Top 20 Greatest McDonald's Menu Items of All Time
VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton
WRITTEN BY: Nathan Sharp
You know you want it. For this list, we'll be looking at the greatest food and drink items on the McDonald's menu. Our countdown includes Spicy Crispy Chicken Sandwich, Sausage McMuffin, McFlurry, Chicken McNuggets, Big Mac, and more!
Top 20 McDonald's Items
Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 20 McDonald’s items.
For this list, we’ll be looking at the greatest food and drink items on the McDonald’s menu.
Which of these is your personal fave? Let us know in the comments below!
#20: Spicy Crispy Chicken Sandwich
If anything, this item proves the value of a good sauce. Nestled between two toasted potato rolls is a slab of fried chicken, crinkled pickles, and the restaurant’s Spicy Pepper Sauce. Chicken sandwiches have become increasingly popular throughout the fast food industry, and this has to be one of the better ones. It’s simple in practice but wonderful in execution. The chicken is crispy and delicious, and the spicy pepper sauce has a wicked kick that is sure to satisfy all the spice-lovers among us. Definitely worth ordering, because, as Jesse Pinkman says, these are choice.
McDonald’s is so far ahead of everyone else on the breakfast front, it isn’t even funny. Introduced back in 2003, the classic McGriddle sandwich consists of scrambled egg, bacon or sausage, and cheese. It’s a great breakfast packed into a delicious tiny sandwich. But wait, we forgot the best part! Instead of traditional buns, the McGriddle opts for two maple-flavored pancakes emblazoned with the iconic golden arches. What other fast food restaurant is adding that kind of personality and flair to their breakfast items? It also helps that the McGriddle tastes delicious, with the maple flavor adding a welcome sweetness. It’s a classic.
#18: Chicken Snack Wraps
Alas, sometimes fast food joints are forced to get rid of their best items. Coming out in the mid-2000s, these chicken wraps were a delight. They consisted of the typical chicken, lettuce, cheese, and ranch combo, but there was just something about them that really hit the spot. They were delicious, and they were just big enough to walk that fine line between a midday snack and a full-blown meal if you comboed it. They lasted about a decade before they were discontinued in the United States, but variations can still be found across the globe. In fact, the ranch snack wrap is still available in Canada.
#17: Apple Pie
It’s amazing how McDonald’s can perfect a recipe that Americans have been enjoying for centuries. Brought over by European immigrants in the 17th century, apple pie has long been a favorite dessert this side of the Atlantic and is now regarded as one of America’s signature foods. McDonald’s began offering apple pies all the way back in 1968, and they have remained a staple on the dessert menu ever since. They’re hot, gooey, and absolutely mouth-watering, with solid chunks of fruit and a thick apple-flavored filling. They’re also dirt cheap, so that certainly helps. This is probably what your grandmother orders, so entrenched is the apple pie in our generational McDonald’s experience.
#16: Breakfast Burrito
Maybe McGriddles aren’t your thing, with their maple flavoring and pancake buns. Maybe you want something a little more traditional. Enter the Breakfast Burrito. This is a lovely little wrap containing scrambled eggs, sausage, cheese, green pepper, and onion. It’s a mixture of flavors that just works. It also packs quite a bit of sustenance in its rather small size, clocking in at just over 300 calories and delivering lots of protein through its eggs and sausage. There’s little to dislike here. The Breakfast Burrito is always a solid choice.
#15: Chocolate Shake
Even if you don’t like their offerings of traditional desserts, there’s no denying that McDonald’s makes a mean milkshake. We see all you vanilla-over-chocolate enthusiasts holding up your pitchforks, but there’s just something about the chocolate option that really hits the spot. The chain’s iconic soft serve ice cream is mixed with sweet chocolate syrup and it’s delightful. A smooth and rich whipped cream topping completes the concoction–which makes it feel just a little Starbucks-esque. This drink is reminiscent of a good, ol’ fashioned 50s diner shake, and that’s always a welcome experience.
There are a ton of variations on the basic hamburger, including the very delicious McDouble. But, as is often the case with movies, there’s just no beating the original. The McDonald’s hamburgers are quite small, but there’s no rule saying you can’t order more than one! The hamburger has remained a staple at McDonald’s ever since the chain opened, and for good reason. The mixture of beef, pickles, onions, and condiments is such a perfect combination. The ingredients are nothing special, but McDonald’s always finds a way to make the traditional exciting. It’s what has kept them thriving for so long.
#13: Hash Browns
Virtually every fast food chain has hash browns, but once again, McDonald’s somehow manages to outdo everyone else. Making hash browns exciting sounds like quite a daunting task. After all, they’re basically just deep fried potatoes, and, you know, fast food joints kind of already have a pretty popular potato menu item. But it’s all in the execution, and McDonald’s nails it. The hash browns at McDonald’s have transcended generations, and they have been one of the restaurant’s main staples for decades. Greasy, salty, crunchy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. Now that’s how you make a good potato.
#12: Sausage McMuffin
Just like hash browns, every fast food chain has their own version of the McMuffin. But nothing can even come close to touching the real thing. One of McDonalds’ greatest breakfast items, the Sausage McMuffin is a fantastic mixture of sausage, cheese, and toasted English muffin. It’s simple, but it’s oh so good. The sausage has a nice spice to it, and it works super well with the melted cheese and toasted bread to create a unique flavor profile unlike any other. There are numerous variations on the Sausage McMuffin, and all are equally excellent. So long as that sausage patty is involved, we’re good.
We know what you’re thinking. “Yeah, it’s coffee. So what?” But no, McDonald’s coffee hits different. We’re not coffee connoisseurs here, but we know a good cup of caffeine when we taste it. It’s arguably the greatest coffee offered at an affordable price in the fast food industry, and it’s miles better than cheap gas station coffee. McDonald’s sometimes runs $1 promotions and, yeah, there’s simply no beating that price. The McCafé chain really helped the restaurant’s expansion and their coffee is by far the greatest thing to come from it.
