McDonald's has been a staple of American culture since its inception in 1940 by the eponymous McDonald brothers. Since the late Sixties, the McDonald's arches have been a symbol recognizable to nearly everyone in the States, and their current jingle "I'm lovin' it" is likely permanently burned into memories around the country.
However, McDonald's international operations tell a different story. The first McDonald's did not appear in China until 1990, and it didn't even debut in the Chinese capital Beijing. Instead, McDonald's opened their first Chinese branch in the smaller city of Shenzhen, expanding north as the chain grew more extensive within the country.
Though McDonald's China retains many American favorites on the menu, regional options are available that cater more to local culture. Read on to discover 12 exciting choices you can order at a Chinese McDonald's restaurant!
Updated by Gabriel Kirellos, November 7th, 2021: McDonald's has different menus in countries worldwide where the burger giant caters to the tastes and needs of its customers in several areas of the world. The fast-food chain keeps on surprising the Chinese market with constant additions to its menu items. This list was updated to include some additional foods introduced by McDonald's in China, such as the Crosscut Fries and the Lemon Red Tea.
12 Pineapple Pie
If you've ever stopped at an American McDonald's with a hankering for sweets, then you've no doubt had one of the standard apple pies, or more recently, a strawberry creme flavored treat.
McDonald's China has an array of desserts, but travel bloggers have singled out their pie offerings. The pineapple pie is stuffed full of gooey and fruity filling, and unlike its American counterpart, has a fried crust that makes the dessert both crispy and flaky!
11 Taro Pie
Even more unique, the taro pie is composed of a purple and white filling in the same golden-brown crust as the last pie. Unlike the pineapple pie that offers guests tiny chunks of fruit, the taro pie is more generous in its veggie ratio to filling.
Taro is a starchy vegetable used in some countries as a flavor for boba milk tea, and many report that the taste is similar to sweet potato with a slight note of vanilla. That may be why it works so well in desserts!
10 Sichuan Double Chicken Burger
This is a menu item that will please diehard fans of Rick and Morty! If you're looking for a McDonald's menu item that makes good use of Szechuan sauce, this delectable chicken sandwich will be your best bud.
Consisting of chicken patties, lettuce, and Szechuan sauce on two fluffy brioche buns, the Sichuan Double Chicken Burger is great. McDonald's China has definitely cooked up a worthwhile idea in this sandwich, that's for sure!
Congee, known in some regions of China by various names, is a dish composed of disintegrated rice that has been boiled with lots of water to create a porridge-style mixture. It can be eaten with several different add-ons, such as eggs, meat, or plant-based proteins like tofu.
The congee at McDonald's, typical of most congees, is available as a side dish. A customer can order congee of three different varieties, including chicken with salted egg yolk, preserved egg, and pickled cabbage with bamboo shoot. However, the congee side is only available in the morning, so the early bird gets the worm.
8 Red Bean Boba Tea
Though the menu in a Chinese McDonald's is not ripe with sugary lattes and smoothies, it does contain other beverages more akin to Chinese culture. Boba milk tea can be served both cold and warm, and it seems that McDonald's prefers the latter in this case.
Though not overly sweet, the McDonald's boba is a sugary drink that balances milk and tea, along with cooked tapioca boba and red beans at the bottom of the cup. The portion is also relatively large, so it's possible to enjoy your boba for a good while after your order it!
7 Spicy McWings
Chicken is king in China, and the McDonald's menu is no exception. Though the McWings may not have been popular here in America, they have been a menu standard for a while in China.
McWings are crispy, buffalo-style chicken wings, and they come in two, four, and six-piece offerings. McDonald's China has both nuggets and wings, along with a variety of other chicken products, including the chicken mentioned above "burgers."
6 Crisscut Fries
If you're native to the U.S., you might think of Chick-Fil-A when you desire hot, salty waffle fries. Well, the McDonald's menu in China has got you covered on that front!
In addition to the chain's famous regular cut fries, McDonald's China offers small boxes of waffle fries, known as Crisscut fries, for around $1.89. Right now, the online ordering system in China is offering a buy one get free deal on fries, so hungry customers can load up on potatoey goodness for cheap if they so wish!
5 Bizarre Combos
In America, value meals are pretty standard, and they usually include a main entree, one side, and a drink. In China, the combinations of items you can purchase at once from the McDonald's menu borders on the extreme! For starters, the chain offers a five-person combo for around $29 that looks to include five sandwiches, five drinks, a couple of sides, and of course, pies for dessert.
The names are honestly what makes these combos so outrageous. The Afternoon Tea McFlurry combo contains chicken nuggets, McWings, and two McFlurries. The Sweet Tooth combo comes with two pies, apple slices, and orange juice. And, to top them all, the Land Air Sea Warfare Combo has a burger, a fish sandwich, a chicken sandwich, and a serving of nuggets, McWings, and a chicken cutlet with three drinks!
4 Japanese Beef Bowl
The Japanese Beef Bowl is strangely available in China, and it is definitely one of the most unique offerings you'll find at a McDonald's there.
Containing a combination of savory beef pieces, mixed veggies, and noodles, the Japanese beef bowl option is also available as a combo that you can purchase with a serving of fries and a drink. Fries and a Japanese-style entree is definitely very...un-Japanese, but we suppose McDonald's can have a pass since its fries are so delicious.
3 German Sausage Double Beef Burger
Oh boy. Can anything top this weird concoction of a sandwich?
The German Sausage Double Beef Burger is a monstrous sandwich featuring precisely what you would picture--two signature McDonald's beef patties under two large German-style sausages drenched in ringlets of mustard. If you're looking for veggies on this burger, they aren't here, unfortunately.
This item has been available on the menu as far back as 2013 and still appears to be a staple today, according to the McDonald's Chinese online ordering website, McDelivery. Reviews from American travelers range from mixed to absolutely disgusted, so we advise you to try this burger at your own risk.
2 Lemon Red Tea
McDonald's introduced their own Iced Lemon Red Tea to the market to cater to their Chinese customers. The drink has a bit sweeter flavor, and McDonald's is serving it in a significant tall kind of cup. This is because Chinese consumers place great importance on the volume aspect of food and drinks when they're paying for them.
1 Crosscut Fries
McDonald's introduced the Crosscut Fries in China. Those are saltier than their ordinary rivals and have an added pepper flavor. Although crosscut fries are not a thing in China, unlike potato fries, the food has gained traction in the country since McDonald's introduced it. However, the price for crosscut fries is much higher than that of ordinary potato fries.