McDonald's Style Pickles - Copycat Recipe — Steemit (2024)

beggars (64)



6 years ago

I absolutely love the pickles that come on various McDonald's burgers. The problem is most of the store pickles you buy taste nothing like the ones from McDonald's. I also don't eat at McDonald's anymore and I doubt they would just sell me the pickles through the drive through.

McDonald's Style Pickles - Copycat Recipe — Steemit (1)

Most store-bought pickles are incredibly sweet and taste nothing like the slightly salty and sour variant that McDonald's uses on their burgers. If you're a pickle fan like me, you have probably bought different brands and been disappointed every time chasing that elusive sourness.

The only pickles that come close in sourness are HEINZ Genuine Dills, but to my knowledge, you can't buy these in Australia. When I worked and lived in the US back in 2014, I discovered these after a recommendation and have been yearning for them ever since.

It turns out you can make something similar at home yourself quite easily. There aren't many steps in the final recipe, but like making cheese or yoghurt, you need to make sure you use the right ingredients and sterilised items/cooking surfaces.

I have tried numerous recipes trying to recreate the flavour of McDonald's pickles and ultimately discovered that the sourness in pickles does NOT come from vinegar. You might think that the sourness is due to the fact they poach them in vinegar, but it's actually a result of the natural fermentation process they turn sour.

All in all, I have tried emulating the McDonald's pickles about 12 times. Every time learning something new, experimenting with different spices and additives into the brining mixture. I tried a lot of recipes online, but they were always missing something.

Eventually, the final recipe was so simple, you will wonder what I was doing during all of those attempts.

Many of my attempts involved using vinegar, I tried distilled white vinegar, apple cider vinegar and other variants to achieve that sourness. In my later and subsequent final attempt, I discovered sourness in pickling isn't always due to using vinegar, it's a natural byproduct of pickling and fermentation. A lot of pickled cucumber recipes tell you to use vinegar though (which does work).

I have had a love for reverse-engineering food since I was a child. I remember trying to make my own Coca-Cola and failing miserably when I was about 12. I remember discovering Todd Wilbur (a famous food reverse engineering guru) and it changed my life. I own all of his books and cook his copycat recipes all of the time.

People assume that McDonald's has some secretive recipe for its pickles, but the recipe is just a basic pickled cucumber recipe. However, there are some differences between what the ideal recipe is and what many of the recipes out there have in them.

The best sour dill pickles do not have sugar in them at all. Tasting McDonald's pickles in isolation, they have no sweetness at all. It's that mouth puckering sourness and a slight hint of saltiness that you experience when you eat them or taste them on a burger.

This recipe is a basic recipe that is a culmination of a lot of trial and error, as well as deciphering Heinz ingredients list for Dills. I've spent a lot of time chasing a recipe like this and I am not ashamed to admit that.

Enough talking, let's get into it.

Before we cook

As always, there are some things you need to know prior to buying anything, so before we get into the ingredients I want to talk about the cucumbers themselves.

Store-bought cucumbers don't pickle well

Supermarkets are notorious for coating their fruit and vegetables in wax and spraying them with undesirable pesticides/preservatives to make them look presentable and last longer on the shelf.

The problem with store-bought cucumbers which I have shamelessly tried before to get me out of a pickle (ha) has usually ended up in failure. The same thing applies to store-bought cabbage when I've attempted to make homemade sauerkraut as well (seriously, what are these stores doing to our food?).

Head to a farmers market or an actual fruit and veg shop which will not only have a better selection of cucumber varieties, but the freshness will be a lot better.

They need to be aesthetically perfect

I am usually the kind of guy who isn't afraid to buy bruised or visually displeasing fruit and vegetables, but when it comes to pickling and cucumbers, in particular, they need to be top-notch. This means you should avoid cucumbers with soft spots, bruises, blemishes, cuts and abrasions as these will not pickle and end up soft (or not pickling at all).

Sterilise everything

When it comes to fermentation, you want to ensure that everything is clean and sterilised. Any cooking utensil that comes into contact with the brine or cucumbers should be clean, as well as the pot and jars themselves.

Do NOT substitute pickling salt for sea salt

I know there are recipes out there which say to use sea salt, but don't do it. While sea salt can and will most likely work, pickling salt is fine-grained pure salt that absorbs better and doesn't contain mineral impurities.

The preciseness of it means you'll end up with pickling solution that is perfect and not cloudy. When you're fermenting you don't want to introduce any impurities into the water (we're growing bacteria here). So, go the extra mile and buy pickling salt.

