There is little need to explain what McDonald’s is. Those iconic golden arches are recognized all over the world. McDonald’s is actually the largest fast food chain in the world. They have over 35,000 stores worldwide. This fast food empire started in 1940 when a pair of brothers (we’ll let you guess their names) took over their father’s food and drink stand. After trial and error, the menu shifted to become focused on hamburgers, milkshakes, and French fries. After the success of their first restaurant, the brothers started to franchise McDonald’s with a couple of restaurants opening in California and Arizona. It wasn’t until Ray Croc, a salesman that supplied McDonald’s milkshake machines, entered the picture that McDonald’s started to appear all over America. The first McDonald’s to open outside of the U.S. was in British Columbia, and stores in Costa Rica, Japan, and Holland followed soon after.
Today, McDonald’s has become a globally-renowned chain. Part of the success of McDonald’s is due to them adjusting their menu items in the countries they open in. This is why some staples show up all over the world–such as the Big Mac and fries–and then other places have shrimp burgers and macarons. When you’re traveling to a foreign country, McDonald’s is probably far from the list of restaurants and cuisines you want to try. But, checking out the local Golden Arches is actually quite an experience, and it is interesting to see what is different about the menu in each country. Honestly, we’re quite jealous of some of the menu items in McDonald’s restaurants outside of the U.S.! Here are 25 McDonald’s menu items everyone needs to try while traveling around the world.
20 Japan – Ebi Filet-O Shrimp Burger
Japan was one of the first couple of countries to open a McDonald’s franchise. The first McDonald’s in Japan opened in 1971.
In America, eating seafood in a McDonald’s could be seen as the equivalent of eating sushi from a gas station; you just don’t do it. However, Japan is an island, so what would you think is their primary source of protein? That’s right, fish. Therefore, it is no surprise that Japan’s McDonald’s menu offers more seafood options than the ones in America. One of their most popular and long-standing burgers is the Ebi Filet-O-Shrimp. Ebi in Japanese translates to shrimp. So the burger is really the Shrimp Filet-O-Shrimp burger. Redundant much? We’ll make an educated guess and say that it is their take on the Filet-O-Fish – which they still also serve.
The Ebi Filet-O-Shrimp burger is a patty of shrimp that is covered in panko batter. It is fried and served with tempura sauce and lettuce.
We don’t know about you, but we think this sounds absolutely delicious. I mean, who would ever say no to fried shrimp? And the Japanese natives seem to enjoy it, seeing as how this burger is one of the staples on the menu.
19 Canada – Poutine
We love French fries. We love them with ketchup. We love them with chili. We love them with cheese. Any way you serve us French fries, we will definitely eat them. That is why we are so jealous of Canada and their poutine! Also known as their national dish, this plate of crispy fries, squeaky cheese curds, and delicious gravy sounds like absolute heaven. Legend has it that the delicious combination started off as a delightful accident when a man asked for a bag of fries and cheese curds. When he looked into his bag, he exclaimed, “This is a poutine,” which is slang for a “mess.” Gravy joined the duo when a restaurant owner in Quebec noticed that several people would order cheese curds on the side of their fries and gravy. When this dish grew in popularity, it became the national dish of Canada and even made the list as one of Canada’s greatest inventions. You can find poutine in any restaurant in Canada, but it is a testament to how important it is to Canadians that even McDonald’s offers it as one of their menu items. It is seriously cruel how close but still so far those delectable spuds are from us right now.
18 China – Mashed Potato Burger
What the heck? Of all the toppings that you can add to a hamburger, China has decided to add mashed potatoes? We’ve heard of bacon, onions, mushrooms, and even fried eggs, but mashed potatoes are definitely a first.
In addition to the mashed potatoes, the burger also has bacon and two beef patties. Interestingly enough, the burger was introduced as part of McDonald’s “Manly Man” campaign. So apparently, this is the kind of food that men in China want to eat.
Does that mean that it would be unseemly for a woman to eat this burger? We like mashed potatoes too! We don’t really know how we feel about it in the burger, but we’ll try anything once. The meal is similar to a good old fashion cookout, though. We remember the summer days of grilling burgers and eating them with a side of cold potato salad. Maybe that is where the inspiration came from? Still, for a country that serves rice as a side option on the dollar menu, mashed potatoes are a weird topping. At this point, we’ve only got one question (surprisingly enough). When is the “Womanly Woman” burger coming out?
