McDonald’s just made a massive change to its burgers — here’s the verdict

McDonald's new fresh-beef Quarter Pounder

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McDonald’s new fresh-beef Quarter Pounder
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Kate Taylor

  • McDonald’s announced on Tuesday that it will start making quarter-pounder burgers with fresh – not frozen – beef.
  • Business Insider tried the new fresh-beef burger and found it to be an impressive improvement on the old-school Quarter Pounder.
  • The fresh beef burger is juicier and has more depth of flavor, giving McDonald’s a distinct leg up on the competition.

McDonald’s just took a huge step to boost its reputation.

On Tuesday, the fast-food giant announced plans to start making quarter-pound burgers with fresh – not frozen – beef across the US by early May. Roughly 3,500 locations in the US are already serving fresh-beef Quarter Pounders, which are prepared to order for each customer.

Fresh beef has long been the calling card of McDonald’s fast-food rival, Wendy’s. It took years of effort for McDonald’s find a way to add a fresh-beef burger to the menu without sacrificing on speed and improving upon flavor.

This week, Business Insider had the opportunity to taste test the new fresh-beef burger. Here’s how the new Quarter Pounder matches up to its predecessor – and why the fresh beef swap is the best idea McDonald’s has had in years.


McDonald’s decided to test a Quarter Pounder made with fresh beef as part of what executives call the chain’s “journey” to modernize and improve menu quality.

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Kate Taylor

“Those who are seeking a larger burger … this is what they were looking for,” Linda VanGosen, McDonald’s vice president of menu innovation, told Business Insider.

“It was hotter, juicier, more flavorful,” VanGosen. “This is addressing what they’re looking for.”


The Quarter Pounder itself doesn’t look that different — which makes sense.

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Kate Taylor

Other than the beef, the recipe is exactly the same, right down to the burger preparation. McDonald’s beef prep simply requires slapping the patty on the grill and adding a bit of pepper.

One positive of fresh beef: it cooks faster than frozen, which means that the new preparation style isn’t going to slow down McDonald’s workers.


However, the difference is immediately clear after a single bite.

McDonald's new fresh-beef Quarter Pounder

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Kate Taylor

McDonald’s beef has always been one of the chain’s weaknesses. It can have a dry, cardboard-esque, almost mulch-y texture that leeches the flavor away from the meat. I’ll personally pick a McNugget over a McDonald’s burger any day.

However, the fresh-beef Quarter Pounder could change my mind on that – at least some of the time.


The fresh beef is noticeably juicier than the frozen alternative. This allows for the entire burger to have more depth of flavor.

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Kate Taylor

Don’t get me wrong – it still tastes like a McDonald’s burger, a distinct taste that’s difficult to describe or deem fully positive or negative. The closest I can come is that the new Quarter Pounder still tastes like McDonald’s smells, but a little bit better.

If I had beef (hah) with the fresh beef, it was that the promised “hotter” patty didn’t fully melt the cheese, which would have allowed a more unified burger experience


Still, I wasn’t convinced that the revamped burger wasn’t a scam. So, I tried the old-school Quarter Pounder.

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Kate Taylor

Concerned that the placebo effect may have warped my perception of the fresh-beef Quarter Pounder, I decided I needed to eat another quarter pound of beef.

So, after wolfing down the new-and-improved Quarter Pounder at a McDonald’s near the company’s headquarters, I bought an old-and-tired Quarter Pounder in the airport. And… the winner was clear!


The new burger is a marked improvement over the frozen-beef patty.

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Kate Taylor

The juicier burger allows for more depth of flavor that the original, which contains a tolerable patty that can feel like a chore to chomp through.

Are McDonald’s new fresh beef Quarter Pounders the best burger in the fast-food industry? Probably not. But, they’re a clear improvement upon its classic burger – and it proves the fast-food food chain’s commitment to actually improving its menu.