With its extensive menu of delectable options, McDonald’s—the golden arches that have come to represent fast food globally—offers something for every taste and craving. The restaurant’s menu is a veritable rainbow of flavors, ranging from time-tested classics to inventive creations that satisfy the changing tastes of fast-food fans. This guide will give you a route map to some of the best options, whether you’re a devoted patron looking to justify your favorite dish or an inquisitive foodie ready to sample the highlights of their menu. Come along for a delicious journey as we celebrate the best-selling menu items that never let us down.
By the 1970s, many people could rattle off the ingredients of a Big Mac, thanks to a famous commercial that listed them as a catchy phrase and then a jingle. No single sandwich makes people think “McDonald’s” as much as the Big Mac. Two all-beef patties join McDonald’s special sauce, shredded lettuce, American cheese, diced onions, and pickles between a toasted sesame seed bun. The combination gives the sandwich a taste you can’t get from a regular burger. The special sauce, two burger patties, and the third “bun” in the middle are unique among fast-food sandwiches, with a combination of flavors and textures that keep us coming back for more.
Undoubtedly, the superior item on the McDonald’s breakfast menu is the hash brown. They are so good that many people make a trip to McDonald’s purely to order these. But they have just missed out on the top 5, simply because they aren’t a real meal. There’s not really much that we can say about the hash browns at McDonald’s, other than they taste amazing. Hash browns have been on the McDonald’s menu since the 1970s, and they are just as much a staple as any other item on the menu. With a crispy gold exterior and a soft and flavorful potato filling, you simply cannot order a McDonald’s breakfast without adding hash browns to your order.
McFlurry With OREO Cookies
Another item that had to make it into the top 10 is, of course, the OREO McFlurry. The great thing about the McFlurry is that there are so many different flavors to choose from, and every option works spectacularly. Now, finding a McDonald’s that has a working ice cream machine is a real chore, no matter where you are in the world. But, if you can find one, then you have to order a McFlurry. The best McDonald’s stores will stir the ice cream that they add to your pot to ensure that the treat of your choice is completely blended through. But even if it sits on top, this is still a treat that you should not deny yourself.
Many people swear by McDonald’s French fries, and we agree. The taste of these fries changed in the 1990s when the restaurant chain, pressured to reduce saturated fat, switched from frying in beef tallow to vegetable oil. Even though the taste changed, these remain the most popular fast-food fries in the world. French fries are one of the most popular choices among the best McDonald’s menu items, with many people ordering fries alone instead of as a side to go with a sandwich. McDonald’s serves a whopping 9 million pounds of French fries around the world every single day!
Some people believe that you cannot beat the classic egg McMuffin, but for us, the sausage McMuffin comes out on top. Of course, there will always be a huge amount of nostalgia linked to the egg McMuffin, but the sausage McMuffin is new and refreshing. This is why it will always come out on top. In the sausage McMuffin, McDonald’s uses the same sausage patty that they use in their McGriddles, so you already know it tastes great. The slight hint of spice in the sausage is perfectly complemented by the smooth texture of the cheese and the natural flavor of the muffin to form a combination that can’t be beaten. Just as the double cheeseburger is an excellent hangover cure, so is the sausage McMuffin, so it is clear to see why it is so popular.
The Chicken McNugget first appeared in 1981 in select restaurants after McDonald’s partnered with Tyson foods to make a chicken nugget suitable for serving in a fast-food restaurant. McNuggets were an instant hit and expanded nationally in 1983. Chicken nuggets make every list of the best food at McDonald’s, ranked by popularity. Many people credit McDonald’s for creating chicken nuggets in general and making them a popular food today. While the McNugget popularized the food, poultry scientist Robert C. Baker invented chicken nuggets in the 1950s. McDonald’s makes McNuggets by grinding chicken breast meat with other ingredients and shaping them into nugget form. The nuggets are breaded, fried, and offered in different amounts with dipping sauces like ranch, honey mustard, and barbecue to fit every taste.
There’s no denying that when it comes to milkshakes, McDonald’s is always on their A-game. We didn’t want to include more than one shake on this menu, so ultimately the number 20 spot goes to the chocolate shake. Chocolate shakes aren’t everybody’s fave, but they are the most popular style of shake in McDonald’s, and it is easy to see why. This drink uses the yummy soft serve that McDonald’s uses in their McFlurries, and mixes it with chocolate sauce to create this scrumptious drink. You may notice that the word ‘milk’ is noticeably missing from the name of that drink, and this is because of the dairy regulations in some States. Worry not, just because the word ‘milk’ is missing from this shake, it still contains the same ingredients as the classic milkshakes that you love.
