Big Mac, french fries, McChicken, Quarter Pounder, those strange little apple pies… it seems like the McDonald’s menu has been the same for as long as any of us can remember. Sure, they get some special items every now and then, but as a whole, things don’t change too much. After all, people keep coming back again and again for those simple cheeseburgers – why mess with success? However, it turns out that unless you visit a McDonald’s location in every country, you really don’t know the extent of what’s on their menu. Sure, there are many items that are the same internationally – you can get those salty fries in the distinctive red packaging anywhere around the world.
There are some items, though, that are unique to certain countries around the world. They incorporate ingredients that residents of that nation particularly favor and are designed to reflect the diets of the people coming through its doors. Whether it’s a certain sauce, a different type of meat, or a use of some popular local ingredient, pretty much every country that has a McDonald’s has some type of unique item on their menu. We just wonder how head office comes up with these things!
Here are 15 of the most exotic McDonald’s menu items from around the world – at least to North American eyes. If you live in one of the countries that carries these items, they’re probably old news!
15. Spicy Paneer Wrap (India)
In Indian McDonald’s locations, they’ve found a way to incorporate paneer, a specific type of cheese that is a staple of Indian cuisine. However, of course they’ve prepared it in a typical fast food fashion – coated in a spicy, crunchy batter and fried. The wrap is fixed up with typical condiments like mustard and salad, but the star is clearly the paneer. Sometimes, you’ve had enough meat and the thought of another McChicken wrap is just plain unappetizing – that’s the time when a Spicy Paneer Wrap would be just perfect, if only all locations carried them.
14. Teriyaki McBurger (Japan)
Teriyaki sauce is a beloved staple of Japanese cuisine, and a favorite of North American tastebuds as well, so we can’t help but think this exotic item would actually be incredibly popular worldwide. The Teriyaki McBurger, offered in Japan, consists of a juicy pork burger with a garlic-packed teriyaki glaze, topped with a lemon sauce and lettuce. The teriyaki and lemon might seem a strange combination, and the lemon sauce seems an unusual thing to pair with pork, but we imagine this one to be a savory, fresh-tasting alternative to the typical beef burgers.
13. Pineapple Pie (Thailand)
There are countless people who are absolute devotees of those little handheld apple pies. They’ve become absolutely iconic over the years. Who knows why? They’re definitely not as good as a slice of gooey homemade apple pie, but something about the crisp exterior and the compact nature of the treat have made them incredibly popular. Well, we’ve got news for you – Thailand has its own version with a pineapple filling. The rest is basically identical to the apple pie. It’s the iconic treat with a bit of a tropical edge – good job, Thailand! Let’s hope this comes to menus worldwide alongside its apple partner.
12. Chicken With Spaghetti (Indonesia)
This might seem like the product of two people getting different meals and tossing them on one plate, but no – it’s an actual item on the McDonald’s menu in Indonesia. If you order this, you get basically exactly what is promised in the name – some spaghetti Bolognese and some fried chicken, combined in one dish. The Italians pair their tomato based pastas with chicken parmigiana, so maybe it’s just a strange version of that? At any rate, Indonesia is probably one of the last places we would have guessed would be serving this up on their menu.
11. McToast (Croatia)
It seems like some McDonald’s menu items attempt to one up each other – more meat, another bun, another type of sauce, an extra topping or two or three… it’s truly endless. Amidst the more is better mentality, the McDonald’s of Croatia are serving up a simple surprise – the McToast. The McToast is basically just a ham and cheese sandwich, pressed until the fillings are warm and gooey, and served up in a thinner pita-like bread rather than a typical bun. Sure, it’s something you could probably easily make at home, but there’s a lot to be said about the convenience factor.
10. Rye Vegetarian Feast (Finland)
In North America, the vegetarian items on McDonald’s menus are fairly few and far between – apart from the sides, you’ll be hard pressed to find a main meal that’s meatless. However, this isn’t the case in Finland, where they’ve created quite the concoction to satisfy any vegetarian patrons. The Rye Vegetarian Feast is a veggie burger topped with cheddar cheese, salad, pickles, and not one, not two, but three different sauces. Instead of the typical bun, it’s served up on rye bread. I mean, it almost sounds healthy! With the blend of sauces and the heartier, more flavorful alternative to a white bread bun, this is probably a menu item that attracts both herbivores and carnivores in Finland.
9. Chicken Camembert (Germany)
McDonald’s and Camembert are two things that are rarely mentioned in the same sentence. When you think of McDonald’s, you think of Big Macs and bagfuls of greasy French fries. When you think of Camembert cheese, you imagine a luxe cheese plate topped with soft cheese and artisanal crackers. However, Germany has managed to combine the two in their chicken camembert. Basically, it’s a regular chicken burger that’s elevated with a round of melting Camembert cheese. I mean, we would have expected it of France, but Germany? Good for you, Germany – keeping it classy.
