A burger on a plate

Homemade Big Macs

You can skip the drive-thru.

Toronto’s Royal Agricultural Winter Fair (running until November 12) is the largest indoor agricultural and equestrian event in the world, with competitions, vendors and exhibits aplenty – but there’s something for the foodies too. The Burnbrae Culinary Academy offers daily classes, where visitors can learn to cook with local ingredients from industry experts. Two of them, Mystique Mattai and Philip Lago, have shared their recipe for make-your-own ‘Big Macs:’ smash burgers made with two thin Canadian beef patties, cheddar cheese, toppings and ‘Mac’ sauce. We’re lovin’ it.

A burger on a plate

Homemade Big Macs

A recipe for homemade Big-Mac-inspired smash burgers, created by the Burnbrae Culinary Academy at Toronto's Royal Winter Fair.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine American, Canadian
Servings 4



  • 1 lb (500 g) medium ground beef
  • salt and pepper
  • 8 slices cheddar cheese
  • ¼ cup butter divided
  • 4 sesame seed buns cut horizontally into thirds
  • ½ cup minced white onion
  • 2 cups shredded iceberg lettuce
  • 2 dill pickles thinly sliced into rounds (16 to 24 slices)

'Mac' Sauce

  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • ¼ cup minced dill pickle
  • 2 tbsp minced white onion
  • 2 tbsp prepared yellow mustard
  • 4 tsp pickle juice or white wine vinegar
  • 4 tsp ketchup
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • salt and pepper


  • Divide the ground beef into 8 equal portions and loosely shape into balls. Place on a tray; cover and refrigerate while preparing remaining ingredients.
  • Combine mayonnaise, minced pickle, onion, mustard, pickle juice, ketchup, paprika and garlic powder in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste and set aside.
  • Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Place 1 ball of meat in the pan, off centre, and quickly smash it firmly with a flat metal spatula or burger press until it is about 1⁄4 inch (5 mm) thick. Repeat with 1 to 3 more balls, as the size of the skillet allows. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Cook for about 2 minutes, until the edges are browned and crispy. Flip the patties, season with salt and pepper and lay a cheese slice on each. Cook for 1 minute more, or until browned and cooked to 160°F (71°C) doneness at the least. Transfer to plate and set aside to rest. Repeat with remaining beef.
  • Drain any excess fat from pan and discard. Return skillet to medium-high. Melt 1 tbsp of the butter and arrange one of the buns, cut-side down, to toast until just golden, flipping the middle slice to toast on the other side. Set aside. Repeat with remaining butter and buns.
  • To assemble, for each burger, place bottom bun on a plate. Spread with "Mac" Sauce, sprinkle with 1 tbsp of onion, 1⁄4 cup lettuce, 1 patty with cheese facing down, then 3 pickles. Top with middle bun and repeat topping with 'Mac' Sauce, onion, lettuce, burger patty and pickles. Drizzle with remaining sauce and sandwich with the top bun and give it a squeeze.
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