Most people reading this article – if not all people reading this article – will have visited a McDonald’s at least once in their lifetime.
This food chain has become a staple of western culture over the past 80 years, and doesn’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon.
It is the world’s largest fast food restaurant chain, with over 40,000 locations worldwide.
When a person thinks of McDonald’s food items, several may come to mind… there are so many iconic burgers, chicken items, desserts, and more, that it would be difficult to name them all.
And, that’s without even mentioning the oh-so-popular French fries.
Well, in this article, we will be doing exactly that: naming all the most iconic food items from McDonald’s menu.
There have been numerous special menu items and limited-edition products over the years.
Some of those might be on our list, but, ultimately, we’ve stayed with the foods that have dominated the McDonald’s menu for years and years (see also ‘McDonald’s Special Menus: 6 Items You’ll Only Find In Hawaii‘).
So, if you are thinking about getting some lunch from your favorite fast food chain, but you’re not sure what to get, or you’re fancying a change from your usual picks, we’ve got you covered.
In this article, we have listed 25 of the most iconic and delicious McDonald’s menu items of all time.
So, let’s get into it.
Burgers and Sandwiches
If there is one thing that McDonald’s is famously renowned for, it is their burgers.
Whether you prefer beef or chicken, there is something for everyone at these chains.
Some burgers are more popular than others, but ultimately, it all comes down to personal preferences.
Below, we have listed some of the tastiest burgers that you will find on your local McDonald’s menu.
1. Big Mac
To start off this entire list, let’s begin with an item so huge – in both size and popularity – that it is, most likely, the first food item that most people think of when they think of McDonald’s (see also ‘12 Items You Can Only Get In McDonald’s China‘).
We are, of course, talking about the iconic Big Mac.
Since this burger made its big debut back in 1967, it has become loved and recognized all across the globe.
This burger consists of three slices of sesame seed buns, two juicy beef patties, and is then filled with several other tasty ingredients.
These include sliced pickles, shredded lettuce, onions, sliced American cheese, and, of course, the famous Big Mac Sauce.
2. Quarter Pounder with Cheese
Did you know that, in Paris, they call a Quarter Pounder with Cheese a ‘Royale with Cheese’?
At least, that’s what Vincent Vega told us.
This is a burger that is one of McDonald’s most purchased menu items of all time.
The Quarter Pounder has been around since its debut in 1973, and became even more popular when slices of cheese were incorporated into the product.
The Quarter Pounder alone consists of a sesame seed bun filled with a beef patty (typically weighing a quarter of a pound).
The additional toppings include raw onion slices, sliced pickles, and a few pumps of ketchup and mustard.
Some chains also add some slices of bacon, creating the Quarter Pounder with Cheese and Bacon.
Sometimes, a person may not be feeling hungry enough for one of the bigger burgers on the menu, such as the Big Mac.
In these instances, it would be safer to grab something a little smaller, and easier to handle.
That’s where the Cheeseburger comes in.
It is smaller, more compact, but just as tasty as its neighbors on the McDonald’s menu.
Plus, it is a lot cheaper than the other burgers available, so it is better for those on a budget.
McDonald’s Cheeseburgers contain, pretty much, the same ingredients as a Quarter Pounder with Cheese, except the patties are smaller, and they use a regular bun.
The fillings include onions, pickles, ketchup, mustard, and cheese slices.
4. Double Cheeseburger
So, what about those times when you aren’t quite hungry enough for a Big Mac or a Quarter Pounder with Cheese, but you know a Cheeseburger alone won’t defeat those pangs of hunger?
The Double Cheeseburger is exactly what it sounds like.
It is your average Cheeseburger, but with double the ingredients!
It is still fairly cheap compared to some of the other burgers at McDonald’s, but it contains more than the original Cheeseburger.
So, the ingredients generally remain the same as the Cheeseburger, except the amount of patties and cheese gets doubled.
It is then, once again, filled with pickles, onions, mustard, and ketchup.
