Bunless Big Macs

The Big Mac is possibly the best-known burger in the world.  The signature combination of “two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun” has become brilliantly ubiquitous.  Introduced in 1967, the burger utilises that “special sauce” – creamy, tangy and herby it has long been a sauce (ayyyy) of speculation and debate.  The secret recipe has since become less-elusive in the age of the internet, and when McDonald’s Australia sold Big Mac Sauce as a single product they were forced to disclose the ingredients list.

Ultimately, it’s a marie-rose sauce enhanced with gherkins and dill.  There are lots of different imitations out there – some include relish, the ratios of ketchup-mayo vary.  This is my own personal take on it and honestly, I do feel especially proud of it.  Two years at a McDonald’s in my teen years gave me plenty of time to work on my recipe.

As for the bunless aspect – in fairness, there’s nothing to stop you from taking the sauce here and applying it to a more traditional burger.  However, in response to some unwelcome lockdown weight, I’ve been on a big of a carb-reduction.  Whether you’re going full keto/atkins, or just don’t want the double carb whammy of bun and fries, the overall experience here is remarkably wonderful.  The gem lettuce leaves serve as brilliant receptacles for the meat, cheese and sauce, and the combination of flavours will transport your tastebuds to a golden-arched heaven (but for about 1/2 the calories).


  • Minced Beef (80-100g per Mac.  A standard Big Mac has around 90g total meat)
  • Sliced Cheese (I used red leicester, something that’ll melt well.)
  • Gem Lettuce
  • Salt and pepper
  • Red onion, finely diced

For the sauce – makes a small bowl:

  • 4 tbsp mayonnaise (I used light and it was still wonderful)
  • 1 tbsp tomato ketchup
  • 1 tsp yellow mustard
  • 1 tsp Worcester sauce
  • 2-3 tsp dried dill
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped gherkins PLUS a few tsp brine


  • Put all of your beef into a large, lightly greased frying pan.  Fry over a medium heat, breaking it down with a wooden spoon and keeping it moving.  Cook until all the moisture has evaporated and the meat is beginning to develop a slight crust.  Allow to stand untouched on the heat for a minute at a time, then stir and repeat 3 or 4 times until a decent amount is crunchy.  Season to taste with salt and pepper – a decent contingent of both.
  • Mix all of the sauce ingredients in a bowl until thoroughly combined.
  • To assemble, layer a slice of cheese in a washed gem lettuce leaf (it’ll help make a buffer between the hot meat and cool lettuce.)  Spoon over some of the meat, sprinkle on some red onion and then a spoonful or two of big mac sauce.  Serve immediately.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s