16 Popular McDonald's Menu Items, Ranked Worst To Best

Everyone has a go-to order at McDonald's — I certainly have a few favorites that I return to over and over again — but have you ever stopped to wonder if your preferred menu item is actually the best thing the chain offers? You might want to experiment with different orders, but what if the new thing you try is terrible? That's an unnecessary waste of money, especially considering how high fast food prices are these days.

To save you from McDonald's FOMO, I sampled a wide selection of some of the chain's most popular items to see how they stack up against each other. I evaluated them on taste, value for money, and how they compare to similar offerings from other fast food chains. I guarantee that you'll be surprised by which item ended up being the best. All prices mentioned in this article are what I paid at my local McDonald's; prices may vary depending on where you live.

16. McCrispy

The McCrispy is a transparent attempt to duplicate the Chick-fil-A chicken sandwich, and it's an example of why specialization is a good thing when it comes to fried chicken. McDonald's does too many types of food to produce a piece of fried chicken breast that's even half as good as Chick-fil-A or Popeyes, and without that, the whole sandwich is a waste of time. This was the only menu item I sampled that I wouldn't willingly eat again.

With such a simple sandwich, every element needs to be perfect, and that wasn't the case with the McCrispy I tried. The chicken was somehow overcooked and tough while simultaneously being soggy. The potato bun seemed stale. Perhaps these buns sit around longer than the restaurant's burger buns? The pickles were standard McDonald's pickles, which I like, but even with them and the butter combined, there still wasn't enough moisture to make up for the onslaught of dryness from the meat and bread. In addition to the regular version, there's also a Spicy McCrispy with pepper sauce and a Deluxe with lettuce, tomato, and mayo, and we bet those sandwiches would be slightly less dry. Still, the terrible chicken breast easily earns the McCrispy its spot on the bottom of this list.

15. McGriddle

When the McGriddle first came out, the idea of it — an egg sandwich with maple-infused pancakes for buns — repulsed me. However, after trying it, I've concluded that the concept is strong. It's just the execution that drags this menu item down on the list.

I got the sausage, egg, and cheese version because I love pouring syrup on my breakfast sausage. On the positive side, the fake maple syrup in the buns was potent and tasty. The buns were also nice and fluffy. However, they were also kind of chewy and bready. I suspect McDonald's designed them this way so the sandwich would hold together and be easy to eat in the car, but the McGriddle would taste better if it was made with more delicate pancake buns.

My main disappointment was that all the fillings were quite bland. The folded egg, in particular, tasted like biting air. The sausage was juicy but didn't have any flavor other than fat and salt. The combination of everything still worked, but it could have been so much better if it had been made with a real fried egg and better sausage.

14. Hot 'n Spicy McChicken

If you make the mistake of ordering a chicken sandwich at McDonald's, the McChicken is a significantly less bad option than the McCrispy. I remember there being a non-spicy version of this sandwich, but when I ordered the food for this review, the spicy one was the only available option. At $2.69, it was the cheapest sandwich I bought by a wide margin, and it wasn't ridiculously small. Rather than being made with real chicken breast, the patty was constructed out of the same type of pulped and reconstituted chicken you'd find in a McNugget, which worked in its favor. The interior was soft and well-seasoned, and the breading was crispy. The batter on the outside was also infused with enough chili powder to give it a significant kick.

The lettuce on the McChicken did it no favors. It was finely shredded and limp, so it didn't add the crunch I wanted. My other complaint was that, despite the generous slick of mayo, the sandwich still felt dry and bready — if the chicken patty itself had been larger, that would have been an improvement. Overall, this was a decent value, but if you have a few more dollars, McDonald's has better options.

13. Hash brown

I went into this taste test remembering the hash brown as one of McDonald's strongest menu items, but the one I received wasn't great. I'm not sure if I received a dud, if my childhood memories are unreliable, or if McDonald's has changed the recipe since my youth.

The hash brown certainly couldn't be faulted for lack of freshness. It arrived at my table steaming hot and perfectly golden-brown — it had clearly emerged from the fryer mere moments before I ate it. I expected a shatteringly crisp exterior, but when I bit in, the outside was strangely tough. It was sort of crunchy, but not nearly as good as it looked. The inside, instead of being fluffy and airy, was greasy, wet, and soft. I really want to emphasize how greasy it was — I know it was deep fried, but properly fried foods shouldn't make you feel like you're eating a spoonful of oil in every bite. While the hash brown was well seasoned with salt, it didn't taste much like potatoes.

12. Coffee

McDonald's makes all kinds of fancy McCafé coffee drinks now, but I chose to review its classic drip coffee, which was (refreshingly, in a world of $5-$10 coffees) just $1.29 for any size. Although it wasn't great coffee, it was a superb value, and I'd order it over Starbucks drip coffee, which has always tasted over-brewed and burnt to me.

McDonald's claims to brew new coffee every half hour, and the cup I received certainly tasted fresh. It was also extremely hot (which McDonald's has been sued for multiple times). I didn't find the temperature to be legally actionable, and I appreciated the warmth on a cold day. Flavor-wise, the coffee wasn't anything to write home about. It tasted like it was made with decent beans, but it seemed weak and lacked body. The brew lacked bitterness and acidity, and tasted slightly like cardboard. Still, it had caffeine and wasn't outright bad, and I couldn't ask much more for just over $1.

