All 15 McDonald's Sandwiches, Ranked
We ate every sandwich on the McDonald's menu in the name of journalism.
Every once in a while, there's a void in life that only a visit to the house of the golden arches can fix. Whether it was putting together a broke college meal, visiting the McDonald's in Times Square just to eat a Stroopwafel McFlurry, or making a pitstop on a road trip, the chain has been a small source of comfort, joy, and fulfillment for me over the course of my life. And while I've basically hounded the entire menu throughout my 25 years, I've never done so in one sitting—eating all 15 burgers and sandwiches—to discover which one is the best. Until now.
Yes, on a recent visit to McDonald's, I—in true Thrillist fashion—ordered over $60 worth of sandwiches and burgers and one by one meticulously ate each. I took notes. I burped. I opened sandwiches and inspected their guts for mustard and onions. I chewed thoughtfully on some sandwiches and resisted the urge to spit out others. And, through the resulting heartburn and indigestion, I was able to compile a ranking of all of McDonald’s sandwiches, from worst to best.
After some deliberation, here are my thoughts as a professional food writer:
Sandwich Build: Very sad beef patty, ketchup, mustard, diced onions, two tiny pickles, regular bun
The McDonald's hamburger was specifically crafted for the picky child in your family. It is, without a doubt, the least exciting thing on the menu: A dry, nearly tasteless patty; pickles and onions; and not enough ketchup and mustard to bring moisture to your mouth. In the world of McDonald's flat patties, cheese is mandatory and this hamburger comes in dead last in our ranking. The good news is that this is one of the only remaining items that cost a mere dollar—so if you can get over how depressing this burger is, at least you can save money.
Sandwich Build: Peppery chicken patty, shredded lettuce, mayonnaise, toasted bun
From a nostalgia perspective, I love the McChicken. It was there for me in high school, when I'd gorge on a McChicken and a McDouble and spend what used to be a total of $2 (RIP the Dollar Menu). The mayonnaise was always pleasing, and I enjoyed the peppery breading that encases the chicken. The McChicken I ate on this trip to McDonald's, however, did not lead to a pleasant wave of nostalgia. The typically crunchy coating was soggy, the shredded lettuce lacked crunch, and the chicken patty itself was bone dry. The two other chicken sandwiches on the menu, which we'll get to later, are orders of magnitude better.
Sandwich Build: Sad beef patty made less sad with a slice of American cheese, ketchup, mustard, diced onions, pickles, regular bun
The cheeseburger on McDonald's menus is a tale of simplicity. It is fine. It is basically the hamburger with a magical slice of American cheese that improves the flavor tenfold. If you're in a bind and need a burger with cheese for $1.29, then you've found it. Just don't expect bliss.
12. Crispy Chicken Sandwich
Sandwich Build: Crispy chicken filet (that wasn't so crispy), crinkle-cut pickles, buttered potato roll
Without the pepper sauce to carry it like its spicy counterpart, the Crispy Chicken Sandwich (and its not-so-crispy chicken filet) feels underwhelming. While more doesn't always mean better, without so much as a simple mayo spread—like Popeyes or KFC's classic iterations—the Crispy Chicken Sandwich tasted a little plain and like a missed opportunity.
11. Deluxe Crispy Chicken Sandwich
Sandwich build: Crispy chicken filet (again, not so crispy), mayo, shredded lettuce, three slices of Roma tomatoes, potato bun
Like its counterparts, the crispy filet at McDonald's isn't all that crispy, but the deluxe version's added mayo, shredded lettuce, and Roma tomatoes at least add some interest. The mayo brings in a dimension of tangy flavor and creaminess while the tomatoes give the sandwich some much needed sweetness.
10. Deluxe Spicy Crispy Chicken Sandwich
Sandwich build: Crispy chicken filet, spicy pepper sauce, shredded lettuce, three slices of Roma tomatoes, potato bun
While the Deluxe Spicy Crispy Chicken Sandwich has a spicy pepper sauce I'm fond of, the deluxe fixings almost make it too much. The lettuce and tomato overpower the rest of the sandwich when really, the chicken and sauce (!!!) should have the spotlight.
Sandwich Build: Two beef patties sharing a single slice of American cheese, ketchup, mustard, diced onions, pickles, regular bun
Take the cheeseburger, add another patty, and boom, you’ve got a McDouble. The McDouble is more filling, more meaty, and saucier than the cheeseburger. There's just something comforting about biting into two patties sandwiching a slice of melty cheese. I'll always opt for a double over a single when I can get it.
8. Double Cheeseburger
Sandwich Build: Two beef patties, two slices of American cheese, ketchup, mustard, diced onions, pickles, regular bun
Did you know that there's a difference between a McDouble and a Double Cheeseburger? This is something I just learned: A double cheeseburger has two slices of cheese, whereas the McDouble only has one. Both are virtually the same otherwise, but if I can get two slices of cheese versus one then I'm always going to go for more cheese.
7. Quarter Pounder with Cheese and Bacon
Sandwich Build: 1/4lb fresh beef patty, three thin strips of bacon, two slices of American cheese, ketchup, mustard, onion slivers, pickles, sesame seed bun
I can't believe I'm saying this, but not every burger gets better with the addition of bacon. Such is the case of the Quarter Pounder with Cheese and Bacon. The strips of bacon are thin and devoid of moisture, making them like salty meat shards. The beef in the Quarter Pounder is already well-seasoned, so adding bacon just feels like a sodium overload. If it were a different type of bacon, seasoned with brown sugar and containing a bit more fat, then maybe this would have worked. But this is McDonald's and the bacon is lacking, therefore making this the least appealing Quarter Pounder. It's still good! Just too salty.