5. McChicken Chicken Sandwich
So far in this list, we have been mentioning a whole lot of beef.
This is fine, but there is so much more than can be done to a burger or sandwich without including beef patties.
In the year 1980, chicken lovers rejoiced when the McChicken was added to the McDonald’s menu (see also ‘8 Best McDonald’s Items To Order For A Keto Diet‘).
This burger made its debut just after the McNuggets (more on those later), but wasn’t as successful.
However, as the years went on, they became a fan favorite.
The McChicken Chicken Sandwich is created by using four simple ingredients.
A regular bun is filled with a McChicken patty – a chicken burger coated with a yummy batter – along with some shredded lettuce, and some mayonnaise.
Did you know that the Filet-O-Fish has been on the McDonald’s menu way longer than the Big Mac, Quarter Pounder, and some of the other popular items that we have grown to love today?
This sandwich was initially released back in 1962, it has remained popular, despite it being one of the least popular out of the several burgers and sandwiches on the menu.
It is a great option for vegetarians or pescatarians who are craving a McDonald’s.
The Filet-O-Fish is made from a regular bun, filled with a battered/bread crumbed white fish filet patty, half a slice of American cheese, and some tartare sauce.
Back in the 1970s, when a particular nugget-sized poultry product was initially released on McDonald’s menu, they were so popular that the chains struggled to create enough to feed the masses.
So, they created a fun, new item to attempt to prevent shortages: the McRib.
This burger was not made of beef or chicken: instead, they used a pork patty that somewhat resembled pork ribs.
It became a popular item, and although McRibs are not a continuous menu item anymore, they still reappear from time-to-time as a special edition.
The McRib contains a pork patty, shaped with ridges to resemble ribs, which is smothered in barbecue sauce, and topped with onions and pickles.
8. Spicy Crispy Chicken Sandwich
Next up, we have a more recent addition to the McDonald’s menu.
The Spicy Crispy Chicken Sandwich is the zestier answer to the McChicken, giving some well needed variety to the chain’s permanent menu.
Since its debut in 2021, it has proven to be a fan favorite throughout the masses.
The Southern fried chicken is crispy and fiery on the outside, yet tender on the inside, just as a chicken sandwich should be.
This sandwich consists of a fried chicken fillet burger, topped with crinkled pickle slices and some spicy, peppery sauce, all tucked inside a potato bun.
9. Big N’ Tasty
Despite this burger having been discontinued in the US back in 2011, it is still being sold in several restaurants across the world.
To this day, the Big N’ Tasty is still one of the most iconic burgers that McDonald’s ever had on its menu.
Allegedly, the Big N’ Tasty was initially created to rival Burger King’s Whopper burger, and there is no denying that there are similarities between the two.
The Big N’ Tasty burger is made up of a sesame seed bun, filled with a quarter pounder beef patty, shredded lettuce, tomatoes, sliced pickles, ketchup, and mayonnaise.
The ingredients differ slightly depending on which region you purchase the burger in, including the addition of bacon, cheese, and a special Big Tasty sauce.
10. Spicy BBQ Chicken Sandwich
Our last entry for the burger and sandwich entries is the Spicy BBQ Chicken Sandwich, which is also a fairly new addition to the McDonald’s menu.
In 2019, McDonald’s released yet another spicy chicken sandwich, but this time, it was covered in barbecue sauce.
Unfortunately, it did not become a permanent menu item, but it was great while it lasted.
Maybe it will come back someday.
The Spicy BBQ Chicken Sandwich consisted of a sesame seed bun filled with a battered chicken fillet covered in a spicy, hot barbecue sauce, and some sliced onions and pickles.
Sides, Snacks, and Other Items
Perhaps you’re not a fan of burgers, and would prefer something a little smaller to chow down on. Or, perhaps you want something small to accompany your burger.
McDonald’s sells way more than burgers, and some of the items listed below can be ordered as a main meal themselves.
