Eating fast food can be a bit of a gamble, but you can usually rely on McDonald’s to be tasty no matter where you are or what you’re getting. Yeah, you could make or buy something a lot healthier, but sometimes you just need to grab something quick and easy — and so you turn to Micky D’s.
It’s a classic, and it isn’t going anywhere any time soon. But have you ever wondered exactly what goes on behind closed doors? Do you ever get curious about how long your food has been sitting out under the heat lamps or what the employees really think of your order?
If so, you need to check some of the McDonald’s secrets that employees from all over the place have shared online.
Whether it’s in a Reddit thread or some other forum on the internet, McDonald’s employees seem eager to share the things they’ve learned while working for the fast food chain.
That can mean anything from delicious “secret menu” items to confirming some of your worst fears about exactly what it is you’re eating (do remember that all locations are different, so these “secrets” certainly don’t apply to all franchises).
Employees have also shared tips on how to get fresher food, how to save money, and what you should be avoiding completely.
We’ve rounded up the best McDonald’s employee secrets all in one place, so that you can be in-the-know about what’s going on there:
1. The onions on the burger aren’t real onions.
While you might love to pile onions on your burger, just know that they’re not really real onions. In a Quora thread on McDonald’s, one woman who claimed to be a Produce Manager said, “Those wonderfully tiny diced onions on your burger? They aren’t exactly 100% real onions.”
“They’re actually dehydrated onions.”
“They come in these bags where they’re dumped into a five gallon bucket, then water is poured in and there’s a huge spoon that’s used to stir it.”
“It’s left to sit, and someone stirring it occasionally.”
“It’s then put into the back of the walk-in fridge, then glops of it is removed and put into just a normal, average sized container where it is placed at the front of the fridge where workers load up the prep table.”
2. If you want a real egg, you should always order a round egg.
In case you didn’t already know, most fast food places don’t use real eggs in their breakfast items. Instead, they use an egg product made with… well, I’m not exactly sure.
There is a way to get a real egg at McDonald’s, though.
On a Quora thread, a girl who says she worked at McDonald’s said, “When ordering breakfast, try a round egg on your sandwich. It’s the best egg we have (and definitely real!).”
3. The small patties might be under-cooked.
Consider yourself warned if you’re not a fan of rare red meat. According to Reddit user rzreeves, the small patties, which are used on double cheeseburgers and the Big Mac, are regularly under-cooked.
“Those things come off of the grill still red with blood and then we would shove them in the trays where they would stay for hours,” they said.
Um… maybe we’ll stick to the chicken nuggets?
4. There are certain times when you’re more likely to get fresh food.
Fresh McDonald’s obviously tastes 10 times better than McDonald’s that has been sitting around under a heat lamp… but you don’t always get it. In a Quora thread, one former employee said,
“There are certain times that are best to order food, also known as ‘GAP’ times, which is when McDonald’s expect[s] mystery shoppers.”
“The times are generally rush hours such as breakfast between 7-9, lunch between 11-2, and then dinner between 4-6.”
The Independent reports the same, saying one former employee said,
“Basically between 12-2pm and 5-7pm workers have to be extra careful because that is when gapbusters (mystery shoppers), who are paid, visit McDonald’s restaurants and rate their experience.”
“This then goes to the overall store rating and every store manager will do everything to ensure this rating is as positive as possible.”
5. They don’t always throw out old food.
If you’re eating something that tastes like it’s been sitting there for a very long time, that could very possibly be true. On a Quora thread, one former employee explained:
“Once food was cooked, it went into a warming bin. Each bin had a timer on it, and once that timer went off, you were supposed to toss the food.”
“We only used those timers if a health inspector showed up, or the ‘big boss’ was there. Other than that, we just ignored the timers and kept everything in the warming bins until sold.” Of course, every McDonald’s is different, but… yikes.
6. And they don’t always switch gloves between foods.
Cross-contamination might be running amok. This one has us feeling pretty grossed out. According to Reddit user McDonaldsIAma, some McDonald’s employees feel like they can skip the whole “food hygiene” thing.
Fortunately, according to the OP, these individuals “don’t ever last long in the kitchen or at the job.”
