Here’s the Real Difference Between McDonald’s Big Mac, Quarter Pounder, and McDouble

In its 60-plus years of business, McDonald’s has become known for many items on the menu (McFlurry, apple pie, and Egg McMuffin, to name a few). However, it’s arguably most famous for its burgers. The fast-food chain has introduced various types of burgers throughout the years, but three reign supreme on the McDonald’s menu: Big Mac, McDouble, and Quarter Pounder.

Not sure about the difference among each of these burgers? Keep reading for a complete breakdown of each burger and its ingredients.

History of the Big Mac

McDonald's sign

The Big Mac is a McDonald’s legend. | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

On average, McDonald’s sells 550 million Big Macs in the U.S. every year. First introduced in 1967, this burger has been on the menu at McDonald’s for 50 years. It was invented by Jim Delligatti, a McDonald’s franchise owner and operator. Contrary to popular belief, Delligatti didn’t strike it rich by inventing McDonald’s signature burger. He merely received a plaque for recognition.

Next: Do you really know what’s in a Big Mac? 

What’s in a Big Mac?

Big Mac

The double burger is key. | Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images

  • Nutrition facts: 540 calories with 28 grams of total fat, 46 grams of carbs, and 25 grams of protein

The McDonald’s jingle, “Two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame-seed bun,” sums up the ingredients of a Big Mac. As you can see, the ingredients aren’t out of the ordinary. Even the signature Big Mac bun is really just a slightly oversized bun with sesame seeds.

Next: There are two important things that set the Big Mac apart from everything else.

Big Mac sauce is the burger’s signature

McDonald's Big Mac

It’s all about the sauce. | Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images

There are two major characteristics of a Big Mac that set it apart: the two beef patties and the sauce, which is really the key ingredient. You can’t have a Big Mac without the Big Mac sauce. Big Macs must also have two beef patties with an extra bottom bun in the middle. Fun fact: Delligatti added the additional center bun because the burger was too messy without it.

Next: The McDouble was invented to please upset customers.

History of the McDouble

burgers

A McDouble is a double cheeseburger with only one slice of cheese. | Tim Boyle/Getty Images

When McDonald’s removed the double cheeseburger from the dollar menu, customers wanted a replacement. Hence, the McDouble was McDonald’s answer to customers’ cries. The franchise first introduced the McDouble in 2008, and it has been on the burger menu ever since.

Next: Two patties are better than one, right?

What’s in a McDouble?

McDonald's McDouble

It’s a cheeseburger with two patties. | McDonald’s

  • Nutrition facts: 380 calories with 18 grams of total fat, 34 grams of carbs, and 23 grams of protein

On a McDouble, “two patties are better than one,” according to McDonald’s website. The McDouble is a no-frills double cheeseburger with a regular bun (in McDonald’s speak that means no seeds), two beef patties, ketchup, mustard, cheese, onions, and pickles.

Next: Don’t call it a double cheeseburger!

A McDouble has less cheese

McDonald's McDouble

There are some small differences between a Big Mac and McDouble. | McDonald’s

After examining the McDonald’s menu, a McDouble seems as close to a double cheeseburger as you can get without calling it a double cheeseburger. The major differences between the Big Mac and McDouble are the size, calorie count, and ingredients. The McDouble has ketchup and mustard instead of Big Mac sauce and only one slice of cheese.

Next: The Quarter Pounder has a long history.

History of the Quarter Pounder

Quarter Pounder with Cheese

It has a higher ratio of meat to bun. | McDonald’s via Facebook

Invented by franchise owner Al Bernardin, the Quarter Pounder and Quarter Pounder with Cheese debuted in 1971. Bernadin created the burgers with adults in mind. “I felt there was a void in our menu vis-à-vis the adult who wanted a higher ratio of meat to bun,” he said in 1991. Not only did Bernardin make a major contribution to the McDonald’s menu, he also trained McDonald’s employees and pioneered the use of frozen french fries in fast-food restaurants.

