What’s the secret to McDonald’s 80+ year success that has seen literally billions of burgers sold and a global reach that sees restaurants in most countries on Earth? It’s not really a secret, actually: the recipe for success is low prices and delicious food. The urge to hop in the car and head to McD’s is an understandable one indeed, especially when you get a hankering for a classic like a Quarter Pounder with Cheese (or a Royale with Cheese if you’re in Paris, of course. Thank you Pulp Fiction).
But hey, why grab the keys? Instead, head to the kitchen. With this McDonald’s Quarter Pounder with Cheese copycat recipe, you can enjoy a Golden Arches classic without leaving the comfort of your own home. "After whipping up several burgers, I was told that the house smelled like McDonald’s," says chef and recipe developer Angela Latimer of Bake it With Love. "Nailed it!"
If you follow the steps laid out in this recipe, you’ll nail your own copycat Quarter Pounder with Cheese. But fair warning: you’ll be asked to make these burgers again and again. Pretty soon, you might just miss the days when the friendly staff at your local McDonald’s were doing to cooking for you.
Gather your Quarter Pounder ingredients
McDonald’s has spent years of time and boatloads of money perfecting their burgers, so Latimer has some advice here: "Resist putting on extra toppings. Keep it simple and follow the layering steps for a true at-home Quarter Pounder."
For that, you’ll need a sesame seed bun, a 1/4 pound beef patty, 2 pinches of salt, 2 slices of American cheese, 1 tablespoon of finely diced white onion (or rehydrated dried minced onion), 2 or 3 thin dill pickle slices, 1 tablespoon of ketchup, and 1 tablespoon yellow mustard.
On the onion front, Latimer says: "McDonald’s burger product photos are shown with fresh, white onion pieces. However, it is believed that the stores actually use rehydrated dried minced onion and this will provide a more ‘authentic’ McD’s copycat."
Prep the Quarter Pounder buns and onions
To perfectly mimic a McDonald’s Quarter Pounder with Cheese, you need those sesame seed buns to be just right. Bring a skillet or non-stick frying pan to medium heat, then place the bun halves into the warmed dry skillet and let them toast. Once the face-down sides of buns reach a light golden color and the texture feels lightly toasted, remove from the skillet and set aside.
(And to closely mimic the texture of the wrapped burgers such as you actually get from a McD’s restaurant, right before you enjoy your homespun creation, Latimer offers this tip: "Microwave your burger for 10 to 15 seconds to get that ‘steamed bun’ effect.")
If you’re using fresh white onion, mince it now and set aside. To rehydrate dried minced onion, add 1/2 a tablespoon of the dried onion to 1 cup of boiling water. Allow the onion to set and absorb the water until there is no longer a hard center. Drain and set it aside.
Cook the Quarter Pounder’s patty and add a slice of cheese
Salt one side of your burger patty and then place the patty with the salted side down into the same skillet you used to toast the buns. (If it’s not a nonstick skillet, a spritz of nonstick cooking spray is a good idea.) Salt the upward-facing side of the patty as it cooks on the other side.
Cook the burger for three to four minutes on each side until it is cooked fully, to beyond medium (aim for between 160º and 165º degrees with a meat thermometer). Place one slice of American cheese onto the cooked patty then remove it from the heat.
Assemble the Quarter Pounder and enjoy
Assemble the quarter pounder by starting with the bottom bun, adding another slice of the American cheese, and topping that with the burger patty and cheese you removed from the hot skillet. On the top half of the bun, add ketchup and mustard, then those diced onions, and lastly the sliced pickles. Close the burger up with the top bun.
And if you’re looking for pairing suggestions, this is no time to re-invent the wheel! "I’m all about the classic skinny fries for these burgers," says Latimer. "I want as much of a McD’s feeling as possible when I make them."