McDonald's Revamps Its Burgers to Stay Competitive

Other QSRs are also upping their burgers as well.

December 01, 2023

McDonald’s is implementing changes to its signature burgers, including the Big Mac, in locations across the United States. The QSR decided to revamp some of its industrial-scale techniques due to increased competition in the fast-food burger industry, reported the Wall Street Journal.

According to the Journal, some changes include a new special sauce and a brioche bun. The patties will now be cooked in smaller batches in order to achieve a more uniform sear. Additionally, “the lettuce, cheese and pickles have been rethought to be fresher and meltier.”

“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,” said Chris Young, McDonald’s senior director of global menu strategy.

Overall, there are over 50 tweaks to the burgers on the McDonald’s menu, making this the company’s biggest upgrade to its menu in decades, according to the Journal. The new version of the burgers was tested in Australia, and now the company is bringing the new recipe and method to its 13,460 locations in the United States.

Market research firm Technomic noted that sales for higher-end, fast-casual burger chains have been growing faster than traditional players. This includes chains such as Smashburger, Five Guys and Shake Shack.

Other restaurants have been overhauling their burgers as well. This year, Red Robin Gourmet Burgers switched from the conveyor-belt-style ovens that previously cooked its patties to a flat-top grill that provides more sear. Other changes include using more seasoning and ripening tomatoes in-house for improved flavor.

Sonic moved the cheese on its burger to sit between the bottom bun and the patty to improve the melt, and its lettuce is chopped instead of shredded to increase crispiness and reduce browning, reported the Journal. And last year, Arby’s added a burger to its menu, providing even more competition.

According to research firm Dataessential, last year burgers accounted for around 40% of fast-food sales in the United States and an estimated 68% of Americans eat burgers at fast-food restaurants at least once a month.