It’s been a long time since I stopped by McDonald’s and ordered a Big Mac, but to me, the absurdly stacked burger is shrouded in a nostalgia of family road trips, high school joy rides, and greasy satisfaction (tinged with nausea, if we’re being honest). So when I heard that McDonald’s was giving out bottles of its signature Big Mac Special Sauce today, I was allll in.
Or at least, I tried to be all in—right up until I realized that none of my local franchises were participating in the giveaway.
Unwilling to give up, I changed tactics. If McDonald’s couldn’t provide me with a bottle of the sauce, I’d make my own. Take that, you golden-arched, red-roofed piece of—er, fast food chain!
I typed “Big Mac Special Sauce” into Google and pulled up a recipe published on a site called Top Secret Recipes. That sounded promising. My local grocery store had everything on the short list of ingredients I needed, and I bought them all. This was it, my moment of glory.
Today, I would become my own fast food hero.
Back home, I mixed together mayonnaise, French dressing, sweet relish, vinegar, sugar, salt, and finely chopped onion. The French dressing gave the mixture that telltale orange tint, speckled with bits of green from the relish.
The smell of the sauce hit my nostrils and I breathed deep. Yep, that was it. The smell of drive-in dining and greasy-fingered glory. The smell of Special Sauce, and every last spoonful of the stuff was mine.
What happened next was either sacrilege or improvement, depending on who you ask. You see, I’m not a kid anymore. I can’t eat gluten, and I tend to avoid having red meat too often. I’ve traded iceberg lettuce for darker, leafier greens, and I have limited food in my shared refrigerator. So to taste my Special Sauce, I heated up a veggie burger patty and topped it with spinach, white cheddar, sour pickles, and tomato, then drizzled Special Sauce over the whole mess.
I took a bite. Reader, it was good.
That’s the thing about making your own Special Sauce—you can use it however you want. I wolfed down my veggie burger, then tried a bit of the sauce on its own just to see how close it tasted to the real thing.
It wasn’t a perfect dupe of the McDonald’s version, but it was very, very similar. And you know what? That’s fine with me. I’m glad I made my own version, because when I realized that it could be improved upon with a bit of Sriracha, I was able to mix some right in and give it a try.
“There,” I said out loud, the marriage of sweet and spicy lingering like nostalgia on my tongue. “That’s better.”