Cheeseburger Pizza: McSecret revealed.

Two all beef patties special sauce lettuce cheese pickles onions on a sesame seed bun.

Make that on a light/tender/crunchy sesame seed pizza crust.

Eschew the drive-through? Here’s how.

I’ve always liked McDonald’s. THERE – I SAID IT. Hey, if Julia Child thought Mickey D’s french fries were to die for, who am I to disagree?

When I was young, there wasn’t a McDonald’s in every town. Or even every other town. I remember us kids piling into the car, and Mom and Dad driving quite a way to the only McD’s within non-whining distance: i.e., the amount of time we could all sit in the back seat together without fighting over both seat- and air-space. (What, you never accused your sister of breathing your air? I did.)

Once there, we had no trouble deciding what to order. Not because we’d already identified favorites; there just wasn’t much choice.

Hamburger or cheeseburger? Fries, or no fries? Chocolate shake, or strawberry? Done, done, and done.

But oh, what bliss to unwrap the warm burgers from their paper. To lick fingers salty from fries, and noisily suck the last drops of thick milkshake through a straw.

As the years went by and I discovered bread-baking, I began to feel faintly disappointed with McD’s burger buns; and nowhere was their insufficiency as evident as in the Big Mac.

Despite their attempt at gourmet with the addition of sesame seeds, there just wasn’t much to these buns – flavor, or texture. They were kind of an afterthought, a definite second fiddle to the virtuoso contents they held: the warm burger; mild, milky American cheese; the almost-soft onions and barely warm lettuce – and oh, that “special sauce”!

[Note to my dear readers who never liked Big Macs – you can stop reading right now. This post isn’t for you.]

I pondered making my own Big Mac on a homemade bun. But the triple-decker thing seemed like an architectural disaster in the making.

Then I thought, flatter, more secure… let’s layer those toppings on something that’ll hold them without the need for toothpicks or other buttressing agents.

Eureka! Pizza, of course. I chose one of my favorite softer, more bun-like crusts (the one from New Year’s Eve Pizza), then simply mimicked Big Mac’s fillings, layering them on the parbaked crust in stages, so each ingredient would be the perfect degree of cooked-and-warm when the whole shebang was done.

And you know what? I think I succeeded.

Take a bite of this pizza, and be transported back to 1967, when the Big Mac made its debut (at 49¢) – and quickly became, for many, the sine qua non of fast-food burgers.

Ah, one of my favorite pizza ingredients: Pizza Dough Flavor, a garlic/cheese combo that somehow manages to make any dough taste like pizza from the neighborhood takeout joint – in a GOOD way. Give it a try; you’ll find it quickly becomes a pizza must-have.

Click anywhere on this block of pictures to enlarge them to full size – this will work for any of the photos you see in this blog post.

To make the crust: Combine the following ingredients in a mixing bowl, or the bucket of your bread machine set on the dough cycle –

3 cups (12 3/4 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons instant yeast
4 teaspoons Pizza Dough Flavor, optional but delicious
2 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons to 1 cup + 2 tablespoons (7 to 9 ounces) lukewarm water*

*Use the lesser amount in summer (or in a humid environment), the greater amount in winter (or in a dry climate), and somewhere in between the rest of the year, or if your house is climate controlled.

Mix until the dough is cohesive; then knead to make a smooth, soft dough.

Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl or large 8-cup measure (or leave it in the bread machine), and let it rise until it’s very puffy, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

While the dough is rising, ready your toppings. Let’s start with the special sauce.

The ingredients (though not their specific amounts) to this sauce were revealed last summer by Chef Dan Coudreaut, executive chef of McDonald’s Canada. Coudreaut posted a YouTube video on how to build a Big Mac, and it’s garnered nearly 2.5 million views; check it out.

After fiddling around with amounts, here’s what I came up with for the sauce:

1 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup green pickle relish
2 tablespoons yellow mustard
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 1/2 teaspoons sweet paprika; substitute smoked or hot paprika, if desired, your choice

Whisk everything together; refrigerate until ready to top the pizza.

BTW, any leftover makes yummy salad dressing.

The remaining toppings are as follows:

1 pound ground beef seasoned with 1 teaspoon salt, cooked and drained
1 medium-large onion, peeled and diced
hamburger dill pickle slices
12 slices yellow American cheese
shredded lettuce

You can ready any or all of these ahead of time.

As far as the pickles and lettuce, the amount of both is up to you; I didn’t bother to measure exactly how much I used.

OK, back to the pizza dough.

Spray a large rimmed baking sheet (a 13″ x 18″ half sheet pan is perfect) with non-stick vegetable oil spray.

Sprinkle 1 to 2 tablespoons sesame seeds into the pan, if desired; they’re there to mimic the burger’s sesame seed bun.

