By Dennis Prescott
Updated October 28, 2014
The DIY Big Mac
Credit: © Dennis Prescott

There are times in your life when you sit down at a restaurant that requires reservations three weeks in advance to enjoy three courses of artistically crafted food that leaves you almost at a loss for words.

There are other times when you want a big burger.

If you’re like me, you’re drawn in by the powerful tractor beam of the golden arches, but you also want to know what your food is actually made of. Here, the best of both worlds: a homemade Big Mac.

The DIY Big Mac

Serves 4


  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp. yellow mustard
  • 1 Tbsp. relish
  • 1 tsp. white vinegar
  • ⅛ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. paprika
  • ½ tsp. garlic powder
  • ½ tsp. onion powder


  • 6 brioche buns
  • 2 lbs. ground beef (preferably organic, from a local butcher)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. butter, separated
  • ½ cup finely diced onion
  • 1 cup shredded iceberg lettuce
  • 16 thin slices dill pickles
  • 8 slices aged cheddar cheese

In a small bowl, combine the mayo, mustard, relish vinegar, salt and spices. You can serve the sauce right away, but refrigerating it overnight is best, as it allows the flavors to marry.

Preheat a large skillet over medium heat.

Split 4 of the buns in the middle, and set aside. Split the remaining 2 buns twice, creating 2 bases and a small top from each bun. (Tip: Keep the 2 small tops for later use, they make amazing croutons.)

Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in the skillet and, working in batches, toast the buns in the pan until golden brown and set aside.

Use a kitchen scale to divide the ground beef into eight ¼-pound pieces. Shape the meat into thin patties just larger than the buns, and indent a thumbprint in the center of each patty to prevent shrinking. Season both sides with salt and pepper.

In the large pan on medium-high heat, melt 1 tablespoon of butter. Working in batches, fry the patties 2½ minutes per side.

Spread 1 tablespoon of sauce on the bottom bun, then top with—in order—1 tablespoon of onion, 2 tablespoons of lettuce, 2 pickle slices, 1 slice of cheese and 1 patty. Top with one of the center buns, and repeat the condiment, cheese and burger stack, and add the top bun.

Repeat with the remaining patties, buns and toppings.