What Kind of Onion Does McDonald’s Use?

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In the world of fast food, every ingredient matters. From the bun to the sauce, each component plays a crucial role in constructing the iconic flavors we’ve come to love. One such ingredient that often goes unnoticed but contributes significantly to the overall taste is the onion. In this article, we will delve into the details of the type of onions McDonald’s uses in its menu items.


McDonald’s predominantly uses two types of onions in their products: dehydrated onions and fresh, sliced onions. Dehydrated onions are used in items like Big Macs, hamburgers, cheeseburgers, and McDoubles, while fresh, sliced onions are used in products such as the Quarter Pounder. The choice of onion variety contributes significantly to the unique taste and texture of McDonald’s foods.

McDonald’s Onions: A Tale of Two Types

McDonald’s predominantly uses two types of onions in their products: dehydrated onions and fresh, sliced onions. These two varieties bring different flavors and textures to the table. Dehydrated onions are used in Big Macs, hamburgers, cheeseburgers, and McDoubles, while fresh, sliced onions are used in items like the Quarter Pounder.

Dehydrated Onions

Dehydrated onions are onions that have had all their water content removed. This process intensifies the flavor, making them a perfect addition to McDonald’s burgers. They are rehydrated by soaking them in water before being used in the burgers. This process gives the onions a stronger and more lingering flavor compared to fresh onions.

Fresh Onions

On the other hand, McDonald’s sources fresh, locally-sourced onions for some of their products. Fresh onions, with their crisp texture and bright flavor, are a key component in items like the Quarter Pounder.

The Impact on Taste and Presentation

The choice of onion variety used by McDonald’s impacts the overall taste and presentation of their foods. The rehydrated onions provide a strong, unique flavor profile, while the fresh onions offer a crunchier texture. For example, McDonald’s uses diced onions on some burgers, which provides a consistent texture and flavor throughout the burger. On the other hand, they use larger onion pieces on their “nicer” burgers, which offer a different visual appeal and mouthfeel.

Sourcing and Preparation

There are differences in the sourcing or preparation of these onions compared to other fast-food chains. McDonald’s uses two types of onions: rehydrated onions and sliced large onions. The preparation of onions may vary, but for McDonald’s, the dried-out onions are poured into a plastic tub, mixed with water, and left in the fridge for about two hours. After that, the mixture is poured through a strainer to get rid of any excess fluid, and the rehydrated onions are ready to be used.

Nutritional Significance

The nutritional information provided by McDonald’s focuses on the overall nutritional content of their menu items, such as the Big Mac and McDouble, rather than the specific nutritional value of the onions used in their products. However, it is important to note that onions, in general, are low in calories and high in vitamins and minerals.

Changes in Onion Types

McDonald’s has changed the type of onion they use, replacing dehydrated onions with grilled white onions on their burgers. This change is expected to give McDonald’s burgers a “juicier, caramelized” flavor.

Global Sourcing

McDonald’s sources onions from different suppliers based in the UK, Netherlands, and the US. In Australia, for example, McDonald’s purchased 1.5 million kilograms of locally-sourced onions in 2020 as part of its commitment to supporting the Australian agriculture industry.


From the pungent dehydrated onions to the crisp, fresh ones, onions play a significant role in McDonald’s menu items. Whether they’re enhancing the flavor of a Big Mac or adding a crunch to a Quarter Pounder, the choice of onion used by McDonald’s contributes to the unique taste that customers around the world love. Whether you’re a fast-food aficionado or just curious, understanding the ingredients used in your favorite meals can provide a new level of appreciation for the art of fast food.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does McDonald’s use onions in all of their burgers?

No, McDonald’s does not use onions in all their burgers. For example, the Filet-O-Fish and McChicken do not typically come with onions.

Are the onions used by McDonald’s genetically modified?

McDonald’s is committed to responsible sourcing and, as a policy, does not use genetically modified onions. They source their onions from trusted suppliers who adhere to strict quality standards.

Why does McDonald’s use dehydrated onions instead of fresh ones in some burgers?

Dehydrated onions have a more intense flavor profile compared to fresh onions. The process of dehydration removes water, concentrating the flavor. This makes them an ideal choice for enhancing the taste of burgers.

How does McDonald’s ensure the freshness of their onions?

McDonald’s ensures the freshness of their onions through a combination of careful sourcing and strict quality control. They source their onions from trusted suppliers and have stringent guidelines in place to ensure the freshness and quality of their products.

Are the onions used in McDonald’s burgers gluten-free?

Yes, the onions used in McDonald’s burgers are gluten-free. However, people with severe gluten intolerance or celiac disease should be aware that cross-contamination can occur during preparation.

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