A Burger bonanza feat. The “Big Zach”


Hello fellow foodies and welcome back! I took a short hiatus from updating TrueGrub due to my semester workload getting a bit heavier than usual, but fret not, I’m back with a great new recipe for you!

This recipe is a twist on a burger classic that I’m sure at least most of you are familiar with. Being able to cook a burger is a good staple for any home cook to have in their arsenal, and was the first meal that I learned how to cook on my own.

There are a few unique techniques I can offer in ways to make your burger taste the best it can, but the real flavor lies in how you season the meat, the quality of meat, and the type of surface you’re cooking on. I prefer grilling outside on a charcoal or gas grill because that is usually the first sign of warm weather, haha! But over the years I have become much more accustomed to cooking my burgers on cast-iron as it provides an even heat in order to get the best cook-through.

The inspiration for this particular recipe comes from McDonald’s classic The Big Mac. I was a huge fan of big macs when I was younger, but as I’ve gotten older I’ve tried my best to avoid this specific fast food chain for one reason or another. The other night I just got an intense craving for one of these bad boys though, and decided to make my own attempt of this delicious burger. I’ll detail the preparation steps below, how to cook them, and my insights into how to duplicate the sauce (the hardest part).


  • Ground chuck burger meat
  • Sesame seed buns
  • Cheddar cheese
  • Shredded lettuce
  • Thousand Island dressing
  • Yellow mustard
  • Garlic powder
  • Salt/pepper
  • Butter
  • Cayenne pepper (optional)
  • Sandwich pickles (optional)

The Preparation

I generally prepare all of my burgers roughly the same way. Choosing the right meat is probably the most important part of the preparation process, and will undoubtedly vary depending on your particular tastes. Some prefer a leaner burger and I like to use a ground chuck myself.

For the purposes of this recipe, I recommend a smaller patty so you can double up on them. If the patty is too large, then the burger becomes a bit hard to eat haha. Two 1/4 pound patties should do the trick, so begin by preparing those into a flattened patty shape.

Once your patties are ready, you’ll want to get to seasoning. I use sea salt, pepper, garlic powder, and just a touch of cayenne pepper to season my patties. The cayenne can be a little overpowering if used too heavily, so be sure to be sparing with that spice.

You can also prepare the rest of the burger so that it is a quick assembly once the burgers are cooked. You’ll need sesame seed buns to mimic the flavor of a real Big Mac, shredded lettuce, cheddar cheese, and of course the special sauce which I’ll detail my take on below.

The Sauce

This is quite possibly the most difficult part of the recipe because it is what actually ties the entire specialty burger together. People have been trying to recreate the Big Mac special sauce ever since it was invented. McDonald’s isn’t necessarily keeping the recipe a secret anymore as the ingredients can be readily found online. They even released a bottled form of it in Australia in 2016 (which sold out in a few minutes).

Most people just assume that the sauce is Thousand Island dressing, and those people wouldn’t necessarily be wrong but there are definitely some additional ingredients. McDonald’s actual recipe calls for hard-to-find ingredients like Xantham Gum, so I took it upon myself to simply doctor up some traditional Thousand Island dressing until it resembled the original sauce.

All I do is prepare some Thousand Island in a mixing bowl, add roughly a teaspoon of garlic powder, and a teaspoon of yellow mustard, combine and voila! You’ve got your very own mac sauce. It might not taste exactly the same but it’s pretty darn close.

Cooking the patties

Begin by warming your cast-iron skillet to around 6 or 7. Once the pan is warmed, add a small pad of butter to facilitate searing the patties. These are thin patties so they should cook fairly quickly so be sure to keep an eye on them.

Once the butter has melted, place patties into the pan and cook on each side for 2.5 minutes. I prefer my patties to be slightly pink in the center for a desired tenderness, but finish in the oven if you prefer yours well done. Place the cheddar cheese on the patties before pulling them from the skillet in order to melt the cheese consistently. Pull the patties and let them rest for just a minute while you assemble the rest of the burger.

Add a generous amount of sauce to the top and bottom portions of the sesame seed bun. Place shredded lettuce on top bun, and then burger patties on bottom bun. The regular Big Mac comes with sandwich pickles but I’m not a huge fan of those myself, you can add them if you like them though. Close your burger and enjoy this delicious meal that is as good as or better than the original!

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