Every Item on the McDonald’s Dollar Menu, Ranked

Let's break down the McDonald's Dollar Menu and see what's really worth it.

Customers orders food at a McDonald's restaurant in Shatin. 25JUL14South China Morning Post/Getty Images

The cost of groceries the year you were born differs quite a bit from current grocery prices, so the McDonald’s $1 $2 $3 Menu sounds pretty enticing right now. I’m not saying fast food is always a great meal solution, but everything in moderation, right?

I’ll be honest: I find the McDonald’s $1 $2 $3 Menu more confusing than it should be. If it were a “Dollar Menu” and everything was priced at $1, that would make sense. Or even if every single thing on it was an even $1, $2 or $3. But this menu has a huge asterisk next to it even on the company’s own webpage, noting that “prices and participation may vary.” And I live in pricey Seattle, where everything costs more than when I head home to Minnesota.

That said, let’s rank everything on the McDonald’s $1 $2 $3 Menu. I tasted everything offered on the national menu plus a few things from my local restaurant’s version. I ranked everything on taste, of course, but also for value and a special factor— call it uniqueness—meaning whether or not you can get this item better (or cheaper) elsewhere. I’ll start with my lowest-ranked item—which may surprise you—and move on up to my A grade.

1 / 11

Mcdonalds Mcchicken
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McChicken Sandwich

Taste: I’ve tried both the spicy and regular McChicken, and I’m not a fan. The chicken feels like an afterthought—not especially juicy, moist or well-seasoned. The lettuce and mayo toppings are messy, and the spicy version isn’t spicy enough.

Cost: $2.89 for the the McChicken and $3.19 for the Spicy McChicken at my local McD’s

Uniqueness: It’s a sad attempt at a chicken sandwich. Burger King’s original chicken sandwich tops the fast-food pecking order for me.

Grade: C-

2 / 11

Mcdonalds Mcdouble
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Taste: The McDouble is similar to a McDonald’s Double Cheeseburger: Two beef patties, pickles, onions, ketchup and mustard—but the Double Cheeseburger has two slices of cheese to the McDouble’s single slice. Both patties are slim, and I found the burger disappointing.

Cost: $2.89

Uniqueness: It’s a not-very-good double burger, so not super unique. You can get it with bacon for an extra 90 cents at my local McD’s. Up to you if it’s worth that upgrade.

Grade: C. I’d much prefer the Quarter Pounder With Cheese, but to be fair, that burger costs more than twice as much as a McDouble.

3 / 11

Mcdonalds Hi C Orange Lavaburst
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Hi-C Orange Lavaburst

Taste: The Hi-C Orange Lavaburst was on the menu back in 1955 when McDonald’s opened, was discontinued in 2017, and returned to much applause in 2021. I love retro tastes and trends so much I’ve co-written two books about them—but I don’t love this. It tastes like a weird blend of Kool-Aid and orange soda, and lacks the snap of Sunkist or Orange Crush.

Cost: $1 for a small Hi-C Orange Lavaburst (except that I live in Seattle, which has an extra tax on sugared drinks).

Uniqueness: High! I don’t know any other restaurant chain that offers such a retro beverage. It reminds me of my 1970s childhood when this orange drink was served up in huge yellow coolers at our grade-school field days. But it tastes kind of flat and bland.

Grade: B-. Because nostalgia just isn’t enough.

4 / 11

Mcdonalds Sausage Mcmuffin
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Sausage McMuffin

Taste: It’s a sausage patty on a toasted English muffin, but unlike the Sausage Biscuit, this includes a melty cheese slice. The cheese is a strong addition, but the muffin isn’t as tasty as the biscuit.

Cost: $2.69

Uniqueness: The sausage McMuffin is cheaper than the signature Egg McMuffin, but it’s not as tasty or original.

Grade: B

5 / 11

Mcdonalds Sausage Biscuit
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Sausage Biscuit

Taste: Of the three McDonald’s sausage breakfast sandwiches, I expected to like the biscuit version best. It is indeed pretty good—a simple sausage patty sits on a flaky golden biscuit. And it’s perfectly acceptable—the biscuit isn’t too salty, it holds together well, and the sausage adds a sharpness that contrasts the biscuit nicely. I did like the Sausage McGriddle better, but the biscuit is a solid choice.