17 United Kingdom – Cadbury Crème Egg McFlurry
If you’ve never had a Cadbury Crème Egg, we’re sorry to say that you’ve never truly lived. These chocolaty egg-shaped balls of goodness are stuffed with a sweet white and yellow fondant so that they look like real eggs. These eggs are one of the top-selling chocolate products in the United Kingdom. Sales especially rocket around Easter with these eggs being a favorite basket filler. Since they are such a favorite treat in the United Kingdom, it was a fantastic idea to incorporate them into the McDonald’s menu. And what better way than to combine it with McDonald’s famous soft-served ice cream? This McFlurry dream is an indulgent blend of chocolate, egg fondant sauce, and vanilla soft serve. While we get minty artificial green Shamrock Shakes around Easter, those lucky people in the United Kingdom get to enjoy a Cadbury Crème Egg McFlurry. Even worse, some Canadian McDonald’s also offer this delicious frozen treat. It is like being taunted by McFlurries. So not fair. We could console ourselves by saying that even if the United States had this delicious treat, we wouldn’t get it because of the calorie count, but we all know that we’re lying here.
16 Poland – Cordon Bleu Burger
Clearly, the people in Poland love meat. Why else would they have a burger that includes beef, pork, and chicken? That’s right. The only thing missing from this burger is fish which, frankly, is a good thing.
The meal is called Cordon Bleu because it involves a deep-fried chicken patty that is stuffed with ham. Usually, the chicken is a meal by itself. But, McDonald’s decided that it would up the ante and add a beef patty and bacon on top of the Cordon Bleu and sandwich it between two pieces of onion bread.
That's right, this seriously sounds like a heart attack waiting to happen. The closest that we can get to this artery-clogging meal is to order a bacon cheeseburger and add a chicken filet to it, which someone in America has probably already done. We’ve made hamburgers using donuts and entire fried chicken breasts for buns. The three-layer meat-filled Cordon Bleu Burger is nothing compared to some of the other things that American restaurants have produced. If you get a chance to visit Poland and you decide that this is a meal you can’t skip out on, make sure you have EMTs nearby so they can shock your heart back to order when it decides to quit.
15 India – McCurry Pan
A majority of India’s population is either Hindu or Muslim, which is an issue for McDonald’s. Why, you may ask? Well, Hindus don’t eat beef because cows are sacred, and Muslims don’t eat pork because it is un-pure. So for a chain whose menus are dominated by hamburgers, the dietary restrictions would pose a problem. McDonald’s being the adaptable franchise that they are, decided to add vegetarian options to their menu. The McCurry Pan is a box made from pastry dough. It is filled with a medley of vegetables and a cream sauce. That actually sounds pretty delicious! And very not McDonald’s. This menu item is offered in Amritsar, a city in Northern India. The city is also the location of the Golden Temple, a holy site that forbids any meat. An average McDonald’s wouldn’t be able to open here, so instead, they decided to open their very first all-vegetarian menu restaurant here. You won’t find your favorite Big Mac or McNuggets at this location. But alongside the McCurry Pan, you’ll also find McAloo Tikki Burger and the McSpicy Paneer, all of which are meat-free! Even PETA couldn’t complain about this menu. (Although, knowing them, they would probably find a way.)
14 Korea – Shrimp Beef Burger
In Korea, a surf and turf takes on a whole new meaning at McDonald’s. The classic fine dining meal of a steak with a side of grilled shrimp or lobster has been converted into a cheap fast food burger.
This ultimate burger is advertised to have a beef patty that is sourced from Australia and New Zealand and layered with a fried shrimp patty. The combination is finished off with some lettuce, tomato, spicy onion sauce, and a corn-wheat bun.
Can we say, “yes, please!” This burger sounds absolutely fantastic. Between an actual steak and shrimp meal and this awe-inspiring burger, we’d probably choose the burger. If only because we’re too poor to pay for a steak dinner. So when you find yourself walking through the streets of Korea hungry but with just a few dollars on you, head towards those Golden Arches. You will be able to have a fine dining experience for cheap! You will be able to tell all your friends back home how you had a great meal of steak and shrimp with a side salad of tomato and lettuce. Just don’t let them ask too many questions.
