Since McDonald's has long been a leader in the world of flipping and selling burgers, competition from every direction has always pushed the chain to try bigger and hopefully better offerings. The rise of gourmet burger restaurants in the 1980s had the Golden Arches experimenting with burgers like the McD.L.T. in 1985 and the Arch Deluxe in 1996. In the new century, the song remained the same, as it had to deal with the rise of fast casuals like Shake Shack and Smashburger and their "better burgers." McDonald's latest leap forward, "Best Burgers," worked the rounds and grills in Australia, Canada, and Belgium before getting a soft launch in select American markets.
In 2024, McDonald's is betting that bringing out its "Best" will benefit both fans, casual eaters, and its own bottom line, as the Big Mac, the McDouble, Cheeseburger, Double Cheeseburger, and Hamburger are all getting a tune-up nationwide. The buns are getting a makeover, the cheese is more melty, the patties are juicer and hotter and infused with caramelized onions, and the Mac Sauce is generously applied to its Big self.
The fine folks at McDonald's invited Daily Meal for a sneak eat-view of the new Best Burgers line. While it was intimidating to be in the presence of the Hamburglar and his Burgercuda getaway car, I was ready to take on this fun in a bun to see if they were indeed the "Best" around, or perhaps just more of the same. Here is that chew and review, fresh off the grill.
Some recommendations are based on first-hand impressions of promotional materials and products provided by the manufacturer.
How Does McDonald's Make Best Burgers?
Before we all got to taste the new burgers, we were taken on a rare behind-the-scenes tour of the kitchen, guided by McDonald's Chef Chad Schafer, senior director of culinary innovation and commercialization, and Chef Wayne Kuhl, culinary and operations -- menu innovation. Chef Kuhl explained that no ingredients have changed for the burgers themselves, but small tweaks were made to their cooking process to "get to hotter, juicier, tastier beef." They used to cook eight frozen patties at a time, but now it's been reduced to six, utilizing McD's top and bottom heated grill press. Another changed aspect at this stage is the addition of the onions, as opposed to topping them later. This happens in a small window of 18 seconds where seasoning is applied, and then the onions are doused onto the six patties to mesh and enhance their flavor.
Chef Schafer described the new browner, shinier buns with every soft synonym in the book, as being more moist, pillowy, and squishier than ever. The buns go through a rolling toaster briefly, and then they're placed on a prep table where the condiments are applied. Another difference in the Best Burgers is that the cheese is more tempered beforehand, which means it becomes meltier once the hotter burgers are placed on top of it. At that point, Chef Schafer proudly pointed out "how awesome those onions look on that beef patty," to which I replied, "Gorgeous." From there, that's a wrap.
How Does The Best Burger Double Cheeseburger Compare To The Original?
To properly compare and contrast the new Best Burgers, McDonald's thankfully gave us the chance to try the original, now-retired versions first. As is, the standard Double Cheeseburger is a fine dual stack to snack on. It mainly looks like a pile of bread and tastes mostly like cheese, with eau de onions. The burger meat almost seems like an afterthought.
When the Best Burger version of the Double Cheeseburger was served to our fancy table, complete with flowers dressed in McDonald's wrappers, I could instantly see it was a more appealing, radiant product. The new bun is rounder and has a nice buttery sheen and smell to it. On the sides of the bun, the burger patties proudly peeked out, looking more uniform and wetter, thus whetting my appetite.
Taking a bite, I immediately noticed a difference in the burger itself — it is indeed warmer, and super juicy. The salt and seasoning stand out, helping to make the mouth water for additional nibbles of it. I then shuttled back and forth between old and new. The old one was still fine, but the Best Burger take is absolutely a big step up from it. For those who ever wanted a Quarter Pounder with Cheese with 5% less meat and at a lower price point — this Best Burger Double Cheeseburger is just the meal ticket.
How Does The Best Burger Big Mac Compare To The Original?
The Big Mac has been on the McDonald's menu since 1968, and its ingredients are so well known that they once made for a catchy jingle that many used to sing by heart. The old version of the Big Mac basically looked like a lettuce factory accident spilling out of the endless tiers of buns. One bite of the old-school version backed up its look. When the chefs asked what it tasted like, I raised my hand and said, "Like a pile of lettuce."
The Best Burger version of the Big Mac was definitely a more comely version of the classic product. The bun here was also glossy and fluffier to the touch and both smelled and tasted like a potato roll. Not sure if the old ones we were given had less special sauce under their hood than usual, on purpose for this taste test, but the new and improved version definitely doubled up on the good stuff. Does that mean it's swimming in 2,000 island dressing? The new Big Mac kind of tasted like an old Big Mac — essentially a mess of lettuce, but now with more dressing! It's only when I separated the meat from the mess of the two versions that I could actually differentiate them. Like with the Best Burger Double Cheeseburger, the meat here had more of a quality taste to it, better emphasis of its seasonings, and overall savory appeal.
When, Where, And How To Buy McDonald's New Best Burgers
The beauty of the new line of McDonald's Best Burgers is that you don't even need to look deep on a menu for them or even ask for them by name. They exist as the same burgers that you already order and love but now come as new and improved versions of them. The Best Burger line applies to the Big Mac, McDouble, and the classic Cheeseburger, Double Cheeseburger, and Hamburger.
The Best Burgers are now available at nationwide McDonald's. Prices vary by location. The burgers can be ordered in store at the register, using a kiosk, via the drive-thru, and by delivery, where available. Advanced ordering is available through the McDonald's app and website, which also allows for complete customization, where ingredients can be removed, doubled up, and even added, with toppings like bacon, shredded lettuce, Roma tomato slices, and mayonnaise. Some come at an additional cost.
The Final Verdict
I don't think anyone in America would complain that McDonald's is constantly finding new ways to freshen up its burgers in order to satisfy its customers. The new line of Best Burgers is a solid step up in both taste and presentation of existing products. Most people may not even be aware that this change and campaign is in full swing, but they will still be rewarded without having to do anything but order and eat. For those who are aware of things getting made at their "Best," the reward comes at no extra cost or effort. Just order whatever burger you normally would at McDonald's and carry on with your usual satisfaction.
If the Big Mac is the burger that floats your boat the most, this new "Best" take may not make much of a difference to your McPalate. More Big Mac Sauce is always welcome, and those who were already seeking it may have been asking for extra anyway for decades. If you want to experience the real difference in Best Burgers — you'll find a lot more in the less fussy or lettuce-laden products like the Cheeseburger or Hamburger.
For a long time, the basic burgers McDonald's served were essentially all bun, with hints of onion and dabs of ketchup. The tiny slab of meat seemed to be camouflaged, forgotten in the process. That is no longer the case, as McDonald's has proven that its new burgers are indeed at their "Best."
Read the original article on Daily Meal.