Vegan “Big Mac”

Fun fact. Back in high school I was a burger slinger at the Golden Arches. On an average shift spanning the lunch rush I’d crank a few thousand burgers. After a while it becomes muscle memory to grab the right sauce gun or scoop out reconstituted or fresh onions. The burger that requires the most thought though is the MD’s mainstay, the Big Mac. It’s essentially a combination of all their burgers and every flavor that McDonald’s has to offer. Two 10:1 burger patties, a single slice of cheese, special sauce, dehydrated/rehydrated onions, lettuce, pickles, and an extra bun slice. If you’ve mastered the process, a Big Mac takes under 15 seconds to put together once the bun drops from the toaster. After a few years I could put that one together with my eyes closed. And yes. We did do that when the hours got slow.

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Staying at home these past few months I needed some food challenges so that I didn’t lose my mind. I figured what’s more of a challenge then making a Big Mac at home…and Vegan! Below are the recipes for the bun, special sauce, onions, and in the official recipe is the burger patty. My goal for this patty was one that would grill up just like Mickey D’s. A lot of vegan burger recipes fall apart immediately and I needed one with some chew to it so I converted my Crispy Buffalo Burger a bit and came up with these. They have a great texture, loads of flavor, and they are wicked easy to make. I like to make a big batch and then freeze most of them for future burgers.


The Buns

  • 1 cup water
  • 2 Tbl neutral flavor oil
  • 1/2 cup soft silken tofu
  • 1 Tbl instant yeast
  • 1 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour

Whisk together all ingredients except salt and flour. Whisk until tofu no longer has visible pieces. You could even use a blender for this step, but I’ve found it’s not necessary. Add in flour and salt. Mix using a heavy spoon or stand mixer. Knead for 5-10 min until dough is smooth. Transfer dough to oiled bowl, cover, and let rise for 2 hours.

Turn on oven to 375 F. Divide dough into 8 pieces. Roll into balls. Cover and let rest for 5 minutes. Flatten each ball into a 3″ in diameter disc. Place on parchment lined baking sheet, cover with Saran wrap, let rise for 45 min.

Brush tops with oil or melted butter. Top with sesame seeds at this point if desired. Bake for 15-18 min. Transfer to wire rack to cool completely. Freeze if longer storage is desired.

*These buns are rather large, because you’ll be cutting them for a Big Mac which has a center bun. If you wanted to make smaller buns you can divide the dough into 12 pieces.

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The Sauce

Real McDonald’s special sauce uses mayo as the base, and it’s stored in what looks like a caulk gun tube. So, if you want to really authentic store your sauce in a plastic lined cardboard tube for an indefinite amount of time before serving. I, however, prefer this recipe.

  • 1/2 cup soft silken tofu
  • 1 1/2 Tbl yellow mustard
  • 1 Tbl pure maple syrup
  • 1 Tbl ketchup
  • 1 1/2 Tbl apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup sweet relish (or 2 gerkin pickles chopped)

Puree all of the ingredients except for the relish/pickles using a food processor or a blender. Mix in the relish and refrigerate for at least an hour before serving. The refrigeration helps the flavors meld together. This recipe makes enough for at least a dozen burgers.

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The Onions

If you want the true Big Mac experience you need to dehydrate diced onions then soak them in hot water to reconstitute them. If you order a burger with the thin patty it comes with these reconsistuted onions. If you order a burger with the quarter pound patty it has “fresh” slivered onions (the slivered onions arrives presliced and packaged).

I dehydrated my diced onions using my GoWise airfryer oven, because it has a dehydrate option. You could use a standard dehydrator if you have one, or you could drop your oven down to 200 F, keep the door cracked using a wooden spoon, and bake the diced onions on a baking sheet overnight. Soak the dehydrated onions in hot water for 30 minutes prior to serving.

Word of warning, dehydrating onions will make your house smell like an onion farm. Worth it? Reconstituted onions do have a brighter flavor, are crispier, and have less spice than fresh onions. They are simply different than fresh onions and why McDonald’s differentiates between the two…I have no idea.

