The Best McDonald's Menu Items Of All Time

Is there an objective way to declare something is greater than all other alternatives — to proclaim a thing as the best? Outside of the late, great Tina Turner, who found the concept exceptionally easy to define ("the best" is simply someone who's "better than all the rest," you see), it's nigh impossible to compile a set of universally accepted standards for labeling something the so-called best. Yet the vagueness of that term has never stopped us before — and it didn't stop us from attempting to single out the best McDonald's menu items of all time, either.

With more than seven decades in business as of 2023 — and billions upon billions of hamburgers sold around the world — there are plenty of potential menu items to choose from in McDonald's long history. But compiling a list of the best foods ever sold by Mickey D's wasn't nearly as daunting as the restaurant's lengthy tenure may suggest. In fact, between our decades of experience as consumers of all things McDonald's and our expertise as food journalists, the choices were largely self-evident.

While some may complain about a missing item here and there, there's no disputing the track record of each McDonald's menu item mentioned in this article. So without further ado (and in no particular order), here is our list of the best McDonald's menu items of all time.

Big Mac

Two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun. Admit it: even though McDonald's stopped using the Big Mac song in recent years, you read that sentence in the exact sing-song cadence as the famous jingle, didn't you? Even if you didn't (you did), the sheer fact that any reader would instantly recognize the ingredient-listing song for the fast food chain's signature burger helps demonstrate the Big Mac's stature within the McDonald's hierarchy.

Of course, the earworm commercial isn't solely (or even mainly) responsible for the triple-bunned burger's success — the club-like sandwich's delectable composition is important too. The combination of cheese, beef, and a thousand island dressing-esque sauce has been delighting diners across the U.S. (and, eventually, around the world) since Uniontown, Pennsylvania-based franchise owner Jim Delligatti first created the sandwich way back in 1967.

Realistically, then, it's highly unlikely anyone needs us to elaborate further on why the Big Mac belongs on any list of the best McDonald's menu items of all time — so we won't!

Egg McMuffin

The disappearance of all day breakfast from McDonald's during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic may have made sense for the company from a financial standpoint. But just because we understand the logic behind a business decision doesn't mean we have to like it. So while we'd love to satiate our late afternoon or early evening Egg McMuffin craving, we'll simply have to wait for the morning — and settle for discussing the menu item's overall greatness instead.

To be clear, for our purposes, we're not exclusively discussing the classic Egg McMuffin served with Canadian bacon — although that version played a huge hand in its inclusion on this list. But when you consider the additional option of a sausage Egg McMuffin on McDonald's menus, it's exceptionally easy to see why this fast food breakfast icon belongs among the best of the best from the international juggernaut.

Actually, a single bite of any Egg McMuffin — which was first created in 1971 by Santa Barbara, California-based franchise owner Herb Peterson — answers any and all questions about the breakfast item's awe-inspiring glory. We may be disappointed Egg McMuffins aren't available after the morning in a post-COVID-19 world, but we'd never question the menu item's status within McDonald's — nor did we hesitate to include it on this list.

French fries

Does McDonald's produce the best french fries in the fast food game? It's tough to say. But whether or not the chain's slim-cut, deep-fried potato pieces stand above their competitors among fast food restaurants doesn't necessarily matter. After all, the item's stature within the company itself is undeniable — meaning its french fries definitely belong on our list of the best McDonald's menu items of all time.

It's no great mystery why McDonald's french fries are among the best items sold by the chain. From the heavenly aroma that drives consumers' olfactory systems into a tizzy to the scientifically-honed combination of salt, fat, and sugar that tickles the taste buds with each bite, McDonald's french fries are a consistent joy to consume.

And when you consider the continued popularity of McDonald's french fries with consumers, they more than deserve a place at the head of the chain's menu. We may not be willing to go so far as to state the restaurant serves the best french fries period, but we'd never question the menu item's eternal greatness.


If there are any discernible differences between a McFlurry and a Blizzard — the famous ice cream-and-topping-mixed treat served by Dairy Queen — we're not sure what they are. But any specific similarities between the McFlurry and Blizzard notwithstanding, it's quite clear McDonald's' version of this frozen treat has been a hit since its 1995 introduction — and stands among the best desserts ever offered by the chain.

Perhaps the greatest argument in the McFlurry's favor as a McDonald's legend lies in its inherent adaptability. After all, while U.S. consumers are almost certainly well-acquainted with the standard McFlurry flavors like Oreo pieces or M&Ms mixed with the restaurant's vanilla soft serve ice cream, a number of other intriguing flavors have come and gone through the years, as well.

