When it comes to replicating a McDonald’s meal, some would say that it's absolutely impossible to do, because every last detail that goes into making their menu items is so significant. We were hard-pressed to hear it couldn't be done, so we decided to test this theory in our own kitchen, replicating some of McDonald's favorite menu items. We found that in some cases, the recipes were healthier, and in others, they were just fun to make. Making these recipes is really about paying attention to the details — from the blend of ground beef you use to how you choose to put ketchup on the bun — and each step is more important than the last when creating the ultimate McDonald’s experience.
While replicating some of McDonald's most iconic menu items at home, we learned a lot about why McDonald's food is as unique as it is. As hard as people try, they'll never get their Big Mac replications to taste the same as the one that comes out of the drive-thru window, and we found that this is because McDonald's has managed to keep some of even their most basic ingredients secret in one way or another. Things like how they cook their eggs, what blend of ground beef they use, and exactly how much special sauce goes on the Big Mac are all predetermined and precise — and secret — so it’s no wonder that this company continues to thrive over time. In honor of the timelessness of these items, we’ve recreated them in our own kitchen, so that you can do the same in your own.
When McDonald’s started (after the short lived McDonalds Bar-B-Q take on the restaurant) the menu consisted of $0.15 hamburgers, french fries, and triple-thick milkshakes. Milestones like Ray Kroc visiting the restaurant to sell mixers, then opening a branch in Des Plaines, Ill., and eventually buying the company from the McDonald brothers for $2.7 million ($1 million for each McDonald brother, and then the leftover $700,000 for Uncle Sam) shaped the company over a period of time. While the history of the company might be as fascinating as the menu, there is one thing that sets McDonald's apart from its competition, always, and that one thing is the simple method in which they create their hamburgers. In 1988, Fortune labeled McDonald’s hamburgers as one of the 100 things that America makes best, we'd have to say that we agree.
McDonald’s assembly strategies are extremely important to the process of how the food tastes. OSI, McDonald's sole ground beef producer, has farms located throughout the United States. The burger plants at OSI freeze the ground beef almost immediately after it’s shaped, blended, and packaged to be shipped domestically, ensuring consistency of taste and quality. The produce used is also very important to McDonald’s, as they source all of the vegetables and fruit locally, so that they’re as fresh as possible upon arrival to the restaurants. McDonald’s is known for a lot more than their burgers these days, as they come out with sugar-free smoothie, wraps, and new salad options every day, and we’re seeing their menu transform with the help of nutritionists, like Julia Braun, to create healthy and weight-conscious meals.
McDonald’s has developed cooking methods, real estate ventures, patented "green" machinery, charities, and even a University with an accredited business degree in just five days — but despite all of their major accomplishments over the years, we still just want to know: What’s in the sauce?
In case you’re wondering, too, we’ve created 10 at-home recipes for some of our favorite McDonald’s menu items. To recreate everything from the classics like the cheeseburger to the more recent McGriddle, we researched multiple recipes, including an online file that is constructed by the McDonald’s Company themselves. But to find the exact taste of the recipes, we sat with each McDonald's item and tasted them against our own to find out how they were assembled, how they tasted, and how to make them almost identical. When The Daily Meal visited Hamburger University in June, we were given the inside scoop on just how McDonald's assembles its products, which is surprisingly one of the most important factors to the taste of the overall meal.
Though we may have strayed a little bit by making our McRib "pimped out," the McDonald’s corporation recipes have influenced our versions, in an effort to make them as authentic as possible. The best part about these recipes is that they might just be easier than getting in your car and driving to your nearest McDonald's.