Next: A surprising tiny detail stands out in the Quarter Pounder.

What’s in a Quarter Pounder?

McDonald's burger

The biggest difference is the sesame seed bun. | Megan Elliott/The Cheat Sheet

  • Nutrition facts: 530 calories with 27 grams of total fat, 41 grams of total carbs, and 31 grams of protein

A Quarter Pounder has ingredients found on nearly every burger at McDonald’s: ketchup, mustard, cheese, pickles, and onions. And, like the Big Mac, the burger is sandwiched between a sesame seed bun. One unique characteristic of the Quarter Pounder is that the onions on this particular burger are slivered, not chopped like on the Big Mac and McDouble.

Next: Is it the largest beef patty McDonald’s has to offer?

Quarter Pounder beefs up size

Quarter Pounder

It’s the largest beef patty on the menu. | Megan Elliott/The Cheat Sheet

A quarter pounder at any restaurant obviously has a beef patty weighing in at a quarter of a pound before it’s cooked. But the McDonald’s Quarter Pounder is special because it’s the largest beef patty the franchise offers on the menu. It’s identical to a McDouble with one major exception: the size of the beef patty.

Most of the burgers on the McDonald’s menu are intentionally very similar. After all, the franchise was founded on the idea of having a small menu with few ingredients. However, the menu has expanded over the years to include a wider array of options from frappuccinos to yogurt parfaits to sriracha burgers.

Next: The craziest foods from McDonald’s you never knew existed.

Blue cheese and bacon burger

Le sandwich Signature by McDonald's™ Blue Cheese & Bacon : il va marquer de son empreinte votre restaurant McDonald’s

Posted by McDonald's France on Tuesday, June 13, 2017

In France, McDonald’s offers a blue cheese and bacon burger. And it turns out that McDonald’s actually serves these burgers with a fork and a knife — just like the other offerings on the “Signature” burger menu.

The recyclable plastic cutlery doesn’t sound like that big of a deal. But when the burger first appeared on the menu, its steep $15 price tag elicited complaints from customers. French patrons were also surprised by the choice to give forks to only one set of patrons.

Next: McDonald’s serves this traditional dish in Malaysia.

Bubur Ayam McD

The Family Size Bubur Ayam McD™, made to be shared. Enjoy it today!

Posted by McDonald's on Sunday, May 29, 2016

In Malaysia, you can order the Bubur Ayam McD, the McDonald’s version of a classic Indonesian dish. According to the McDonald’s menu, this order consists of “juicy chicken strips in mouth-watering porridge, garnished with spring onions, sliced ginger, fried shallots and diced chilies. Just like mum’s cooking!” The Telegraph reports that McDonald’s locations in Singapore serve a similar dish, called a Chicken Singaporridge. (Where’s the eye-roll emoji when you need it?)

Next: Customers in Singapore can order this cute entree.

Fish dippers

We love it as much as you do! Fish Dippers with Tartar Sauce is now available in 20pc! Dive into this party today at McDonald’s Restaurants or via McDelivery®: https://goo.gl/ghRqZ4

Posted by McDonald's on Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Another unusual menu item you can sample in Singapore? Fish Dippers, fish-shaped nuggets of Alaskan pollock. The fish gets coated in panko breadcrumbs and fried until crispy. McDonald’s serves the Fish Dippers with a side of tartar sauce.

The chain introduced the menu item alongside a Classic Ebi burger. That sandwich features a shrimp patty topped with tangy mustard. And to complement both entrees, McDonald’s offers Seaweed Shaker Fries: Classic McDonald’s fries dusted with nori flakes.

Next: This Japanese burger is one of the most famous additions to the international menu. 

Gracoro burger

ファンの皆さま、おまたせしました!冬の風物詩、グラコロの出番です でも、今年のグラコロは、いつもと違う!?さらにおいしくなった #超グラコロ 12月14日から!

