How to make a perfect McDonald's breakfast burrito

There's no denying it; the McDonald's breakfast burrito is pretty darn good. Mickey D's hit the perfect blend of "stuff" to make these little burritos a major hit. With the advent of all-day breakfast, you can pop into a McDonald's drive thru at any time and grab a hundred of these to get you through your day. But it's just as easy to make these as putting the car in reverse and pulling out of the driveway. Is it really that simple? Yep. I'm not trying to bankrupt the Golden Arches but after you make these at home, you may just change your breakfast burrito habit.  

Gather your ingredients

Here's what you need to make a perfect McDonald's burrito: Ground sausage, eggs, skim milk, dehydrated onions, petite diced tomatoes, green chillies, 8-inch "soft taco" size tortillas, American cheese slices, and parchment paper. The full ingredients list is at the end of this article, along with a step-by-step recipe. 

What's in the burrito?

McDonald's introduced the breakfast burrito in 1991, and it took off almost immediately. With a low price point (originally only 99 cents, and not much more today), it's a convenient meal when you want something filling but not overwhelming. But what exactly is in this thing?  

It's a "burrito" — kinda, with eggs and some onions, tomatoes and green chilies, and the oddest looking sausage you've ever seen. The structure of it isn't anything groundbreaking, but it's the layout and presentation that makes it so appealing. It's simple, yet genius; give credit where credit is due — the McDonald's breakfast burrito is worth it.  

Eggs and skim milk

Probably the only thing you wouldn't expect to find in the official ingredients is a dairy product that seemingly doesn't belong. There's an awesome little trick to make heavenly scrambled eggs using heavy cream. McDonald's does the complete opposite of that by adding skim milk. Of course, skim milk has a bad rap of sorts — and well deserved — but some milk-like product is better than nothing. For every egg you cook, add a tablespoon of skim milk. McDonald's doesn't season their eggs in any other way, so skip the white pepper, hot sauce, and whatever else you use to give your homemade eggs that extra kick.

Sausage

McDonald's sausage comes in neat little musket-sized balls that defy all cooking logic. As much as I'm a perfectionist, even this is a bit beyond me. Yes, you can take your standard breakfast sausage and roll tiny less-than-one-ounce balls and cook that up, or just accept the fact that once it's in the burrito shell you won't notice the difference. The other advantage is that with a standard sausage cook, you'll actually get more sausage per bite than a McDonald's burrito; because theirs won't spread out in the burrito like ours will.  

Cheese

American cheese, what's more American than McDonald's using American cheese? And that American cheese is the most American way of eating it too; in those individually wrapped plastic packets. It's the same cheese McDonald's uses on everything — including the Big Mac. Just head over to your grocery store and pick up a package of processed American cheese and you're set to go.

Onion — or lack thereof

If you were ever to open up a McDonald's breakfast burrito and search around in there, you'd have a hard time actually locating any onion — and a harder time even tasting it. When I finally did find one, it tasted more like sausage than anything related to the onion family. That's because McDonald's uses the same onions they use on the burgers; reconstituted onions. The formula is rather simple to reconstitute them: Take one tablespoon of dehydrated onions to two tablespoons of water, and microwave that at medium power for 30 seconds. Set that aside for 15 minutes and they'll be ready to rock.  

Tomato

The actual tomatoes in the burrito are small; like if there was a size smaller than petite that would be the ones you want. To take a tomato and turn it into something that minuscule is a task even the finest surgeon would struggle pulling off. Pick up a can of petite diced tomatoes, and to make this as precise as possible, try your best with a very sharp knife to half each slice of petite tomato — that will probably still be too big, but it will be closer to what McDonald's uses.  

Green chilies

Green chillies feels like a "catch all" term for anything green and hot, and it kinda is. There are quite a few varieties of green chilies, and although they aren't crazy hot, they do pack a punch to a degree. To get this authentic, you want to pick up a small can of green chilies. We don't need to go from fresh, and you'll see why in a moment.

Tortilla

The entire food industry has an issue with naming things what they aren't. A "burrito" generally speaking comes in a burrito shell, however the McDonald's burrito comes in a size commonly known as "soft taco." It's about an eight-inch shell, which is just a couple inches bigger than your standard iPhone 6. So no need to bring a tape measure to the grocery store, just hold your phone up to it and it should have a few inches on top — that's how you'll know you have the right ones.  

Beat those eggs

You can make as little or as many eggs at a time as you'd like; I'm making two at a time. The mix is very simple, one tablespoon of skim milk to one egg. After you get your cracked eggs and "milk" into a bowl, hit it with a whisk and beat those suckers smooth. You'll notice the eggs have a slight whitish color or tint, which is from the milk.

Cook time

I have it on good authority that McDonald's sausage, green chilies, and tomatoes all come together in a big bag, and get cooked together. That of course means that the sausage is precooked to some degree. We're actually going to cook our own sausage, so take a half pound of sausage and put that in a pan set to medium low.    

