Are McDonald’s Fries Vegetarian? – A Controversial Question

By Phillip Adcock
Last updated: Jan 8, 2023
Are Mcdonald's Fries Vegetarian

McDonald’s fries in the US are still one of the greatest fast food inventions ever. Many people love this dish thanks to the crispy outside, the soft inside, and even addictive and more memorable than classic menu choices like Big Mac, Filet-O-Fish, or Chicken McNugget

Although they are not the healthiest option, french fries have managed to cement their place as the official hamburger garnish, which is the McDonald’s logo. Many people think that this taste is very different from the fries of many other brands. So Are Mcdonald’s Fries vegetarian?. Let’s explore!

What Are Mcdonald’s Fries Made Of?

To create the famous fast food recipe, McDonald’s researched and applied 19 ingredients to French fries.


McDonald’s uses a variety of potatoes, such as Russet Burbank potatoes, which have a fairly balanced ratio of starch to sugar. More sugar will cause potatoes to change into brown easily, create a bitter taste and lose their delicious yellow color. In this case, after slicing, they have to whiten the burnt part and remove the excess sugar.

Acid Salt Sodium Pyrophosphate

Potatoes can have a pretty weird color after frying. The iron in the potato reacts with compounds in the phenolic layer to change the color of the potato. Phosphate ions present in Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate will prevent iron ions and the above reaction, keeping the sweet potato a beautiful white color during the process.

Vegetable Oil

Previously, McDonald’s potatoes were fried in beef fat, but because customers demanded less saturated fat, they switched to vegetable oil in the early 90s. Vegetable oil here means many cooking oils with different degrees of saturation will combine to form a substance similar to beef fat.

It includes canola oil, about 8% saturated fat, soybean oil (16%), and organic soybean oil (94%). They will fry the potatoes twice in oil, once at the factory and the second time when sold to customers.

Chemical Sugar Dextrose

Just a little bit of corn-based sugar will be enough to replace the sweetness lost in the whitening process. If you drizzle with ketchup afterward, it will add more sugar.


After frying, people will sprinkle the potatoes with a little salt. These salt crystals are similar in diameter and barely seep through the hot oil. Now, you need to drizzle ketchup on to enjoy hot McDonald’s fries

Are Mcdonald’s Fries Vegetarian?

The answer is no. McDonald’s fries aren’t vegan. Although potatoes are a kind of vegetable, people who do not consume animal products may avoid them. This fast food contains the natural flavor of beef. It is one of the ingredients used in potatoes. 

According to McDonald’s, the natural flavor of beef contains hydrolyzed wheat and hydrolyzed milk as the starting ingredients. Therefore, they are not a vegan-friendly food option at all.

McDonald’s initiative to put beef in fries was an “accident”. In the past, because of a lack of vegetable oil, the supplier of frying oil for the company had to add beef fat inside. This small unintended improvisation resulted in a richer and more delicious flavor of fries. This is also where the popularity of McDonald’s fries began.

The natural beef flavor is also the secret to retaining McDonald’s customers. The flavor of beef added to the potato dish helped customers ignore the difference when the brand changed from beef fat to vegetable fat. These are the tips on ingredients that they have used up to now.

Are Mcdonald's Fries Vegetarian-1

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Why Aren’t Mcdonald’s Fries Vegan?

As we mentioned above, there is a natural beef flavor in McDonald’s fries. Because of being fried foods, McDonald’s fries are also processed with vegetable oil. In the beginning, McDonald used beef lard to fry, but then they mixed oil with other chemicals to create a similar flavor. 

Can Vegetarians Eat Mcdonald’s Fries?

Unfortunately, McDonald’s fries are not suitable for vegetarians. Because for decades, McDonald’s cooked their fries in fatty beef, and most people believe that it is the factor that gives them their famous flavor. But when they switched to vegetable oil, the fries were not as tasty. The solution is to add natural beef flavor to the potatoes.

Can You Eat Vegan At Mcdonald’s?

McDonald’s states on its website that no meals are officially considered vegan or vegetarian. It is true because their products include burgers, cheeseburgers, fries, and chicken nuggets. All of them are not vegan.

However, McDonald’s has plans to target vegetarians by opening the first meat-free restaurant in India. McDonald’s currently only has one branch in India, which is a country with millions of vegetarians and non-meat eaters. 

For a long time, serving in the Hindu country, McDonald’s had to remove beef from the menu and sell fried chicken instead of beef hamburgers. The menu only includes potatoes, beans, and spices.

Are Mcdonald’s Fries Dairy Free?

McDonald’s fries don’t consist of milk in their ingredients. However, the beef meal added to the fries contains both milk and wheat derivatives, making it off the vegan list. Therefore, McDonald’s is not dairy-free.


French fries are a favorite dish of many people. This type of fast food impresses customers, with its crispy taste, and attractive color … not making you feel bored like cheese or cakes.

Therefore, it cannot be suitable for vegetarians and not be popular in all countries. Anyway, it is also the most delicious product in this brand with the highest sales.

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* Disclaimer: We do not buy, sell or provide service, we only share with you our trusted sources, and experience. In case of any changes in the products or services of the companies, all the information below is supposed to change at any time.

Phillip Adcock is the founder and Managing Director of the research agency Shopping Behaviour Xplained (SBXL), a shopping research organization using psychological consumer insight to explain and help consumers answer their questions about stores and services.

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