McDonald's has long been one of the more convenient places to grab a quick and cheap breakfast when you're out and about. However, you should hold no illusions about what you're getting, which is often a pre-cooked dish that was only warmed up at the restaurant. Don't be surprised by that fact; using these prepared items means your meals will be ready faster. The products also tend to have a more uniform taste and texture from location to location. After all, McDonald's isn't where you go to experiment -- part of its appeal is its reliability and familiarity.
McDonald's doesn't always make it obvious who supplies it with what. The fast-food giant spotlights some of its suppliers on its website but doesn't give too many specifics. However, thanks to web searches and the ever-helpful Reddit, you can find some information about who produces a few of the menu ingredients. The next time you go to McDonald's because you're in a rush and need something to scarf down quickly, thank those suppliers for these pre-cooked McDonald's breakfast foods.
Some Of The Eggs
McDonald's has four different types of egg products that you can get for breakfast: two of which are mainly prepared on-site, while the other two are pre-cooked at a different location and heated up at the restaurant. The round disc that comes in an Egg McMuffin is a raw egg cracked into a ring on the grill. The scrambled eggs start as a liquid egg product, but they're scrambled at the restaurant.
Folded eggs are square patties served in biscuit sandwiches; those are prepared off-site, flash-frozen, and sent to each restaurant in flat, pre-scored sheets. The squares are then warmed up on the grill at the restaurant. The sausage burrito eggs are scrambled eggs with bits of sausage and vegetables mixed in. These are also prepared by the supplier and flash-frozen. When a customer orders a burrito, an employee microwaves a serving of eggs.
If the employees can scramble liquid eggs for the plain scrambled dish, they can scramble eggs for burritos and wait for folded eggs to cook, right? They probably could, technically speaking. However, receiving the folded and burrito eggs in a pre-cooked form saves more time than you realize. The employees don't have to chop sausages and vegetables or worry about having separate storage containers for them, nor do they have to worry about getting the fold on the folded eggs just right. Cooking these two variations off-site ensures better consistency across restaurants.
What represents breakfast at McDonald's -- along with the Egg McMuffin and the hash browns -- more than the hotcakes? This simple, three-cake offering comes with syrup and butter and is an absolute classic. It's also pre-cooked at a supplier's facility. The hotcakes used to be cooked on-site, so if you're a former McDonald's employee from way back when who remembers cooking these things fresh, you're not misremembering it.
The hotcakes are stored in plastic bags with multiple servings neatly placed in two stacks. Employees need to warm them up before serving them, but that's it. The consensus from staff is that these went from being on-site recipes to being pre-cooked at off-site facilities to save time at the restaurant. The hotcakes are one of the few items that have some information available about who makes them. Conagra facilities in Kent, Washington, and Louisville, Kentucky, make hotcakes for different markets.
If McDonald's wants to save time by having something as simple as hotcakes pre-cooked off-site, then it makes sense that the English muffins would be, too. There is at least one supplier, Fresh Start Bakeries, that makes the muffins only for McDonald's. This means you can't go to a store and find another brand that could be the same muffins sold under another label. After all, McDonald's isn't trying to serve a generic version of another brand's bread, so it's naturally very protective of its recipe.
Having the muffins pre-cooked off-site helps ensure more consistency among different locations. It's possible to bake English muffins at several factories using the same recipe and end up with the same general results, of course. However, limiting the main mixing and baking processes to a supplier that ships the muffins to individual restaurants ensures that what you get when you order an English muffin has the exact taste and texture that McDonald's wants it to have.
Sausage patties are another pre-cooked item, with the patties formed, cooked, and flash-frozen at a supplier's facility and then shipped to each restaurant. It's pretty much the same as buying frozen, pre-cooked patties from a supermarket, although in McDonald's case, the recipe is unique and not sold anywhere outside the chain. While McDonald's doesn't specifically say who the supplier is, the consensus (from former employees posting on Reddit and the company website) is that Lopez Foods supplies all the sausage patties.