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Okay, so now that you’ve got all of that it’s time to make the patties and then assemble your Big Mac. Now, a lot of people at home attempting the Big Mac make one crucial error…it’s only one slice of cheese and it’s always on the bottom. Why only one? Again, I have no clue, but it was drilled into us during our training. So here’s the assembly order starting from the bottom and working your way up.

  • Bottom bun, toasted
  • Sauce, approximately 2 Tbl
  • Reconstituted onions, 1 Tbl
  • Shredded lettuce
  • Cheese
  • Burger patty, 10:1 size (1/10th of a pound)
  • Middle Bun, toasted
  • Sauce, approximately 2 Tbl
  • Reconstituted onions, 1 Tbl
  • Shredded lettuce
  • 2 pickle slices (heaven forbid you put three)
  • Burger patty, 10:1 size (1/10th of a pound)
  • Top bun, sesame seeded top

So, if you’re looking at my pictures you’re probably pretty pissed because I used four pickles and not the official two. But, you know what, I wanted four pickle slices. My manager Lisa isn’t breathing down my neck checking to see how many pickle slices I’m using anymore. Take that Lisa!


Grill Ready Seitan Burger

I love a black bean burger, but I dislike that they immediately fall apart when you bite into them. Plus, they don’t offer any real kind of chew texture. To remedy that I’ve combined a few vegan protein sources and a unique cooking method to make a vegan burger that you can grill and chew! If you want the full “Big Mac” recipe check out the rest of the blog post for the individual components, or you can just enjoy this burger recipe and eat it however you’d like. You’re a grown-up and can make your own decisions.
Servings – 16 patties

Ingredients

  • 1 cup TVP (Bob’s Red Mill is an easy to find product)
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cups vital wheat gluten
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika (Or use regular paprika)
  • 2 1/2 cups vegetable broth (low/no sodium )
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons liquid smoke (Can omit, but it does add flavor)
  • 1 tablespoon vegan Worcester sauce
  • 2 tablespoons avocado oil (Or another neutral oil like canola)

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 F.
  • Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.
  • Bring the water to a boil, turn off heat, stir in TVP. Cover and let sit while you prepare the remaining ingredients.
  • In a large bowl whisk together the wheat gluten, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, onion powder, and smoked paprika. Set aside.
  • In a measuring cup mix together the vegetable broth, soy sauce, liquid smoke, Worcester sauce, and avocado oil.
  • Toss the soaked TVP with the dry ingredients until completely coated. It should look like gravel. Pour in the liquid mix and stir using a heavy spoon. Mix until no dry spots remain. The dough should stick together and it is normal for some TVP to not stay in the dough.
  • Roll dough out on counter until it forms a log. Divide into 16 equal pieces. Roll and then flatten each piece into a 4″ diameter patty. Place the formed patties on the baking sheets. Cover the baking sheet with aluminum foil (that step is crucial) and bake for 15 minutes. Carefully remove foil, flip the patties, bake for 10 minutes longer.
  • The burgers are now grill ready! You could enjoy them as is or grill them for a couple minutes on each side, make sure to oil your grill grates, or you can lightly fry them in a pan to get a crisp exterior.

Notes

You could make the patties thicker by dividing them by less than 16; however, they cook better at this thickness. 
Don’t skip the foil cover while baking. Baking without foil will dry the patties out considerably and make them very tough. The foil traps in moisture which makes them both fully cooked and able to be grilled. 
If freezing, allow the patties to completely cool prior to storing in a freezer bag or wrapping in the foil that you used to bake them. In order to use them post-freezing, allow them to thaw in the refrigerator rather than defrosting in the microwave. Microwaving will dry them out and make them tough. 

2 thoughts on “Vegan “Big Mac”

  1. On Step 7 after you have baked the patties covered in foil and then uncover them and flip them do you recover them for the last 10 minutes of baking or just bake them uncovered?

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