12 Things You Might Want To Think Twice About Ordering At McDonald's

A staple among fast food chains, McDonald's is a go-to spot to grab a quick bite when you're hungry and in a rush. Founded in 1955 with the simple premise of serving quick and fresh hamburgers, french fries, and drinks, McDonald's is now a household name with more than 40,000 stores worldwide according to Statista. In the last five decades, its menu grew to feed hungry customers for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Today, the menu includes not just juicy hamburgers, but also chicken, fish, milkshakes, desserts, and breakfast. 

While the food may be fast, it's not always fresh or healthy. Looking at McDonald's nutritional information online, reading ex-employees' confessions, and viral social media posts, there are some things on the McDonald's menu that are getting a second glance. Here's a rundown of 12 McDonald's food and drink items that you may want to skip during your next stop at the Golden Arches, no matter how hungry or thirsty you are!

1. McCafe

Served piping hot, McDonald's coffee is the perfect sidekick to a delicious breakfast sandwich like the Egg McMuffin. In the competitive world of coffee, McDonald's often is in the running for best fast food coffee. But, according to viral posts on Reddit, you may be getting more than just coffee in that morning cup. In the online post, alleged current and former McDonald's employees say the coffee machine is extremely dirty because it is rarely cleaned. One person writes, the machine regularly has "5+ inches of uncleaned liquid [...] making up its inside parts." The poster claims you need a special brush to clean the inside of the machine and the restaurants rarely have them, so it just continuously builds up soot. "The insides are caked with it, the lines where the product comes out as well," the poster claims. 

If you love McDonald's other coffee products, like iced coffees and frappes, you are also out of luck. It seems all coffee-related products are affected, as the McCafe machine is the source for them all. You may want to get that morning jolt at home to make sure you aren't getting anything extra and unwanted.

2. Unsalted fries

Hot fries are simply irresistible, so getting cold fries that clearly aren't fresh can be a big letdown. An easy workaround is to ask for them with no salt. McDonald's says when you ask for this, employees will make a new batch for you, thus ensuring piping hot fries fresh from the fryer. However, in a TikTok post that went viral, one woman claiming to be a McDonald's employee admits she leaves a batch in the basket in case someone asks for no salt so she doesn't have to make a new batch. The result is often old fries (maybe even older than the fries in the fry pan). 

The video created some backlash, so the woman issued an explanation, saying making fries with no salt is difficult because employees must take them from the hot oil and put them directly into the fry container to avoid any interaction with the salt leftover in the pan. This is a hard task that can cause burns (she shows a burn on her arm in the video). "It's just a lot of extra steps," the creator explains. "And I am willing to take those steps for people who prefer not to have salt on their fries or have a diet where they need to lower their salt intake, I'm perfectly okay with that." But, she says asking for no salt just because you want fresh fries is cumbersome. So, what's the best way to get fresh fries at McDonald's? Employees say to simply ask for them. 

3. Soft serve ice cream

At less than $2, the soft serve ice cream at McDonald's is a tasty treat at a sweet price but only IF you can get one. The ice cream machine at McDonald's is notoriously out of commission, but no one really seems to know why. It could need cleaning, it could need a special part, or it could be employees just don't want to deal with it. Whatever the reason, the McDonald's ice cream machine is infamous for never working. It's become such a widespread issue that there is even a dedicated website, aptly called McBroken, with regular updates on the ice cream machines in your area. McDonald's embraces the infamous problem by poking fun at itself on Twitter, tweeting "we have a joke about our soft serve machine but we're worried it won't work." 

Don't think you can substitute another treat for that ice cream cone either. The ice cream machine is the source for the McFlurry and sundaes, too. If you're craving ice cream, you may want to go somewhere else, or you run the risk of being disappointed.

