Comparison Between US and UK McDonald’s Nutrition Facts

By: Lauren Fokas | Published: Feb 15, 2024

With over 40,275 restaurants around the world, McDonald’s is the largest fast-food chain on the planet. However, while many of the menu items are the same in various countries, there are some big differences between McDonald’s recipes and calories, depending on where it is. 

In fact, there are several important differences between McDonald’s in the US and in the UK that are incredibly surprising.

McDonald’s US and UK May Taste the Same, But They’re Very Different

One of the first menu items that can be found at McDonald’s chains in both the UK and the US that is wildly different across the pond is the strawberry milkshake.

Three shots of a McDonald’s strawberry milkshake

Source: @BeautifulSoul/YouTube

In the United Kingdom, a large McDonald’s strawberry milkshake has 458 calories, but in the US, it contains an almost unbelievable 850 calories.

McDonald’s Famous McChicken

The McChicken is one of McDonald’s most beloved sandwiches in both the UK and the USA. The sandwich has about the same calories in both locations – 388 in the UK and 400 in the USA, but the amount of salt is vastly different. 

McDonald’s photograph of their McChicken sandwich

Source: McDonald's

The US version has a total of 817.4 mg of salt, whereas the same sandwich in the UK has a whopping 1.3g. And since health experts suggest that the average adult consumes between 1.5g and 2.3g of salt per day, either sandwich is more than half the recommended sodium intake. 

McDonald’s Breakfast Isn’t Healthy Anywhere, But It’s Worse in the US

When in a rush, many turn to McDonald’s breakfast for a quick start to the day. However, what many don’t know is that even the pancakes are wildly more caloric than those one might make at home.

McDonald’s breakfast with pancakes, McMuffin, and a hashbrown

Source: Reddit

A set of three medium-sized homemade pancakes contains about 279 calories. But three small pancakes and a side of sausage at a UK McDonald’s have 584 calories and a ridiculous 770 in the United States. 

The Big Mac

In the United Kingdom, a Big Mac contains 508 calories, but in the USA, the same option has 590 calories.

Big Mac from McDonald’s next to the box it came in

Source: Yu Chun Christopher Wong/S3studio/Getty Images

However, in the US, a Big Mac has 11g of saturated fat, which is 56% of the recommended daily value. And while there is still 9.5g in the UK version, that 1.5g certainly makes a difference.

McDonald’s Meals Have Much More Sugar in the USA

Some people assume that by skipping the large soda when visiting McDonald’s, they’ll be enjoying a sugar-free meal. 

Soda fountain with drink cup visible at McDonald's restaurant in Lafayette, California

Source: Gado/Getty Images

However, that’s absolutely not the case. McDonald’s menu items, from McNuggets to the Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese, have an obscene amount of sugar.


McDonald’s Sugar: US vs. UK

For example, the Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese has 10g of sugar in both the US and the UK. Whereas, a McCrispy has 6.9g in the UK and 9g in the USA. 

Sugar cubes in a small glass bowl alongside a pile of sugar

Source: Freepik

But surprisingly, there are actually a few menu items that have less sugar in the US than in the UK, such as the Sausage and Egg McMuffin (3.2g in the UK and 2g in the US) and the Double Cheeseburger (7.8g in the UK and 7g in the US.)


Salt Is Also a Problem on Both Sides

It’s probably less shocking to find out that McDonald’s food is chock full of sodium, and while the chain certainly uses an excess of the spice on both sides of the Atlantic, there is generally more salt at McDonald’s in the US versus in the UK.

Pile of salt falling out of a burlap sack

Source: iStock

In the US, 6 McNuggets contain 1.25g of salt, but in the UK, the same meal only has 0.57g. And a large fry in the US has 1.25g, whereas in the UK, it only has 0.82g. 


Is McDonald’s Healthier in the UK?

After finding out that many of McDonald’s menu items have less saturated fat, sugar, and salt in the UK than in the US, one might be wondering: Is McDonald’s healthier in the UK?

Cars queue to collect their food from the drive-thru at the fast food restaurant McDonald's in Bristol, England

Source: Matt Cardy/Getty Images

And the short answer is that while some menu items may differ slightly, McDonald’s in the UK is still fast food and it still contains an excess amount of sugar, salt, saturated fat, and calories. 


Salt, Sugar, and Saturated Fat at McDonald’s Are High

It’s important to understand that no matter where they’re served, McDonald’s menu items are not considered healthy by medical experts.

Close-up photograph of a woman eating a Big Mac from McDonald’s in London, England

Source: Cate Gillon/Getty Images

Compared to the doctor-recommended nutritional intake, even just one McDonald’s Big Mac in the US is 56% of saturated fat, 14% of sugar, and 46% of sodium for the entire day. 


Eating Regularly at McDonald’s Could Cause Health Problems

Many medical professionals want to make it clear that massive amounts of sugar, salt, and saturated fats are extremely dangerous to one’s physical health. 

Physician listening to a man’s heartbeat with a stethoscope

Source: Freepik

From increased risk of obesity, diabetes, stroke, heart attack, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and so much more, these excessive numbers can cause health problems for years to come.


McDonald’s Doesn’t Hide Its Nutritional Information

Just because McDonald’s, in both the US and the UK, is not considered a healthy option doesn’t mean it can never be enjoyed. However, as this data shows, the number of calories, as well as saturated fats, sugars, and salt, varies from country to country. 

Exterior of a McDonald’s store in Auckland, New Zealand

Source: Hannah Peters/Getty Images

So, if it’s important to you to know exactly what’s in that burger you’re eating, you can find out all the nutritional information on the McDonald’s website for the country you’re in.