Below, we have listed some of the tastiest side items that you can find at McDonald’s.
13. Happy Meal
Up until the late 1970s, there were no child-friendly meals available at McDonald’s.
Since the calorie count was so high for most of the food products, most people likely didn’t want to buy their kids’ food from this chain.
This all changed in 1979, when the Happy Meal was introduced.
Over 4 decades later, this food item is just as popular today, enjoyed and consumed by kids all around the world.
It is not only tasty, thanks to the meal included, but it also has a fun design, and includes a surprise…
Happy Meals typically consist of four components: a main, a snack, a drink, and a toy.
There are now just two main options accessible in the US: a hamburger or a McNugget, although there are numerous possibilities available elsewhere in the world.
For instance, you may buy a fish finger/fish stick Happy Meal in the UK, and spaghetti in the Philippines.
12. Chicken McNuggets
Can you believe that this iconic food item is 12th in this list?
Although we are not listing each food item in ranking order, it is still pretty shocking that it has taken us this long to mention the McNugget.
The buzz surrounding the McNugget’s initial release in the US in the late 1970s was so intense that McDonald’s restaurants all over the country had trouble keeping up with demand.
To this day, these are one of the most iconic food items on the McDonald’s menu.
The McNugget is a small, bite-sized piece of processed white meat that is covered in a golden, crispy batter.
They can be ordered in sets of 4, 6, 10, 20, or 40, along with some dipping sauce.
13. World Famous Fries
Likewise to the McNugget, it is unbelievable that it has taken so long for us to mention the iconic french fries that reign large on the McDonald’s menu.
These french fries are so good that McDonald’s has actually trademarked the phrase ‘World Famous Fries’, giving this name to their oh-so-popular side item.
Back when McDonald’s was a hamburger stand – before it became the world’s biggest fast food chain – the only items sold were hamburgers, fries, and shakes.
This makes these World Famous Fries one of the original food items from the McDonald’s menu.
14. Snack Wraps
While they may not have been as popular as the Big Mac or McNuggets, Snack Wraps were loved by so many McDonald’s fans.
They were a quick and easy snack to eat on the go, and there were so many variations to choose from.
Despite being discontinued from the US menu back in 2016, these tasty tortilla snacks remain an iconic item to this day.
In fact, over the past few years, there have been petitions signed to bring back the Snack Wrap.
Over the years, there have been several flavors of Snack Wraps, including chicken and bacon, chicken and ranch, sweet chili chicken, and much more.
Snack Wraps are still available in some areas of Europe.
15. Buttermilk Crispy Tenders
Depending on how old you are, you may remember these items under different names.
They were originally called Chicken Selects, and later became known as Crispy Tenders, before being discontinued.
In 2017, they returned to the menu as Buttermilk Crispy Tenders.
Chicken Selects were permanently added to the McDonald’s menu in 2004, seemingly rivaling KFC’s Crispy Strips (later known as Chicken Tenders).
Unfortunately, these tasty chicken products were removed from McDonald’s menu following the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, and have not yet come back.
Buttermilk Crispy Tenders were chicken breast strips coated in a crispy, savory batter made from buttermilk.
They were often served alongside dipping sauces.
So, you’ve just finished your burger, or your McNuggets (or both), and now you’re craving something a little sweeter to round out your meal.
Luckily for you, McDonald’s has its own range of sweet treats, from ice cream to pastries.
You could even try combining some of these desserts to create the ultimate sugary delight to finish off your meal.
Below, we have listed a handful of delicious, sweet desserts that can be found on McDonald’s menu.
Next up, we have another iconic menu item that we instantaneously associate with McDonald’s restaurants.
Every meal from this chain should be followed with a sweet, creamy McFlurry, no matter which flavor you prefer.
Introduced in 1997, the McFlurry was initially available in five flavors: Oreo, Butterfinger, M&M, Heath bar, and Nestle Crunch.
Since then, hundreds of flavors have been released over the years, both as permanent menu items and special edition flavors.
