- McDonald’s has an unofficial secret menu, according to legends told by fans and employees.
- I tried to order nine items from the secret menu but ended up having to put most of them together myself.
- I then taste-tested each and found that some were definitely better than others.
- The McDonald’s I went to also refused to make most of the items for me. It turns out the legend of the secret menu is more hype than substance.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Secrets – everybody has them.
McDonald’s secret menu has become the stuff of urban legend. There are the classic cheap workarounds like the scrappy Poor Man’s Big Mac, but also the whimsical Land, Sea, and Air Burger, as well as the mythological Monster Mac.
Diehard fans have circulated online rumours of the secret menu’s existence for years, and a UK McDonald’s manager even confirmed the existence of certain items on social media in 2015. However, McDonald’s officially denies the existence of a secret menu.
I decided to investigate the rumours and maybe even taste the truth.
After some online research and unfruitful attempts to reach out to McDonald’s about its secret menu, I compiled a list of secret menu items widely agreed upon by fans online. Many of them are do-it-yourself combinations, although some online have reported that franchise locations will put them together for you.
I took my list to the McDonald’s location across the street from Business Insider’s New York City offices and went up to the counter. As soon as the words “secret menu” left my mouth, the cashier left and returned with her manager, who took my order instead.
The manager was even more confused than the original cashier. As I ordered each item, I saw no sign of recognition from any of the employees working at the counter. I had to break down the components of each item, which resulted in a lot of confusion. The manager also refused to put any of the items together. She told me to do it myself.
In the end, I walked out with about $US70 and what felt like 10 pounds’ worth of special menu components in two brown bags. Taking everything out of the bags was cathartic but very, very confusing. I realised that the manager hadn’t quite gotten everything right.
Never mind that – the truth waits for no one. But even my hardcore dedication to the truth couldn’t prepare my stomach for the task ahead.
BIG MCCHICKEN: I started with the Big McChicken. Traditionally, three McChicken patties replace the buns in a Big Mac. I only had two to work with.
Big Mac: $US5.89
Three x McChicken Patty: $US4.50
Total cost: $US10.49 plus tax
If you think buns are pointless and would be so much better if they were fried chicken, then the Big McChicken is for you.
I liked this one. The crunch of the crispy McChicken patty links arms with the tang of the signature Big Mac sauce for a surprisingly tasty, albeit messy, protein-packed sandwich. Worth upwards of $US10.00? You decide.
POOR MAN’S BIG MAC: This was the only item I didn’t have to alter at all, because it’s just a McDouble with special sauce. You can hold or leave the pickles.
McDouble with Mac Sauce: $US2.99
Total cost: $US2.99 plus tax
I left them on because I like flavour.
It was pleasant. Soft, fluffy, but mostly bun. The signature sauce added some flavour, but didn’t quite take the McDouble to the level of a Big Mac.
GRILLED CHEESE: Possibly the most pointless item to enter McDonald’s secret menu canon, the grilled cheese is literally a cheeseburger without the burger. Since McDonald’s is behind on the meatless burger game, this might unfortunately still be one of the more appealing vegetarian options …
Cheeseburger, no meat: $US1.99
Total cost: $US1.99 plus tax
… or maybe just one of the only ones.
If a slice of American cheese sandwiched between two dry, sugary buns is your idea of a satisfying meal, then by all means, go for the grilled cheese. But at the same price as a cheeseburger, the grilled cheese doesn’t provide much bang for your buck.
MC10:35 A.M.: RIP standardised all-day breakfast at McDonald’s. During the brief, glorious period during which a standard breakfast menu was served all day, you could add an egg to any Mickey D burger for an extra protein punch. Now it’s up to the franchisees to decide which items they will serve for all-day breakfast, which is how the Mc10:35 a.m. — a combination McGriddle and McDouble — earns its name.
McGriddle buns: $US1.99
Total: $US4.98 plus tax
You’ll most likely have to return to the ways of the ancestors and arrive exactly at the breakfast-lunch switch-over period — around 10:35 — in order to get the components for this. I was given two plain McGriddle buns instead of a McGriddle with egg and Canadian bacon, so this sandwich ended up being not quite right.