But while they are there, “they think it’s OK [to] touch every item with the same pair of gloves (raw chicken, meat, etc. Then the food) it normally doesn’t go out but I’ve seen it happen a few times where the mistake isn’t caught.
Um, “a few times” is already too many times.
7. To get fresh fries, order them without salt.
Fresh fries are obviously the best fries, but they can be tough to come by.
If you want to ensure that your fries are fresh, one employee recommends you ask for them without salt, saying, “This ensures that we have to make a new batch, just for you.”
Just be aware that this takes them longer to do, and so they’re not going to be thrilled about it — and you can expect a wait.
8. The drive-thru will almost always be faster than going inside.
If you’re debating between waiting in the drive-through or heading inside to order, you might want to just stay in your car.
The drive-thru is almost always going to be the faster option, as employees are more likely to ignore you if you’re inside.
One employee explains why, saying, “Drive-through is the priority. If you’re already in the store, chances are you’re not going to leave.”
“Also, drive-through times (at least where I worked) are timed.”
“Meaning we have to focus much more on getting [the customers] in and out quickly.”
9. There’s no such thing as a secret menu.
Lately, it seems like most chain restaurants have “secret menus,” which basically consist of odd combinations of things already on the menu that aren’t official.
A lot of people talk about a “secret menu” at McDonald’s, but according to user Eskelsar on Reddit, there’s no such thing.
They said, “I hate when I see sh*t about a ‘secret menu’ at McDonald’s. There’s no such thing! We can make any combination of food we have.”
“It’s not a secret that we use our condiments and meats in weird ways when you ask.”
So, note to self: McDonald’s will basically do whatever you want them to do with their food. Good to know!
10. But you can request this breakfast/lunch combo — if you go at the right time.
Employees call it the “Mc10:35.” What is this mysterious sandwich known as the Mc10:35, you ask?
According to Reddit user crazydaze, it is a sandwich you should order as the menu is switching from breakfast to lunch.
If you’re lucky, there are leftover eggs from all the McMuffins, and you can have them insert one between the patties of a McDouble.
11. The ice cream machine isn’t usually very clean.
You might want to rethink that McFlurry, because according to employees, the ice cream machines aren’t super clean. Reddit user plaid-pancake said in a thread,
“My friend had a job cleaning the ice cream machines. Just be glad when they tell you they’re broken.”
Other threads included comments about how the ice cream machine isn’t cleaned regularly because it’s so annoying to do so.
12. If you want great service, ask for a receipt.
The employees might think you’re a secret shopper. One former employee of McDonalds said that the secret to getting amazing service is to ask for a receipt. Why?
Because if you go during prime times — say during the breakfast or lunch rush — McDonald’s employees are trained to look out for secret shoppers.
One of the things secret shoppers do is ask for receipts — if you do the same, they will treat you well in hopes of earning a high score.
13. There’s a secret way to get a Big Mac for cheap.
Don’t want to shell out a few extra dollars for a Big Mac?
The employees are in on a little trick to save you money and get you the item you want.
In one Quora thread, an employee said, “Ask for a McDouble (or two on the 2 for $2 menu) dressed like a Big Mac — hold the ketchup and mustard, add lettuce and Mac sauce.”
“You’ll save a few bucks and I’ve heard they taste great too.”
It’s not even a big secret at the restaurant — in one Reddit thread, user fromhades said, “There is actually a button for ‘as a mac.’ All you have to do is ask for your McDouble to be dressed as a Mac.”
14. There’s a popular and delicious sandwich item that isn’t on the menu.
There might not be a secret menu, but there is a popular sandwich item that isn’t official that you can order — it just has a horrible name. User BoxMacLeod on Reddit said,
“It’s pretty well known at this point, but I enjoy making what’s commonly referred to as the McGangBang.”
“You order a McChicken and a McDouble from McDonald’s and basically smash them together.”
15. There’s also a fun apple pie add-on not on the menu.
Would you like your pie a la mode? Although the menu doesn’t say so, you can order that heated up McDonald’s apple pie a la mode.
According to one former employee, the McDonald’s registers even have a specific button for this order.