The McFlurry is a vanilla soft serve ice cream, topped with your chosen flavor of sauce and toppings.
They are served in a small paper cup, with its iconic hollowed-out spoon that can be used as a straw.
Remember earlier, when we mentioned that the original McDonald’s store only sold a handful of main items, including hamburgers, fries, and shakes?
Well, now we are going to be talking about the third item in that list.
McDonald’s Shakes have been a popular item since the late 1940s.
Interestingly, there is a reason they’re known as ‘shakes’ and not ‘milkshakes’; as it turns out, these Shakes don’t contain enough milk to be considered a ‘milkshake’.
While McDonald’s Shakes are, essentially, blended-up ice cream with flavoring, that doesn’t mean that they don’t taste delicious.
In fact, the thickness of these shakes are what makes them so great!
Shakes can be found in several flavors around the world.
In the US, the permanent Shake flavors are chocolate, strawberry, and vanilla.
18. Hot Fudge Sundae
While McDonald’s is primarily known for its burgers and fries, there is no denying that the chain has a vast variety of desserts available too, even if most people only think about the McFlurry when considering this category.
The Hot Fudge Sundae has been a fan favorite for decades, alongside other sundaes that have come and gone from the menu over the years.
The difference between a sundae and a McFlurry is, mainly, the cup that it is served in and the serving size, but there are many people who prefer the taste of the sundaes.
The Hot Fudge Sundae is a cup of vanilla soft serve, covered in a hot fudge sauce topping.
19. Baked Apple Pie
Lastly, we have a dessert item that has truly withstood the test of time. Ever since its introduction to the menu back in 1968, it has remained a favorite with dedicated fans across the globe.
There have been over 40 different varieties of dessert pies sold at McDonald’s restaurants around the world, but it all began with the baked apple pie.
While the other dessert pies come and go, it is the apple pie that remains the most popular, which is probably why it is the only pie that has remained on the permanent menu since its initial release.
Anyone who has ventured to their local McDonald’s during the early hours of the morning will know that, unfortunately, you cannot grab your usual side of fries before 10:30am… at least, not at the majority of branches.
However, hope is not all lost!
Instead of selling their usual burgers and sides, you can grab a yummy breakfast to keep you going.
Below, we have listed the best of the best breakfast items that can be purchased at McDonald’s.
20. Egg McMuffin
For almost 3 whole decades, McDonald’s performed extremely well without the use of a breakfast menu.
However, in 1971, it was decided that the chain could use, at least, one breakfast item to be available during the morning.
With this thought in mind, the egg McMuffin was born, and by 1975, it was rolled out to chains worldwide, and quickly became a favorite around the globe.
It wasn’t until 2 years later that other breakfast items were added to the menu.
Until then, the Egg McMuffin stood alone.
The Egg McMuffin was created to resemble Eggs Benedict, filling an English muffin with an egg and a slice of Canadian ham, while a slice of American cheese is used to replace the hollandaise sauce.
21. Sausage and Egg McMuffin
In the 1980s, McDonald’s decides to broaden not only their breakfast menu, but their varieties of McMuffins. Up until this point, the only McMuffin available was the egg variety.
As we know now, the most popular McMuffin sold at McDonald’s restaurants around the world is, undoubtedly, the Sausage and Egg McMuffin.
When the chain decided to add a slice of sausage into the Egg McMuffin, the world changed forever.
The Sausage & Egg McMuffin is an English muffin filled with one egg, one sausage patty, and a slice of American cheese.
22. Hash Brown
The hash brown itself has, in recent years, become a staple of breakfast foods. It may not be as popular as bacon, eggs, and sausages, but it stands to be one of the most popular breakfast food items of all time, despite its late start to the game.
Alongside several other breakfast items released following the success of the Egg McMuffin, hash browns made their McDebut in 1977.
Since then, they can be purchased on their own, or they can be added as a side to McDonald’s breakfast meals.
