Whether it’s your sinful indulgence or you eat it without abandon on the regular, there’s a lot about McDonald’s you probably don’t know. Like any other famous American icon, Ronald has a ton of secrets. Like, how to get an M&M McFlurry for a fraction of the calories and how to get a cheaper Big Mac—not exactly tabloid-worthy scandals but secrets we thought were worth sharing, nonetheless.
Read on to discover 12 remarkable ways to hack the menu, save cash, and get a tastier meal at your favorite fast food chain! And if you’re in search of more McNugget nutrition intel, don’t miss our report, Every Menu Item at McDonald’s—Ranked!.
Go for the “Round Egg”
Want to make sure the egg that winds up on your McGriddle is fresh from the carton? Order a “round egg,” suggests one Quora user and former McDonald’s employee. If you don’t make this request, your eggs will come from a powdered mix. Gross, right? “Round eggs,” on the other hand, are cracked and cooked fresh in a round ring (hence the term “round egg”) before making their way into your tray.
You Can Get a “Skinny” McFlurry
Want to save cash and calories? Ditch the McFlurry you know and love and trade it in for a kiddie cone with your favorite McFlurry mix-in. A snack sized M&M McFlurry, for example, has 420 calories, 15 grams of fat, and a staggering 58 grams of sugar. A kiddie cone with M&Ms, however, contains just 215 calories, 9 grams of fat, and 38 grams sugar. While that’s a still a ton of the sweet stuff, these stats are far more reasonable. Looking for even more ways to say goodbye to added sugars—and goodbye to your belly? Order your copy of the Zero Sugar Diet, today!
You Can Score a Big Mac on the Cheap
Don’t want to part with $4 to indulge in Ronald’s signature dish? Order the McDouble ($1.39) without ketchup and mustard, and ask for Mac Sauce and lettuce, instead. The result: You’ll get a burger that has the same taste as the double decker sandwich you love! The only thing it’s missing is the middle bun, but considering the Golden Arches’ bread products are nothing more than empty calories, we consider this a win! For more ways to cut back on cals and shrink your gut, don’t miss these 36 Easy Ways to Cut 50+ Calories.
Request a Receipt
A former McDonald’s employee wrote in a Quora thread that during certain hours, there are customers who’ve been paid to have a meal and rate their experience. Since they’ll be reimbursed for their meals, they always ask for a receipt. The user said these undercover diners typically roll through between 12 and 2 p.m. and 5 and 7 p.m. Employees are asked to stay on the lookout for these mystery customers so they can give them the best customer service possible. That said, it couldn’t hurt to come during those hours and ask for a receipt. An employee may just think you’re a customer on assignment, which is the easiest way to ensure you’re given the best service and freshest quality food. (And if you’re putting in a special request such as a makeshift Big Mac, you’re less likely to get slack from the employee if he thinks you’re rating his performance.)
Get the Happy Meal
The Happy Meal isn’t just for kids anymore. If you’re looking to shed some pounds but don’t want to give up fast food, it’s actually the ideal order and one that’s nutritionist-approved. “Every so often when I have a long drive and can’t pack food or snacks, McDonald’s is where I go. l order a kid’s meal comprised of a hamburger, small order of fries, a bottle of water and a Cuties clementine,” registered dietitian Toby Amidor tells us. “This meal has just 390 calories and 13 grams of fat.” For more weight loss-friendly restaurant orders, don’t miss our report 35 Tips to Eat Healthy at Restaurants.
The Fruit ‘N Yogurt Parfait Isn’t Healthy
Sure, it sounds like a healthy option, but with 22 grams of the sweet stuff, the yogurt parfait is nothing more than a calcium-filled sugar mine. If you want to snack on some ‘gurt, the better bet is to get the Yoplait Go-GURT Low-Fat Strawberry Yogurt, which has just 6 grams of sugar (thanks in part to its smaller portion size). While this isn’t our favorite brand of yogurt, it’s definitely the lesser of two evils at the drive-through.
Hold The Pickles
Every burger at Mickey D’s comes with predetermined toppings. When you ask for your lunch to be made with one of its trimmings, they don’t just open the box and remove the pickles or onions; the kitchen staff will actually make you a fresh patty, one former McDonald’s employee wrote on Quora. “The difference between a burger that’s sitting for who knows how long and one right off the grill is phenomenal,” the user wrote. Although you may have to wait an extra few minutes for your meal to be ready, it’s well worth it to get a fresh tray of food.
Ask for Fries Sans Salt
Everyone knows that the best part of any fast food meal is the fries. No nugget, burger or shake can compare—which is why it’s such a disappointment when they come out soggy. To ensure your fries are fresh and not drowning in sodium, order them sans salt. This all but ensures that you’ll get a new batch. “This is true but also a pain in the ass,” one former employee wrote online of the ordering hack. Again, you’ll wind up waiting a bit longer for your food, but we think it’s well worth the wait to get fresh, crispy fries. Mmhm!
The McRib Has No Rib
That’s right. Despite the name of the sandwich, in reality, there’s no rib in the McRib. The pork is pressed into the rib-like shape via a mold, just like Jell-O. Twitter’s favorite sandwich is so popular that a fan launched a GPS app devoted to finding a McRib near you. And we think we know why everyone’s addicted: The pork patty is soaked in salt, the bun is made with sugar, and the McRib Sauce is all high fructose corn syrup. That sweet-and-salty combo makes for an irresistibly delicious sandwich—and a terribly fattening one. (One sandwich serves up 34 percent of the day’s fat intake.) Avoid it like the plague, along with these 17 Most Addictive Foods on the Planet.
Skip the Grilled Chicken
In 2015, a Reddit user who claimed to be a McDonald’s manager cautioned against ordering anything made with grilled chicken, including salads and sandwiches. “It’s horrible frozen chicken that we defrost and steam, and it’s a bit gelatinous,” he writes. Thankfully, there are options like the McMuffin and the cheeseburger so you shouldn’t have to.
Even Nutritionists Eat There
Shocking, right? With a little dietitian makeover magic and a two-word strategy (“no mayo”), it turns out there are some choices at McDonald’s that you can enjoy guilt-free. If you generally stick to grilled items over crispy ones, guzzle water and steer clear of empty-calorie added sugars in salad dressings, you’re good to go. Want some nutritionist-approved orders? Check out What 8 Diet Experts Eat at McDonald’s.
Shamrock Shake = 99% Corn Syrup
Don’t let nostalgia for this childhood favorite blind you to the cold, smooth facts: McDonald’s shakes are blended from vanilla reduced-fat ice cream, shake syrup (main ingredient: high fructose corn syrup), and topped with whipped cream and a Maraschino cherry (made with two kids of corn syrup each). If you thought the small was bad (this 12 oz option has 62 grams of the sweet stuff) the large is even worse: 115 grams of sugar is over twice your daily recommended intake, according to the USDA’s new guidelines. We think you should shake it off! If you want to polish off your meal with something sweet, the kiddie cone (45 calories, 6 g sugar) or the Oatmeal Raisin Cookie (140 calories, 12 g sugar) are your safest bets.