20 Genius Hacks Every McDonald’s Fan Should Know

Score fresher food, better prices, and discover seriously fun mash-ups.

hamburger drink and fries on a tray in McDonald fast food restaurant
Updated June 6, 2024
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Serving up iconic menu items like Big Macs and Quarter Pounders, McDonald’s has a loyal customer base thanks to its consistency and delicious food. Its affordable menu is also one of the best ways to eliminate money stress when you want a quick bite to eat.

But did you know there are ways to hack the menu for better quality items, delicious hybrids, and even cheaper prices?

From DIY sandwiches to the perfect french fries, here’s how it’s done.

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Ask for salt-free fries

Oleksandr/Adobe french fries McDonald's in a paper box

Few people will argue that McDonald’s has the best fast food french fries. However, you can guarantee yours will be fresh every time by asking for them without salt. This forces the crew to make an individual batch right then and there which you can salt yourself later on.

Get a Big Mac for half the price

Наталия Кузина/Adobe hamburger menu in McDonald's restaurant

Want a Big Mac but don’t want to pay full price for it? Hack the McDouble by ordering it without ketchup or mustard, then ask them to add Big Mac sauce.

The result is pretty much an identical burger but for half the price. All you’ll be missing is some extra bread and sesame seeds.

Make your Big Mac bigger

Irina/Adobe Big Mac in a recyclable cardboard package

Sure, a Big Mac is great, but have you ever wished the meat patties were a little more substantial? If so, the McKinley Mac is for you.

When you order, ask the employee to sub out the regular beef patties for Quarter Pounder patties. You may pay a bit more, but the meat lover in you will be delighted.

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Ask for a steamed bun

charnsitr/Adobe Double Fillet o Fish burger from McDonald's Restaurant

Have you ever noticed that the Filet-O-Fish comes with a fluffy and doughy bun? That’s because it’s steamed so the texture will perfectly complement the fried fish and creamy tartar sauce. However, you can request a steamed bun on any sandwich or burger just by asking.

Hack a Chicken Cordon Bleu McMuffin

ANGHI/Adobe breakfast burgers fresh muffins with chicken and pork cutlets

Thanks to all-day breakfast, you can create a fast food hybrid worthy of a Parisian cafe – well, sort of.

Just order an Egg McMuffin and a McChicken sandwich, remove the chicken patty from the bun, and insert it into the breakfast sandwich. Presto! The Chicken Cordon Bleu is born.

Create a Chicken McGriddle

Robson90/Adobe McDonald McChicken Jalapeno Burger french fries Veggie Burger and cup

Another hybrid breakfast sandwich you can hack is the Chicken McGriddle. In a nutshell, this is simply a McGriddle in which you swap out the typical breakfast meats — bacon or sausage — for a McChicken patty.

This hack has serious chicken and waffle energy on a budget. You can even keep the bacon for an extra treat.

Order your hash browns well-done

philip kinsey/Adobe Hash Browns

What’s not to like about McDonald’s hash browns? They’re salty, they’re greasy, and they’re just plain tasty.

But you can level up your hash brown game by asking for them to be prepared well-done. This will up the crunch factor, making them all the more satisfying. You can also use them as a textural element by adding them to burgers and sandwiches, too.

Don’t sleep on the dipping sauces

YUTO PHOTOGRAPHER/Adobe hand holding a chicken nugget dipped in red sauce

While dipping sauces usually come with an order of Chicken McNuggets, you can use them to level up the flavor profile of any sandwich or burger.

You can add buffalo sauce to your McChicken, for one, or ranch to your Big Mac. The possible combinations are endless, so add them to your order next time.

Make your own float

Brent Hofacker/Adobe refreshing root beer float

The ice cream machines at McDonald’s are notorious for being out-of-service. But the next time they’re working, try making your own float. All you need to do is order a soda (we like root beer) and an ice cream cone. Open the soda, plop in your ice cream, and enjoy.

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Create an Orange Creamsicle

Brent Hofacker/Adobe orange soda creamsicle ice cream float

If you’re in the mood for ice cream but a root beer float isn’t quite what you’re craving, you can opt for the Orange Creamsicle option instead.

Instead, order vanilla ice cream in a cup, then head to the soda fountain and splash in some orange soda. We’re huge fans of this classic combo.

