I Tried McDonald's Entire Burger Menu—and These Were the Standouts
McDonald's may not be everyone's absolute favorite burger joint, but nobody can deny the massive legacy it has carved out for itself in the fast-food industry. Rivals like Burger King and Wendy's have long chased its wild success, but so far haven't managed to gain a leg up over the iconic Golden Arches.
The Big Mac and Quarter Pounder With Cheese are some of the most iconic burgers in America and the most popular items on McDonald's burger menu. But are those really the best that the fast-food giant has to offer? I decided to sample every single McDonald's burger available right now, from the humble Hamburger to the Bacon McDouble, to find out.
I have different standards for fast-food burgers than I do for gourmet burgers, so I was mostly looking for sandwiches that are decent quality, visually appealing, tasty, and satisfying in a way that's commensurate to the price. For the sake of consistency, I ordered every burger with no customizations so I could try every option exactly how McDonald's intended it. The whole experience was extremely filling to say the least, but I also walked away with a couple of new favorites.
Here are my thoughts on each burger in the order I tried them, followed by my verdict on the best overall burger, best value burger, and the most unique burger.
McDonald's Hamburger features a simple beef patty seasoned with "just a pinch of salt and pepper" and topped with a pickle slice, chopped onions, ketchup, and mustard. It cost $2.19.
The look: The plain hamburger looked a little sad next to some of the more premium and dressed-up burgers I tried. The burger patty was thin and didn't even fill out the bun, which was pretty small to begin with. The inside of the bread did have a nice visible toasted quality to it, though.
The taste: This option fell really flat to me in a couple ways. First off, I think that burgers are so much better with cheese in any situation, so the plain hamburger was at a disadvantage to begin with. This would have needed more condiments and toppings, like lettuce, tomato, and extra pickles, to make up for the lack of cheese and disappointingly small and dry burger patty.
McDonald's Cheeseburger features a beef patty, a pickle slice, chopped onions, ketchup, mustard, and a slice of American cheese. It cost $2.49.
The look: Why do the smaller buns at McDonald's always look so cracked, dry, and smushed? Whatever the reason, the regular cheeseburger was evidently suffering from these issues. The burger patty didn't make up at all for the bun's appearance considering that it was once again so small that I could barely see it.
The taste: Though the patty was still too small and slightly disappointing, even one slice of American cheese does wonders in enhancing a lackluster fast-food burger. This will certainly never be my go-to burger at McDonald's, but as a quick, affordable lunch, it's perfectly acceptable.
McDonald's Double Cheeseburger features two beef patties, pickles, chopped onions, ketchup, mustard, and two slices of American cheese. It cost $2.89.
The look: While the Double Cheeseburger's appearance was a little sloppy, it was taller and looked so much more promising than the Hamburger and Cheeseburger, with a nice visible layer of cheese, pickles, and ketchup.
The taste: I'll admit that I didn't have high expectations for the Double Cheeseburger, but this was a really pleasant surprise. The double portion of beef made up for the size issues in the Hamburger and Cheeseburger, while all the extra cheese and condiments made for a perfectly balanced, filling bite.
McDonald's Triple Cheeseburger features three beef patties and all the same toppings as the regular and double cheeseburgers. It cost $3.99.
The look: The height and sheer amount of beef on this burger was impressive, but the cheese running out the sides had a bit of a congealing issue. I will take some personal responsibility for this since I wasn't able to try all the burgers right away, and some sat longer than others.
The taste: While I applauded the extra burger patty on the Double Cheeseburger, the triple took it just a little too far. Something that I noticed throughout every burger I tried was that McDonald's beef isn't all that juicy or flavorful by itself, hence the need for cheese and condiments. The additional patty threw everything out of balance.
McDonald's McDouble features two beef patties, pickles, chopped onions, ketchup, mustard, and American cheese. It cost $2.79.
The look: I appreciated how neat the McDouble looked and the extra height from the second burger patty. Still, without extras like fresh lettuce and tomato, it did come off a little boring.
The taste: What's the difference between a McDouble and a Double Cheeseburger? It really comes down to a slice of cheese: the McDouble has one slice, while the Double Cheeseburger has two. I do prefer the Double Cheeseburger to the McDouble just because I want that extra slice of cheese. That being said, the two were practically indistinguishable and I thought the McDouble was really solid.
