McDonald’s is a fast food institution recognised all over the globe, but if you think it’s all just meat patties and fries, think again.
From macaroni toasties to mashed potato burgers, international McDonald's menu items can get all kinds of creative and weird.
The ubiquitous Golden Arches have made their way into 122 different countries, which will come as no surprise to frequent travellers, and while some die-hard culture vultures might consider eating McDonald’s while abroad as a serious slight on local cuisine, it can sometimes shine a surprising light on regional tastes.
While you can always count on a signature Big Mac, fries, and Coke being on the menu, each country boasts their own unique items in addition to the classics. McDonald’s, like other major fast food chains, actually customises menu items to appeal to different palates - well, at the very least, the food nods in the direction of local flavours, even if it is in their most dumbed-down form.
Whether or not we’d eat these crazy concoctions or not, they sure are novel to look at. So get your passports at the ready because we’re taking a tour of international McDonald’s strange and unusual menu concoctions. It's McDonald's, but not as you know it.
20 Gratin Croquette Burger, Japan
The Gratin Croquette Burger is a winter tradition at McDonald’s in Japan and is something of a cult classic in the country. This creamy, crispy favourite is made up of a fried crab and macaroni creamy gratin inside a fried croquette, which is then sandwiched between two soft fluffy buns and served on a bed of shredded cabbage and topped with a tasty sauce.
Still craving some meaty flavours, opt for the Demi Cheese Gratin Croquette Burger, featuring the addition of creamy cheddar cheese and a beefy, demi-glaze sauce.
19 The McLobster Roll, Canada
Lobster from McDonald’s? It doesn’t sound right, does it? As for the taste, Canadians seem to vouch for it, seeing as it’s an item found on the country’s Atlantic region menu.
The McLobster contains lobster meat combined with celery, green onions, and a light mayonnaise-style sauce with a hint of lemon, on top of a bed of shredded lettuce.
It sounds authentic enough. Then again, if an authentic lobster roll is what you’re craving, we’re not sure why you’d head to McDonald's in the first place.
18 18.“Mickey D’s” Georgie Pies, New Zealand
New Zealand’s McDonald's menu includes three types of savoury pie. One is the Mince 'N' Cheese, stuffed with ground beef and cheese, and it’s locally known as the Georgie Pie.
Georgie Pie used to be its own super popular New Zealand fast food joint before McDonald's bought them out in the mid-90s. Fans of the meat pie were clamouring for their return for years, before McDonald’s relented in 2013 and reintroduced them to the menu. Other pies on the menu include buttered chicken, and plum and custard.
17 Ebi Filet-O Shrimp Burger, Japan
Who says a burger has to be made of beef? This patty of panko-battered, small whole shrimp, topped with Ebi shrimp tempura sauce, mustard and lettuce, gets its name from Japanese model Yuri Ebihara, who helped promote the release of the burger.
The miniature shrimp is bound together by an egg/flour mixture and then tossed into the deep-fryer its reviews from numerous global travellers are positive. Why you’d want this over authentic Japanese shrimp tempura, however, is another question.
16 Spinach And Parmesan Nuggets, Italy
Italy boasts a proud culinary culture, but the country is not above enjoying its share of fast food, especially when it comes with a uniquely Italian twist. Take the spinach and parmesan nuggets in McDonald’s, for example.
These deep-fried spinach and cheese-stuffed delights were from the aptly-enough named "The Delicacies" menu, a limited edition campaign which also included brie nuggets, and a snack-sized block of Parmesan cheese. Weird, but oh so good.
15 The Burgers With Beetroot: McOz, Australia
Australians have a special fondness for beetroot on burgers, which is why McDonald’s Down Under created the McOz - a beef patty with lettuce, tomato, onion, two sauces and a big slice of beetroot.
This limited edition burger was also sold in New Zealand under the name KiwiBurger which included an egg. The McOz was discontinued and replaced by the McFeast Deluxe, but has since made the occasional promotional appearance due to popular demand.
14 McRice Burger, Singapore
This limited edition burger, of sorts, has been available, on and off, in Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan. The McRice Burger contains a meat or fish patty - so far, so normal, sandwiched between two sticky rice patties, which is where things get weird.
In its heyday, The McRice Burger was available in beef, fried fish, or fried chicken — a carb overload no matter how you swing it. But at least it was gluten-free, if that’s your thing.
13 Bacon, Macaroni And Cheese Toastie, Hong Kong
In 2017, McDonald’s released this crazy combo, throwing bacon, mac and cheese onto a sandwich. Mac and cheese isn’t the healthiest dish, and adding two pieces of toasted bread into the mix isn’t doing the dish's nutritional value any favours. It's a carb-lover's dream come true.
McDonald’s Hong Kong also unveiled the accompanying corn and cheese champignon toastie, which at least has a vegetable element - well, fungus element, but you know what we mean.
12 The McNürnburger, Germany
McDonald’s Germany doesn’t mess around when it comes to sausages, and with the Nürnburger, you get three Bratwurst served on a bun with mustard and onions. The name and concept of the burger came from Uli Hoeneß, a former German soccer star and owner of a sausage factory.
The McNürnburger’s name is a play on the popular Nürnberger sausages, but as good as the pun was, the sandwich only had a brief three-month run.
