The McWhopper Recipe

The Food Lab

Unraveling the mysteries of home cooking through science.

The McWhopper Recipe

Meet my version of The McWhopper [Photographs: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt]

Burger King's marketing team has always been better than its culinary team, and their latest publicity stunt is one of the best I've ever seen. Their proposal? That on September 21st, World Peace Day, Burger King and arch-rival McDonald's bury the hatchet, putting aside their beef with each other's beef, and open up a one-day-only pop-up restaurant in Atlanta (midway between their corporate headquarters) serving McWhoppers, a hybrid between the Whopper and the Big Mac, their respective flagship sandwiches. I decided to deal with the disappointment of never seeing this sandwich come to fruition the only way I know how: by making it myself.

This burger was created to help spread awareness for September 21st, World Peace Day. See Peace One Day for more information.

Why It Works

  • By combining the best elements of Burger King and McDonald's—the flame-broiled beef and the special sauce, respectively—you end up with one spectacular fast food burger.
  • Yield:Makes 2 burgers
  • Active time: 45 minutes
  • Total time:1 hour

Ingredients

  • 2 medium onion
  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon sweet pickle relish
  • 2 teaspoons yellow mustard
  • 1 tablespoon ketchup
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon marmite, vegemite, Maggi seasoning, or soy sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 3 seeded hamburger buns
  • 14 ounces fresh ground beef chuck
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 slices American cheese
  • 3/4 cup shredded iceberg lettuce
  • 6 slices fresh tomato
  • 8 dill pickle chips

Directions

  1. 1.

    Finely mince half of the onion and place on a double layer of paper towels on a microwave-safe plate and microwave for 10 minutes on low power until mostly dehydrated but not browned. Set aside.

  2. 2.

    Meanwhile, divide remaining half onion into two pieces. Thinly slice one piece pole-to-pole and set aside.

  3. 3.

    Take remaining quarter onion and grate it on a microplane grater or he small holes of a box grater. Transfer to a medium bowl. Add mayonnnaise, relish, mustard, ketchup, sugar, marmite, and turmeric and stir to combine thoroughly. Season to taste with freshly ground black pepper

  4. 4.

    Using a sharp, thin knife, carefully remove the crust from the bottom half of one of the buns and the crust from the top of its partner to form two "center" buns for the constructed McWhoppers. Set buns aside.

  5. 5.

    Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all the charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and arrange the coals on one side of the charcoal grate. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Alternatively, set half the burners on a gas grill to the highest heat setting, cover, and preheat for 10 minutes. Clean and oil the grilling grate.

  6. 6.

    While grill preheats, divide ground beef into 4 even balls. Press them into very thin, even patties about 1/2 inch wider than diameter of the buns.

  7. 7.

    Season patties generously with salt and pepper and place directly over hot side of grill. Cover and cook until grill marks appear, about 2 minutes. Rotate patties 90 degrees and continue cooking until well-charred on first side and juices are beginning to bubble up through the top of the patties, about 2 minutes longer.

  8. 8.

    Carefully flip patties and top two of them with a slice of American cheese. Immediately transfer the patties to the coolest part of the grill. Toast burger buns over direct heat until nicely browned. Transfer buns to a serving platter.

  9. 9.

    To construct burgers, spread 1/4 of sauce evenly over each bottom bun. Add divide fresh onions evenly between them, then add 1/4 of shredded lettuce to each. Add tomato slices. Top with the cheese-topped beef patties followed by the center buns. Spread remaining sauce evenly over the two middle buns, top with pickles, followed by the remaining beef patties, the dehydrated onions, and more shredded iceberg. Close the burgers and serve.