11. Chocolate shake

McDonald's chocolate shakes are made with chocolate syrup, the chain's reduced-fat vanilla soft serve, and whipped cream. A small one costs $3.99, and that was more than enough milkshake for me. You can also get strawberry and vanilla shakes if you're not a chocolate fan.

If I was ordering a milkshake from McDonald's again, I might go with vanilla over chocolate, because I wasn't a huge fan of the taste of the chocolate syrup. Unlike some fast food shakes, there was actually a lot of chocolate, but it tasted cheap — it was heavy on cocoa powder bitterness. The chocolate was accompanied by fake vanilla from the soft serve, which didn't do anything to elevate the experience.

I didn't love the texture of this shake, either. McDonald's ice cream is made with a lot of stabilizers like guar gum and carrageenan, and they made the shake stay thick even when it should have been melting after sitting out for a while, which was strange. Overall, it still tasted good because it was sweet and creamy, but it wasn't a top-tier McDonald's dessert.

10. Filet-O-Fish

I have long had a kind of morbid fascination with the Filet-O-Fish, but never ordered it because I was turned off by the idea of fast food fish. It turned out to be surprisingly tasty. I expected the fish patty to be like a giant fish stick, but it actually seemed to be made with a whole chunk of fish — it flaked apart as I took a bite. It tasted like fish, but not too much; it didn't feel like eating a sardine sandwich. The meager half-slice of American cheese didn't add much flavor, but it did help glue the patty to the bottom bun. The bun itself was soft and incredibly sweet — you could easily have frosted it and served it as cake.

The sandwich was loaded down with an enormous amount of tartar sauce. The tartar sauce was strangely bland; it seemed to function more as a lubricant to avoid dryness rather than as a flavoring agent. In fact, the sandwich as a whole was mild to the point of being slightly boring. It tasted fine, but I wanted a little more kick. The texture was also uniformly soft all the way through, and I wanted more crispiness from the breading on the patty.

9. Oreo McFlurry

McFlurries are like McDonald's version of a Dairy Queen Blizzard — not as thick as pure ice cream, but less thin than a milkshake. But while you can customize Blizzards with numerous different toppings, mix-ins, and sauces, McFlurries come in just two flavors: Oreo and M&M.

One thing Blizzards do not skimp on is the toppings. The one I ordered was loaded with finely crushed Oreo pieces that were both mixed into the ice cream and showered on top of the cup. Texturally, this dessert was a delight — the Oreo pieces stayed crunchy, which helped distract from the over-thickened texture of the McDonald's ice cream. As an Oreo lover, I enjoyed my McFlurry, but the cookies were all I could taste. The ice cream didn't do much except provide a cold, creamy medium to bind the Oreos. If the ice cream had more personality, this would rank higher, but it was too one-note to be a true winner.

8. Vanilla cone

As is probably clear by now, the ice cream at McDonald's is quite mediocre (if you can even get it; McDonald's ice cream machines break infamously frequently). If you simply can't live without buying ice cream at McDonald's, I suggest the vanilla cone. While a small shake is around $4 and a McFlurry is over $5, I paid a measly $0.99 for my ice cream cone. It's also the perfect size; I started to feel sick less than halfway through the shake and the McFlurry, but the cone was the ideal amount of dessert for me.

I also thought that McDonald's soft serve tasted best on its own rather than mixed with other ingredients. For whatever reason, I didn't notice as much of a fake vanilla flavor, and the strange texture of the stabilizers was less noticeable. It still wasn't amazing ice cream — it tasted like bland sweet milk, with no other flavor nuances — but the bargain price earned it the highest rank among the frozen desserts I tasted.

7. Big Mac

The Big Mac is arguably McDonald's most iconic menu item, but it's not the chain's best burger. The beef patties in a Big Mac are tiny. Between the lettuce, onions, pickles, cheese, Big Mac sauce, and triple-decker sesame seed bun, you barely taste the meat. It's more like a toppings sandwich (or perhaps even a bread sandwich, considering the middle bun) than a burger.

And yet, I still enjoyed my Big Mac. It may not have had any beef flavor, but that didn't mean it was lacking in taste. The Big Mac sauce brought creaminess, sugar, and acidity, and the tiny diced onions added a lot of zest. McDonald's pickles are always great, and the whole thing was wrapped in that sweet, fluffy bun. There's nothing that tastes like a Big Mac, and when that specific craving strikes, nothing else will do. However, beef lovers will likely be more satisfied by other McDonald's burgers.

6. McDouble

If you're looking for a McDonald's burger with two beef patties and a single slice of American cheese, I humbly suggest that the McDouble may be a better option than the Big Mac. It's certainly a better deal; a Big Mac costs $7.59, while a McDouble is just $3.99. You're not getting all that much less food, either — the beef patties are the same size on both burgers, so you're mostly paying for sauce and a bigger bun when you order a Big Mac.