11 The McItaly Adagio Burger
In 2011, McDonald’s in Europe brought some of the continent’s most renowned chefs on board to create specialty burgers for the chain. In Italy, chef Gualtiero Marchesi, the first Italian chef to be awarded three Michelin stars, created the Adagio. This mouthwatering burger contained a meat patty sitting on a "mousse" of eggplant with tomato and ricotta cheese, more mashed eggplant, all sandwiched with a bun and topped with chopped almonds.
Marchesi also created an alternative, the Vivace, which consisted of bacon, spinach, marinated onions, beef, and mustard mayonnaise.
10 Mashed Potato Burger, China
How do you make your burger more manly? You top it with a whole heap of potato, according to McDonald’s questionable “Beef 2012 Manly Man Campaign” in China.
Aimed at "young urban meat lovers,” this beef patty was topped with bacon and mashed potatoes, because these are critical steps on a person's journey to manhood, obviously.
The advert for the burger, proclaimed beef patties "good," bacon "better," and mashed potatoes “best." The soggy bun, though, not so good.
9 Chicha Purple Temptation
This decadent dessert looks more at home in a fancy patisserie than a fast food chain, but McDonald’s is nothing if not full of surprises.
It gets its wild colour not from dyes, but from blue corn and is based on the antioxidant-rich beverage chicha morada, which was created by the Incas. This sweet, refreshing drink involves simmering blue corncobs with pineapple rinds, cinnamon, cloves, and lime juice, and we guess the desert kind of tastes the same.
8 McMollettes In Mexico
Meet the McMolletes, the Mexican version of the iconic McMuffin. For all the weird and wacky concoctions that McD's has created internationally, this one looks to be one of the most appetizing.
This trio of half English muffins is smothered with refried beans, cheese, and flavourful Mexican sauce. They’re available on the breakfast menu and are served alongside a fresh coffee or orange juice. Sounds like a tasty way to start the day - we wish they weren’t just available in Mexico.
7 Chicken McDo With McSpaghetti, The Philippines
A Chicken McWhat now? Spaghetti? If this all sounds pretty strange, that’s because it is. Let us explain: a McDo is a fried chicken drumstick and McSpaghetti is pretty much what it sounds like - pasta with tomato sauce. Yes, they are served together, because sometimes you just really need some fried chicken, but pasta sounds good, too. McDonald’s Philippines gets that.
Word is, you can even get the spaghetti served with chopped hot dog, ensuring every craving is catered for.
6 McDonald’s Serves Up Poutine, Canada
Covering French fries in gravy and cheese curds is a Canadian staple, so it was only a matter of time before McDonald’s gave its take on the national dish and took it to the next level.
McDonald’s Canada has offered multiple different versions of the Poutine with extra toppings including maple-flavoured BBQ sauce, bacon bits, smoked meat, and crispy buffalo chicken.
Rich and tasty gravy? Melty, mouth-watering cheese curds? The most famous fries in the world? We have fast food envy.
5 The McCurry Pan, India
McDonald’s isn’t usually a favourite hotspot for vegetarians, but McDonald’s India has long done a decent line in veggie alternatives, catering to its large Hindu population.
This particular dish involves curried vegetables baked in a cream sauce inside a crispy bowl made of bread, which sounds both weird and totally delicious.
This delicacy looks a little bit like a rectangular deep-dish pizza and you can get it with chicken too, for those needing a meat fix.
4 Cheese Katsu, Japan
First launched in 1991, the cheese katsu became somewhat of a cult hit in Japan, which is why, in 2016, McDonald’s re-released it for a limited run to celebrate 45 years of business in the Asian country.
The infamous burger contains a deep-fried pork cutlet stuffed with cheese, which oozes out as you bite into it. There is also a garnish of cabbage to cut through the richness, along with a dollop of mayonnaise and tonkatsu sauce, which is essentially a thickened Worcestershire sauce. We understand why it caused quite the buzz.
3 McNoodles, Austria
Of all the countries McDonald’s decided to launch McNoodles, they did it in, erm, Austria. Apparently, Austrians were big into stir-fried noodles for a while, so McDonald’s seized the opportunity to create this own version of an increasingly popular dish. The company says it spent more than a year developing the product for the thriving Austrian market.
This limited edition dish was a stir-fry bowl with noodles and vegetables, with the option of chicken pieces, and either sweet and sour or curry sauce.
2 McKroket, The Netherlands
A kroket is deep fried, breaded snack made of cheese and creamy beef ragout and is a popular snack in the country. What McDonald’s has done is sandwich it between a typical burger bun. Biting into it, the steaming, hot goo oozes out with its salty flavors, and don't forget the cheese with a kick from the mustard-like dressing.
A taste of authentic Dutch food this is not, but it’s pretty darn tasty none the less.
1 Sausage and Egg Twisty Pasta Breakfast
Twisty Pasta is not a limited edition meal but a regular menu item in McDonald’s Hong Kong - but it’s only for breakfast.
This hearty breakfast dish is essentially a soup full of twisty noodles and vegetables, plus a sausage patty and an egg, like you’d find on any McDonald’s breakfast menu around the world. So if you’re in Hong Kong and into having a leisurely breakfast at McDonald’s, this sausage-egg-and-noodle mash-up is for you.