Gently deflate the risen dough, and stretch it into an oval in your hands. Plop the oval onto the baking sheet, and press it towards the edges. When it starts to fight back, walk away for 15 minutes. When you return, you should be able to press it to the edges and nearly into the corners. If you can’t, give it another short rest, and try again. You want the dough to cover as much of the pan’s bottom as possible (without making yourself too crazy about it). Cover the dough, and let it rise until puffy, about 90 minutes.

While the dough is rising, prepare the toppings. Fry the ground beef until brown; drain off the fat. Dice the onions, and shred the lettuce.

Towards the end of the dough’s rising time, preheat the oven to 425°F.

Bake the crust on a lower oven rack for 10 minutes, or until it’s a light golden brown.

Make sure your toppings are ready to go…

Top the crust with the diced onion, then the ground beef.

Return the pizza to the oven, and bake for 10 minutes.

Remove the pizza from the oven, and top with the pickle slices, then the sliced cheese. Return it to the oven, and bake for 10 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the edges of the crust are brown.

Remove the pizza from the oven, and spread with the sauce. Finally, sprinkle with the shredded lettuce.

Serve immediately.

Once more, with feeling: “Two all-beef patties special sauce lettuce cheese pickles onions on a sesame seed bun…”

Read, bake, and review (please) our recipe for Cheeseburger Pizza.

Print just the recipe.

Oh, and since the economy has been on everyone’s mind lately, here’s a point of interest from McDonald’s Big Mac fact sheet:

The Economist magazine uses McDonald’s Big Mac prices across the globe as a light-hearted guide to whether currencies around the world are at their ‘correct’ level. According to the publication, The Economist‘s Big Mac index is arguably the world’s most accurate financial indicator to be based on a fast-food item.”

Ah, for the days of nickel chocolate bars and 49¢ Big Macs…

PJ Hamel
About

PJ Hamel grew up in New England, graduated from Brown University, and was a Maine journalist before joining King Arthur Flour in 1990. PJ bakes and writes from her home on Cape Cod, where she enjoys beach-walking, her husband, two dogs, and really good food!

comments

  1. Nenegoose

    I certainly will make your pizza, if nothing else, to console my husband. He came home after lunch a few days ago and was quite crestfallen. He had gone to MCD.’s and ordered a hamburger and a milkshake, but was told they did not have any hamburgers. Of course, he was incredulous, but it was true: they did not have any hamburgers. When he told me, I laughed so hard, I almost cried. Only on the island of St. Croix. So, thank you very much for your timely recipe.

    Now, that’s a first – McD’s running out of their “billions and billions” of hamburgers! Thanks for getting my day started with a chuckle… 🙂 PJH

    Reply
  2. spookys6

    Worth a try! Question. There are only two of us & this pizza is really big. Half the recipe? Bake & freeze half? Suggestions welcomed!
    Sure! The best thing you can do is to carry the recipe all the way through, plan for halving the topping ingredients, but divide your dough in half when you are ready to shape the crusts. Par bake one of them and freeze it so you have a shell all ready to go on a night you are in a rush for dinner. All you’ll need to do is add the toppings and bake! ~Amy

    Reply
  3. jlgirl617

    Or if you have more than one pan, you could cook the burger and bake the crust at the same time in the oven, and *then* combine the two…that way you still get the shape, but some of the fat will be left behind. Maybe even on a wire rack…? It’s an intriguing concept for sure, thanks for posting the recipe. 🙂

    Intriguing indeed! Thank you for the great idea.-Jon

    Reply
  4. jlgirl617

    What about making the hamburger as a single “patty”, using the half sheet pan as a mold, and placing the patty on top of the crust after its first bake? There’s just something about the texture of a McDonald’s burger that I’m afraid might be lost in a crumbled ground beef topping…

    If you don’t mind all the fat from the burger seeping into the crust, this would probably work; not sure just how long it would take to cook the burger, but it would be insulating the crust, so I don’t think the crust would over-bake. You could also just cook a dozen patties and lay them on the crust, then cut between them to give each person his/her own intact burger… lots of ways to go with this. Thanks for brainstorming! PJH

    Reply
  5. rew007

    I made this today with one half whole wheat flour. It was great. My son said it reminded him of a McDonald’s hamburger and my daughter said it tasted like a McDonald’s hamburger but not as greasy. Everyone really liked the special sauce.
    We may leave some for my husband!

    So glad you liked it – and now you know the “secret” of the sauce! 🙂 PJH

    Reply
  6. jmanni

    Insanely delicious. You not only completely nailed the flavors that make the Big Mac so tasty, but the pizza crust is fantastic — a vast improvement over the buns, indeed. My husband and I just devoured half the pan. Beyond a keeper! Thank you so much for this.

    Glad to hear that you enjoyed the recipe! The combination of a Big Mac and a pizza, it feels wrong but it is oh, so right.-Jon

    Reply

Leave a Reply to jmanni Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *