McDonald’s has cycled through some seriously tragic fast food items over the years (remember the Hula Burger?), but through those trials came triumphs, too. From McNuggets to McMuffins, McDonald’s has released some of the most iconic food items the industry has ever seen, and I’m here to highlight the ones that have stood the test of time.
Whether you need a little pick-me-up that only McDonald’s can cure, or you just want some inspiration for what to try on your next cheat day, I’ve got all the best McDonald’s menu items listed here. And yes – we’ve included heavy hitters from the breakfast menu, as well. Eat your heart out!
Chowing down on a McNuggets Happy Meal as a child is a right of passage, but as an adult? It’s the cure for any broken heart, stressful day at work, or job loss. These classic nugs have been serving faux-chicken lovers like you and I since 1983, and there’s a negative chance they’ll ever leave the menu. In fact, McDonald’s continues to increase the number of nuggets you can get at once, with some locations serving a 50-count bucket. If that doesn’t sound like heaven, I don’t know what does.
The McDonald’s McChicken is typically the sandwich of choice when you’re waiting for payday to come or you’ve got a random late-night craving. It’s greasy as all get out and has globs of mayo on top, but I’ve never had a McChicken that doesn’t make me happy for the 90 seconds before I’ve devoured it.
There would be no McDonald’s without the iconic McDonald’s French fries. These puppies couldn’t get better – or saltier – if they tried. It’s no wonder people order a Whopper from BK and drive across the street to get a side of fries from the golden arches. (Or is that just me?) Enjoy them on their own, in a combo meal, or dipped in a milkshake – you won’t be disappointed.
Pro tip: if luck is not on your side and you’re served soggy French fries, there’s a quick DIY hack you can use to bring them back to life. This also applies if you’re a weirdo like me and enjoy eating day-old fries. Simply heat up some butter on a stove-top. Once it’s sizzling, throw your fries in there and spread them out. Toss them around in the butter for a few minutes until they are crispy. Voila!
Sausage Egg McMuffin
Giving yourself permission to indulge in McDonald’s breakfast every once in a while is what self care is all about. And while I love a classic Egg McMuffin, there’s something about the Sausage version that just hits different. It’s just the right amount of greasy and filling to get your day started without making you feel too sluggish. Why it took so long for the fast food franchise to officially add the Sausage McMuffin with Egg to the menu, however, remains an unsolved mystery.
To make this one at home, take our Egg McMuffin recipe and swap the Canadian Bacon with a sausage patty.
Big Breakfast with Hot Cakes
Do you ever wake up in the morning and crave five different things at once? McDonald’s Big Breakfast was created to satisfy those kind of mornings. The Big Breakfast comes with scrambled eggs, a biscuit, hash browns, a sausage patty, hot cakes, syrup, and butter. If you’re not in the mood for a whole shmorgishborg, you can order the Big Breakfast sans the hot cakes or an order of hot cakes with a side of sausage instead.
It doesn’t need to be Thanksgiving for you to enjoy a hot slice of apple pie. At Mickey D’s, you can order it pretty much year round, and it’s the ultimate comfort food. Plus, it’s only a buck and on the smaller side so there’s not much to feel guilty about (unless you order, like, five of them). The restaurant boasts that the pie is made from 100% American-grown apples and pairs perfectly with the Hot Caramel Sundae. Apple Pie A-La-Mode, anyone?
Sometimes all you need is a sugary beverage to get you through the day. The Mocha Frappe is by far the most popular McCafe drink on the menu. It’s a beautiful blend of mocha flavor, coffee, and ice, all topped with fluffy whipped cream and chocolate drizzle. Beware: this chocolatey goodness is super sweet and indulgent, so a small or medium is usually enough to give you a serious sugar high.
If you don’t have early childhood memories of gobbling down two or three hash browns in a matter of minutes, I feel bad for you. These timeless breakfast sides are the epitome of fast food breakfast, and no matter how old I get, I will never be able to cut them out of my life for good. They’re as greasy as they are salty, but there’s just something about a fried potato in any form that is good for the soul. And lucky for humankind (or at least those near a participating location), hash browns are a part of McDonald’s all day breakfast menu.
Chicken Snack Wrap
The Snack Wrap has been on and off the McDonald’s menu for years, for some reason unbeknownst to me. It’s a staple, not just for the menu, but for those days when you have five million errands to run and a McDonald’s is the closest option. Currently, the franchise is only serving the ranch flavor, and you can get it with grilled or crispy chicken. And just as the name suggests, it’s rather small, but it’s only a couple bucks at most locations, so you get what you pay for. You can always upgrade to a McWrap, which is a bigger option with more fillings and flavor options. McWrap options include:
- Grilled Chicken Caesar
- Grilled Chicken & Bacon
- Crispy Chicken Caesar
- Crispy Chicken & Bacon
Quarter Pounder with Cheese
I don’t know about you, but a burger without cheese isn’t a burger at all. The original Quarter Pounder doesn’t come with it, but they’ve officially added an option on the menu with cheese (not that anything would have stopped me from ordering it without two slices of American). Personally, I prefer the Quarter Pounder (with cheese!) over the restaurant’s signature Big Mac. For one, I can actually fit my mouth around it. And for two, I don’t feel like my stomach is going to explode 20 minutes after I scarf one down. It’s really a personal choice, but a burger topped with cheese, onions, pickle, ketchup, and mustard is all I need.
Southwest Grilled Chicken Salad
McDonald’s probably isn’t your go-to place to get a healthy meal, but their Southwest Grilled Chicken Salad is surprisingly low-cal and delicious. According to the restaurant, these salads are made fresh each day with layers of romaine, baby spinach, baby kale, fire-roasted corn, black beans, tomatoes, poblano peppers, cheese, chili-lime tortilla strips, cilantro, and lime. You might recognize the dressing they use, too. The salad comes with a packet of Newman’s Own Southwest dressing (yum!).