People who want to recreate the taste of McDonald's at home might not be able to copy it exactly, but according to Reddit, they can get close. One person posted a link to a cache of "older" McDonald's recipes that suggests looking for brands with ingredients that match up with those of McDonald's sausage patties, although there's no way to verify the list is accurate. (The original recipe includes: "Pork, water, salt, sage, spices, corn syrup solids, dextrose, sugar, pepper, monosodium glutamate, flavorings, BHA propyl gallate, citric acid.") Smithfield, Walmart's Great Value, and Jones Dairy Farms are all mentioned as potential substitute brands.
Possibly the best McDonald's breakfast food is also pre-cooked off-site: the hash browns. As with the other prepared foods, this makes sense; while you can make flat hash brown patties at home, they take a lot of time and effort to get just right. Trying to form the patties at each restaurant could result in a lot of inconsistency in size and shape. Customers expect fast food to taste the same at each location, so having pre-made, pre-cooked, flash-frozen hash browns that just need to be crisped up is a lot easier and faster than having bespoke patties made on-site. Plus, restaurants can reduce the amount of storage space needed since they don't have to store fresh potatoes.
McDonald's in the United States doesn't give much information about its hash brown suppliers. It does list three different potato suppliers for its fries, so one of these likely provides the potatoes for the hash brown patties, too. According to posters on Reddit, though, the hash brown-making facility is located in eastern Washington state. One Redditor claims that McDonald's trucks are the most commonly sighted brand truck in the area, transporting fries and hash browns.
Biscuits, In Some Locations
Some McDonald's locations make their biscuits from scratch, while others receive them frozen. There's no way to tell whether a location makes them from scratch other than by asking or observing. In other words, you can't assume anything based on the region you're in or any other factors. Scratch biscuits are made from scratch on-site, while pre-prepared biscuits, or E-Z splits, arrive frozen in groups of 16, according to various Redditors.
The use of frozen biscuits has two advantages, both having to do with staffing. Locations that make the biscuits from scratch have to hire employees just to make the biscuits, and there's only a limited time available to make them in the morning before the restaurant opens. Posters on Reddit have noted that the turnover for this position is high. If the restaurant is already understaffed, using frozen biscuits removes the issue of having to find someone for the biscuit-maker position in the first place. McDonald's doesn't offer information about its frozen biscuit supplier, but a web search reveals that Conagra currently makes them in its Louisville, Kentucky, facility.
Bacon, At Least In Ireland And The U.K.
McDonald's doesn't provide much information about its bacon in the United States, aside from nutrition. However, in Ireland and the United Kingdom, the bacon is "cooked ready to eat," which is a real thing. This is bacon that's been pre-cooked to get that crispy brown look and then packaged for sale. When someone orders an item that contains bacon, McDonald's staff in Ireland grill the bacon, while U.K. locations reheat it in the oven.
McDonald's in the U.S. has two meat suppliers, Lopez Foods and Keystone Foods, but the company doesn't specify which one provides the bacon. It's not clear why the company uses pre-cooked bacon, but preparation time could be a factor. It doesn't take long to cook bacon, but even if it only takes a few minutes, it adds up to a substantial amount when it's repeated day after day. Plus, the less cooking the restaurant has to do, the fewer issues there are with bacon grease spattering onto nearby surfaces and employees.
Griddle cakes, like the hotcakes, are cooked off-site and sent to each McDonald's location. The same places that make the hotcakes also make the griddle cakes for different markets. A Conagra facility in Kent, Washington, makes the griddle cakes for international locations, and the Conagra facility in Louisville, Kentucky, makes McGriddles which we assume are for the U.S. market. (It's not specified, but if the cakes for international locations are made at one facility, it's a good guess that the other facility makes the ones sold in the U.S.). A company called Ralcorp Frozen Bakery Products used to make the griddle cakes until Conagra acquired it. Conagra later sold Ralcorp but continued to make the products for McDonald's that Ralcorp was in charge of, including griddle cakes.
If you'd like to try to recreate the McGriddle sandwich at home, a recipe has recently spread across social media. Trader Joe's released a product called Dutch Griddle Cakes which is a great substitute for McDonald's griddle cakes. There's no word on whether the product will be a permanent addition or only seasonal, but according to several Redditors, the cakes are selling out fast and may not be back in stores for a while, possibly only at the beginning of 2024.
Read the original article on Mashed.