13 Australia – Big Brekkie Burger
Holy cow. What has Australia done? The Big Brekkie Burger is a thing of wonder. This insane burger is an entire breakfast meal in one hand. Starting with a sesame seed bun followed by a beef patty (Australian, of course), the combo continues with a crispy, warm hash brown, crunchy bacon, hot melting cheese, and an egg. The entire thing is finished off with a spoonful of barbecue sauce. This burger sounds incredible, and our bodies are ready for it. Well, by ready, we mean we didn’t eat for an entire day so that we could enjoy this hamburger. This concoction is almost 800 calories. Add in the drink and the fries (because you have to have the fries) and you’ll definitely be shooting in the 1,000 calorie range. Considering that the average human should only eat about 2,000-2,500 calories a day, this one meal would cover half your food intake for the day. But we are not complaining. This hamburger is only offered in Australia, and it would be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. And we say once in a lifetime because we’re pretty sure you’d die after eating the 18 grams of saturated fat that accompany this 'one' meal.
12 Sweden – McVegan
We love meat and cheese way too much to ever give it up. But in Sweden, a good chunk of the population today is either vegetarian or vegan. The Animal Rights Sweden took a poll and 1 in 10 people in Sweden is a non-meat eater. To answer this rising class of consumers, McDonald’s responded with the McVegan.
The classic beef patty has been replaced with a soy-based one. And to promote the Swedish economy, the patty comes from Anamma, a Swedish food brand. People have described the taste and texture to be similar to meat—smoky and savory.
It seems to be a hit. The burger is topped with the standard lettuce, tomato, onion, and pickles. But wait, what about the special sauce? You can’t eat a McDonald’s Big Mac without the special sauce. It just wouldn’t be the same. Well, the head thinkers at McDonald’s Corporation thought of that and created a vegan version of the sauce. We can’t really tell you what is in it seeing as how it is a “secret sauce,” but it seems that the Swedes are enjoying this new creation. If this burger ever came over to our side of the waters, we might give it a try. Although let’s be real, we would probably add bacon to it.
11 Malaysia – Bubur Ayam
We’re not even entirely sure how to pronounce this meal, and we’re also not entirely sure what we’re looking at. Burbar Ayam bears zero resemblance to anything we’ve ever seen on the plastic drive-thru menus of McDonald’s. At first glance, this dish looks like grits (if you’re from the south) or oatmeal (if you’re from the north). But if you come from an Asian background, you might correctly guess that this is rice porridge. Rice porridge is rice cooked with copious amounts of water. So, instead of the dry grain that most people are familiar with, you get a soft watery rice stew. In most Asian countries, rice stew is a typical breakfast dish. It’s simple and easy to digest first thing in the morning. Of course, plain rice porridge is very bland. Instead, like grits and oatmeal, various toppings are added to it to make it a heartier meal. McDonald’s decided to jump on the bandwagon and made their version of rice porridge. Theirs includes chicken strips, ginger, onions, shallots, and chili peppers for a bit of a kick. We don’t know if this dish comes with a side of hash browns or not, but we’d definitely be down for trying it!
10 Philippines – Chicken McDo With McSpaghetti
This next McDonald’s meal looks like something you would order at a Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) or an Italian restaurant rather than McDonald’s. Called the Chicken McDo with McSpaghetti (come on, McDonald’s, McReally?),
this meal–as the name suggests–comes with a piece of chicken and a side of spaghetti. We get the McSpaghetti, but what’s with the McDo? We’re not really sure what prompted headquarters to add this meal to the menu, but it must be what the Filipinos want. The chicken is fried and served with a side of sauce similar to BBQ sauce.
The pasta looks like your typical bowl of spaghetti with tomato sauce, sausage, and cheese. We looked at some reviews for this meal, and the feedback seems to be that the spaghetti is a tad too sweet. However, the pasta noodles seem to be done very well. If you’re not a fan of spaghetti, then you can also do the meal with a side of rice instead. Or if neither entrée sounds like what you want, then just McDon’t. (See what we did there?) We are curious as to who did the fried chicken better, though. Who do you think would win? McDonald’s or KFC?
9 Italy – Pizzarotto
Wow, McDonald’s really wants to fit in with the crowd, it seems. In Italy, land of pizza and gelato, this fast food chain has added the Pizzarotto to their menu. Looking at the picture, it is quite simple to deduce what precisely the Pizzarotto is. It is essentially a mini-calzone. It is pizza dough stuffed with tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese. Let’s be real, if you’re in Italy, you’re probably not going to want to eat a calzone in a McDonald’s when you could go to any of the other millions of pizzerias. But, if this is the very first time you’ve ever had a calzone, sampling a cheaper option at McDonald’s first may not be the worst idea. The Pizzarotto is offered individually or as a Happy Meal. Also, children are usually difficult to manage, especially when traveling abroad. If your child starts demanding food before you’re ready for a meal, you could quickly get them a Pizzarotto Happy Meal. This way, you’re still giving them something that is related to Italian food without too much hassle. We think the Pizzarottos look like an excellent snack food, although that is probably because they look so much like Hot Pockets.
