Inside McDonald’s new burger recipe – temperature rule, brand new buns and staff secrets

By Staff

McDonald’s is shaking things up – and The Mirror went behind the scenes to find out all the secrets.

For the first time in 50 years, the fast food chain is making changes to the way it cooks and prepares its most popular burgers – and if that wasn’t enough, all buns will be swapped out with a new buttery, brioche-style bread.

That means the Big Mac, Quarter Pounder with Cheese and the Double Cheeseburger will all taste different thanks to “small modifications” which the burger giant thinks will “enhance” all the elements customers love the most – all in shiny new packaging.

Thousands of McDonald’s staff across the country have been preparing for this huge shift, which has been years in the making. But what does this all mean for loyal customers? Will your favourite McDonald’s burger taste completely different? Do you need to go into a period of mourning?

Don’t worry, we went behind-the-scenes at McDonald’s HQ in London to find out exactly how these new burgers fare in the best way possible – by tasting them up against the old versions. And we learned some nifty secrets along the way.

New burger changes explained

Thomas O’Neill, Head of Menu at McDonald’s, told us the secret to the perfect burger is the bun. He said: “At the heart of the recipe is the bun. And this is the most noticeable change we’re making.”

Tom continued: “There are three brand new buns. They are brioche-style bread with a sweet, butter flavouring and a light, sugar glaze.” This complete bun-overhaul is perhaps the most nerve-wracking change for fans, and we questioned Tom on whether there were any concerns UK customers might find this too sweet – but don’t worry, they’ve thought all this through.

These plans have taken years to perfect, and no decision has been made on a whim. This is where their second secret-weapon comes in. McDonald’s is changing the way staff prepare the onions – and it’s a deliberate swap in order to make the new flavour profile work.

McDonald’s has come up with a genius plan to stop the onions being so “acidic” on your cheeseburger and Big Mac – while offsetting the sweetness of the bun. Tom explained that the onions are currently added to the patty during assembly – but that’s all changing. Instead, they will be added to the meat while it’s on the grill, taking off some of that bitterness.

This is a “small thing which will make a big difference,” Tom explained, adding that the “savoury note from the new onions will offset the sweetness.” He added: “It’s all deliberate.”

This shift – the “most technical change” in the new plan – is all inspired by the American market. Expert Tom told us that brioche-style buns are a “hot trend” at the moment – and is the way the burger industry is heading for good.

Reassuring fans that the new burgers will still feel familiar, Tom explained they’ve gone through many stages of product-testing, and added: “We wouldn’t make such a big change if people didn’t love it.”

Another significant change comes in the way iconic patties are cooked. Tom continued: “All the small changes to the beef burgers add up to something delicious for the customer.” The raw ingredients in the burger will be staying the same, but the meat will be grilled on a different setting, which gets it hotter and sears in the juice.

According to Tom, this works the same as a steak – searing the sides to make sure the juicy meat inside stays warmer for longer. This will no doubt be music to the ears of takeaway fans as it also “locks in the juiciness and flavour” and stops it going cold as fast.

Tom added: “You can really tell the temperature difference. There’s nothing worse than a cold burger, and these will be the hottest burgers we’ve ever had.”

Another switch-up is staff “bringing up the ambient temperature” of some ingredients, including the cheese. Tinkering with heat means the cheese should melt better and become more oozy, because the patty is hotter. Tom shared staff will also take the cheese out of the fridge earlier so that it has a better chance of melting.

On the flipside, some ingredients will be colder, spending less time out of the fridge, incuding the onion and lettuce. You might find that your Big Mac is even crunchier, because McDonald’s employees will now have to put your lettuce on the burger within 30 minutes of taking it out of the fridge – rather than two hours. Tom added: “The crunch is incredible.”

The taste test

This all sounds promising, but the proof is in the pudding. Or burger. We were lucky enough to try the new buns side-by-side with the old ones to really see whether there’s a noticeable change. Lisa Evans, from the Food Development Office, prepared a Double Cheeseburger, Quarter Pounder with Cheese and Big Mac for us – and let us watch the whole process.

Lisa explained that the Double Cheeseburger bun is actually smaller than the original one, but it’s taller, which makes for a “better ratio”. The other major change on this one is that the onions are no longer added on cold, but they are added to the patty itself, which has been cooked at a higher temperature.

And tasting it side-by-side with the old burger, I was blown away by the difference. The best way to describe it is that the flavour is completely elevated. The bun isn’t too sweet, and I can tell what Tom means by the flavour of the onions offsetting the sweetness. Although the beef recipe hasn’t changed, you can taste more of the flavour. It’s juicier, and there’s more texture due to the ‘crispy’ top of the seared patty. And there’s no denying it looks so much more appealing.

I was most worried about trying the Quarter Pounder with Cheese, which is my go-to Maccies order. Lisa explained they have added a “natural milk flavour to the brioche-style bun to make it more creamy and dense”. Although the size of this bun hasn’t changed, they now have straight edges, rather than round – although I couldn’t see much of a difference apart from the shininess of the bun.

Again, I feel like this burger tastes better than the old one. The bun itself is perfectly toasted, and has a bit more denseness to it, which makes it feel like a proper meal. The onions on the Quarter Pounder are still added during assembly, as before, but they have been out of the fridge for less time, which makes them taste more crunchy. The patty itself is crispier on the outside, juicy on the inside, and packs way more flavour than before.

The Big Mac bun’s dimensions haven’t changed, but Lisa explained that there are fewer sesame seeds, as well as the “natural butter and brioche flavour” of the new buns. The lettuce has been out for no more than 30 minutes, while it could be up to two hours previously, and for this one the onions have been added to the patty during the grilling process.

It’s definitely the freshest and crunchiest Big Mac I’ve had, and I noticed quite a big change in the buns – probably because of the third layer that fans love. However, I found that this one was a bit on the sweet side, and there was a distinctive change to the flavour. I’m not a huge Big Mac fan, so whether others will enjoy this change, I can’t tell.

According to McDonald’s, the changes have already begun in certain restaurants, so you might already have spotted it in your local. However, it will be rolled out gradually over the next few weeks. We’re looking forward to hear what fellow Maccies fans think of the changes.

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