Here's What Time McDonald's Really Serves Lunch

If you're counting down the hours in the morning because you have a hankering for a McChicken instead of a chicken biscuit from McDonald's, the accuracy of your countdown depends on knowing exactly when you can roll through that drive-thru and put in your lunch order. It turns out, though, there is some localized deviation in exactly what time that turns out to be.

Almost all McDonald's locations are franchises and not owned by the corporation. While McDonald's maintains a lot of uniform standards for franchisees like these weird rules for workers, it also allows franchise owners some freedom in things like small deviations in their hours. For example, Reader's Digest shares that each franchisee gets to decide for themselves whether to be open 24 hours a day.

It seems McDonald's has landed on a kind of "golden hour" for starting to serve the lunch menu, though. Within a small range, it's pretty standard across the United States.

The Big Macs start rolling out around this time

USA Today looked into the question of when McDonald's starts serving lunch across the United States and landed on a mostly firm answer. At most U.S. locations, it's between 10:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. local time. USA Today also discovered that at some locations, the hour can vary between weekdays and weekends, with a later start on weekends.

That's also the time that most U.S. McDonald's restaurants will stop serving their breakfast menus. Although many McDonald's restaurants in the U.S. participated in an all-day breakfast push at one time, the corporation decided to suspend that practice to streamline its operations in 2020 (per Inc.). If you're holding out hope that this suspension might end, you shouldn't expect that to happen soon.

So if lunch starts around 10:30-11 a.m., ending breakfast, when does McDonald's switch back over to offering the McMuffins and hash browns? Again, there is going to be some localized variance, but, the general consensus seems to be around 5 a.m. Both Foods Alternative and Parade list that as when the McGriddles hit the griddle.

The absolute best way to know the times for each menu at a particular location is to check in at that specific restaurant. The McDonald's app can be your best guide. By and large, though, if you get in line around 11 a.m., you should be able to satisfy a Big Mac craving.