By Kaley Roberts
McDonald's, the chain is making subtle, unpublicized upgrades to one of their staples: the burger bun. Following successful trials of the "new bun" in both Australia and Canada, the Golden Arches are said to be rolling out the better bun worldwide over the next few years.
According to our neighbors in the north and those Down Under, the new and improved bun is largely indistinguishable from its predecessor on a surface level. But most of the changes have to do with the baking process itself—Mickey D's altered the bun recipe slightly so that it would include more moisture, which in turn will hold more heat.
Nicola Pitman, McDonald's director of menu innovation and management, told a Canadian paper that really, it's all about heat retention. The goal of the upgrade is for customers to "be able to feel that nice warm bun."
"Our guests are saying to us: 'I don't know what you've done a little bit differently," she continued, "but something is really good about this product today.'"
The new bun is slightly re-sized as well. The top half (called "the crown"—who knew?) is slightly shorter, while the bottom half ("the heel") is just a tad thicker. Both of these alterations make the bun warmer longer.
Even though Aussies and Canadians have been enjoying these hot buns since 2019, McDonald's only recently confirmed that the new buns would hit most markets within the next couple of years. Eat This, Not That! reached out to the company for comment on the U.S. rollout, and while we didn't get any information on the timing, McDonald's did confirm the bun improvements are part of the company's larger strategy of making their classics better than ever.
“As part of our recently announced Accelerating the Arches growth strategy, we’re focusing even more on our core menu items – the great-tasting classics that matter most to our customers. This includes exploring how we can make our classic burgers even better by focusing on how we cook and prepare them so they are hot, juicy and delicious from first bite to last. We’ve begun to implement a series of small changes that add up to a big difference our customers really notice in select international markets such as Australia and Canada, where we’ve exceeded customer expectations in taste and quality. One example of a change we’ve made is the introduction of new buns toasted to a golden brown. These changes will be deployed in more markets in the future,” the company stated.
Naturally, our interest was piqued. If the new buns were being rolled out worldwide as we speak, have they hit the US locations yet? And if so, would we be able to spot the difference? Over the course of a week, our team hit McDonald's drive-thrus in four American cities in an attempt to answer the burning question: where are the new buns? Here's what we found. For more, don't miss the 100 Unhealthiest Foods on the Planet to Avoid.
We're fairly certain the bun updates have occurred in NYC already. Our bun in the Big Apple was warm, with a noticeably thicker bottom.
This beautiful golden-brown bun could only be the product of a slightly updated recipe. Not only did the bun-size and heat retention track with the promised changes, but this burger just tasted noticeably better as a whole. Or was it just that California sun?
This is the market we have questions about. While the bottom seemed slightly thicker, the top did not seem any shorter, and it wasn't particularly warm.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, it doesn't seem like the new buns have made it to the McDonald's in the small town we sampled. The bun here not only seemed standard size, but its grill-pattern was far from perfect and the heat was not retained.
Overall, we were impressed with the new buns while also noting that really, the old ones were still pretty good. Our taste-testers who had already enjoyed the crispy chicken sandwich, though, had a note for the chain: instead of updating this bun, why not just switch to that decadent potato roll for all Mickey D's offerings?