I will admit that “I must eat at McDonald’s” is not usually the first thing I think when I’m about to travel to another country. I’m usually excited about that country’s food in general, of course — food is one of my favorite things — but McD’s? I mean… we’ve got that right here in the United States, right? But, like many fast food companies based in the United States, the
menus at international McDonald’s locations have a wealth of items not available in the U.S. — and, to be honest, some of them are kind of giving me FOMO.
I know. FOMO. Over
McDonald’s. I’m surprised, too. Ah well; stranger things have happened, I guess.
very first McDonald’s — or at least, the first McDonald’s as we know it; brothers Mac and Dick McDonald tried a few other ventures first — opened in 1948 in San Bernardino, Calif. The McDonald brothers started franchising in 1952, and shortly thereafter, Ray Kroc bought first a franchise, and then the entire company. From there, the goal was standardization — with motorist culture steadily rising, the idea behind McDonald’s was for folks to be able to get familiar, reliably tasty food no matter where they traveled to.
Decades later, McDonald’s isn’t just limited to the United States;
it’s a worldwide entity. But as the company began to go international… well, the definition of “familiar, reliably tasty food” changes depending on where you are, so each although each country’s franchises offer McD’s classics like burgers and fries, a lot of locally-inspired items make their way onto the menus, too.
These 13 struck me as particularly notable, although they’re by no means the only international McD’s items I, uh, kind of wish I was jamming in my face right this very moment. Anyone want to tell me how these are so I can live vicariously through you?
McDonald’s Canada: Poutine
course McDonald’s Canada has poutine on the menu. It’s what you’d expect — McDonald’s fries topped with gravy and cheese curds — and you can probably get better poutine elsewhere, but, I mean… there’s poutine on the McDonald’s menu. That is magnificent.
McDonald’s India: McSpicy Paneer
McDonald’s India has long had many more vegetarian options than the chain does in most other countries, but when the
McSpicy Paneer arrived in 2011, it was a triumph. The “burger” consists of a breaded, fried slice of paneer (AKA one of the best varieties of cheeses ever) topped with lettuce and a tandoori-like sauce, all sandwiched between the layers of a classic sesame seed-studded bun.
McDonald’s Hong Kong: Iced Hong Kong Milk Tea
As Kevin Pang put it at The Takeout in 2018, “
Some good came out of Britain’s attempt to take over the world”: Hong Kong milk tea was developed while the territory was subject to British colonial rule, taking the English tradition of drinking strong tea with milk and adapting it for Hong Kong’s own climate. Made with black tea and evaporated milk and sweetened with condensed milk, it’s now a staple of the region. McDonald’s version uses Ceylon tea as its base.
McDonald’s Japan: Wasabi Shaka Shaka Fries
“Shaka shaka” (シャカシャカ)is an onomatopoeia in Japanese — it’s the sound something makes when you shake it around. Accordingly, when you order
Wasabi Shaka Shaka Fries at a McDonald’s in Japan, you’re given fries, a packet of seasoning — wasabi, in this case (heck yes) — and a paper bag. You then put the fries in the bag, empty the seasoning into it, hold the bag closed, and shake it around a bunch to coat the fries in the seasoning.
McDonald’s France: Le McWrap Chevre
A goat cheese wrap at McDonald’s? Yep: In France,
le McWrap Chevre combines two crispy, hot, breaded goat cheese medallions with lettuce, tomatoes, and a creamy sauce; then it wraps the whole thing in a… wrap. (Does anyone else find it difficult that “wrap” refers both to a sandwich and to the thing that makes up that sandwich’s exterior?)
McDonald’s Mexico: McPatatas
I mean, regular fries are all well and good, but sometimes, you want something with a bit more heft — and that is exactly what McD’s take on patatas bravas provides. Unlike
traditional patatas bravas, McPatatas aren’t smothered in sauce; however, instead of made into shoestring fries, the potatoes have been cut into wedges, seasoned, and made all crispy. You can add McQueso to them if you want to get a little cheesy.
McDonald’s Australia: Brekkie Burgers
If you like egg on your burgers, good news: McDonald’s Australia has your back. The
Big Brekkie Burger tops a beef patty with a hash brown, cheese, bacon, a “freshly cracked egg,” and barbecue sauce; meanwhile, if you’re not a red meat fan, the Chicken Brekkie Burger subs in a crispy chicken breast for the beef.
Also, bonus points for the Down Under take on the Dollar Menu: It’s called
the Loose Change Menu. I love that. So much.
McDonald’s Germany: Unicorn Froot Loops McFlurry
You heard me: McDonald’s Germany has a
on the menu right now. (Looks like the UK isn’t the only place to be blessed with the appearance of Unicorn Froot Loops McFlurry Unicorn Froot Loops) The McFlurry features vanilla soft serve and comes loaded with Unicorn Froot Loops and raspberry sauce. It also sounds way better than any McFlurry we’ve got in the United States.
McDonald’s Norway: Sweet Potato Fries
Given the choice between regular fries and sweet potato fries, I will pick
sweet potato fries every single time. It is therefore terribly depressing to me that I cannot do that at McDonald’s in the United States. Clearly, I need to go move to Norway, though, because that’s a thing you can do there.
McDonald’s South Africa: Boerie Burgers
These options on the South African McD’s menu might look like run-of-the-mill burgers, but they’re designed to taste like
boerewors, a kind of sausage that factors prominently in the country’s cuisine. Choose from the Boerie Single or Boerie Double burgers; both come smothered with ketchup, mustard, and grilled onions on a soft and pillowy bun.
McDonald’s Chile: Empanadas Con Queso
McDonald’s New Zealand: NYC Benedict Bagel
Honestly, one of my most surprising finds was all the bagel sandwiches available on the McDonald’s New Zealand menu. The
NYC Benedict Bagel sandwiches crispy bacon, egg, cheese, and hollandaise sauce between the two halves of a warm, toasted bagel — and the best part is, it’s not just on the regular breakfast menu; it’s on the all-day breakfast menu. (Admittedly I’m not entirely sure what’s so New York-like about eggs benedict — maybe it's because it's a New York brunch favorite? — but whatever. It’s fine. Everything is fine.)
McDonald’s Singapore: Red Rice Porridge
The rice-based porridge widely known as congee is a staple of a huge variety of Asian countries. In Singapore, it’s called
Teochew porridge — and in 2018, McDonald’s Singapore added their own take on the dish to the menu. McD’s Red Rice Porridge features sweet potato, shiitake mushrooms, bean curd, corn, and goji berries.
Curious about other international McDonald’s menus?
This page at the McDonald’s corporate site includes links to literally every single McDonald’s website in the entire world. You might need Google Translate to read some of them, depending on how good you are with languages, but it’s a treasure trove of deliciousness. You’re welcome. And have fun!