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What Exactly Is Big Mac Sauce?

A Big Mac sits on top of a cardboard Big Mac box next to McDonald's fries.

“Two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun.” Okay, now that we have the classic Big Mac jingle in our heads, let’s talk about what sets the famous McDonald’s burger apart from the competition—the special sauce.

There’s no denying that Big Mac sauce is special, but the ingredients are actually very simple, and things you might typically put on your burger, anyway!

Big Mac sauce was originally invented in 1968 at a Pittsburgh McDonald’s franchise location. While it went through a few initial changes over the years, the Big Mac sauce we all enjoy today is actually the original recipe made with the same original ingredients.

There might not be a scientific reason why the sauce is so popular, except that it hits nearly all of the senses. It’s sweet, tangy, savory, and even a little bit acidic. So, what’s actually in it that makes it so unique?

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It’s a mayo-based sauce that also contains sweet relish, mustard, white vinegar, onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, and white pepper. There are plenty of “copycat” recipes you can try to make your own version of special sauce at home.

You might be surprised to see that there’s actually no ketchup in Big Mac sauce! It gets its tang and acidity from the vinegar and mustard, and its signature “pink” color from the paprika.

While the average person might never be able to 100% replicate the magic of the Big Mac at home, chances are there’s a “golden arches” nearby where you can get your fix.

Stacey Koziel Stacey Koziel
Stacey Koziel is a news writer at LifeSavvy. She's worked as a freelance writer for over ten years, focusing on family and lifestyle content. She also has a background in marketing and social media, and is always eager to talk (and write!) about the latest TikTok trends. Read Full Bio »
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