6. Spicy Crispy Chicken Sandwich
Sandwich Build: Crispy chicken filet, crinkle-cut pickles, spicy pepper sauce, toasted potato bun
I'm a sucker for anything spicy, which is why this iteration scores major points despite the fact that its so-called crispy filet leaves much to be desired in the crisp department. While I'd have liked a little more crunch to each bite, the pepper sauce has actual heat, which I'd argue is often missing from competitors' spicy sammies. Meanwhile, the pickles add the perfect sweet zest and the bun was a fluffy, soft vessel for its ingredients.
5. Quarter Pounder with Cheese Deluxe
Sandwich Build: 1/4lb fresh beef patty, two slices of American cheese, tomatoes, lettuce, slivers of onion, ketchup, mustard, a weird addition of mayo, pickles, sesame seed bun
I'm usually in the camp of adding more veggies to burgers. Give me crisp lettuce! Give me tomatoes! Drown me in pickles! But in the case of the Deluxe Quarter Pounder, I find the vegetables are a distraction to the juiciness of the burger and the meltiness of the cheese. The beef and cheese are glorious on their own: Salty, oily, and exactly what a cheeseburger should be. So when there’s wilted lettuce and tomatoes getting in the way of the best part of the burger, I've got to dock points. Additionally, the Quarter Pounder isn't in need of any mayo—the burger is already full of cream and fat, thanks to all the cheese and beef, so the mayo is overkill.
4. Big Mac
Sandwich Build: Two beef patties that really should be replaced by Quarter Pounder patties, McDonald’s best sauce ever, a single slice of American cheese, shredded lettuce, diced onions, pickles, sesame seed bun, extra central bun between patties
The glorious Big Mac has made it into the top five, and for good reason: The Big Mac is a classic. The Mac Sauce is delicious—tangy, sweet, and creamy—while the layers of beef, sesame buns, shredded lettuce, pickles, and raw onions marry together to create a burger that is well balanced and flavor forward.
I feel like every element does its part here. The sauce enriches the meat, the cheese is gooey, the pickles and onions cut through the fat, and the lettuce lightens the whole thing. The Big Mac, however, could infinitely be improved. If the current patties were swapped out for the Quarter Pounder patties, this sandwich would be a complete game-changer (McDonald's execs, I hope you're reading this). I think an additional slice of cheese on the top patty would also be beneficial. Despite this, I love the Big Mac.
3. Quarter Pounder with Cheese
Sandwich Build: 1/4lb fresh beef patty, two slices of American cheese, onion slivers, pickles, ketchup, mustard, sesame seed bun
Ever since McDonald's changed its beef recipe for Quarter Pounders, opting for fresh beef over frozen, the chain has sold 30% more Quarter Pounders (according to USA Today). And I totally understand why: The fresh beef actually tastes like beef and glistens as beef burgers should. The patty is the star of the show, salty and meaty and juicy. I want to come back, bite after bite. The supporting playera—the sliced onions and pickles—add some much needed tang, without overwhelming the flavors of the beef. The two slices of cheese are silky surrounding the beef. It is, overall, a very good and very classic burger.
Sandwich Build: Crispy fish filet patty, pickle-studded tartar sauce, half slice of American cheese, steamed bun
The Filet-O-Fish reminds me of my grandmother. For some reason, my Thai grandma would only order this—on road trips, as an after-school snack, or to satisfy a mere McDonald's craving. I can't tell if it’s because the fish is the only thing she trusted on the menu, or because she genuinely thought it was the best item, but like all Thai grandmothers who know food, she was onto something.
Filet-O-Fishes (is that the correct use of plural? Filets-O-Fish?), in my book, are top-notch. The tartar sauce is full of pickles, yet balanced in its creaminess. The square of fish has an appealing, crunchy outside, but flaky and almost delicate inside. The buns on Filet-O-Fishes are always the softest because they’re steamed rather than toasted, resulting in a pillowy, cloud-like experience. And the American cheese brings the whole fish sandwich together. Through this reporting, however, I discovered that the American cheese slice that arrives on a Filet-O-Fish is a mere half slice. What gives, McDonald's? No wonder it's always off-centered.
GIVE US THE FULL SLICE OF CHEESE, YOU COWARDS!
1. Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese
Sandwich Build: Two 1/4lb fresh beef patty which makes the burger infinitely better, two slices of American cheese, onion slivers, pickles, ketchup, mustard, sesame seed bun
This is it. The best sandwich/burger at McDonald's is the Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese.
Take everything good I said about the Quarter Pounder with Cheese over in fourth place and double it. The result is a satisfyingly meaty, salty, and cheesy burger that is surprisingly filling. I love that you can really taste the char on the beef patties within the Quarter Pounder, so having two beef patties and two slices of cheese only heightens the experience.
Everything works in tandem within this burger. The beef and cheese are the highlights, but you can find reprieve from them in the tart pickle chips, the bite of onion slivers, the tang of mustard, and the gentle sweetness of ketchup. Switching to fresh beef shows, and arguably was one of McDonald's best decisions yet.
Now, like I mentioned, when can we get a Big Mac with Quarter Pounder patties?