Dehydrated Onions Are The Secret Ingredient To A McDonald's-Worthy Burger

The McDonald's burger seems so simple, yet you never really get a homemade hamburger that hits the same way. We've all had sandwiches at cookouts that look like they've got the formula down — soft bun, beef patty, red ketchup, yellow mustard, a sliver of pickle, and a few crispy white flecks of diced onion — but when you take a bite, for some reason it just doesn't hit the spot. Luckily, Mashed recipe developer Angela Latimer has identified the sneaky substitution that will make your hamburgers seem super professional in her copycat McDonald's hamburger recipe. It will save you some tears, too. The secret? It's all about the onions.

When you see McDonald's burgers in promotional pictures, they use fresh white onion chunks that hold their shape well, standing out as pops of white against the dark patty and brightly colored condiments. However, as Latimer explains," It is believed that the stores actually use rehydrated dried minced onion, so this will provide a more authentic McDonald's copycat." But what's the point in rehydrating something dehydrated when the fresh version is as cheap and readily available as white onions?

Why dehydrated onions make the difference to a McDonald's style hamburger

When you cut into a fresh onion, your knife splits open cells, exposing their contents to the air and each other. This kickstarts chemical reactions that produce allicin, the compound that irritates our eyes. It's also responsible for raw garlic and onion's smell and spicy bite. When onions are cooked or exposed to acid, the enzymes required to make allicin get denatured, so the irritating feeling and the hot flavor drop off, leaving behind the onion's natural sweetness.

However, putting cooked onions on a burger, though delicious, isn't part of the winning hamburger formula that made McDonald's a household name. McDonald's preps its onions by using dehydrated onion pieces that are rehydrated in-store, which means they have already been cut and slowly cooked in a dehydrator. This crucially removes the sulfuric bite from the allicin, but the onion pieces (once plumped back up with water) retain a bit of the snappy crunch of a raw, diced onion. The rehydrated onion bits provide critical texture in a burger that's otherwise soft and smooth. With this secret in mind, you can get the crisp texture and savory flavor of onion in your hamburgers — without the harsh taste or tears.