Posted by McDonald's Japan on Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Every winter, McDonald’s locations in Japan bring back the Gracoro burger, a menu item few Americans will understand. “Gracoro” combines the Japanese words for “gratin” and “croquette.” The burger is a perplexing combination of the two. Instead of a meat patty, the burger contains a croquette filled with white sauce, shrimp, and macaroni, dredged in breadcrumbs, and fried.

Next: This burger returns to the menu each year for a Japanese festival.

Lunar eclipse burger

いよいよ発売スタート✨ 今年は新登場のまんまるふわふわな「満月チーズ月見」が加わって「月見バーガー」「チーズ月見」の3種類の月見を販売中 全3種類、試してみてね! #月見食べたら秋がきた w.mdj.jp/aaben

Posted by McDonald's Japan on Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Another annual tradition at McDonald’s in Japan is the Tsukimi Burger menu. These burgers and sandwiches, named for the “moon-viewing” festival held in mid-autumn, get topped with a round fried egg, strips of bacon, and a specially formulated sauce. (Dishes featuring fried eggs traditionally appear in Japan for the Tsukimi festival, as the yolk is reminiscent of the moon.)

The Lunar Eclipse Burger features two beef patties, and other sandwiches on the menu add cheese or swap the beef for chicken.

Next: This menu item from India introduces flavors many Americans haven’t  yet tried.

Maharaja Mac Junior

The Veg Maharaja Mac Junior is a combination of fresh ingredientsbrought together with delicious Cocktail Sauce.

Posted by McDonald's India on Monday, February 6, 2017

Developed especially for vegetarian McDonald’s patrons in India, the Maharaja Mac Junior features a corn and cheese patty, plus lettuce and jalapeños. The sandwich is part of the “Maharaja family,” which also includes the Chicken Maharaja Mac. These sandwiches feature a cocktail sauce that “mingles with fiery jalapeños and crunchy shredded onion placed on cheddar cheese and bed of iceberg lettuce.”

Next: McDonald’s serves this sandwich to Dutch and Belgian customers.

McKroket

Let’s celebrate it the dutch way! #McKroket, world famous from the Netherlands and now available in Curaçao!

Posted by McDonald's on Thursday, May 26, 2016

The McKroket first gained notoriety when it appeared on McDonald’s menus in the Netherlands and Belgium. The name, a play on the culinary term “croquette,” gives away exactly what’s inside. The sandwich consists of a fried croquette of beef ragout. That gets topped with mustard sauce and then placed in a signature McDonald’s bun. McDonald’s later added the sandwich to the menu in Curaçao, a Dutch Caribbean island.

Next: This menu item reimagines a classic burger with some unexpected ingredients. 

McRice burger

Served all over Asia, the McRice burger replaces the classic bun with a rice cake. Thumbs up if you think this sounds yummy!

Posted by McDonald's on Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Tired of regular burgers? That wouldn’t be a problem if you lived in New Zealand or the Philippines. In both countries, customers can order the McRice burger. This delicacy replaces the standard hamburger bun with rice cakes instead. The grains of rice are pressed together to form each patty, then the whole patty gets toasted and topped with sesame seeds.

Next: This unusual side remains on the menu in the Philippines. 

McSpaghetti

P99 lang ang Chicken McDo with McSpaghetti, or Chicken McDo with rice, fries, & drink. Order via www.mcdelivery.com.ph!

Posted by McDonald's on Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Another unusual menu item you can order at golden arches locations in the Philippines? McSpaghetti. Interestingly enough, the company tried offering this side in the United States during the 1980s. At the time, it had decided to experiment with adding Italian foods to its menu.

Options like the McPizza and McSpaghetti didn’t do well in the United States. But apparently, McSpaghetti caught on in southeast Asia. Today, this dish is only available at McDonald’s locations in the Philippines.

Additional reporting by Jess Bolluyt.