4. Fried chicken or fish

Dieting and fast food restaurants aren't your typical pair, but just because you're counting calories doesn't mean you can't enjoy the Golden Arches; just be mindful of what you're ordering. Chicken is typically a healthier option compared to a hamburger, but at McDonald's the chicken is fried to get that crispy crunch and flavor. According to the nutritional information on the McDonald's website, the McCrispy chicken sandwich has 470 calories and 20 grams of fat per sandwich. The McChicken sandwich isn't much better at 400 calories and 21 grams of fat. Still craving chicken? Opt for the four-piece Chicken McNuggets with 170 calories and 10 grams of fat.

Think fish will be better? Not at McDonald's. The Filet-O-Fish concept originated from a Cincinnati-area McDonald's franchise. Most of the surrounding community was Catholic, which, at the time, prohibited eating meat on Fridays, and not just during Lent. The sandwich debuted on Good Friday in 1962 as a way to boost business. It worked and is now a staple on the McDonald's menu, but the sandwich has 390 calories and 19 grams of fat. The Filet-O-Fish also has a list of questionable, possibly unhealthy, ingredients like added colors, hydrogenated soybean oil, and bleached flour. 

Bottom line: If you are watching calories and fat, be sure to check out the nutritional information online before ordering from McDonald's to make sure you are staying within your set parameters. 

5. Ice

Fans of McDonald's will argue that Coca-Cola there tastes better than at any other fast food restaurant. And they may be correct. The secret is pre-chilling both the water and the syrup used for the soda. That, combined with using filtered water and having a close relationship with the Coca-Cola company, leads to superior-tasting soft drinks. 

Because Coca-Cola products are so good, you'll want to get the most for your money, so consider skipping the ice next time. Ice takes up a lot of space in the cup, cutting down on the amount of soda you are getting. If you're taking your meal to go, an easy solution is to order a soda with no ice, then add your own ice at home so you get more delicious Coca-Cola for the same price. But, don't skip the McDonald's straw as it apparently also enhances the cola's flavor. The straws at McDonald's are wider than your typical restaurant straw. The wider straw allows more of the liquid to hit your tongue so you get more delicious-tasting soda in each sip. 

6. Big Mac

The Big Mac is a staple at McDonald's. A franchise owner near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, created the burger in 1967 as a way to appeal to adults; it was named the "Big Mac" by a McDonald's secretary. The beefed-up burger quickly took off and soon became a fixture in McDonald's across the country. With two beef patties, all the fixings, and a crave-worthy secret sauce, it's arguably one of the most iconic items on the menu. 

All that goodness will cost you, though. That juicy Big Mac is one of the more expensive sandwiches on the menu, costing you close to $4, but there's a secret way to get the same burger for less than $2. Here's how to do it: Order a McDouble without ketchup, then add lettuce, and ask for the Big Mac sauce and you've got what's referred to as a Poor Man's Big Mac. The only item you are missing is the extra bun in the middle of the sandwich. Skipping that third bun saves you more than $2 (not to mention a few extra calories).

7. Fries (if you're a vegetarian)

At a place known for its burgers, there aren't many options for vegetarians at McDonald's. If you find yourself at the fast food chain and want to stick to a vegetarian diet, then skip the french fries. Although the fries seem like a safe order, they are actually made with a natural beef flavor; an ingredient McDonald's says is essential to ensuring that recognizable taste throughout its network of restaurants. 

McDonald's initially did not disclose the beef flavoring leading many to believe that the fries were vegetarian. That's until three people sued the chain in 2001. According to CBS News, two Hindus (who believe cows are sacred and don't eat beef) and a vegetarian ultimately settled the lawsuit after McDonald's agreed to donate $10 million to various groups and issue an apology. In a statement on its website in June 2002, McDonald's said, "We regret we did not provide these customers with complete information, and we sincerely apologize for any hardship that these miscommunications have caused among Hindus, vegetarians and others." 

If you're a vegetarian looking for something to eat at McDonald's, it's best to skip the fries and instead opt for a grilled cheese. To order the secret menu item, just ask for "one cheeseburger, hold the burger." Or for a more elevated version, ask for a Big Mac with no burger, that way you get all the delicious toppings while still keeping your order vegetarian friendly. 