The original snack wraps came with your choice of grilled or fried white-meat chicken pieces wrapped with lettuce, shredded cheese, and ranch sauce in a flour tortilla. These wraps were perfect when we were hungry and in the mood for chicken, but not so hungry we wanted a sandwich and fries. In a list of McDonald’s food ranked by popularity, snack wraps usually rank high. Unfortunately, they’ve discontinued snack wraps nationally, and there are no plans to bring them back. Some McDonald’s in Canada may still offer snack wraps along with the new McWrap. The Caesar McWrap includes bacon and Caesar dressing instead of ranch, and the Bacon and Chicken McWrap adds bacon and a mayo-style sauce. Both offer a choice of grilled or fried chicken and come in a whole wheat flour tortilla.
Something else that McDonald’s is great at is serving an excellent breakfast menu. The breakfast menu at McDonald’s is so vast that it would probably take you quite a while to try everything, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t try! When it comes to a McDonald’s breakfast, everyone always talks about the McMuffin range. There’s no denying that these options are delicious, and we will look at these a little further down this list, but something else that is also great is the breakfast burrito. This option is incredibly clean and tidy to eat, and it is full of ingredients to fill you up. With sausage combined with scrambled eggs, chili, and onion, this option is packed with flavor, just like every good burrito should be.
One of the best McDonald’s menu items is the double cheeseburger. This sandwich contains two beef patties, two cheese slices, pickles, onions, ketchup, and mustard. The double cheeseburger is a good choice if one cheeseburger isn’t enough, but you don’t want to order two and have double the buns! Though the Big Mac also has two patties, it also has a middle bun, lettuce, and special sauce, which gives it a different taste than the standard cheeseburger. Like with many McDonald’s burgers, the onions are finely diced, making the sandwich less messy to eat than those with sliced onions.
McGriddles appeared in 2003 and became one of McDonald’s most-ordered breakfast items. This sandwich uses something McDonald’s calls griddle cakes in the place of a bun. These cakes remind us of pancakes but have a firmer texture that makes them easy to eat as part of a sandwich. The griddle cakes contain hints of maple syrup inside them, offering a unique, sweet flavor to the McGriddle. The Sausage McGriddle is simply a sausage patty between two griddle cakes that tastes a lot like eating pancakes with sausage in a hand-held version. You can also order a bacon, egg, and cheese version, or one with sausage, egg, and cheese instead.
The McChicken debuted in 1980 but didn’t do well enough for McDonald’s to keep it on the menu. After their Chicken McNuggets took off in popularity, they brought this sandwich back, and it’s never gone off the menu again. McDonald’s has branched out into other chicken sandwiches, but the McChicken is still one of its top sellers. The classic McChicken features a peppery breaded and fried chicken patty on a toasted bun along with shredded lettuce and mayonnaise. We like to add cheese and pickles to this sandwich, but it’s delicious ordered as-is off the menu.
Sticking with the theme of the McDonald’s breakfast menu, next up we have the ultimate classic that is Hotcakes. This is an option that you tend to order less and less as you get older, and as convenience becomes more important than preference. But, the hotcakes at McDonald’s are divine. The hotcakes at McDonald’s are fueled by nostalgia from early mornings spent eating them as a child, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy them as an adult. Sure, it will take a couple of minutes out of your day, because you can’t eat them on the go, but they are totally worth getting up that bit earlier. With generous portions, piping hot delivery, and tons of flavor, McDonald’s hotcakes had to make it into the top 20.
Quarter Pounder with Cheese
If the Quarter Pounder with Cheese doesn’t seem that different from McDonald’s double cheeseburger to you, think again! The differences are minor but make this sandwich unique. This sandwich gets its name from the burger patty that’s a quarter of a pound before cooking. The thicker burger with two slices of cheese creates a different, juicier texture than any double burger option. Since 2015, McDonald’s has raised the weight of these pre-cooked patties by one-quarter of an ounce for less shrinkage during cooking. Pickles, ketchup, mustard, and slivers of onion instead of the finely diced ones on their standard burgers make the Quarter Pounder with Cheese a favorite among diners since it appeared in 1971.
Lists of the best food at McDonald’s always include the classic Filet-O-Fish. While this sandwich is simple, it’s packed with flavor. The Filet-O-Fish contains a square, fried fish patty with a melted half-slice of American cheese and tartar sauce on a plain steamed bun. Alaska Pollock from sustainable fisheries that catch these fish in the wild make up the patties. The Filet-O-Fish was the first new item Ray Kroc added to the original McDonald brothers menu in 1965 and has been a favorite ever since.
