McDonald's Iced Coffee: What To Know Before Ordering

Mornings look different for everybody. Some start their day with a quick workout while others head straight into the kitchen to begin putting together a delicious breakfast spread. Whether you've adopted either of those two routines or have a wildly different one of your own, there's one thing that brings us all together in those early hours of the day: coffee. It gets us going in the A.M. and is the perfect afternoon pick-me-up to help us through the rest of our day, and sometimes even makes its way into a libation at the end of the night. Hot or iced, black or with sugar and cream, there's just something about that aromatic bean juice that makes our day-to-day lives a little bit better.

If you're someone that tends to grab their coffee on the go, you know you've got plenty of places you can turn to in order to get your fix. Starbucks is probably the most popular option, (unless you're up North where Dunkin' reigns supreme), but if the drive-thru line at the Seattle-based chain happens to resemble one at Chick-Fil-A, there's more than likely going to be a McDonald's close by that you can head to instead. Sure, the coffee menu isn't quite as extensive as your favorite coffee chain, but the fast-food eatery does offer some of the standard java-based beverages, including a delightful iced coffee that is certainly worth a try.

What is McDonald's iced coffee?

McDonald's entered the coffee world in 2009 when it launched its expanded McCafé line of specialty coffee drinks into restaurants nationwide (via QSR). The menu consists of coffee and espresso beverages, smoothies, and now even includes a variety of baked goods (via McDonald's website). Offerings change ever so often, with items like the Peppermint Mocha being added seasonally, but their iced coffee remains a staple on the menu year-round.

Of course, iced coffee is a fairly straightforward drink compared to some of the other coffee-based concoctions you've probably indulged in before, consisting of nothing more than a cup of coffee over ice in its simplest form. So what exactly does McDonald's do to make its version stand out from the rest? For starters, iced coffee from Mickey D's begins with McCafé Premium Roast Coffee, which, per the restaurant's website, is made from 100% Arabica beans, brewed fresh every half hour. And, believe it or not, it is actually considered gourmet (via Delishably). The brew is a medium roast, meaning it's not as bitter as darker blends and boasts the added bonus of containing a higher amount of caffeine.

The java is measured out based on what size you order – either small, medium, or large – and poured over ice along with cream and liquid sugar, which is offered in a variety of flavors (more on those in a minute). A quick stir mixes it all together and voila! A delicious iced coffee to help get your day off to a great start.

Are there different flavors of iced coffee at McDonald's?

Now, onto that variety of flavors we mentioned. McDonald's doesn't exactly compare to Starbucks or Dunkin' when it comes to iced coffee customizations (sadly no Girl Scout Cookie flavors here), though they do have a few options available to make your morning drink a little bit sweeter. French vanilla and caramel are the two main syrups offered by the Golden Arches that you'll be able to find at any of the restaurant's locations, while some may also have hazelnut and sugar-free vanilla syrups available as well (via McDonald's website). You can always opt for plain liquid sugar if none of those flavors are your jam or skip the sweetness altogether – just make sure to specify that you'd like your iced coffee sans sugar when placing your order (via Reddit).

As with most coffee shops, you have the option to play around with the flavors that McDonald's offers to make a delectable combination of your liking. The app makes this especially easy since it presents all the different additives available, including the ones used in other drinks on the McCafé menu, and gives you the ability to customize the amount of each that goes into your coffee. Snickers iced coffee is one possible concoction that calls for the addition of chocolate caramel and plain chocolate syrups, whipped cream, and caramel drizzle to an iced hazelnut coffee (via In The Know). Another is the McBasset, which combines together a black iced coffee and an order of vanilla soft serve from the chain.

What is the price of an iced coffee from McDonald's?

One of the biggest advantages of grabbing your daily iced coffee from McDonald's is its affordability. Location does play a small role in the final total listed on your receipt, as do the customizations you make to your drink, but in general, you'll find that you're paying considerably less for your java compared to some of the more notable coffee chains, or even the local shop down the street. 

Real Menu Prices says that a small iced coffee from Mickey D's will run you about $1.39, while a medium has a price tag of $1.79, and a large goes for a mere 20 cents more at $1.99. To put that into perspective, Real Menu Prices reports that a small iced coffee from Dunkin' costs $1.99 while a large size rings in around $2.79. Starbucks' tall iced coffee sets you back about $2.25, and the venti goes for $2.95 (via Real Menu Prices). Sure, you might find that you like the taste of one more than the other, but if we're just comparing the three on price alone, McDonald's is the clear winner.

We also can't talk about McDonald's coffee prices without once again bringing up its mobile app, where the chain offers some amazing and exclusive deals. For example, one of the restaurant's current promotions allows customers to score a daily iced coffee of any size for only $0.99 (via McDonald's website), making the caffeinated drink even more of a steal.

Does McDonald's iced coffee taste good?

While die-hard coffee connoisseurs might not be interested in sipping on an iced coffee from McDonald's, casual bean juice drinkers will probably find it to be a perfectly acceptable way to get their daily caffeine fix. One of the biggest factors in how your iced coffee tastes is, of course, the flavor that you potentially choose to add to it, and of those offered at Mickey D's, there are a few that are better than others. Coffee At Three ranks the caramel iced coffee as the worst possible option, describing it as having a "buttery" taste that is reminiscent of burnt popcorn. But the French vanilla-flavored version hit a high note with the outlet, earning the title of second-best drink out of all the iced coffee options that McDonald's has to offer. The chain's iced coffee also fares well on Delish's list, with the site describing it as "yummy and essentially healthy."

One of the biggest complaints surrounding iced coffee at McDonald's seems to be the lack of actual coffee flavor to the beverage, though there may be a fairly easy fix for this. As one Redditor pointed out, a small iced coffee gets three shots of cream along with three shots of whatever flavoring agent the customer chooses, while a medium gets four of each and a large gets six. If you're really looking to taste the coffee in your drink, the user suggests asking for less cream, or nixing it completely, when placing your order.

Nutritional information for McDonald's iced coffee

If you're looking for a way to get your caffeine in the morning that isn't laden with calories, an iced coffee from McDonald's might be the drink for you. In fact, one dietician told Eat This, Not That! that any flavor of McDonald's iced coffee in the medium size would be a good option when heading to the drive-thru for your morning joe, as they'll all be under 200 calories while also providing a bit of protein and calcium.

Where McDonald's iced coffee loses a few points is its macros. When made with the standard amount of cream and liquid sugar, that same medium iced coffee packs 7 grams of fat and 30 grams of carbohydrates – which is about 11% of a person's daily recommended intake – as well as 28 grams of sugar (via McDonald's website). Cutting down on the amount of cream in your drink can help make it a bit healthier, as can opting for the sugar-free vanilla flavoring, which will bring the amount of sugar in your beverage down to a mere 2 grams.

Ultimately, McDonald's is a fairly promising place to grab your daily iced coffee that will be a little easier on your wallet and is certainly worth a try if you've never had it before.