Big Mac Sloppy Joes are so easy to make and the whole family will love them! It's a fun twist on a traditional sloppy joe recipe by combining the flavor of the Big Mac sauce with ground beef and served with pickles and cheese on a toasted sesame seed bun. It's a perfect recipe to make for a crowd or a quick and delicious one pan meal.
Jeff and I make a Big Mac salad quite often by grilling up a hamburger and putting it over a salad of lettuce and onions and Jeff makes his own version of special sauce, which is sort of like Thousand Island dressing, but more like the Big Mac sauce from McDonalds. It's delicious, but when I really wanted a "hold in your hand" sandwich and sloppy joes had been on my mind. I thought, let's make a Big Mac Sloppy Joe! It was amazing! We even took the leftovers and put them on a salad, so if you are eating low carb and want to skip the bun, you won't be disappointed!
I've never been a huge fan of the canned kind, but homemade sloppy joes are a different story! If you have never made them from scratch before, it's almost as easy as opening up the can, but a thousand times better. You can put different spins on the basic recipe like I did in this recipe for Turkey Apple Sloppy Joes.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Big Mac Sauce isn't the same as Thousand Island Dressing, but you can use it in place of the sauce. When I started testing this recipe, I had Jeff go to McDonald's and ask for special sauce. They actually sell it in little containers! We tried all kinds of variations of ingredients, including French dressing which some people suggested, to get as close to what the Big Mac sauce tastes like as we could. While there are still some differences in taste, we were so pleased with how the recipe turned out that I left it alone. You can also use a Thousand Island dressing in place of the sauce in this recipe if you prefer.
Yes, absolutely. I would make the beef mixture, but not put the cheese on top. Then, let it cool completely and package in a vacuumed sealed bag or an airtight container. If you are freezing leftovers, it's fine that the cheese is mixed in, it will still taste amazing.
Yes, you can make as little or as much as you want. Simply adjust the ingredients accordingly.
Ingredients & Substitutions
I used lean ground beef so I didn't have to drain it, but you can use any kind of ground beef you like. If you want to sauté your beef and then drain the grease, don't add any of the sauce ingredients until after you drain the excess grease. During one of my test batches, Jeff picked up ground sirloin which was really lean and I thought the texture was a bit too tough on the beef itself, so you might want to stick with ground beef or ground chuck.
You can also use ground turkey in place of the ground beef.
This creamy sauce is made from sweet relish, ketchup, mayonnaise, dill pickle juice, a little mustard, and vinegar.
There are versions of "special sauce" that use French dressing, but I wasn't a huge fan when I tried these versions, but you can certainly use your own combination of ingredients to make your own "special sauce."
You can also use Thousand Island dressing and, while it isn't exactly the same, it will still taste amazing. OR, you can go to McDonalds and ask them for about 1 cup of Big Mac sauce and use that. When Jeff bought some for me to use as a comparison, it was about 30 cents for an ounce or so.
Onions: I used sweet onions in this recipe, but a white or yellow onion will work just fine. The onions are completely optional, if you don't like them just skip them. If you love onions, consider adding some raw chopped onions on top of the sloppy joes. I chose to add the onions into the sloppy joe mixture so they softened a little and added flavor to the ground beef.
Dill Pickles: I added chopped pickles to the sloppy joe mixture, but you can certainly leave them whole and put them on as a topping. You do want to add the pickle juice to the ground beef mixture because that adds flavor to the sauce. If you aren't a fan of dill pickles, you can skip them and the pickle juice.
Lettuce: Shredded lettuce is definitely part of a Big Mac and I can't believe I forgot it when I filmed the video! I definitely recommend adding shredded lettuce to the sandwich just before serving.
Cheese: I used American Cheese in this recipe, because that is what is normally on a Big Mac, but you can also use a mild cheddar cheese or another cheese that you love. You can also mix shredded cheddar into the meat mixture instead of topping with cheese slices.
Sesame Seed Bun
I chose a Sesame Seed Brioche bun that I found at Aldi's and they worked perfectly. The important thing when choosing your bun is that it is substantial enough not to fall apart, but not so hard or doughy that it is impossible to bite into. I find that the brioche buns worked great. You can also use hamburger buns with or without sesame seeds.
I do recommend lightly toasting the bun on the inside, this also helps to keep it from falling apart.
Low Carb Option: Skip the bun! Seriously, these sloppy joes are so good without it. Make up a salad of shredded lettuce, onions, and throw in some dill pickles top with the sloppy joe mix. It's delicious and easier to eat!
How to Make Big Mac Sloppy Joes in the Ninja Foodi or Instant Pot
If you want to use your Ninja Foodi Pressure Cooker & Air Crisper or your Instant Pot to make this recipe, you certainly can. One of the advantages to using one of these appliances is the deep pot! You can double, triple, even quadruple the recipe if you want to make it for a crowd. Then, switch over to the slow cook function on low or just leave it on the keep warm setting until you are ready to serve it.
There are several ways you could go about making this in the Ninja Foodi or Instant Pot. I would probably just use the sear/sauté function and follow the same instructions as you would on the stove, especially if you are only making one batch.
Since the sear/sauté function works just like a pot on the stove, if you are making a single batch, I would simply follow the same instructions as in the recipe.