8 Thailand – Pineapple Pie
A staple of McDonald’s since they opened their first shop in 1940 is the apple pie. Not only is the apple pie a cult classic in America, but it is one of the few foods that people list as “American food.” Alongside hamburgers and hot dogs, there aren’t many foods that are internationally recognized as “American food.” Our moment of insanity encasing everything in gelatin back in the 60’s never really caught on with the rest of the world (thank God). In Thailand, they decided to take our beloved apple pies and change them to pineapple pies. Just because pineapple has ‘apple’ in it means that it is the same thing! Okay, we’re just kidding. We aren’t mad.
The pineapple pie actually looks quite tempting. With the classic McDonald’s toasted skin, the inside of this pie is filled with jelly and chunks of pineapple. Each bite is full of pastry crumbs and gooey goodness.
How did McDonald’s describe their iconic dessert? Oh yeah, “warm and crispy deliciousness.” It seems that several countries have also decided to move away from the traditional apple pie...alongside Thailand, Hawaii, Malaysia, and several other southeast Asian countries have added pineapple pie to their menus.
7 Hong Kong – Bacon-Macaroni-And-Cheese-Toastie
Are you as confused as we are? We hope so. For whatever reason, Hong Kong McDonald’s came up with the bizarre combination of macaroni and bacon inside a sandwich. By the way, a toastie is just another name for a grilled sandwich, in case you were wondering. Still, to put pasta into a sandwich makes no sense to us or our carbohydrate count. Then again, we adore macaroni and cheese. Grilled cheeses are delicious, and bacon is always a ‘yes’ in our books. So for many, the combination isn’t that weird. Even if this crazy mishmash of a sandwich doesn’t make you want to go into a McDonald’s while you’re in Hong Kong, you should still stop by and sit a moment.
Hong Kong’s McDonald’s take the title for world’s busiest McDonald’s. They’re open 24 hours a day and have become the most popular place to hang out. Just sitting inside for ten minutes will give you a glimpse into the heartbeat of this city. Students crowd the tables, opting to study within reaching distance of French fries rather than libraries. Businessmen and women rush in and out on their limited lunch breaks. Elderly people cluster together using the restaurant’s air conditioner to cool off as they catch up on the local gossip. So even if you don’t want to try the ‘Bacon-Macaroni-and Cheese-Toastie’ (though you really should), take a moment to see how different the McDonald’s culture is here in Hong Kong compared to home.
6 Germany – Camembert Doughnuts
“UUUNNNNGHHFFHH.” That’s the sound of our jealous and disbelieving groan as we look at this picture of melty goodness. Although they are not really doughnuts, McDonald’s in Germany have released a mozzarella stick/onion ring hybrid.
Those golden rings are breaded deep-fried circles of camembert. We are literally drooling onto our keyboards right now. Unlike mozzarella sticks that produce a long string of cheese (although we still love that), camembert would be more liquidy and gooey.
(We are so ready to eat this.) This side dish already looks impressive enough on its own, but that’s not all. They even come with a side of cranberry sauce! Who was the sweet, brilliant genius that came up with this?! Why is this not in America? We love cheese and fried things! But wait, we’re not even done yet. McDonald’s in Germany have more than just the regular soda options. You can order a McBeer while you dine at these exotic Golden Arches. Fried cheese and boots of beer? We’ve never wanted to book a ticket to Berlin so badly before, and it’s all because of McDonald’s. We’re going to make a petition that demands American McDonald’s bring these Camembert Doughnuts to us. We need it McNow.
5 Canada - McLobster
Canada already has poutine on their menu, so why do they also get the McLobster? Exactly as it sounds, Canadian McDonald’s get to have a lobster roll on their menu. The luxury sandwich is about 8 dollars which we find absurd. We’ve paid for a decent lobster roll in Boston, King of the Lobster Rolls, and 8 dollars would have paid for maybe half a roll. But, since the franchise owner, Gerry Moore, that came up with the McLobster had connections with the lobster fishing industry, he was able to cut a deal; thus, the popularity of the McLobster spread throughout Canada. This decadent sandwich is only offered during the summer when lobsters are in abundance. The lobster meat is mixed with mayo, a bit of butter, and some green onions before it is spooned on to a sesame bun. Unfortunately, this year, the 25-year-old seasonal item will not be offered due to lobster prices. Hopefully, they will bring it back next year because while we can’t afford a plane ticket to go to Germany for their camembert doughnuts, we could probably spring for a ticket to get to our much closer neighbor, Canada. Lobster rolls and poutine at McDonald’s is enough motivation for us.