The McDonald’s hash brown is everything the perfect hash brown should be: golden and crisp on the outside, yet mushy and smooth on the inside.
23. Breakfast Burrito
In the late 1980s, breakfast menus became all the rage in fast food restaurants.
One item in particular became extremely popular, being added to the menus of Carl Jr’s, Sonic Drive-in’s, and, of course, McDonald’s.
There are two types of Breakfast Burrito that McDonald’s offers, although only one of them can be found on the permanent menu at all stores.
There is the Sausage, Egg and Cheese Burrito, and the McSkillet Burrito which can be found in certain chains in the US.
The Sausage Burrito contains sausage, egg, cheese, onions, and peppers inside a tortilla wrap, while the McSkillet contains a blend of potatoes and vegetables.
Just over two decades following the release of the McDonald’s breakfast menu, one of the most popular breakfast items of all time was introduced: the McGriddle.
Following the success of hotcakes, the creators decided to create a sandwich that would use griddle cakes as buns, filling it with all sorts of breakfast items.
The product was highly successful, and is still on the permanent menu to this day.
There are two types of McGriddles that can be purchased; the Bacon, Egg and Cheese McGriddle, and the Sausage McGriddle.
Finally, we will be wrapping up this list with a breakfast item that is loved all around the world by children and adults alike.
Depending on where you live in the world, you will give this item a different name.
In the US, Hotcakes were introduced to the breakfast menu in 1977, alongside so many other iconic products.
It was initially introduced as a part of the Big Breakfast, but has since become a separate food item in its own right.
You can pair your Hotcakes with sausage, syrup, or even both.
There have also been other variations over the years, including Nutella-stuffed Hotcakes in the early 2020s.
Frequently Asked Questions
While McDonald’s menu is filled with so many iconic items that are recognized and renowned all over the world, there is one item that ranks far higher above the rest.
We are, of course, talking about the Big Mac.
According to estimates, 550 million Big Macs are sold in the United States exclusively each year, which translates to 17 Big Mac purchases made by Americans every second.
What is the item with the most calories at McDonald’s?
We all know that McDonald’s is a place that should be avoided when one is on a diet.
Even the salads are packed with calories, with the Caesar Salad actually containing more calories than a Big Mac.
However, the food item with the highest amount of calories is the Big Breakfast with Hotcakes; this includes hotcakes, biscuits, eggs, sausage, and a hash brown.
Altogether, this item contains 1,150 calories.
What fish is used for the Filet-O-Fish?
The Filet-O-Fish is a burger containing battered/bread crumbed white fish, tartare sauce, and a slice of processed cheese.
In the United States and some regions of Ireland, filet-o-fish sandwiches are made using wild Alaska Pollock that have been humanely harvested.
Alternatively, they are created using white Hoki in the UK and New Zealand.
Is McDonald’s the most popular fast food chain in the world?
McDonald’s is the largest fast food chain in the entire world, with more than 40,000 locations and branches across the globe.
Subway (see also ‘14 Spectacular Must Try Subway Sandwiches‘) comes close in second, with almost 37,000 locations worldwide, while Starbucks is third with almost 34,000.
McDonald’s generated $21.07 billion in revenue as of 2020.
So, there we have it.
There are so many burgers, mains, sides, breakfast items and desserts that have been sold at McDonald’s for years, and yet we’ve had the difficult task of narrowing them down to the 25 greatest items to date.
Have you tried every item that we mentioned in our list?
If not, we recommend giving them a try next time you find yourself at that old, familiar Drive Thru.
Switch out your usual Big Mac for a Filet-O-Fish… trust us, it’s pretty amazing!
Of course, you should definitely try out the limited edition products too, as they won’t always be available.
There will always be a Quarter Pounder with Cheese and some golden fries waiting for you in a restaurant nearby, no matter where you are.
If there is anything in life you can always count on, it is that!
We hope you enjoyed this article, and that you found it helpful.