McDonald's Wants To Go Bigger Than Its Biggest Burger

Big Macs and Quarter Pounders aren't enough. McDonald’s is ready to do more.

Everything about McDonald's is big. It's a big business with more than 40,000 locations globally, and it's undergoing some big, bold renovations to future-proof that business. Its signature burger is the Quarter Pounder, and for years the chain offered customers the option to Super Size their meals. But now, McDonald's has decided that big is simply not big enough. Restaurant Business reports that the fast food behemoth is making plans to test out larger burgers in some global markets.

Currently, the two heftiest menu options at McDonald's are the Big Mac and the Quarter Pounder. While the Big Mac is a tall burger that contains an extra slice of bread, the Quarter Pounder contains more than twice as much beef, and that's what has McDonald's leadership inspired. The company sees a major opportunity in the market for a "large, more satiating type burger," according to CFO Ian Borden, who at a recent business conference laid out McDonald's new strategy for introducing a larger burger. As part of this, Borden also walked through previous offerings, analyzing why they didn't last.

McDonald’s plan for larger burgers, explained

McDonald's has been trying to make big burgers work on its menu for a long time. In 1996, the chan debuted the Arch Deluxe, which consisted of a quarter-pound beef patty, a circular piece of peppered bacon, leaf lettuce, tomato, American cheese, onions, ketchup, and a "secret" mustard and mayonnaise sauce on a split-top potato flour sesame seed bun. In 2018, the Golden Arches offered a Grand Mac, a larger version of the Big Mac with the size of all its ingredients increased, but the ratio of those ingredients remaining the same.


Borden explained that the reason previous offerings did not last is because McDonald's was too focused on significantly altering size and quality at the same time, rather than simply focusing on offering a larger burger.

"We tried to get after this opportunity for a number of years because we thought the opportunity was about premium burger," Borden said at the conference, clarifying that this was the wrong direction.

Most recently, the chain brought back the Double Big Mac for a limited run. This extra-beefed-up version of the classic consists of twice the meat and no other changes. Looking at it now, this might have been the brand's way of preparing for its mission to make a bigger burger by testing market sentiment.


Beyond that limited-time-only release, McDonald's has now developed a few large-format burger options but plans to test them only in a few markets before rolling them out worldwide. This is all part of the brand's new release strategy, which aims to methodically test out menu items to see what works and what doesn't.

"In the past you would have seen us try and get after that opportunity in 20 different markets in 20 different ways," Borden said. "And then you don't have the ability to build a global equity that you can drive at scale."

That said, McDonald's has also been focused on strengthening its core menu with small but significant quality improvements. Some of those improvements included adding more Big Mac sauce, using brioche buns, and melting the cheese more before serving. We found that the changes made a difference in the overall experience of eating these fast food burgers.

While Borden did not detail what these market tests will consist of, it's evident that McDonald's wants to cater to bigger appetites. A brand-new beefier burger could be headed to the McDonald's menu, and for good this time.