4 Denmark – Toblerone McFlurry
You’ve probably seen those long triangular chocolate bars at the checkout line of every grocery store. If you’ve never tried one of the Toblerone chocolate bars, then you are missing out. These creamy chocolates are infused with nougat, almonds, and honey and are just delicious. Their triangular prism shapes are a distinctive trademark of theirs. Did you know that the shape of a Toblerone is more than just advertising? The chocolate bar is also shaped this way to help the consumer eat them. Just press in on the tip of the triangle and a perfect piece breaks off. How useful. We admit that we’ve occasionally been too impatient and just bit into the bar like a barbarian. Anyways,
in Denmark, McDonald’s has added chunks of Toblerone to their McFlurry. The Toblerone McFlurry is a perfect combination of creamy vanilla ice cream and chocolate and nuts. It’s like an ice cream sundae, but dare we say even better?
This decadent dessert is a must try when you visit Denmark. And if you’re jealous and can’t make it out to Denmark anytime soon, why not go to Sweden (because that’s sooo much easier)? This excellent treat is also offered in Sweden, which would make sense because it is a Swedish chocolate.
3 Netherlands – McKroket
Nobody goes to McDonald’s because they’re looking for a low-calorie healthy meal. Just saying ‘low-calorie healthy meal’ while we talk about McDonald’s is making us laugh. The Netherlands has a delicious deep-fried burger that we are all too ready to try. Forget about getting ready for swimsuit season. We want this hamburger in our belly.
The McKroket is a hamburger that, instead of a beef patty, has a kroket (shocker). The kroket is a mound of creamy beef ragout (kind of like a stew) that is breaded and then deep-fried. The fried goodness is finished off with some creamy and spicy mustard sauce.
There aren’t many toppings on this burger because the kroket itself is intense enough. You’ll probably eat this burger, fall in love, and then instantly regret it. We suggest you get this sandwich while you’re waiting for your flight home at the airport—literally every airport in the world has a McDonald’s. It can be your last meal before you leave the Netherlands and finish your vacation. Everyone knows that the food you eat while you’re on vacation doesn’t count and the last meal even more so! So grab that takeout bag, devour this creamy goodness, and forget to log those calories.
2 Paris – Macarons
When you go to Paris, everyone is going to tell you to buy and eat macarons. These little almond cookies are the national food of France. Made out of almond flour and meringue, these pillowy desserts are double-layered and filled with some kind of filling ranging from ganache to jams. The most famous macarons are probably those from Ladurée, a world-renowned French luxury bakery. But a single box with six cookies is usually around 20 dollars. If that seems to be too steep a price to pay for some cookies, you should hit up a McDonald’s instead. Of course, the French McDonald’s will be a hundred times classier than ours, it’s France! But the McCafe’s offer a much wider variety of coffees and pastries than our measly apple pie and Oreo McFlurry. On top of selling macarons, which range in flavors from chocolate, pistachio, vanilla, and orange, the McCafe also offers various cheesecakes, muffins, cookies, and croissants. All of this for a fraction of the price that Ladurée sells their cookies for. So, if you want to save a few bucks when you’re exploring the city of love, get your macarons at McDonald’s!
1 Singapore – Durian Crunch McFlurry
When you walk around Singapore, you’ll notice that most hotels will have a sign that says “No Durians” with a silhouette of a weird spiky oval. If you don’t already know what durian is, then you need to prepare yourself for one of nature’s most bizarre fruits. There are only two reactions to durian—utter horror and disgust or adoration and love. This strange fruit has an extreme odor that permeates everything. The smell is a combination of sweetness, raw sewage, and garlic. You can understand why hotels don’t want you bringing this aromatic fruit inside. Still, in most southeast Asian countries, Singapore included, durian is considered “king of fruits.”
Those that enjoy the fruit says that it has a pleasant sweet and custardy taste while those that hate the fruit says it tastes as it smells. McDonald’s decided to include themselves in this conversation and chose the side of the durian. They created the Durian McFlurry which is soft serve vanilla ice cream with durian syrup and crunchy bits on top. We’d actually suggest trying the McFlurry because the smell is much less extreme than from the ripe fruit itself. In the form of a McFlurry, the fruit (even though it is just the syrup) is much more palatable. And, if you decided after the ice cream that you quite enjoy the taste of durian, you can take the next step and try a fresh piece. Just don’t bring it back over here, please.