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10 Fascinating Facts About McDonald's Apple Pie

Here's everything you need to know about the famous fast-food dessert.
FACT CHECKED BY Chris Shott

When you're craving something sweet, McDonald's has plenty of options to help you get your fix. Scan the menu and you'll encounter chocolate chip cookies, ice cream, shakes, and McFlurries. (Well, assuming the ice cream machine isn't broken.)

However, among these dessert choices is one popular item that has been on the menu for around 56 years: apple pie. McDonald's introduced this sweet treat—the fast-food giant's first-ever dessert—back in 1968. That's the same year Micky D's debuted its famous Big Mac.

While some may view this longstanding fast-food dessert as a mere afterthought among the chain's many other popular menu items, there's more to this handheld apple pie than you might have realized. Here are 10 intriguing facts about the beloved McDonald's treat.

McDonald's first apple pie was fried.

McDonald's fried apple pie
McDonald's

McDonald's fans who ordered the apple pie before 1992 already know this. During that year, the chain switched to serving a baked apple pie "to appeal to customer preferences and dining trends," according to Eater. In other words, the baked replacement was created to be a healthier alternative.

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Some U.S. locations still serve fried apple pies.

person holding mcdonald's fried apple pie
Reese M. / Yelp

No, fried apple pies aren't obsolete. But they're also not readily available in the U.S., according to The Takeout. However, if you find yourself in Hawaii or Downey, Calif., you'll still be able to enjoy this fried crispy dessert, despite the widespread change in 1992.

"People did not like [the baked] as much as the fried pie," Victor Lim, a McDonald's franchise owner in Hawaii, told Honolulu Magazine in 2019. "In apple pies alone—not even counting the taro pie and haupia pie—we outsell our counterparts on the Mainland. That's the reason we've been allowed to keep our fried apple pies. Our results prove that there's a customer demand here in Hawaii."

In addition to the Hawaii locations, customers can score a fried apple pie in Downey, Calif., at 10207 Lakewood Blvd. This restaurant also happens to be the oldest McDonald's location, opening in 1953.

The fried apple pie returned (sort of).

Mcdonalds apple pie
Shutterstock

While at a Chicago food industry convention in 2014, California-based chef Eric Greenspan was looking for foldable cardboard sleeves—like the ones used for McDonald's apple pies—to package his sandwiches, according to Los Angeles Magazine. Greenspan then encountered a vendor with a connection to the company that produced McDonald's fried apple pies.

Greenspan soon began serving his own version of McDonald's pies at his restaurant, Greenspan's Grilled Cheese. The chef called the dessert "Throwback Apple Pies" and served it on his "secret menu" with a scoop of salted caramel ice cream, a slice of American cheese, or both. However, Greenspan ultimately closed this restaurant a few years later, per Eater.

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The recipe has changed multiple times.

mcdonald's baked apple pie
McDonald's (Dumas, AR) / Facebook

Beyond making the switch from fried to baked apple pies, McDonald's has changed this dessert's recipe more than once. In 2016, the fast-food giant tested a new apple pie at 950 restaurants in North Carolina and Southern California, according to CNBC. For this iteration, the chain swapped out diced apples for large slices, gave the pie a lattice crust, and used five apple varieties instead of the previous six.

Later, in September 2018, McDonald's announced recipe changes that would affect apple pie fans nationwide. The tweaks included fewer ingredients, with the pie featuring sugar, sliced American-grown apples, and "a bit" of cinnamon. The chain also switched over to a lattice crust sprinkled with sugar instead of the previous cinnamon sugar topping.

The reason behind the change? Improving customer's perception of the chain's menu.

"Anything that has the word artificial in front of it or some name that you can't spell or pronounce that most consumers don't recognize, that really concerns them," Paula Marshall, CEO of Bama Companies, which supplies the chain's pies, told Tulsa World in 2018. "(Customers say), 'That's in my food? I don't know where it came from. I don't want to eat that.'"

The dessert spawned its own McDonaldland character.

mcdonald's apple pie tree
West St Paul McDonald's Playland / Facebook

While Ronald McDonald is arguably the most famous McDonaldland character, the fast-food chain introduced several of these in the 1970s, according to Mental Floss. In addition to the iconic Grimace, Hamburglar, and Officer Big Mac, there was the smiling Apple Pie Tree, decked out in the popular fast-food dessert.

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The apple pie has less sugar than other McDonald's sweets.

mcdonald's chocolate shake and baked apple pie
McDonald's

When looking at the list of sweets and treats on the current McDonald's menu, you will see that the baked apple pie clocks in with the lowest sugar content, containing 14 grams of sugar. The chain's chocolate chip cookies follow this with 15 grams of sugar. On the opposite end of the spectrum, a small chocolate shake has 67 grams of sugar.

However, the nutrition information for the fried apple pie looks a bit different than the baked variety. The fried pie has 220 calories, nine grams of fat, and 10 grams of sugar, according to the McDonald's website. The baked version has 230 calories and 11 grams of fat.

The apple pie kicked off a string of other pie varieties.

McDonald's Holiday Pie
Photo: Kaley Roberts, Eat This, Not That!

Over the years, McDonald's has released a multitude of pie flavors, such as strawberry and crème, double chocolate, s'mores, and the fan-favorite, sprinkle-topped holiday variety.

Travel outside of the country, and you'll likely encounter flavors you've never seen before. For example, Thailand currently sells a corn pie, while McDonald's Japan recently started serving a limited-time maple butter pancake pie. Head over to Mexico and you can order a cheese pie, while the United Kingdom is now offering a Galaxy Caramel Pie.

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The pie isn't McDonald's only apple-themed treat.

person holding mcdonald's apple fritter and coffee
McDonald's (Marshfield, MO) / Facebook

In 2020, McDonald's released three bakery items as part of its McCafé line. These included the blueberry muffin, cinnamon roll, and apple fritter. However, their time on the menu was short-lived, as McDonald's discontinued all of them in July 2023. Farewell, apple fritter.

You can order a Pie McFlurry.

mcdonalds secret menu apple pie mcflurry
Ann Marie Langrehr/Eat This, Not That!

No, the Pie McFlurry isn't on the chain's official menu. But you can still enjoy this "secret" menu item by asking for the apple pie blended into your McFlurry. If the McDonald's employee can't make this, you can still order the two desserts and mix them yourself to create the mashup frozen treat.

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Other chains have released their own versions.

popeyes cinnamon apple pie
Popeyes

McDonald's is far from being the only chain to do apple pie—and it's also not the first. The original White Castle location offered apple pie as one of its first four menu items.

Over the years, several fast-food chains have followed by rolling out their own apple desserts. For example, Popeyes has a cinnamon apple pie. Arby's offers an apple turnover. Last fall, Panda Express debuted an apple pie roll. And you can't forget about the now-discontinued (yet sorely missed) caramel apple empanada from Taco Bell.

Brianna Ruback
Brianna is a staff writer at Eat This, Not That! She attended Ithaca College, where she graduated with a degree in Journalism and a minor in Communication Studies. Read more about Brianna
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