If you wanted to double the recipe using sear/sauté, leave the cheese off and put it on the hot sandwich and it will melt slightly or just mix the cheese into the hamburger mixture.
Pressure Cooking Instructions
If you are making several batches at once, then pressure cooking will definitely save some time. Here are my suggestions for pressure cooking Big Mac Sloppy Joes.
Brown the ground beef with the onion and seasonings. Don't drain the liquid. Add in the pickle juice, ketchup, mustard, and pickle relish. Pressure cook on high for 2 minutes with a 5-minute natural release. Then, release the remaining pressure and, when the pin drops, open the lid.
Turn on the sear/sauté on medium and add in the mayonnaise. Stir and simmer until the sauce has reduced.
Scoop onto lightly toasted buns and place ½-1 slice of American cheese onto each one and then top with lettuce and pickles.
Slow Cooker Instructions
Although I have not made this in the slow cooker, it should be pretty straightforward and easy. I do recommend browning your ground beef with the onions and seasoning first.
Then, add all the ingredients (except for the cheese, buns, and lettuce) into the slow cooker and stir. Cook on low for 1-2 hours or until the ground beef is fully cooked and the sloppy joes are hot. The timing may vary depending on your slow cooker.
Scoop the meat mixture onto the toasted buns and top with cheese, shredded lettuce and pickles.
How to Make Big Mac Sloppy Joes
The good news is, there isn't hardly any prep except for chopping your onions into about ¼-½" dice, shredding the lettuce (more on that soon) and measuring out the ingredients.
In a large skillet, add the ground beef and the onions. Break up the ground beef with a spatula or the Mix 'N Chop works great as well. Add in the dry seasonings; salt, onion powder, and garlic powder and stir.
Simmer on medium heat until the ground beef is at least 75% cooked. If you are using a fattier cut of ground beef, you can drain it now.
Add in the pickle juice, ketchup, mayonnaise, vinegar, mustard, pickle relish and chopped pickles. Stir to combine and simmer uncovered for about 7- 10 minutes.
The sauce is going to look very thin at first, but it thickens as it simmers.
Add 4 slices of American Cheese on top and cover the skillet. Turn the heat off and let the cheese just start to melt.
Toast the buns. I usually put them under the broiler for 2-5 minutes. You just want them slightly brown.
Assemble and Serve
Place the bottom of your toasted bun on a plate and add some shredded lettuce. You can use a grater to shred the lettuce, but I usually just run a sharp knife through the head of lettuce to create thin strips and then cut those strips up some.
Add some shredded lettuce to the bottom of the bun and then scoop on the sloppy joe mixture, making sure to get some of the melting cheese. Top with pickle slices if desired and more shredded lettuce.
Put the top on the bun and dig in!
I know, I know! I forgot the lettuce and pickles when I did the video. However, I have made them both ways and trust me, they are just slightly better with the pickles and lettuce (especially the lettuce) because of the added textures. Enjoy!
Big Mac Sloppy Joes
- 1½ pounds lean ground beef I used 90/10
- 1 onion sweet or yellow (about 1 cup chopped into ¼-½" dice)
- 1 teaspoon fine grind sea salt
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ cup dill pickle juice
- ¼ cup ketchup
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- 1 Tablespoon sweet pickle relish
- 1 teaspoon yellow mustard
- 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
- ¼ cup chopped dill pickles
- 4 slices American cheese
- 6 sesame seed buns
- 1 cup shredded lettuce for topping sandwich
- 12 dill pickle slices for topping sandwich
- Heat a large skillet on medium heat and add in the chopped onions and lean ground beef. Break up the ground beef and add the salt, onion powder, and garlic powder. Stir to combine and cook the ground beef until it is 75% done.
- If your ground beef is fatty or put off a lot of juices (more than a ¼ cup or so), drain the meat. I did not have to do this with the 90/10 ground beef.
- Add in the pickle juice, ketchup, mayonnaise, apple cider vinegar, mustard, sweet pickle relish, and chopped dill pickles. Stir to combine and simmer for 7-10 minutes uncovered. The sauce will start out fairly thin, but thickens as it simmers.
- Add 4 slices of American cheese on top of the sloppy joe mixture and cover with a lid. Turn the heat off and let the cheese slightly melt.
- Toast the buns under the broiler for 2-5 minutes. You want them to be lightly toasted so they don't disintegrate when you put the sloppy joe mixture on. Add some shredded lettuce to the bottom of the bun.
- Once the cheese has slightly melted, scoop out about ¾ cup of the Big Mac sloppy joe mixture and put it on the bun. Try to get some cheese with every scoop. Top with pickle slices and some more lettuce and then the top of the bun.
ABOUT THE RECIPE AUTHOR, LOUISE LONG
Louise is a full-time recipe creator and food blogger @ The Salted Pepper. She has over 30 years of experience with cooking and recipe development. She owned a restaurant for several years and was a full-time RN until retiring to blog full-time.
Louise has several very active Facebook groups that help people with the basics of cooking and getting the most out of the Ninja Foodi.
Seeing the need for easy, delicious, and high quality recipes, she is focusing all of her efforts creating recipes specifically for the Ninja Foodi. Her recipes are easy for the home cook to follow and provide step-by-step instructions.
Louise is also a YouTube creator and you can find most of her recipes in video format on The Salted Pepper YouTube channel.
She is very responsive to messages and eager to help in any way she can.
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