Ask for a receipt

Heorshe/Adobe food served in a paper bag on counter at McDonald's restaurant

Not that you need proof that you bought a Double Quarter Pounder (or want it for that matter), but asking for a receipt may cause the McDonald’s employees to suspect you’re a secret shopper. That way you might get the freshest items made with the utmost care.

Order the Senior Coffee

Tricky Shark/Adobe various types of ceramic coffee cups with McCafe logo on stand

If you’re over the age of 55 and present your ID, you can get 20% off of a cup of coffee at McDonald’s. And if you are a frequent customer, you can even score a free cup of coffee on the eighth go-around. Just another clever way to keep you from throwing away money in retirement.

Make your own chicken salad

rzoze19/Adobe salad in a box fries and breaded chicken meat

Want a fresher McDonald’s experience but don’t want to pony up the cash for a full salad? Enter the budget chicken option.

You’ll have to do a little DIY work here, but order the McChicken without the bun, ask for double the lettuce, and a side salad. Dice up the chicken and add it to the salad.

Request a burger without an ingredient

Ocskay Mark/Adobe burger variations

Just as you can get fresh fries by asking for them without salt, you can get a fresh burger or sandwich if you have them hold one of the usual ingredients. They’ll have to make your lunch at that time rather than grab something that’s been sitting around under the heat lamps.

Make your own McCrepe

ltyuan/Adobe Sausage McMuffin and pancake set with McCafe Coffee

McDonald’s hotcakes have been around forever, but let’s face it — they could use a little extra love. So, why not order a Yogurt Parfait and use it as filling for the cakes and make yourself a McCrepe? It’s a cheap and easy way to DIY a fancier-than-average breakfast at McDonald’s.

Ask for a real egg

Mara Zemgaliete/Adobe fried eggs and bacon

McDonald’s has a pretty decent breakfast selection, but we’re not huge fans of the folded yellow egg matter that comes in some of the sandwiches.

If you want a real egg (like the one that comes in the Egg McMuffin), just request a round egg instead. You can add this option as a topper on burgers, too.

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Get your fries ‘animal-style’

DAVID/Adobe Smothered french fries

If you live on the West Coast, you don’t need to do this as you have In-N-Out Burger already. But if you’re elsewhere, you can hack the menu to make a pretty good substitute for animal-style fries.

Just order your fries with a side of Big Mac sauce and pour the sauce over your fries. You can also throw a slice of cheese on there for extra gooeyness.

Assemble your own McGangBang

OlegDoroshin/Adobe burgers of different types of meat from McDonald's restaurant

If you’re feeling feisty and crave a double meat experience, this cheap and classic menu hack is for you: the McGangBang.

To assemble this monstrosity, ask for a McChicken and a Double Cheeseburger. When you’re back at your table, insert the chicken sandwich in between the beef patties. Then enjoy it without shame — if you can.

Build a Big MacChicken

walterericsy/Adobe Mcdonalds Mcchicken burger in Manila

If the McGangBang isn’t enough sandwich for you, you’re in luck as there’s an even heartier option: the Big MacChicken from the secret menu.

As long as the employee is hip to the concept, you’ll be served a Big Mac with buns replaced by McChicken patties. It’s a carnivore’s delight.

DIY a Land, Sea, and Air Burger

Mickis Fotowelt/Adobe waste from a fast food meal lying on a table

Last but certainly not least — and not for the faint of heart — is the notorious Land, Sea, and Air Burger. To create this unholy hybrid, order a Filet-o-Fish, a McChicken, and a Big Mac.

At your table, put the patties (or heck, the whole sandwiches) from the first two into a respective layer of the Big Mac. Good luck finishing it!

Bottom Line

jordi2r/Adobe McDonald's fast food at night in New York City

Eating at McDonald’s is an experience that’s quintessentially American, though the chain is global. However, you can hack the menu to boost your bank account, get fresh food, and create some mad scientist food creations.

That doesn’t mean you have to do it every time, though. Sometimes, all you want is a Quarter Pounder with Cheese or a Big Mac. They’re classic for a reason.

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Cat Lafuente

Cat Lafuente is a Florida-based writer and editor with extensive experience in digital and print content spaces. Her own personal finance journey — particularly consolidating debt and paying it off, in turn boosting her credit score and becoming a homeowner — inspired her to join the FinanceBuzz team; she hopes she can help others do the same.