What Is McDonald’s Meat Made Of? (4 Kinds of Meat)

Timothy Woods
Published by Timothy Woods
Last Updated On: June 22, 2024

As a snack fanatic, I love to indulge in McDonald's Big Mac or McNuggets whenever I feel like ordering takeout.

A few months ago, I stumbled upon a heated post claiming that McDonald's burgers are made of less real meat than they claim.

Being extremely health conscious, I decided to investigate McDonald's meat contents, so I read every available piece of information, from nutritional data to ingredient lists.

Here's what I discovered.

Quick Summary

  • McDonald's burgers are made of both red and white meat.
  • McDonald's restaurants use USDA-inspected meat containing zero fillers and antibiotics.
  • Regular McDonald's hamburger patties have 12 grams of protein compared to the 16g in filet-o-fish.

What Cuts of Meat Does McDonald's Use?

McDonald's burger being cooked

McDonald's uses 100% pure beef made of different cuts and trimmings from various cow parts.

These beef patties contain trimmings of sirloin from the loin region near its hind legs, round from the rump, and chuck cuts around the neck.

Here’s a detailed explanation of every type of meat McDonald’s uses: 

  • Ground Beef: McDonald's hamburger is made of 100% pure beef formed into hamburger patties flash frozen at a lower temperature. The process ensures the meat maintains its original texture and fresh taste rather than losing it to freezer burn.
  • Pork: While pork isn't an ingredient in all burgers, it's usually used in beef rashers and sausage patties, depending on the region. These ingredients are breakfast items and bacon quarter-pounder burgers.
  • Chicken: Chicken nuggets are ground-up boneless chicken wrapped in wheat flour into bite-size pieces. Each chicken nugget is made from USDA-approved chicken cut from the breast, rib, and tenderloin mixed with marinade for flavor. They are partially cooked in a frier, chilled, and frozen before being dispatched to McDonald's restaurants, where they'll be fully cooked.
  • Fish: The Filet-O-Fish is made from Alaskan Pollock. It's known for its mild flavor, versatility, and appealing texture hence why McDonald's uses it in its sandwiches.

What Is Added To McDonald's Burger Patties?

Salt and pepper in a spoon

Only a pinch of salt and pepper is added to McDonald's burger patties. According to the website, McDonald's burgers contain no artificial preservatives or flavors and no colors from artificial sources.

Removing artificial preservatives and flavors has been a step towards changing their hamburger patties menu so that customers feel good about the food they enjoy [1].

Additionally, McDonald's claims that it has a no-antibiotic policy on its burger meat.

The company focuses on long-term solutions to protect animal health and welfare.

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Where Does McDonald's Get Their Meat?

McDonald's gets beef patties, fish, and boneless chicken from two leading suppliers, Keystone Foods and Lopez Foods.

Their burgers are frozen and wrapped in plastic bags packed into boxes before shipping.

Keystone and Lopez Foods work together to fulfill the food supply chain for most USDA- inspected meats used in McDonald's burgers, McChicken, McDonald's Filet-O-Fish sandwiches, and Quarter Pounder.

These companies supply beef to all McDonald's outlets to ensure that McDonald's meets the strict requirements regarding animal welfare, product quality, and food safety. Hence, McDonald's hamburger tastes the same everywhere.

Also Read: How Much Protein Is in Hamburger Meat

Is McDonald's Meat Healthy?

McDonald's food in a row

McDonald’s meat is healthy if eaten in moderation and as part of a balanced diet.

While McDonald's restaurants are often associated with fast food, which can sometimes be high in calories, sodium, and fats, it's important to recognize that their menu offers a range of meat-based items that can be enjoyed without compromising your health.

Hamburger Patties

When it comes to McDonald's burger meat, it's all about portion size and comparison.

The website claims a 3.5-ounce serving of McDonald's beef in a regular burger contains 12 grams of protein.

One study has shown that an increased intake of proteins helps curb cravings to prevent obesity [2].

An additional positive aspect concerning its healthiness is its lower calorie content in comparison to other burger options on the McDonald's menu.



Like the beef burger, this sandwich is another good option with relatively low sodium content.

One study has revealed a possible link between high sodium intake and blood pressure [3].

It also contains 16 grams of proteins plus several other minerals like iron and potassium.

Potassium reduces blood pressure by helping the body remove excess sodium [4].

McNuggets and McChicken

The six-piece McNuggets are another healthy option if you're trying to maintain or reduce weight.

Similarly, a McChicken burger contains enough proteins with lower calories per serving.

"McNuggets cut because they'll give you some protein. Specifically, you will score 9 grams of protein for just 10g of fat, 10 grams of carbs, and 170 calories in four nuggets."

- Amanda Barnes, Registered Dietician


Are McDonald's Burgers 100% Beef?

Yes, McDonald's burgers are 100% USDA-certified beef. Their hamburger patties are sourced from reputable ranchers across the United States, New Zealand, Australia, and Canada.

Is McDonald's Chicken Real Meat?

Yes, McDonald's chicken is real meat with pure chicken breast meat. Their boneless chicken meat is sliced to fit the size of the sandwich and then grilled.

Are McDonald's Nuggets 100% Chicken?

Yes, McDonald's nuggets are 100% chicken. But unlike McDonald's burgers, the white meat portion adds up to about 50% of the recipe. The remaining ingredients are oil, seasoning, and tempura batter, giving the McNugget texture a crispy texture we all love.


  1. https://corporate.mcdonalds.com/corpmcd/our-stories/article/changes_to_burger.html
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6179508/
  3. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23558163/
  4. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23558164/
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About the author

Timothy Woods
CEO / Co-Founder
Timothy Woods holds a Kinesiology and Exercise Science degree from Jacksonville University and is CCC & GMU Certified. He's also the main man behind Carnivore Style. This food aficionado combines science and experience to spread the word about the carnivore lifestyle.
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