How Much Does It Cost McDonald’s to Make a Big Mac?


A Burger That Looks Like a Big Mac

Ever wondered whether it’d be cheaper to make the delicious McDonald’s Big Mac at home than buying from one of their outlets?

Excluding labor, one Big Mac costs McDonald’s about $0.77 to make in the US. The same burger would cost about $6 to make at home if you sum up the individual costs of the ingredients. Keep in mind that this figure may vary by geographical location due to the different prices of goods and services around the world.

In the rest of this article, we’ll explore the most relevant determinants of the cost of making a Big Mac to help you find out whether it would be cheaper to make one on your own.

Let us get right into it.

What Exactly Determines the Cost of Making the Big Mac?

To estimate how much it costs McDonald’s to make one Big Mac, you need to understand the costs associated with the cooking process and the cost of the individual ingredients.

So without further ado, let’s take a quick look at both.

The Ingredients in a Big Mac

  • Beef patties
  • Special Sauce
  • Lettuce
  • Cheese
  • Pickles
  • Onions
  • Sesame Seed Bun

Now let’s take a look at each ingredient in greater detail.

Beef Patties 

McDonald’s uses two 1.6 oz (45.4g) beef patties in one Big Mac hamburger. If you don’t know what a patty is, it’s a flattened round piece of minced meat or its alternatives

Including beef ensures that you get an adequate serving of essential body nutrients such as iron, which boosts your body immunity and prevents anemia and zinc, which improves your metabolic functions. And since the beef in the Mac is lean, you get these all-important nutrients while keeping your consumption of saturated fats low.

Big Mac Special Sauce 

There are many “special sauces” out there, but the one in the Mac lives up to its name. It adds a special sweet-and-sour taste to the burger that your everyday ketchup simply can’t provide. 

Such is the sauce’s remarkable taste that, for many years, it’s been touted as McDonald’s secret weapon in the food industry. However, the food giant quickly thwarted those claims, pointing out that the special ingredients of the sauce aren’t really “special” because they’re readily available in local groceries.

So, what does this special sauce contain?

According to McDonald’s, it consists of the following ingredients: 

  • Mayonnaise
  • Soybean oil
  • Salt
  • Egg yolks
  • Vinegar
  • Water
  • Preservatives
  • Mustard seed
  • Spices
  • Corn syrup
  • Onion powder
  • Sugar
  • Propylene 

Up until 2018, it contained artificial ingredients such as potassium sorbate and sodium benzoate, but the food giant removed them to make the sauce safer and healthier.  

Lettuce

McDonald’s uses 28g (about an ounce) of shredded lettuce in the preparation of the Big Mac. Being a vegetable, lettuce compliments the taste of the burger and adds vitamins K and A. The former vitamin helps in blood clotting and ensures healthy bones, while the latter has a myriad of health benefits.

Onion 

McDonald’s uses one teaspoonful of diced onion in each Big Mac. While primarily included for flavor purposes, onion packs significant nutritional value. 

It’s rich in fiber, which helps in the digestion process and folic acid, a crucial element in the formation of red blood cells (without which you can suffer from anemia). It also contains Vitamin B to help your body create healthy new cells and low cholesterol content to minimize the saturated fat content in each serving.

Onions also have some sodium, which helps control your blood pressure and develop a healthy and functional nervous system. Meanwhile, the outer layers are packed with flavonoids, whose health benefits include functioning as a natural antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antiviral substances.

Cheese

McDonald’s uses processed cheese in its Big Mac and only one slice is enough. Cheese comes with many health benefits, but the most apparent ones include supplementing your diet with calcium, protein, and Vitamin A.

Calcium promotes strong bone development, while proteins help in muscle development. Vitamin A, on the other hand, is essential in strengthening your eyesight.