Sweet, salty, but somehow dry, it was hard to swallow. Next time, I’ll make sure I have the right McGriddle.
CHICKEN MCGRIDDLE: A McChicken sandwiched between two halves of a McGriddle, the sweet-and-savoury Chicken McGriddle can be ordered during the breakfast-lunch switch-over period, or at any franchise that serves the McGriddle as part of its all-day breakfast menu.
Sausage, Egg, and Cheese McGriddle: $US4.29
McChicken Patty: $US1.50 OR 4-piece Chicken McNuggets: $US1
Total cost: $US5.79 or $US5.29, plus tax
I was given chicken nuggets instead of a McChicken for this one, so I tucked two of those little suckers between the egg and the sausage.
This hit all the right notes: sweet and savoury, fluffy and crunchy. This DIY chicken-and-waffles proxy was by far my favourite of all the items. I would not say no to a Chicken McGriddle. I’d probably even let someone bribe me with one.
MONSTER MAC: When I asked the manager for a Monster Mac, she had no clue what I was talking about. When I explained that it was a Big Mac with eight patties, she was not happy. “You’re going to have to put that together yourself,” I was told. No arguments there.
4 x Big Mac: $US23.56
Total: $US23.56 plus tax
Note: this does not take into consideration the current two-for-$US6 Mix and Match deal at McDonald’s, which reduces the price to $US12 plus tax. Prices may vary from franchise to franchise.
Once I assembled this beefy Frankenstein, I was faced with a new problem: how to fit it in my mouth. A Monster Mac done right has more sauce and toppings. Since this was such a DIY situation, the resulting creature was just very dry, very meaty, and definitely not worth the hefty price tag.
LAND, SEA, AND AIR BURGER: The Land, Sea, and Air was another burger that made the manager lose patience with me. I happily agreed to put this one together myself.
Big Mac: $US5.89
Total cost: $US11.88 plus tax
Note: This does not take into consideration the current two-for-$US6 Mix and Match deal at McDonald’s, which reduces the price to $US7.50 plus tax. Prices may vary from franchise to franchise.
I opened up a Big Mac and put the patties from a McChicken and a Filet-O-Fish inside. “Air” on top, “land” in the middle, and “sea” on the bottom.
Another doozy for the ol’ burger hole. This one required two bites to get all the flavours of the land, sea, and air in one mouthful. But I was surprised by how much I actually enjoyed the burger. It’s not trying to be surf and turf. It one-ups it by pairing bread-y crunch with a light and heavy protein combo. Worth the money? If the mix-and-match deal is on the table, then yes.
MCGANGBANG: I apologised to the manager before I ordered the McGangBang. Naturally, this was another DIY situation.
Total cost: $US4.49 plus tax
Spread out two halves of a McDouble, insert a McChicken, and you get a McGangBang.
Yum. Very savoury. The chicken was the star of the show, with the beef patties providing a meaty backdrop for its salty crunch. However, the flavours weren’t that complex. It could have used more sauce.
MCCREPE: I was initially sceptical of the McCrepe, but assembling it did allow me to flex my culinary creativity. I divided a Fruit ‘N Yogurt parfait into three folded and buttered hotcakes, drizzled syrup over them, and sprinkled granola on top.
Fruit ‘N Yogurt Parfait: $US1.99
Total cost: $US5.69 plus tax
As someone whose sweet tooth is mild at best, I was stunned by how much I enjoyed these. Fluffy, sweet, and fruity, the crunch from the granola and moisture from the syrup made for a perfectly balanced end to a topsy-turvy meal. At around $US6, it’s probably less than you’d pay for an actual crepe.
The McDonald’s secret menu is as real as you’re willing to make it — because McDonald’s probably won’t make it for you. While I wasn’t able to get any of the most famous secret menu items ready-made for me, it was an adventure assembling them according to the legend. But like any legend, the secret menu ended up being more hype than substance. I’ll probably just stick to a McChicken and fries next time.
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