Additionally, if you ever venture to an international McDonald's location, you're apt to find a number of unique flavors available as well. In other words, since the standard vanilla soft serve used in a McFlurry appears to blend well with any possible mix-in, you'll never be disappointed after ordering one.

Quarter Pounder with cheese

For most of its existence, the concept of ordering a burger made with fresh, never-frozen beef from McDonald's was little more than a fantasy. But all that changed when the company decided to follow the lead of chains that never use frozen patties and began utilizing fresh beef for its classic Quarter Pounder in 2018. Of course, while the newest incarnation of the Quarter Pounder is better than the old one, we'd be remiss if we didn't include either version of the long-running, four-ounce burger on this list.

To be clear, we don't mean to imply a preference for the Quarter Pounder with cheese over the brand's iconic Big Mac (we refrained from ranking items in this article for a reason). The overall composition of a Quarter Pounder with cheese drastically differs from that of a Big Mac, and it's clear the two sandwiches offer unique experiences to a consumer's taste buds — they don't need to compete with one another in this article.

There's no real competition between the fast food giant's two most well-known burgers. In fact, there's plenty of room for both burgers among the best McDonald's menu items — no matter your personal predilection burger-wise.

Chicken McNuggets

Despite the additional inclusion of the restaurant's signature "Mc" in its name, McDonald's Chicken McNuggets aren't all that different from similar products sold by other fast food chains. After all, just like countless other fast food nuggets, McNuggets aren't made with 100% pure chicken. But the relative lack of separation from its competitors' nuggets does little (or, more precisely, does nothing at all) to change Chicken McNuggets' place among McDonald's menu items.

McDonald's was a pioneer of the concept of chicken nuggets, and the chain's version of this classic childhood finger food just may be the most iconic one on the market. That's not to say the McNugget's existence hasn't been without controversy since first appearing on menus in 1983 — though the uber-processed chicken product does not contain pink slime as the rumor suggests.

Then again, a little uncertainty regarding their overall ingredients hasn't dulled the American public's immense desire to order a six or 10-piece box of McNuggets every so often. Consequently, we think it's fairly obvious why this iconic McDonald's menu item is also one of its best, and are more than comfortable including it on this list.

Apple pie

McDonald's is as American as apple pie — and, along those same lines, few menu items are as inherently connected to the fast food chain's image as its famed apple pie dessert. Of course, while we'd always accept a fresh-baked apple pie (in its standard, rectangular-shaped container) from the fast food juggernaut, we do have a pair of quibbles regarding the long-running item we'd like to address.

First, though the baked version is clearly less nutritionally suspect, we can't pretend we don't greatly miss the deep-fried apple pie the restaurant used to serve. Additionally, the fact that we're no longer able to find the two pies for one dollar deal is devastating to consider — though that frustration clearly illustrates why the chain's apple pie belongs on this list.

If we didn't enjoy consuming two apple pies from McDonald's in one sitting, after all, we wouldn't be so let down by their increased cost post-COVID-19. And while we're not sure we completely agree with the company's claim it improved the overall recipe and flavor profile of its apple pie in 2018, we're still always eager to enjoy the dessert when it's available.


What — did you expect our list of the absolute greatest menu selections ever sold by McDonald's would be limited to permanent items? If so, perhaps you should reconsider your knowledge of the fast food chain's history. Because even if you don't leap for joy each time the McRib makes its triumphant return, it doesn't take an expert to recognize the rib-shaped BBQ sandwich's cult following formed because it's one of McDonald's best menu items of all time.

Though it often reminds us of a school lunch option from back in the 1990s, it's impossible to debate the McRib's place in the golden arch's lore. There may be some uncertainty regarding the limited-release menu item's origins (it wasn't actually invented by a University of Nebraska professor as an urban legend goes). But there's also no plausible argument opposing the McRib's placement among McDonald's greatest menu items, either.

Quite frankly, whether or not the insanely processed piece of pork is healthy (or contains any actual rib meat) is irrelevant. The McRib will always cause a stir when it returns to menus, just as it will always deserve a spot on any list discussing the restaurant's greatest products.


If we were polling members of the fishing industry, we'd have no doubt which McDonald's menu item would top the chart. But (as we've previously mentioned), we're not particularly interested in ranking the best menu items of all time from McDonald's. So with no desire to pick favorites among our assembly of the chain's most famous products, we're exceedingly comfortable including the simple, yet classic, Filet-o-Fish sandwich.