The smaller amount of bread means you can taste the beef slightly more in a McDouble as well. Otherwise, the main difference between it and a Big Mac is that the McDouble has ketchup and mustard instead of special sauce. In terms of flavor, McDoubles have that classic McDonald's burger taste: heavy on the condiments, with a strong pickle and onion presence and just a hint of meat. If you're hungry after one McDouble, just order another one; two McDoubles only barely cost more than one Big Mac.

5. Fries

I would probably be tarred and feathered if I ranked McDonald's fries too low, but to be honest, the batch I bought was disappointing. When McDonald's fries are fresh, they're amazing. The exteriors are perfectly crisp and light, while the inside of each fry is light and fluffy, almost like mashed potatoes. McDonald's is the only major fast food chain that consistently salts its fries enough, so they're always perfectly seasoned. They exist in this beautiful state for about 5-10 minutes after being fried until, like Cinderella's coach turning back into a pumpkin, they transform into something much less magical.

This time, my order of fries was probably about 15 minutes old. They were starting to go limp, and the insides were firmer than I wanted. But despite this underwhelming experience, I'll keep coming back to McDonald's for the fries, because I know how special they are when they're hot.

4. Chicken McNuggets

I have long thought that Chicken McNuggets were the best fast food nugget, and having recently sampled McDonald's and Chick-fil-A's offerings back to back, I can confirm that McDonald's retains its nugget crown. McNuggets are obviously incredibly fake, but they've been engineered to keep you wanting more.

The meat part of a McNugget has been blended and re-formed into a patty with roughly the same appearance and texture as upholstery foam. It sounds nasty, but somehow it works. It helps that the chicken mix is perfectly seasoned. The batter on the outside is even better than the meat itself. It stays crispy even when the McNuggets get cold, and its flavor is the perfect mix of fried bread and salt. The dipability of nuggets is a key part of their appeal, too. They're the perfect vehicle for the wide range of gloopy, sweet sauces McDonald's has at its disposal.

3. Quarter Pounder with Cheese

The Quarter Pounder was by far my favorite McDonald's burger because it's all about the beef. Unlike the chain's other burgers, the patties in Quarter Pounders are crafted with fresh, never frozen beef. They're also dramatically larger than McDonald's tiny standard patties. The increased size combined with the freshness of the beef means that the umami flavor of the meat is the dominant taste in a Quarter Pounder, and that's what I usually want in a burger. I also love that Quarter Pounders come with two slices of cheese on a single patty. The creaminess and saltiness of the extra cheese help make the burger even more rich and indulgent.

Other than the larger patty, a regular Quarter Pounder with Cheese is a standard McDonald's burger — it comes with ketchup, mustard, onions, and pickles. You can order a Deluxe with lettuce and tomato, but the extra veg distracts from the nice beef you're paying for. And you're definitely paying extra for that fresh beef. My one complaint about the Quarter Pounder with Cheese is that it's expensive: $7.89 for a single patty or over $10 for a double.

2. Egg McMuffin

The Egg McMuffin was McDonald's first breakfast sandwich, and the company has never improved on the original formula. It all starts with a quality English muffin that's split and griddled in butter. Yes, real salted butter — it's not margarine or vegetable oil, and you can taste the butter in the finished sandwich. Instead of the strange folded egg on a McGriddle, McMuffins feature real, freshly cracked eggs that are cooked on a flattop in ring molds. The egg tastes like an egg, what a concept. A thin slice of Canadian bacon and melted American cheese finishes the package.

Individually, the components of a McMuffin are nothing special (the Canadian bacon, in particular, is a bit bland on its own). But together, they create a dish that's more than the sum of its parts. The salty meat and cheese combine with the butter and the flaky, toasty bread to make the perfect fast food breakfast. I could easily eat two or three in a sitting.

1. Apple pie

I was shocked that the apple pie was my favorite menu item from McDonald's — they're not even fried anymore, they're baked — but I had to follow my tastebuds, and they said that this dessert was delicious. I liked it more than at least 90% of all the homemade apple pies I've tried in my life. The crust was incredibly crispy and had a mildly sweet, shortbread-like flavor. The filling was jammy and tasted like real apples — a minor miracle. It was also seasoned with a hefty hit of cinnamon, which complemented the fruit beautifully. The filling wasn't oversweetened, and the sugar was tempered with enough acidity to make an exceptionally balanced bite.

And you know the best part? The pie only cost me $0.99. In an era of constantly rising fast food prices, it comforts me to know that I can go into a restaurant with a single dollar and some change and leave with some hot food. Next time I visit McDonald's, though, I'll probably spend a few bucks, because I'm going to want multiple pies — they're just that good.


I tried to fill this list with items that are strongly associated with McDonald's brand identity and that are searched frequently online. I tasted all of the breakfast and lunch options at the same time, and ate breakfast on a second visit.

The most important factor in the rankings was taste, but I also factored in price since many people look to McDonald's for affordable meals. In cases where the item was clearly competing directly against something from another fast food restaurant's menu, I also weighed in whether McDonald's item was better or worse than the other restaurant's.