8. Sausage

Popular among McDonald's breakfast sandwiches is a hot sausage patty; it's in a majority of the breakfast foods, including the Sausage McMuffin, Sausage Biscuit with Egg, and Sausage McGriddle. The sausage patty is also in the plated breakfast menu items, the Big Breakfast and the Big Breakfast with Hotcakes. 

While tasty, the sausage at McDonald's is loaded with fat and calories. For example, a Sausage McMuffin is 400 calories and 26 grams of fat. To cut down those numbers, consider ordering an Egg McMuffin instead; it has Canadian bacon on it instead of a sausage patty, bringing the breakfast sandwich down to 310 calories and 13 grams of fat. Plus, you get added protein thanks to the egg. Less fat and more protein is a healthier way to start off the day while still getting that McDonald's fix. And for those plated menu items, simply ask for Canadian bacon on the side instead of the sausage patty.

9. Special shakes

Seasonal menu items, like the green Shamrock Shake every March, are tempting, but these shakes (and really any shake at McDonald's) are packed with sugar and fat. A small Shamrock Shake has 63 grams of sugar; that's more than double the recommended amount of sugar a person should consume in a day. The American Heart Association recommends no more than 36 grams of sugar per day for men and only 25 grams per day for women. That means one small Shamrock Shake is your entire sugar intake for two or three days. 

The regularly-offered shakes at McDonald's are not much better; a small vanilla shake has 51 grams of sugar and a chocolate shake has 67 grams. If you're craving something sweet from McDonald's try the apple pie or the chocolate chip cookie, with 14 grams and 15 grams of sugar, respectively. They both still have a lot of sugar, but much lower than the shakes.

10. Sweet tea

When it comes to drinks, sweet tea is in a category all its own. The refreshing taste is a must for many, but the way it's made at McDonald's may turn some sour. According to a popular YouTube video entitled "Tell Me A Company Secret That You Can Share Because You Don't Work There Anymore Part 2," a person claiming to be an ex-McDonald's manager says she was shocked to find out exactly how much sugar goes into the sweet tea. "The jugs are 4 four gallons big and each jug gets a full 4-pound bag of sugar," the ex-manager explains. "That's 1 pound of sugar per gallon. I stopped drinking the tea after that." 

All that added sugar equates to a medium sweet tea having 29 grams of sugar. That one medium sweet tea alone contains more sugar than women should consume in an entire day.

11. Eggs

Not all eggs are equal at McDonald's; almost every breakfast item at McDonald's is made with folded eggs. This includes the Bacon, Egg, and Cheese Biscuit and the Sausage Biscuit with Egg. What are folded eggs? It's an egg mixture that is made off-site, flash fried, then shipped frozen to the restaurant where it is reheated to make your breakfast favorites. 

There is one exception, however, and it's the Egg McMuffin. This beloved breakfast sandwich is made with a freshly-cracked egg cooked in what McDonald's calls an "egg ring" then placed on a toasted English Muffin. You can tell it's a fresh egg because it is distinctly round (thanks to the egg ring), whereas any sandwich made with the pre-made egg mixture is yellow and folded over. So, if you are craving a truly fresh breakfast and you don't want the Egg McMuffin, then skip the egg mixture and ask for a round egg.

12. Onions

In addition to ketchup, mustard, and pickles, chopped onions are a staple on most McDonald's burgers, including the hamburger, Quarter Pounder with Cheese, and the Big Mac. But, you may want to sideline those onions on your next order not because they can make your breath stink, but because they aren't actually fresh. 

Instead, the onions arrive at the restaurant dehydrated in a packet and must be rehydrated before being added to your sandwich. A McDonald's employee shows the entire process in this TikTok video. He pours a package of dehydrated onions into a container then fills it with water, covers it, and places it in the refrigerator. After about two hours, he strains the onions and suddenly you have the chopped onions used on the burgers. Considering the freshness aspect of the onions (or lack thereof), you may want to order your next burger without them.