McDonald's Bacon McDouble features two beef patties, applewood smoked bacon, chopped onions, pickles, ketchup, mustard, and a slice of American cheese. It cost $2.99.
The look: I love the textural and umami boost that bacon can give to a burger, so I was immediately excited to bite into this option when I saw a couple of strips poking out the sides. Aside from that, this was one of the more neatly-arranged burgers from the batch, though the top bun was a little squashed.
The taste: Some people may tell you that even bad bacon is good bacon, and I disagree. The bacon, which is usually a surefire improvement on any burger, was thin, had no texture, and tasted a way that I can only describe as artificial. If you're going to go for a McDouble, save yourself the few cents and disappointment and just skip the bacon.
Quarter Pounder With Cheese
McDonald's Quarter Pounder With Cheese features a quarter-pound beef patty, slivered onions, pickles, ketchup, mustard, and two slices of American cheese on a sesame seed bun. It cost $6.29.
The look: Opening the cardboard box for the Quarter Pounder With Cheese, my usual go-to at McDonald's, was like a breath of fresh air. The shiny, sesame seed-studded bun on this burger was a noticeable improvement on the slightly dry, cracked buns I had gotten up until this point. The whole sandwich was bigger and in pristine condition thanks to its sturdier packaging.
The taste: The Quarter Pounder isn't too different in theory or flavor to McDonald's regular cheeseburgers, but each element feels slightly heightened. The bun is thicker and more visually pleasing, the cheese was melted perfectly on the patty, and the bigger burger patty filled out the bun perfectly so you can get some in every bite. These simple improvements can elevate a burger from forgettable to good, and that was the case for the Quarter Pounder.
Bacon Quarter Pounder With Cheese
McDonald's Bacon Quarter Pounder With Cheese features all the same ingredients as the regular Quarter Pounder, plus applewood smoked bacon. It cost $7.49.
The look: The bacon version was a bit of a visual downgrade from the regular Quarter Pounder thanks to some condiment and apparent grease seepage from the burger. Still, it was all neatly-arranged and well-contained, if not a little wet.
The taste: I had the same complaint with the Bacon Quarter Pounder that I had with the Bacon McDouble. The poor-quality bacon pulls your attention away from an otherwise tasty burger so you'd be better off going without, especially since the bacon add-on increased the price by more than $1.
Quarter Pounder With Cheese Deluxe
McDonald's Quarter Pounder With Cheese Deluxe features the classic Quarter Pounder toppings, plus lettuce, tomato, and mayo. It cost $6.69.
The look: I've never been so happy to see a vegetable in my life. Lettuce and tomatoes are simple add-ons, but they add such a welcome splash of color to an otherwise dull fast-food item. On the other hand, all of the toppings were haphazardly and unevenly arranged on the burger, giving it a messy appearance.
The taste: This burger had so much potential and it missed the mark. The colorful lettuce and tomato couldn't distract me from an egregiously thick layer of mayo that hid under the glossy bun. I generally like mayo on a burger, but soupy globs of the stuff turns my stomach. When I did manage to get one bite with just some crisp, fresh lettuce and tomato, I knew right away that this would have been one of the best burgers of the night if the mayo was toned down.
Double Quarter Pounder With Cheese
McDonald's Double Quarter Pounder With Cheese features two quarter-pound beef patties, two slices of cheese, and all the other toppings included on the regular Quarter Pounder. It cost $7.79 and was the priciest burger on the menu.
The look: Whoever arranged this burger did so a little haphazardly, since one of the burger patties was jutting out the side. On a more positive note, the cheese melted in an attractive waterfall over the side of the beef, leaving no question about where I would bite first.
The taste: Do I need the extra beef patty? Not necessarily. Did I still enjoy the extra thick bite of meat and cheese from the burger? Absolutely. Finishing the whole thing would be a different story since the extra patty technically makes it a half-pounder, but I wouldn't bat an eye if someone told me this was their go-to meal at McDonald's.
Double Bacon Quarter Pounder With Cheese
McDonald's Double Bacon Quarter Pounder With Cheese is identical to the regular Double Quarter Pounder, but has the extra addition of applewood smoked bacon. It cost $7.59.