#10: Double Cheeseburger
The original hamburger is great and all, but the double cheeseburger offers everything it does and then some. With not one, but two beef patties, cheese, pickles, onions, and condiments, the double cheeseburger is basically the regular hamburger on steroids. The inclusion of cheese really helps in the flavor profile, and that additional beef patty certainly packs a punch when it comes to satisfying your hunger. At 450 calories, the double cheeseburger makes for a nice little meal all on its own, and it’s cheaper than many other options. It’s a win from all angles.
This classic McDonald’s item was introduced back in 1962, making it one of the first main additions to the original menu. It has remained a staple ever since, and for good reason. The sandwich was created in response to religious traditions. The Friday Fast is a practice in which Christians abstain from eating meat on Fridays, so the Filet-O-Fish gave them a menu item they could consume. The combo of fried fish, cheese, and tartar sauce is ridiculously appetizing, and it serves as a nice replacement to the more traditional beef and chicken choices. Getting fast food fish might sound risky, but the Filet-O-Fish has consistently proved its excellence throughout the decades.
The McFlurry is quite distinct. Not because it’s a dessert, but because it’s actually Canadian! Yep, the very first McFlurry was sold in New Brunswick in 1995 and was slowly rolled out throughout the rest of the decade. The genius of the McFlurry is its customization options. It’s like a create-your-character, only… in ice cream form! You can get Oreo, Creme Egg, Skor, and Smarties McFlurrys, just to name a few. The Oreo kind, in particular, is a fan favorite. Blending candy and chocolate with ice cream was a genius move, and it sounds like something from a child’s daydream. Luckily, it tastes spectacular and is oh so refreshing on a hot summer’s day.
The special Hot and Spicy McChicken is a great spin on the original, but the McChicken is a classic for a reason. This is your basic chicken sandwich, consisting of a breaded cutlet, lettuce, and mayo. Some people are probably screaming “booooring,” but don’t listen to them. They’re haters. This sandwhich might very well house the greatest the greatest chicken in the fast food industry. The burger actually had a bit of a rocky life, as it was discontinued on numerous occasions. However, feverish demand always brought it back, and now it’s here to stay. Those who love the McChicken really love it.
And, here, we have the greatest dessert item on the McDonald’s menu. (Yes, that is a bold claim, no we will not retract it.) No one really knows where the sundae came from or who invented it, but it has remained an American staple for over a century. McDonald’s, once again, perfected a widely beloved dessert, as there is nothing quite like their soft serve ice cream. Take that soft serve and drizzle it with a rich chocolate or caramel sauce, and you’ve got yourself the marvelous McDonald’s sundae. We challenge you to find someone who doesn’t love it.
#5: Egg McMuffin
This is, without a doubt, the granddaddy of McDonald’s breakfast items. You know it - back bacon, egg, and American cheese nestled in a delicious English muffin. You can make them at home, but it’s never the same. These were invented by advertising executive Herb Peterson back in the early ‘70s, and they instantly became a hit. McDonald’s president at the time, Ray Kroc, single handedly credits the Egg McMuffin for revolutionizing the McDonald’s menu and introducing breakfast items to their line-up. Without the Egg McMuffin, we wouldn’t have all the other breakfast items on this list. So, say thank you.
#4: Quarter Pounder
This is arguably the most “traditional” hamburger sold at McDonald’s. It’s got all the basics, including the signature quarter-pound patty, pickles, onion, and condiments. Nothing fancy, but unequivocally delicious. This burger was invented back in 1971 by a franchise owner named Al Bernardin, and it was such a success in his Fremont restaurant that it went national just two years later. The big daw to this burger is undoubtedly the patty itself. A quarter pound of meat is a heck of a lot, and it satisfies even the heartiest of appetites. It’s no surprise that it instantly became a classic.
#3: Chicken McNuggets
Seriously, how does McDonald’s do it? How do they consistently make traditional and easy-to-make food taste so unique? The Chicken McNuggets aren’t anything special. It’s deep fried chicken. We all know what that tastes like. But do we? The Chicken McNuggets have a very distinct flavor, and the batter strikes a perfect balance between crunchy and fluffy. Dip them in your favorite sauces and you’re in food heaven. These were introduced back in 1979, and they were so incredibly popular that McDonald’s had trouble keeping up with demand. It wasn’t until 1983 that the supply issues were solved and the Chicken McNuggets became a national mainstay.
#2: French Fries
McDonald’s refers to them as “World Famous Fries,” and for good reason. We hate to sound like a broken record, but once again, McDonald’s has struck gold with a common food item. They’re fries! But there’s just something about these fries that cannot be replicated - and rivals have been trying for decades. They have that signature thin and crispy texture, and are doused with what must be a scientifically measured amount of salt. (Seriously, how is it so perfect every time?) Even the smell is unmistakable, and it has the power to instantly generate intense feelings of nostalgia and comfort. These are more than just fries. They’re an important piece of our global culture, enjoyed and shared by families for generations.
#1: Big Mac
Well, it is the Big Mac. Need we say more? Long regarded as McDonalds’ signature item, the Big Mac is arguably the most famous hamburger of all in the fast food industry. It's native to Pennsylvania, which is where franchise owner Jim Delligatti created it in the mid-to-late ‘60s. The burger is most well-known for its special sauce, which is made primarily of mayo, sweet pickle relish, and mustard, as well as a few other ingredients. According to a McDonald’s spokeswoman, about 17 Big Macs are sold every single second in the United States. We can only imagine how many are sold around the globe. Such a popular burger has to be doing something right. There’s simply nothing else like it.