Is McDONALDS McGriddle healthy?

The McDonald’s McGriddle is one of the most popular breakfast sandwiches sold by the fast food giant. It features an egg, cheese and choice of meat between two sweet maple flavored pancake buns. With its sweet taste and portability, it has become a go-to for many people looking to grab a quick bite in the morning.

However, like most fast food options, the McGriddle has come under scrutiny for its nutritional value and healthiness. With high amounts of calories, fat, sodium and sugar, it certainly does not rank high on any dietitian’s list of recommended breakfast choices. But does this mean it should be completely avoided or can it be worked into a balanced diet in moderation?

In this article, we will take an in-depth look at the McGriddle, its nutritional information and ingredients to determine if it can be considered a healthy choice or not. We will examine questions such as:

What are the ingredients in a McGriddle?

A McDonald’s McGriddle is made up of the following ingredients:

  • Maple flavored pancake buns -These are made from enriched bleached wheat flour, water, sugar, dextrose, soybean oil, natural and artificial flavors, salt, brown sugar, leavening (sodium acid pyrophosphate, sodium bicarbonate), yeast, soy flour, whey powder, soybean oil, salt, mono and diglycerides, color (yellow 5, yellow 6).
  • Egg – Pasteurized whole eggs with citric acid added as a preservative.
  • Cheese – Processed American cheese made from milk, cream, water, cheese culture, sodium citrate, salt, citric acid, sorbic acid as a preservative, apo-carotenal and beta carotene (color), enzymes, soy lecithin.
  • Meat – Choices include sausage patty (made with pork and beef), bacon (cured and smoked sliced pork belly), ham (cured and pressed pork leg).

As you can see, while the core ingredients like eggs, cheese and meat are simple enough, the main attraction – the pancake buns, contain a lengthy list of artificial ingredients, sugars and preservatives.

What are the nutrition facts of a McGriddle?

The nutrition information for a standard McGriddle sandwich varies slightly depending on meat choice but on average, one McGriddle contains:

  • Calories: 470
  • Total Fat: 24g
  • Saturated Fat: 9g
  • Trans Fat: 1.5g
  • Cholesterol: 255mg
  • Sodium: 820mg
  • Total Carbohydrates: 44g
  • Dietary Fiber: 2g
  • Sugars: 14g
  • Protein: 16g

For the sake of comparison, here are the recommended daily values (based on a standard 2000 calorie diet) for some of these key nutrients:

  • Total fat: No more than 78g
  • Saturated fat: No more than 20g
  • Trans fat: As little as possible
  • Cholesterol: No more than 300mg
  • Sodium: Less than 2,300mg
  • Total carbohydrate: 275g
  • Dietary fiber: 25g
  • Sugars: No set amount

As you can see, one McGriddle contains over half the recommended daily saturated fat, nearly the entire day’s cholesterol, one third of the sodium, one sixth of carbohydrates and nearly 6 grams shy of fiber recommendations. The high sugar content is alarming as well at 14 grams from a single sandwich.

Is the McGriddle high in calories?

With approximately 470 calories, the McGriddle is indeed a high calorie way to start the day. To put this into context:

  • The recommended daily calorie intake for an average adult is 2000 calories.
  • 470 calories represent 23.5% of that allowance coming from just one breakfast sandwich.
  • The McGriddle has more calories than a McDonald’s Big Mac at 540 calories which is meant to be a full meal, not just a small breakfast.
  • 470 calories rivals the amount in many full restaurant entrees and home cooked meals.

For most people, consuming almost a quarter of their daily recommended calorie intake at breakfast is not wise or sustainable, especially from a food lacking adequate nutrition.

Is the McGriddle high in fat?

With 24 grams of total fat, including 9 grams of saturated fat and 1.5 grams of trans fat, the McGriddle is definitely a high fat food.

To put this into context:

  • The American Heart Association recommends only 5-6% of total daily calories come from saturated fats. This equals about 13 grams based on a 2000 calorie diet.
  • The McGriddle provides nearly a full day’s worth of recommended saturated fat in just one sandwich.
  • The trans fats are equally concerning, as the AHA recommends limiting these as much as possible.
  • The high fat content contributes to nearly half the calories (47%) in this sandwich coming from fat.

The bottom line is the McGriddle has copious amounts of the worst types of fats – saturated and trans fats, which are strongly linked with increased cholesterol levels and higher risk of heart disease and stroke. This level of fat from a single food item should be limited in an overall healthy diet.

How much sugar is in a McGriddle?

McGriddles contain 14 grams of sugar, which may not sound like a shocking amount, but it is very high for a single breakfast item.

To put this into context:

  • The American Heart Association recommends no more than 25 grams of added sugar per day for women and 36 grams for men.
  • The McGriddle has over half the recommended daily added sugar for women in just one sandwich.
  • The 14 grams of sugar is almost triple the amount of fiber (2 grams). This combination of high sugar and low fiber can cause blood sugar spikes and crashes.
  • The sugar adds unnecessary empty calories and little nutritional value.

The main sources of sugar in the McGriddle are the maple flavored pancake buns, along with the high fructose corn syrup found in the American cheese. The bottom line is the sugar content is quite excessive for a single meal.

Does the McGriddle have a lot of sodium?

The McGriddle is very high in sodium at 820 milligrams in one sandwich.

To put this into context:

  • The AHA recommends no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day.
  • One McGriddle has over one third (35%) of the daily sodium recommendation.
  • The high sodium content comes largely from the pancake buns, cheese and meat components which all contain added salt.
  • High sodium intake has been linked to high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke.

