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McDonald's Cheeseburger Prices Have Jumped 55% Since 2021, New Report Finds

A new report compared McDonald's cheeseburger prices from 2021 and 2024, and the results are staggering.
FACT CHECKED BY Justine Goodman

It's no secret that eating at a fast-food joint in 2024 isn't nearly as affordable as it used to be. A plethora of major chains, from Chipotle to Shake Shack, have implemented price hikes over the past few years due to factors like rising costs and higher worker wages. However, newly published data is giving fresh insight into how significantly prices have gone up for a staple menu item at the world's preeminent fast-food chain: McDonald's.

Back in March 2021, the food service industry publication Restaurant Business Magazine looked at prices for McDonald's Big Macs and classic cheeseburgers in all 50 U.S. states to gauge how much the menu items cost in various markets. Three years later, the publication decided to look at Big Mac and cheeseburger prices across the country yet again to see how much they've changed since 2021—and the results were very telling.

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In a new report published on March 29, Restaurant Business Magazine revealed that McDonald's average cheeseburger prices have jumped from $1.55 in 2021 to $2.40 in 2024. That's a 55% increase in just three years.

Big Mac prices have also risen since 2021—though not quite as significantly as the cheeseburger prices. Restaurant Business Magazine found that the burger is 16.4% more expensive on average now than it was in 2021.

McDonald's Cheeseburger

It's important to note that prices for any McDonald's item can vary by store, so customers in some parts of the country may be paying less for their cheeseburgers than others. Fans should also keep in mind that McDonald's franchisees set their own menu prices, so Mickey D's corporate arm may not necessarily be to blame for today's elevated price tags. Still, Restaurant Business Magazine's data shows how pricey one key McDonald's offering has become at a time when the chain's value is under fierce scrutiny.

Eating at McDonald's has gotten significantly more expensive in recent years thanks to a series of price increases, including about a 10% hike in 2023 alone. Consumers haven't shied away from sounding off against the price increases on social media.

Earlier this year, fans were flabbergasted by a photo of a McDonald's receipt that showed a rest stop location in Connecticut was charging $14.58 for two Egg McMuffins. A photo of a $17.59 Big Mac combo meal at another McDonald's rest stop location was also met with serious social media backlash over the summer of 2023, CBS News reported.

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Some consumers are even changing their fast-food habits in response to McDonald's higher prices. During a February earnings call, CEO Chris Kempczinski revealed that lower-income customers have been visiting McDonald's less because eating at home is more affordable. And when they do stop by McDonald's, those lower-income guests are ordering less or opting for cheaper options.

"The battleground is certainly with that low-income consumer. And I think what you're going to see as you head into 2024 is probably more attention to what I would describe as affordability," Kempczinski added during the February call.

McDonald's did not immediately respond to our queries for comment on the reported cheeseburger price increases.

Zoe Strozewski
Zoe Strozewski is a News Writer for Eat This, Not That! A Chicago native who now lives in New Jersey, she graduated from Kean University in 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Read more about Zoe
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