There's a plethora of reasons why the Filet-o-Fish is so delicious, including the fact that it's made with real, fresh-caught Alaskan pollock. Additionally, the choice to steam the Filet-o-Fish bun in lieu of toasting provides a perfect complementary component — one that provides a unique dining experience at McDonald's.

Whether it's rule-conscious Catholics avoiding meat on Fridays during Lent or health-conscious diners hoping to boost their fast food seafood intake, it's no mystery why the Filet-o-Fish has remained popular since its 1962 introduction. More than that, there's plenty of consensus that this menu item is one of the best the chain has ever offered, and we're glad to include it.


A litany of beloved fast food deals have come and gone through the years, with many of our favorites riding off into the sunset. And while the one-dollar McDouble may be nothing more than a memory (along with the original incarnation of McDonald's Dollar Menu), we can appreciate the fact the burger itself remains available for purchase. Of course, even if the McDouble had disappeared once its $1 price point vanished, we'd still feel inclined to include the single-cheese-sliced, two-patty burger among the best ever from McDonald's.

The genius of the McDouble mainly comes from its supreme simplicity, as it essentially splits the difference between a single and double cheeseburger. In fact, one could plausibly choose to describe the McDouble as a single cheeseburger with an extra patty ... or a double cheeseburger featuring a single piece of orange-hued American cheese instead of two.

Is the McDouble less enticing when it costs more than a single buck? Perhaps. But there's still no way we could deny the sandwich's overall impact and delightfulness — hence, it belongs on any list of the chain's best menu items of all time.

Hash browns

If a person orders a fast food breakfast meal without a delectable hash brown included, can we really say that person had a fully satisfactory morning time meal? We think not. In that sense, then, we have no choice but to include McDonald's deep-fried, golden hash brown on this list — and would throw down against anyone inclined to argue otherwise.

We weren't necessarily keen to thrust our editorial weight behind the fast food chain's french fries earlier by declaring McDonald's fries are superior to other options. But we're not as timid when it comes to Mickey D's breakfast potato: This is our favorite fast food hash brown (or, at least, this writer's top choice). We've quite literally never ordered or eaten a McDonald's hash brown that didn't feature a perfectly crisp exterior surrounding a soft, warm, fluffy collection of hashed brown potatoes — something we can't honestly say about competing fast food restaurants.

We'd almost certainly never consider following the June 2023 TikTok trend and placing a McFlurry between two hash browns from McDonald's like an absurd ice cream sandwich. But we think the fact that so many folks are eager to repurpose the classic McDonald's hash brown helps make its legendary status crystal clear.

Shamrock Shake

Does a Shamrock Shake taste like a real shamrock? Actually, when you consider the likelihood that an actual, real-life shamrock likely tastes like grass, that question is fairly easy to answer. With that in mind, it's no wonder McDonald's instead chose to utilize a minty flavor for its famous Shamrock Shake — the green, St. Patrick's Day-themed milkshake that's as beloved as the chain's other famous limited-time menu item: the McRib.

Any similarities between the Shamrock shake and McRib obviously end once you've established that neither item is a permanent menu selection. No one would mistake the shot of minty meltiness found in each sip of a Shamrock Shake for the pork-centric sandwich, after all.

Either way, with a legacy that traces back more than 50 years, it's tough for anyone to dispute our decision to place this item among the best McDonald's menu selections of all time. In fact, if you don't believe us, just wait for the consistent clamor from dedicated Shamrock Shake fans next spring when the dessert-like beverage makes its triumphant return to stores across the U.S.

Happy Meals

While the vast majority of menu items listed in this article were included for the fantastic flavors found in each order, Happy Meals may be the exception to that so-called rule. That's not to imply the kid-centric meals are somehow unappetizing, of course. But we'd be lying if we pretended the only reason this cardboard-boxed product is included among the best ever from McDonald's is solely based on the food ... and not the unmatched glory (to a child) that is the toy inside each meal.

A childhood filled with Happy Meals — and the (in our experience, often easily broken) toy included in each order — is one worth remembering. If you somehow missed that experience while you were young, we'd like to offer our sincerest condolences for the loss of your innocence (and would suggest you keep your eyes peeled for the next adult Happy Meal promotion, like the one from October 2022).

Though the aesthetic appearance of Happy Meals (and the potential food choices) have changed over time, the general appeal of Happy Meals seems to have remained the same since their original 1979 introduction. And since Happy Meals aren't broke, there's no need to try and fix them — which children across the U.S. and the world can be thankful for.