You can even add some hot fudge, if you’re feeling fancy.
16. You can just ask for fresh food if you want.
If you really want to ensure that your food is fresh, you can do the most simple thing you can think of: Ask! In a Quora thread, a former employee said, “Simply asking for a burger ‘fresh,’ they will make a fresh one.”
“They might warn you it might take an extra five minutes to cook fresh meat, especially fried foods will take up to seven minutes.”
“The workers don’t mind much because that means they can take their time making your food and not be as rushed. Just don’t complain when it’s busy and it takes 10-15 minutes to make your order. But if you ask for it, they will make it.”
17. They’re talking about you on their headsets.
If you’re a particularly rude customer, chances are the McDonald’s employees are complaining about you on their headsets.
It’s not always malicious, though.
“We put on a headset just to do such and it’s a lot of fun to talk about customers,” Redditor kem896 explained. “But 90 percent of the time [we talk] to let others know about the cute dog that just pulled up in the drive-thru.”
“If you have a cute dog, you are #1 priority.”
We totally understand.
18. They’re not going to spit in your food.
Or do anything else gross or unsanitary, even if you are rude or annoy the heck out of the McDonald’s employee.
But they might still mess with you.
Like when it comes to condiment proportions. One Redditor explained, “However, if you’re a [jerk], chances are, you’ll have a burger drowning in mustard, with barely any ketchup, and more onions than meat.”
“But it is exactly what you ordered.”
“You’re just training a new kid and he messed the proportions up a little. And since the manager made it because, you know, training new kid, they won’t let the customer return it.”
19. You get less ice cream than you think.
If you’ve ever ordered ice cream at McDonald’s, you might notice that it seems like they skimp out a bit. That’s because, uh, they do. Reddit user Estelwen394 said,
“We skimp the ice cream in McFlurrys, we use the machine and just pile the ice cream around the edges, leaving a hole in the middle.”
“When we mix it all up there’s less ice cream than you think.”
20. Not every employee can do everything.
If you’ve ever felt frustrated standing at the counter, waiting for your food as the cashier in front of you does nothing, try to be more understanding. In a Quora thread, one user said,
“Don’t get mad at the front counter people if you see them standing there while your food is being made.”
“Most people are taught grill or service. Unless you’re a manager, a lot of people don’t know both. I’ve been there a year and I still don’t know grill.”
21. Happy Meals are the most annoying orders.
Ever wondered what the most annoying order is? Reddit user GameMisconduct63 said,
“The biggest pain in the ass items are none other than happy meals.”
That’s because they have to go through so many steps to fill it.
22. You probably don’t want to order the grilled chicken.
If you have intentions of being healthier and ordering grilled chicken, you might want to just say forget it and get something else.
Reddit user GameMisconduct63 advises against ordering it, as it’s probably going to be pretty old.
The user said, “The steamer is set on high for our grilled chicken, but yes, it doesn’t sell too well, and it can remain there for a decent amount of time. Grilled chicken average life span where I work, they can [get] it [after] two hours [of] waiting.” Yikes!
23. The McDonald’s app is worth downloading.
Who doesn’t love coupons? Redditor MyNikesAreBlue said while you may not get free food from McDonald’s, you can make your order a lot easier with the app — and sometimes there’s coupons.
“There’s a lot of promotions and occasionally free items on it.”
“Also, you can sub any sauce on burgers (honey mustard, mac sauce, ranch, BBQ, etc.) and even change the bun (sesame seed buns on a a McDouble, for instance.)”
Consider the app downloaded.
24. You don’t actually need to get ice.
Want to get more soda for your money? Reddit user goken04 says, “My favorite hack is simple: no ice.”
“The soda is kept cold and almost always is, but they fill the damn cups to the top with ice, so you get much less soda.”
“I find the dollar menu drink to be enough with most meals if there’s no ice in it.”
Did these McDonald’s employee confessions surprise you?
There were definitely quite a few — like the whole “not real onions” thing — that has us shocked.
Scouring through Reddit, we also started becoming nostalgic for some of McDonald’s discontinued menu items.
See which ones you remember, like the pineapple burger.