Sesame Seed Bun

Besides the crunchiness and flavor that we’ve all grown to love over the years, sesame seeds are rich in copper, which helps in making red blood cells and keeping your immune system healthy

By including one bun of sesame seeds in the Big Mac, McDonald’s appeals to both the young and seniors. That’s because sesame seeds also come with calcium, whose intake helps prevent osteoporosis and encourages the development of strong bones.

Pickles

The Big Mac comes with at least three dill pickle slices. Made from carefully selected cucumbers, McDonald’s pickles are delightfully sour and crunchy and are largely responsible for the crunchy feel and sour taste of the burger. During preparation, they’re soaked in water to remove excess water and increase crunchiness, as well as the concentration of calcium and potassium.

Calcium helps build strong bones and teeth in adults, while potassium improves the functioning of the nervous system, muscles, and other crucial body functions like heartbeats.

How the Big Mac Is Made

Now that you know what the Big Mac is made of, let’s dive right into the process of making one and find out the exact amount of each ingredient used so we can estimate the total cost of making this famous burger.

In a nutshell, you need the ingredients discussed earlier in the following quantities:

  • ¼ lbs ground beef
  • 1 sesame seed bun
  • ½ cup of chopped lettuce
  • 1 slice of cheese
  • 3 slices of dill pickles
  • 1 teaspoon of diced onion
  • 1 tablespoon of Big Mac Special Sauce
  • 1 teaspoon of table salt

Procedure

  1. Using the serrated knife, cut the sesame seed bun into three slices.
  2. Place the bun slices on a hot pan, facing down, and toast them until brown.
  3. Set them aside while keeping the pan hot.
  4. Separate the ground beef into halves and press them into two thin patties larger than the buns.
  5. Cook these patties in the hot pan using medium heat for approximately 2 minutes on either side.
  6. Add a little pepper and salt.
  7. Start building the burger from the bottom to the top in the following sequence:
  • Put the bottom bun
  • Add half of the Big Mac special sauce
  • Add half of the diced onion
  • Add half of the shredded lettuce
  • Put the cheese
  • Add the beef patty
  • Put the middle bun
  • Add the remainder of the special sauce
  • Add the remainder of the diced onion
  • Add the remainder of the lettuce
  • Put the pickle slices
  • Put the beef patty
  • Crown it with the top sesame bun

The Total Cost of Making a Big Mac

Having looked at the process and the ingredients that go into making the Big Mac, let’s estimate the total cost of making the burger at home by summing up the market prices of the individual components.

ItemCost ($)
¼ lbs  ground beef1.8
1 sesame seed bun2.8
½ cup of chopped lettuce0.74
1 slice of cheese0.36
3 slices of dill pickles0.02
1 teaspoon of diced onion0.01
1 tablespoon of Big Mac Special Sauce0.9
1 teaspoon of table salt0.001
Total Cost6.631

From the above table, the approximate cost would be $6.6 if you were to make a Mac on your own. That said, it’s worth mentioning that this figure may differ based on geographical location and time because the prices of the ingredients vary based on these factors.

Is It Cheaper to Make a Big Mac at Home?

The average selling price of the Big Mac at McDonald’s is about $5.51. That means that it’s cheaper to buy a Big Mac at a McDonald’s outlet than making one from scratch. This is particularly true if you take into account the fact that the $6.631 figure doesn’t include other indirect costs such as labor, electricity, time, and other unforeseen costs.

Final Thoughts

If you were wondering whether you’d save a few bucks by making the Big Mac at home, the answer, unfortunately, is no. The overall costs of making a Big Mac appear to be higher than the actual price at McDonald’s outlets across the globe. 

However, the food giant utilizes economies of scale by producing and selling Big Macs in larger quantities. This way, they can afford to sell the world’s famous burger at a relatively lower price without incurring losses.

Jim James

Jim James spent most of his childhood outdoors fishing on lakes in his area. Due to his scouting background, he has always been interested in survival, camping, and the outdoors in general. Jim is a best-selling author and has a degree in History, Anthropology, and Music. He lives with his family in Charlotte, NC.

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