The McDonald's sausage isn't browned by any stretch, so you really don't want those lovely sear marks on there at all. Normally, when cooking sausage, I'd go with a cast iron skillet to get a great sear and have that baby scorching hot. Since we're not going for that, your best bet is to use a regular stainless steel pan.  

Add the veggies

After the sausage browns, or more accurately grays, add the veggies. Take a tablespoon of tomatoes and green chillies each, along with a half tablespoon of the rehydrated onion and dump it in.  Give that a stir and let it cook for two minutes to bring it up to temperature. You can turn that to simmer after two minutes and then go to work on the eggs.  

Cook those eggs

In a lightly buttered pan, scramble your eggs. It's your basic scramble, not too dry, but I wouldn't do the traditional "if it's cooked in the pan it's dry on the plate" method either. It seems McDonald's errors on the side of caution and cooks the eggs to a "medium well" if there is such a thing with eggs.

The build

The basic build isn't too tricky, but there's something to keep in mind. A McDonald's burrito weighs about seven ounces, so be cautious as to not overstuff your burrito; it makes it tricky to eat and trickier to roll. We cooked enough sausage for four burritos, so the easiest way is to quarter the meat in a pan to easily serve it up, and do the same with the eggs.  If you cooked the eggs two at a time, obviously only half it, but the basic formula is that each burrito gets an egg, and ⅛ pound of meat.  

Take a burrito shell and observe. Did you know there's actually two sides to a burrito shell? There's one that has some pretty little brown marks that makes it look like it was cooked, and there's the other side that is pretty much white. You want to build on the white side, so the pretty brown marks will be on the outside of the shell. Take a slice of cheese and fold it in half and lay it vertical — which is up and down in common speak. Place a quartered section of the beef onto the cheese, and a quartered (or halved or however you did it) scrambled egg on that. There's a school of thought that says that the egg and sausage should be mixed together and then put on the burrito, but when I cracked open a McDonald's burrito it looked more like a "layering" than a "mixed up together" system.  

The fold

This fold isn't nearly as complicated as the Crunchwrap Supreme, but it still does have a few steps to it. Start by folding the top and the bottom in (as pictured). Then take one side and fold that to the middle, and repeat on the other side. You're going to want to flip that over as quickly as possible because it doesn't really like to stay folded.

That McDonald's extra touch

So how does that burrito come to you so piping hot? There must be some kind of magical McDonald's contraption to really bring the perfect steamy goodness. Turns out there is, and it's called a microwave. After you have your burrito folded up, wrap that in parchment paper — and obviously looking at the image it doesn't have to be tightly wrapped — and microwave for 30 seconds. The burrito will magically feel and smell just like the ones you grab in the drive thru.

How close are we?

"Wow, this tastes exactly like McDonald's!" exclaimed one taster. That's about the best compliment one could get after this. It smells like it too. Now, McDonald's sausage comes out in that cute little ball form, and ours doesn't. But if you really want to you can buy pre-cooked sausage and it'll resemble that, but it will also have a lot more color to it and the taste will be a bit off. This way, the flavor is dead on.  

There are two things that really make it taste exactly like the real thing: The cheese, which when melted slightly give off that same feel and taste as the McDonald's burrito, and the extra step of microwaving it in parchment paper. The McDonald's burritos are hot — sometimes unnaturally hot, and steaming it in parchment paper gives the burrito shell the same texture as McDonald's. If you serve this with a picante or salsa, that somehow brings the flavor even closer to Mickey D's. I literally made these two days in a row; that's how good they came out. You should absolutely incorporate this into your breakfast routine.

Directions

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 8 minutes

Makes: 4 burritos

Ingredients:

  • 4 eggs

  • 4 tablespoons of skim milk

  • ½ pound sausage

  • ½ tablespoon reconstituted onion

  • 1 tablespoon petite diced tomatoes, diced again

  • 1 tablespoon green chillies

  • 4 tortillas

  • 4 slices American cheese

  • Parchment paper

  • Salsa or picante sauce as garnish

Directions:

  1. Combine eggs and skim milk in a small bowl.

  2. Cook sausage at medium low until cooked, without letting it turn brown.

  3. Add vegetables to cooked sausage.

  4. Stir and simmer for 2 minutes to warm, then separate into quarters.

  5. Scramble eggs in a buttered pan, then separate into quarters.

  6. Break a piece of American cheese in half, and lay vertical (up and down) on a soft taco sized tortilla.

  7. Add one portion of sausage and vegetable mix on top of the cheese.

  8. Add one portion of eggs to top of the sausage.

  9. Fold tortilla: top and bottom in, and then sides in, and flip it over so the folds are on the bottom.

  10. Wrap burrito in parchment paper.

  11. Microwave for 30 seconds.

  12. Serve with picante or salsa, and enjoy!