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 and 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.

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.

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.

History of the McDouble


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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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