The look: Despite my bacon bias from the earlier burgers, I can't deny that the Double Bacon Quarter Pounder looked like the supermodel of McDonald's burgers. Everything was neat and tidy apart from a few stray onions, while the melted cheese waterfall was so beautiful that it almost looked fake. I almost felt guilty ruining the masterpiece.
The taste: My bacon issues from the Bacon McDouble and Bacon Quarter Pounder were nearly erased with this burger. The bacon still wasn't good, but the whole sandwich had such a good balance of meat, cheese, and toppings that I didn't notice the bacon as much. This hefty burger was certainly one of the best-tasting options of the night.
Double Quarter Pounder With Cheese Deluxe
McDonald's Double Quarter Pounder With Cheese Deluxe upgrades the regular Double Quarter Pounder with lettuce, tomato, and mayo. It cost $6.79.
The look: As impressive as the Double Bacon Quarter Pounder looked, the deluxe version was iffy. I immediately noticed another unreasonably big glob of mayo already seeping out the side. The lettuce and tomato were also messily-placed and falling off the sandwich.
The taste: The deluxe take on the Double Quarter Pounder was another case study in missed opportunity. Another overwhelming portion of mayo made the sandwich mostly unappetizing and wet, but those rare spaces where the mayo wasn't too thick were nearly perfect. The lettuce and tomato made the heavy sandwich taste extra fresh and provided a nice crisp texture I'd been missing in all the non-deluxe burgers.
If you know the song, go ahead and sing it. McDonald's Big Mac features two beef patties, pickles, shredded lettuce, chopped onions, a slice of American cheese, and Big Mac sauce on a sesame seed bun, plus an extra bun in between the two patties. It cost $6.19.
The look: One look at this burger will tip off anyone even remotely familiar with fast-food that this is a Big Mac. The sandwich was undoubtedly the biggest out of all the ones I'd tried. I loved the look of the glossy sesame seed bun and all the lettuce, beef, and cheese peeking out the sides.
The taste: The Big Mac is iconic for a reason. The crown jewel of the McDonald's burger menu is tasty and filling with its layers of bread, beef, cheese, lettuce, and other toppings. However, one thing it's in desperate need of is balance. I like Big Mac sauce, but the sweet condiment doesn't have the level of acidity you need to stand up to all the savory ingredients. The Big Mac would benefit greatly from more pickles or a maybe a tangier sauce to cut all of the richness.
The final verdict!
While my local McDonald's offers more than a dozen different burgers, the options weren't too different from each other, thanks to the toppings, burger patties, and buns that made multiple appearances across the entire menu. The minute differences in taste and quality really came down to details like an extra slice of cheese, neatness, visual appeal, flavor balance, and execution.
Best Overall Burger: Despite my issues with the massive amount of mayo, my pick for the best overall burger was the Double Quarter Pounder With Cheese Deluxe. My one real complaint would be easily remedied by asking McDonald's to go light on the mayo or leave it off entirely, so I couldn't knock this option from first place just because of one small execution error. Though I'd have to be in a pretty hungry state to actually finish the thing, the Double Quarter Pounder Deluxe felt the closest to a burger I might get at a higher-end restaurant with its big portion of beef, cascading cheese, shiny bun, and variety of toppings. The other Double Quarter Pounders were really tasty too, but the lettuce and tomato were the factors that elevated the Deluxe to first place.
Best Value Burger: On the cheaper side of the menu, the Double Cheeseburger was the perfect middle ground between the too-small Cheeseburger and the too-meaty Triple Cheeseburger. The two beef patties worked in perfect balance with the bread, pickles, cheese, and other toppings for a satisfying, flavorful option. The low price of $2.89 made the Double Cheeseburger particularly appealing, especially in comparison to some of the more premium burgers that cost upwards of $7.
Most Unique Burger: Though the Big Mac wasn't my overall favorite, it was still a unique standout among the many, many burger options. The look of this tall, stacked burger with the extra bun made it the most visually-impressive on the menu. And while I do think the signature Big Mac sauce would be better if it was tangier, it does add a little extra pizzaz and creamy richness in comparison to the burgers that only came with ketchup and mustard.