The McRib is one of the best McDonald’s menu items they don’t serve year-round, like the green Shamrock Shake that appears annually before St. Patrick’s Day. This barbecued pork sandwich is so popular that it makes the news when McDonald’s announces the McRib is coming back each year. Boneless pork molded into a rib-like shape and drenched in tangy barbecue sauce sits between the halves of a toasted sesame seed bun with dill pickle chips and slivered onions. The tender barbecued meat, crunchy pickles, and the oblong bun make this a sandwich we clamor for every year. No other fast-food restaurant has a sandwich similar to the McRib!
Spicy Crispy Chicken Sandwich
Just missing out on a spot in the top 3, we have everybody’s favorite chicken burger at McDonald’s, the Spicy Crispy Chicken Sandwich. Once again, this is a burger that has been developed based on the success of previous McDonald’s burgers, namely the McChicken. One of the main drawbacks of the McChicken is that it is slightly boring. While the flavors in this burger are delicious, they are also slightly boring. So, if you prefer a wider variety of flavors, then you might be put off ordering it. But, the spicy crispy chicken sandwich switches up the flavor by making it spicy. This is a relatively new addition to the menu, so there is no way of knowing how long it will stick around. But if you want a burger with a kick, this is perfect.
Baked Apple Pie
Sit-down restaurants can offer any desserts they want to diners, but fast-food restaurants sell fast, to-go meals, which limit the desserts they can offer. McDonald’s solved that problem in 1968 when they created their signature fried apple turnovers served in a cardboard box. In 1992, along with the switch from frying in tallow to oil to reduce saturated fat, McDonald’s switched from frying their apple pies to baking them. They changed the recipe again in 2018 to switch from diced apples to slices, a lattice crust instead of a solid one, and slightly more cinnamon in the filling. Each Apple Pie contains apples grown in the US inside a flaky crust that’s sprinkled with sugar.
The Egg McMuffin was the first fast-food breakfast sandwich in the world when it debuted in 1971. This sandwich always makes the list of the best McDonald’s food ranked by popularity. The ingredients are simple but delicious! A split, buttered, and toasted English Muffin serves as the bun to hold a slice of Canadian bacon, an egg cooked into a perfect circle, and a slice of American cheese. We like the version with sausage instead of Canadian bacon as much as the original. Those who want a hearty breakfast sandwich without eggs can order the Sausage McMuffin that contains only sausage and cheese. Some people have even gone ahead and made their own version of a McMuffin at home for a slightly healthier breakfast option.
The Happy Meal, a meal specially made for kids, appeared in 1979. These meals are served in a colorful cardboard box with McDonald’s golden arches as the handle and come with a toy inside. The first Happy Meals came in a circus-themed box with an option of small toys. The meal consisted of a burger, a small order of fries, a cookie, and a small drink. When McNuggets became a McDonald’s menu item in 1983, they became an option for the Happy Meal instead of a hamburger. Later, milk or apple juice became options to replace the soda, and apple slices replaced the cookie. Happy Meals often feature toys related to films, TV shows, or children’s toy brands like Disney and Hot Wheels.
Grilled Chicken Sandwich
The grilled chicken sandwich at McDonald’s first appeared in the early 2000s as part of a push toward healthier menu options. This sandwich featured a grilled chicken breast on a toasted bun with tomato slices, leaf lettuce, and a vinaigrette instead of the high-fat mayo used on other sandwiches. McDonald’s removed this sandwich along with their chicken tenders, salads, and a handful of other foods from their menu to slim down their offerings and make things simpler during the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020. This sandwich and some other items may reappear at some point, but McDonald’s hasn’t given any official word on when these items will come back.
Spicy BBQ Chicken Sandwich
McDonald’s Spicy BBQ Chicken Sandwich isn’t a regular menu item. It first appeared for a limited time in 2019 but may come back occasionally like some of their other foods. This sandwich features a piece of chicken coated in a buttermilk batter and fried to golden perfection on a sesame seed bun with crispy pickles, onion slivers, and McDonald’s tangy, smoky barbecue sauce. Jalapenos in the sauce lend it a little heat and a distinctive peppery flavor, and we appreciate that the BBQ sauce is drizzled on generously but doesn’t leave the chicken swimming in sauce, making it messy on the go.