McDonald's Will Step Up Its Burger Game With Major Quality Initiatives

McDonald's may be the largest and most iconic global restaurant brand for a reason: In addition to a reputation for affordability, it's consistent. Whether you like it or not, McDonald's tastes the same everywhere — and it's for that reason that the company is generally hesitant to mess with things related to its established formulas. It'll do it occasionally, like the time it changed its McNuggets to only feature white meat, but usually, it doesn't like to tinker with its classic formulas. Well, most of the time.

One of those times, though, is upon us now, and it concerns something even more integral to the McDonald's brand than McNuggets. For the first time in decades, The Wall Street Journal reports that McDonald's is making significant changes to how it prepares its signature product: burgers. The modifications are pretty extensive here, but the core conceit is that McDonald's is looking to keep its burgers from tasting dry or stale. According to Chris Young, the senior director of global menu strategy, it's all about quality: "We can do it quick, fast and safe, but it doesn't necessarily taste great. So, we want to incorporate quality into where we're at."

McDonald's is making a lot of changes despite already doing well

It's not just one or two things that are changing at McDonald's. The primary tweak to the burgers themselves comes from the auto-cooking mechanism the company uses, which will now only feature six patties at a time instead of eight in the hopes the process squeezes less juice from the meat and help the patties remain moist. That's not all: The chain is also adding more Big Mac sauce to Big Macs (a fan of anyone who loves secret sauce, even if it does not contain ketchup), cheese is being removed from fridges sooner to promote melting, onions are being rehydrated after purchase (onion procedure at McDonald's is one of the other major past changes that have been made), and the company is going to start using thicker bottom buns so that burgers better retain heat.

Interestingly, while these changes do seem to be the result of pressure from competitors like Five Guys and Smash Burger, it's not like McDonald's is currently suffering. Fast food restaurants actually made out well from the COVID-19 pandemic, and McDonald's is no exception: The company's sales were up 10.3% in 2022, netting $6.2 billion in profit. Instead, the changes would seem to be an attempt to stay ahead of the game and make sure those gains continue.