Cost: $2.79

Uniqueness: Plenty of fast-food places have sausage biscuits and other sausage sandwiches now.

Grade: B+

6 / 11

Mcdonalds Iced Tea
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Taste: When I visited Savannah recently, restaurants just kept the sweet tea pitchers coming without being asked. McDonald’s sweet tea, thankfully, isn’t as sugary as the drink I was served in Georgia, and I appreciated that. Super sugary tea is far from thirst-quenching. My husband adores McDonald’s unsweetened tea, and always requests extra lemon wedges.

Cost: $1 for a small drink

Uniqueness: Sweet and unsweetened tea is pretty common.

Grade: B+. It’s fine.

7 / 11

Mcdonalds Coke
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Coke, Diet Coke, Fanta, Dr Pepper and Sprite

Taste: I’d be all snarky and note that you can get these drinks anywhere, except that Coke tastes better at McDonald’s.

Cost: $1 for a small drink

Uniqueness: Medium-high, because of the exceptional Coke.

Grade: A-. The super-tasty Coke carries the day.

8 / 11

Mcdonalds Sausage Mcgriddle
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Sausage McGriddles

Taste: I did not expect to love the Sausage McGriddle, which is a sausage patty tucked between two maple-accented griddle cakes. But it turned out to be my favorite of the three sausage sandwiches. The mapley, sweet cakes hold up well and really complement the sausage, like when your breakfast sausage rolls into the syrup from a pancake. Sometimes, weird combos are the best combos.

Cost: $3.79. Not sure how this qualifies for the $1 $2 $3 Dollar Menu, but again, there’s an asterisk.

Uniqueness: If any other fast-food place has a griddle-cake sausage sandwich, I sure don’t know of it.

Grade: A

9 / 11

Mcdonalds Hashbrown
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Hash Browns

Taste: McD’s hash browns are golden, crisp, flaky and a divine side dish to any of their breakfast sandwiches. My teen daughter, however, insists that Jack-in-the-Box hash browns stay together better when dipped in ketchup, so you may want to consider that.

Cost: $2.29

Uniqueness: Plenty of fast-food places offer hash browns. And with air fryers, they’re easy to toast up at home.

Grade: A

10 / 11

Mcdonalds Chicken Mcnuggets
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Chicken McNuggets

Taste: When fresh, Chicken McNuggets are a crunchy, meaty treat. When they’re a little past their prime, though, they turn limp and bleah. I love the awesome sauce lineup, especially sweet-and-sour and just-tangy-enough hot mustard. Enjoy your nuggets with this McDonald’s sweet and sour sauce.

Cost: $3.19 for a four-piece order of Chicken McNuggets. Again, this $1 $2 $3 Menu is confusing to me. Remember though, I live in pricey Seattle—your mileage may vary.

Uniqueness: Chicken nuggets are sold elsewhere, of course, but McNuggets set the standard.

Grade: A

11 / 11

Mcdonalds Fries
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French fries

Taste: McDonald’s French fries are the best item at the restaurant and the best fast-food French fries around. They’re golden, crisp, hot, perfectly salted and just delectable. I’ve only occasionally been disappointed, and that’s almost always when the restaurant is closing and the fries just don’t taste fresh. To get fresh fries at McDonald’s, ask for them unsalted.

Cost: Small fries at my McDonald’s are $2.59, so they seem like an odd choice to be touted on the $1 $2 $3 Dollar Menu. But I guess because they’re in the $2-$3 range, they qualify? Or maybe they are cheaper at other locations. Tip: Buy French fries via the McDonald’s mobile app. I almost always find they have a deal where the large fries are just $1 (normally $4.39 on my app).

Uniqueness: Every fast-food place has fries. No one else has McDonald’s fries. No wonder they’re the chain’s best-seller. Plus, there’s a scientific reason McD’s fries are so addictive.

Grade: A+. Fast-food fries don’t get any better.

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Gael Fashingbauer Cooper
Gael Fashingbauer Cooper is a pop culture junkie and the co-author of Whatever Happened to Pudding Pops and The Totally Sweet '90s. She covers TV, movies, books and pop culture, as well as food news of all kinds. Gael is a weblog pioneer who started her first blog, Pop Culture Junk Mail, in 1999.