You'll need preserving jars

You can get these everywhere, from cheap stores and places like Target. As pickling and preserving have become more popular, the availability of pickling/preserving jars has as well. Don't use old coffee and spread jars, buy the proper thing to achieve a proper result.

Do NOT substitute filtered water for tap water

Once again, we are pickling and we don't want to introduce foreign contaminants and additives (even if natural) into our solution. Go out to the store and buy some filtered water which has had things like chlorine removed. If you're fortunate enough to have filtered water at home, then use that.

You might be tempted to substitute the water for unfiltered tap water, but you could end up with an undesirable result. The water is one of the most important aspects of great pickling, so do it properly.


  • 12 small-to-medium cucumbers (as many as you want)
  • Brining base:
    • 8 cups of filtered water
    • 1/4 cup pickling salt
  • Pickling spice mix:
    • Dill leaves and seeds (1/2 teaspoon of seeds and approximately two sprigs of dill leaf per jar) ideally you want to get fresh Dill leaves
    • Garlic cloves (enough for 3 cloves per jar) peeled and squashed with a back of a knife
    • 1/2 teaspoon of black peppercorns per jar
    • 1/2 teaspoon of yellow mustard per jar

Like heat? Optionally add in some Jalapeno peppers and/or red pepper flakes for a bit of a kick

What cucumbers to buy?

In all of my hard-fought efforts to find the ultimate McDonald's pickle copycat, I noticed all of the recipes fail to mention what kind of cucumbers to buy (most just say pickling cucumber) because there are a lot of varieties out there.

Any type of small young cucumber will do, I find the Lebanese cucumbers are the most common here in Australia and therefore, I just source young Lebanese cucumbers for my pickles. It's the size that matters more than the variety, to be honest.


Prepare the cucumbers

The cucumbers need to be soaked in a large bowl of ice water for 30 minutes. Fill a bowl with some ice water and add the cucumbers. After 30 minutes, remove them and scrub any visible remaining soil or hang-ons on the cucumbers (you want them clean).

Make the brine

Combine the 8 cups of filtered water and 1/4 cup of pickling salt into a sterilised pot over a high heat. Bring it to a boil, stir to dissolve the salt and then remove. Let it sit somewhere clean to cool down completely.

Trim the cucumbers

You need to cut about half a centimetre off of the blossom end of the cucumber. This is because the blossom end can contain remnants of the pickle as it was picked. I personally trim about half a centimetre off of both ends of the cucumbers to be safe, but blossom end is fine.

Whole or sliced?

This is personal preference. I like to slice my cucumbers, but if you're pressed for time you can just stuff them into the jar whole and not worry about slicing and deseeding them, the result will be the same.

If you want to slice them, cut them longways. Then to deseed them, you can just use a sterilised spoon. Make sure you removed the seeds from the sliced cucumbers, we don't want any in the brining solution.

Pack the cucumbers

It's time to pack your cucumbers into the jars. Firstly, put your pickling spices into the jar sporadically in between placing the cucumbers inside. It doesn't matter how you do it, but the goal here is to make sure that you pack them as tightly as you possibly can (the number #1 rule of pickling anything).

Add the brine

The final and most important step is to pour the brine over the pickles. You want to make sure they are all covered completely. If they're not covered, they won't pickle. Then seal the jars (make sure it's an airtight seal).

Process the jars

The final step is to process the jars by placing them into a bath of boiling hot water. A litre sized jar should be put into boiling water for about 8 minutes.

Let them ferment

Let the jars sit in a dark and cool area of your house for a minimum of one week to let the flavours develop. I personally ferment my pickles at a minimum of two weeks (if I am desperate) or let them ferment for an ideal four week period to truly get sour and flavoursome.

Keep away from sunlight

Sunlight is the enemy of fermentation. Do not let your jars be exposed to sunlight, make sure you store them away somewhere dark. I like to hide them at the back of the towel cupboard and sit a cloth over the top.


Enjoy these tasty sour savoury pickles that I think actually taste better than the ones you get from McDonald's. They'll keep in your cupboard for upwards of two years, but if you're like me, pickles won't last that long in your household. Make sure you refrigerate after opening them and consume within 7 days.

Enjoy the best pickled cucumbers you will ever taste, that will be sure to put a dent in McDonald's profits.

McDonald's Style Pickles - Copycat Recipe — Steemit (2024)
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