The closely-guarded recipe hasn’t changed in more than 60 years.

Meghan Overdeep
January 22, 2018

Few Southern secrets are guarded as closely as the recipe for Milo’s Hamburgers’ signature sauce. Smooth and savory, the beloved brown condiment is as synonymous with the Alabama-based chain as that “little something extra” and those perfectly grilled buns.

Milo Carlton founded his eponymous fast-food chain in Birmingham in 1946 after working as a mess cook in the U.S. Army. The earliest patrons of the humble hamburger joint nestled in the city’s industrial northside had front-row seats to the creation of the sauce, and eagerly weighed-in on the sauce’s evolution. When Milo eventually reached saucy perfection, that was it. The recipe hasn’t changed in more than 60 years.

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No doubt bolstered by its finger-licking sauce, what began as an unassuming five-seat restaurant has since grown to include 20 locations across central and northern Alabama. And even now, all those decades later, the recipe for the mysterious sauce described as a “hot mess of nothing but good” remains as secret as ever.

Luckily, the fine folks at AL.com were kind enough to dig up some juicy facts about the mythical condiment. Scroll down for the most mouth-watering tidbits:

  1. Only two people in the entire Milo’s organization know the recipe, which is reportedly stored on a hard drive somewhere.
  2. It takes roughly six hours to make one batch of the sauce.
  3. Milo’s Hamburgers CEO Tom Dekle explained to AL.com that the process is just as important as the ingredients. “There are multiple layers of ingredients in the sauce and it’s not only what they are that makes the sauce what it is still to this day, but also the process in which it has to be made,” he noted. “If you mix in one ingredient prior to another, it can alter the taste significantly.”
  4. The chain’s 20 locations go through 50,000 gallons of sauce a year, total.
  5. Don’t expect to find it at grocery stores anytime soon. “Milo’s Sauce doesn’t have preservatives,” said company publicist, Dana McGough, “so in order to bottle it and sell it we’d have to change the recipe and that’s something that they’re not willing to do—to sacrifice taste and the consistency of it and the quality. So that’s not in the works right now.”