended brands for the mayo and relishes.

      I didn’t try the original recipe from this article

  3. rod n

    i found a different MAC SAUCE IN 1969 MC D’S
    1/4 cup KRAFT Miracle Whip
    1/4 cup mayonnaise
    2 heaping tablespoons WISHBONE deluxe French
    salad dressing (the orange stuff)
    1/2 tablespoon HEINZ sweet relish
    2 heaping teaspoons VLASIC dill pickle relish (Heinz
    dill relish also works)
    1 teaspoon granulated sugar
    1 teaspoon dried, minced onion
    1 teaspoon white vinegar
    1 teaspoon ketchup
    1/8 teaspoon salt
    Mix everything very well in a small container. There better be no streaks! Microwave 25 seconds, and stir well again. Cover, and refrigerate at LEAST 1 hour before using (to allow all of the flavors to “meld”).
    Makes nearly 1 cup…enough for about 8 Big Macs. (note- the term `microwave’ is in reference to using what was called a `radar range’ – aka amana radar range- which was created after ww ii back in 1946).

    • KSC

      This is the best version I have tried so far, thank you. And I only ever have dukes, so I haven’t tried splitting the mayos yet. Fantastic, thank you!

    • George Moy

      Thanks Stephanie for the recipe on Mac Donald’s secret sauce I like it I don’t care about what everyone says about it so I hope you have a thick skin on what the idea of how the sauce should be,because like everything else,everyone WILL always,(and always) try to change things, and reinvent all sorts of things to think,this is the way it works! Sometimes it does work good, other times, not good at all So thanks again for bringing to light on the taste of those secret flavor home.

  4. Peggy

    2 stars
    My husband worked at McDonald’s when he was a teenager. They used to have to make Big Mac sauce when they ran out of it. It was not this recipe. They used mayo, tarter sauce and ketchup. Ketchup hid the taste of the tarter sauce. So, idk about this recipe.

    • Stephanie

      I don’t know when your husband was a teenager … but I imagine many franchisee’s did different things to make this happen in a pinch. I am sorry you found my recipe lacking.

    • Cat G

      This does not taste like Big Mac sauce at all. It definitely has some thousand islands dressing and this you say tarter sauce? I don’t think this is an original recipe!!

    • Gary

      5 stars
      This was very good. I used pickle relish and it tasted great on a sandwich and a burger. Thanks you, I will be using this spread quite often and will try the India relish next time.

  5. Steve k

    ….look imagine its 1967 and you re in your roadside Golden Arches Kitchen imagining a hook to get customers in the door. You look around the kitchen and you see; ketchup, relish, mayo, and yellow mustard on the counter….then it hits you, 4 great tastes, would taste great together!! I wonder what all these would these would taste like if I mixed them together???….and Viola!…..Special Sauce, withe ‘secret’ ingredients.
    I think logic tells you Special Sauce is simply: Mayo, Ketchup, Relish and Yellow Mustard.
    Try it, it tastes Exactly like special sauce, besides who ever heard of 1000 Island Dressing in 1967?

    • Cat G

      Ok did more research after reading this information. You are correct thousand islands dressing was invented in 1972 very interesting!! Maybe McDonald’s adopted the use of the dressing but the dressing has tomatoes and the secret sauce does not so curious as to who is right. There are a couple other recipes stating they are the copy cat secret sauce…

4.77 from 17 votes (1 rating without comment)

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