Given the already-high calories, fat, and sugar in this item, the addition of over 800 milligrams of sodium only makes it more difficult for this food to have a place in a healthy diet.

Does the McGriddle offer any nutritional benefits?

Given the high amounts of calories, fats, sugar and sodium, the McGriddle does not offer much in the way of nutritional benefits. However, there are a few positives when the ingredients are looked at separately:

  • The eggs provide high-quality protein, vitamin D, selenium and choline.
  • The American cheese offers calcium, protein and some B vitamins.
  • The meat provides protein, iron, zinc, and B vitamins.
  • The pancake buns offer some fiber, calcium, a few B vitamins and iron.

However, when weighed against the copious amounts of unhealthy fats, sugar and sodium, the nutritional benefits are slim. There are far better ways to obtain beneficial protein, minerals and vitamins without all the negatives of the McGriddle.

Should you eat McGriddles if you are dieting?

For anyone looking to lose weight or control calories, the McGriddle would be an extremely poor choice. With nearly 500 calories and almost half those calories coming from fat, it will contribute significantly to daily calorie intake. The high sodium and sugar are also counterproductive for a diet.

The convenience may seem appealing but the negative nutritional impact far outweighs that benefit. There are many convenient yet healthier breakfast options that can be prepared at home and taken on-the-go. Some better options include:

  • Whole grain cereal or oatmeal with fruit and yogurt
  • Hard boiled egg and whole grain toast
  • Nut butter on whole grain bread or a wrap
  • Greek yogurt with berries and granola
  • High protein smoothie or shake

All of these provide more balanced nutrition with fiber, protein and far less fat, sugar and sodium compared to the McGriddle. For successful dieting, it’s best to consume minimally processed foods with plenty of vitamins, minerals and nutrition to properly fuel your body while managing calories and portion sizes.

Can McGriddles fit into a healthy diet?

While the McGriddle’s poor nutritional stats may seem to imply it can’t be part of a healthy diet, in small amounts it may be okay for some people. The criteria would be:

  • You have an otherwise very healthy, balanced diet full of minimally processed foods, fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains and healthy fats.
  • You are not overweight and do not have any diet-related health conditions like diabetes or heart disease.
  • You only occasionally eat fast food such as a McGriddle, not regularly.
  • You balance it out by maintaining an appropriate calorie deficit for the rest of the day and getting exercise.
  • You limit portion size to one sandwich rather than multiples.

Realistically, the McGriddle is a hyper-processed food high in fat, sugar and sodium, so consumption should be minimized. But an occasional indulgence may be acceptable for some people within the context of an otherwise solid, healthy diet. Moderation and smart choices are key.

Healthier ways to eat a McGriddle

If you do occasionally indulge in a McGriddle, there are some simple ways to make it slightly healthier. For example:

  • Choose egg & cheese or sausage & egg rather than bacon – Lowers fat, sodium and calories.
  • Request no butter on the buns – Cuts out extra saturated fat.
  • Order a small coffee and hash brown instead of juice or soda – Cuts calories from sugary drinks.
  • Eat slowly and drink water – Helps you feel full faster on less food.
  • Share with a friend or eat half and save half – Cuts portions and calories in half.
  • Balance it out with fruit or yogurt on the side – Adds fiber, vitamins and minerals.

Making simple tweaks like these can help reduce some of the fat, sodium and empty calories that make the McGriddle less healthy overall. While not making it a true health food, it may mitigate negative impacts.

Healthier homemade alternatives

For those who crave the sweet maple flavor of a McGriddle but want a healthier option, it’s relatively simple to make a homemade version with better ingredients. Here is one example recipe:


  • 2 whole grain English muffins
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 slices Canadian bacon or turkey sausage
  • 2 slices low-fat cheddar cheese
  • 2 tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 1 tsp butter
  • Cooking spray or oil


  1. Split and toast the English muffins until golden brown.
  2. Heat a skillet over medium heat and coat lightly with cooking spray or oil. Add the Canadian bacon or sausage and cook until heated through, about 2-3 minutes per side.
  3. Crack the eggs into the skillet and cook to desired doneness. Alternatively, you can cook the eggs ahead of time.
  4. Assemble the sandwiches by placing one egg and one slice of meat on the bottom half of each English muffin.
  5. Top with cheese, the maple syrup and butter.
  6. Close the sandwiches and serve while warm.

This homemade version has about half the calories, half the fat, and far less sugar and sodium than the McDonald’s McGriddle. It still offers the classic sweet maple flavor but in a fresher, healthier way by using higher quality ingredients.

The bottom line

When examining the nutritional data, ingredients list and health impact, the McDonalds McGriddle cannot reasonably be considered a healthy breakfast choice. With excessive amounts of calories, fat, sugar and sodium from highly processed ingredients, it offers limited nutritional value.

Occasionally enjoying a McGriddle may be acceptable for some within the context of an otherwise solid diet. But regular consumption is likely to negatively impact health, particularly for those trying to manage their weight or conditions like cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

Homemade versions can capture the flavors in a more nutritious way. But for everyday breakfasts, natural whole foods like oats, eggs, nuts and fruit are always the healthiest choices to provide your body lasting energy and nutrition. Moderating indulgences, balancing them out and focusing on wholesome real food instead of fast food are the keys to incorporating McGriddles into an overall healthy diet.

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