8. Pizzarotto (Italy)
McDonald’s in Italy are serving something that’s influenced by the flavors of pizza. Who’s surprised? No one. In fact, it would be positively bizarre if there was nothing like this on Italian McDonald’s menus. The Pizzarotto is a mozzarella and tomato filled calzone, showing that the Italians definitely know what they specialize in. Let’s be honest – it’s probably about the worst facsimile of pizza that you can find in the nation, and you’ll be far more likely to satisfy your desire for pizza in one of the countless authentic pizzerias. However, if you’re a native, it’s probably a fun, fast food alternative to nonna’s traditional pie.
7. McKroket (Netherlands)
The McDonald’s locations in the Netherlands have taken the traditional pairing of cheese and beef found in McDonald’s iconic cheeseburgers and created a fresh new twist. The McKroket is a cheese and beef croquette – a mixture of the two ingredients, blended together, then breaded and deep fried. The hearty croquette is served between buns, topped only with mustard sauce. Simplicity is key when it comes to this menu item – why mess up that fried perfection with some cursory tomatoes and lettuce leaves? Pairing a warm cheese and beef croquette sandwich with a side of the signature salty fries sounds like a match made in heaven.
6. Fried Prawn Cocktail (Russia)
McDonald’s is probably the last place you would expect to find prawns – particularly paired with the classic cocktail sauce. However, the McDonald’s locations in Russia have added an item to their menu that brings together the classic combination of prawns and cocktail sauce served up with a fast food twist – deep fried, of course. If you’re looking to get something a bit fancier at McDonald’s than the typical burger and fries, Russia has you covered with their deep fried cocktail party staple. Let’s be honest – the McDonald’s head office probably sits around and considers what can be deep fried when it comes to creating new menu items. Nothing wrong with that – it’s what they’re known for, after all.
5. Gazpacho (Spain)
Gazpacho is a staple on the menus of countless Spanish restaurants around the world. It’s the perfect way to start your meal off with a burst of fresh flavour. It’s one of the last things we’d expect to find on a McDonald’s menu – I mean, who goes to McDonald’s for soup? However, if you consider all the hot, greasy items on the menu, a chilled vegetable soup might actually be the perfect accompaniment. Or, at the very least, it’ll make you slightly less guilty about downing that huge burger. Our only concern is, seeing the tomatoes typically found in McDonald’s burgers, we wonder how fresh the veggies in this tasty soup would actually be.
4. Mandise (Morocco)
Apart from the McFlurry and the iconic apple pies, McDonald’s isn’t exactly known for its desserts. Fries? Absolutely. Burgers? Obviously. Even breakfast is a big ticket item on McDonald’s menus around the world. But dessert isn’t their priority – unless, it seems, you’re at a McDonald’s in Morocco. Moroccan McDonald’s have a menu item that sounds positively delicious – a sponge cake with chocolate chips studded throughout, with a creamy, nutty hazelnut fondant center. Does that not sound like the perfect way to finish your decadent fast food meal? Can we get it as a combo? Really, why doesn’t McDonald’s do more desserts?
3. McArabia Grilled Kofta (Egypt)
This menu item is the perfect marriage of McDonald’s and the Middle East. Kofta, for those who don’t know, are a spiced meatball or meatloaf. They’re a staple in countless nations and McDonald’s menus in Egypt reflect their popularity by creating a menu item centered around them. For the McArabia, two grilled kofta patties are nestled between Arabic bread and then topped with lettuce, tomatoes, and tahini sauce. It’s basically a burger with a bit of a Middle Eastern flair, and it sound absolutely delicious.
2. Creamy Stars (Italy)
Italians love their cheese, and why wouldn’t they – they’re known for countless incredible delicious cheeses used in kitchens around the world. However, this menu item takes their cheese love to a whole new level. At McDonald’s locations in Italy, you can order creamy stars. What are those, exactly? Well, it’s basically cheese that has been shaped into stars and then deep fried. Admittedly, the shape makes this item seem more geared towards a kid’s menu, but deep fried cheese? There’s literally no way you could go wrong with that. Well done, McDonald’s Italy. Or should we say bravissimo!
1. Chicken Maharaja Mac (India)
This exotic McDonald’s menu item is probably the most well known worldwide, simply because of its catchy name. Even if you’ve never laid eyes on one, chances are you may have heard of the Maharaja Mac. So what is it exactly? Well, it’s basically a Big Mac, except the beef patties are swapped out for chicken patties. They didn’t pander to Indian markets by filling it with curry sauce and native condiments – they kept just the way the Big Mac always has been, apart from the choice of meat being altered to reflect the values of a large majority of Indian consumers who don’t eat beef.