Is McDonald’s McGriddle healthy?

The McDonald’s McGriddle is one of the fast food chain’s most popular breakfast sandwiches. Consisting of an egg, cheese and choice of meat sandwiched between two sweet pancake buns, the McGriddle provides a sweet and savory start to the day. However, with its high calorie, fat, sugar and sodium content, it has long been criticized as an unhealthy breakfast option. In this 5000 word article, we will analyze the nutritional content of the McDonald’s McGriddle to determine if it can be part of a balanced breakfast or is better avoided.

Calorie Content

The calorie content of the McGriddle can vary depending on size and fillings chosen. A standard McGriddle with egg, cheese and bacon contains:

– McGriddle with egg and cheese: 370 calories
– McGriddle with egg, cheese and sausage: 500 calories
– McGriddle with egg, cheese and bacon: 550 calories

For comparison, health experts recommend a calorie intake of 400-600 calories for breakfast. So a McGriddle with just egg and cheese could fit into a healthy calorie intake, while versions with meat exceed recommendations. It’s also very easy to almost double the calorie content by ordering a large McGriddle or adding hash browns or a sugary drink. So calories need to be watched carefully when consuming a McGriddle.

Fat Content

Like the calorie content, the fat content of a McGriddle can add up quickly depending on toppings and serving size:

– McGriddle with egg and cheese: 16g fat
– McGriddle with egg, cheese and sausage: 28g fat
– McGriddle with egg, cheese and bacon: 32g fat

Nutritionists recommend limiting total fat intake to 25-35g per day and saturated fat to less than 10g. A single McGriddle can therefore provide almost an entire day’s worth of fat and saturated fat. The American Heart Association warns that diets high in saturated fat can increase unhealthy LDL cholesterol levels, raising the risk of cardiovascular disease. So the McGriddle’s high saturated fat content is concerning.

Sugar Content

One of the biggest nutritional issues with the McGriddle is its high sugar content, which comes primarily from the sweet pancake buns:

– McGriddle with egg and cheese: 24g sugar
– McGriddle with egg, cheese and sausage: 25g sugar
– McGriddle with egg, cheese and bacon: 24g sugar

These levels are alarmingly high given that the American Heart Association recommends limiting added sugar intake to no more than 25g per day for women and 36g per day for men. Just one McGriddle could potentially send sugar intake for the entire day over recommendations designed to reduce risk of obesity, heart disease and diabetes.

Sodium Content

The McGriddle is also very high in sodium, even in its simplest egg and cheese incarnation:

– McGriddle with egg and cheese: 820mg sodium
– McGriddle with egg, cheese and sausage: 1240mg sodium
– McGriddle with egg, cheese and bacon: 1290mg sodium

Health experts recommend limiting sodium intake to 1500mg-2300mg per day, so a single McGriddle can provide over a third of total daily sodium intake. High salt intake is linked to increased blood pressure, heart attacks and stroke. Those with hypertension or heart problems face even lower sodium recommendations, making the McGriddle a poor choice.

Ingredients & Nutrition

Analyzing the McGriddle’s long list of processed ingredients provides further insight into its nutritional value:

Pancake Buns

The two pancake buns used instead of traditional burger buns are the main source of the McGriddle’s high sugar content. McDonald’s pancake buns contain:

– Enriched bleached wheat flour – Refined grains are quickly digested, spiking blood sugar. Whole grains provide longer lasting energy.
– Sugar – Second ingredient after flour, pancake buns derive majority of calories from sugar.
– Degermed yellow corn flour – Processed corn product stripped of beneficial nutrients like healthy fats, vitamin E and phytochemicals.
– Soybean oil – Heavily processed vegetable oil high in inflammatory omega-6 fats.
– Leavening (sodium aluminum phosphate, baking soda) – Chemical leaveners added to artificially puff up pancakes during cooking.
– Natural and artificial flavors – Broad range of chemical flavorings, potentially including MSG.
– Preservatives (sodium propionate, sorbic acid) – Used to extend shelf life but linked to allergies and other health issues.


– McDonald’s states its eggs are “freshly cracked” but likely come from caged chickens raised in crowded, unsanitary conditions and fed unnatural diets. Ethically sourced, free-range eggs would be a healthier choice.


– Made from highly processed cheese products like milk protein concentrate, milkfat, modified food starch, gelatin and sodium citrate. Natural, unprocessed cheeses would offer higher nutritional value.


– McDonald’s bacon and sausage are both highly processed and made with questionable ingredients like sodium nitrite, dextrose and artificial smoke flavor. Uncured, nitrite-free meat products would be healthier.


Analyzing the McGriddle’s ingredients makes it clear the sandwich is filled with highly refined grains, sugar, oils, preservatives, artificial flavors and questionable meat products. There are no whole, nutritious ingredients like fruits, vegetables, nuts or legumes. This reliance on processed ingredients and additives offers little nutritional value.

Nutrient Deficiencies

Beyond the concerning levels of calories, fat, sugar and sodium, the McGriddle also lacks other nutrients important for good health:

– Protein – While the eggs and meat do provide some protein, their quality is poor. Higher quality sources like Greek yogurt, cottage cheese or nuts would be preferable.
– Fiber – Refined flour pancake buns contain zero grams of fiber, and there are no other fiber sources. Fiber is essential for digestive and heart health.
– Vitamins & minerals – No sources of beneficial vitamins beyond a small amount of calcium in the cheese. Whole foods like fresh fruit, veggies and leafy greens are needed to provide a range of vitamins and minerals.
– Antioxidants – None of the ingredients in the McGriddle provide beneficial plant-based antioxidants which protect cells from damage and can reduce risk of cancer, heart disease and dementia.

Impact on Health

The poor nutritional makeup of the McGriddle means consuming it regularly could negatively impact health in the following ways:

Weight Gain

With a massive 550 calories and 32g fat in the largest bacon version, the McGriddle can easily lead to consuming excess calories and gaining unwanted weight. All those refined carbohydrates and sugar will cause blood sugar spikes and crashes which trigger hunger and overeating as well.

Heart Health

The high sugar, sodium, saturated fat, cholesterol and processed meat in the McGriddle raises risk for high cholesterol, high blood pressure, coronary artery disease and stroke. The refined grains also contribute to inflammation which can damage arteries.


Spiking blood sugar levels places stress on the pancreas to produce insulin. Over time this can lead to insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes.

Cancer Risk

Processed meats like bacon and sausage are considered carcinogenic and linked to increased colorectal cancer rates. McDonald’s also fries foods in partially hydrogenated oil which contains trans fats – known to raise cancer risk.

Gut Health & Inflammation

The combination of high sugar, low fiber, artificial additives and inflammatory fats disturbs gut microbiome balance and contributes to systemic inflammation. This is linked to higher risk of chronic illnesses.

Nutrient Deficiencies

Reliance on the McGriddle for breakfast could lead to deficiencies in fiber, vitamins A, C, E and K, calcium, potassium and other essential nutrients not found in processed foods. This can impact overall wellbeing.

Mental Health

Studies find diets high in processed foods and sugary baked goods are associated with increased rates of anxiety, depression and other mental health disorders compared to whole food diets.

Healthier Breakfast Alternatives

Fortunately, there are a number of simple, delicious ways to enjoy a healthier breakfast sandwich:

Whole Grain English Muffin or Toast

Choose 100% whole grains like whole wheat or rye and load up on fiber. Avoid added sugars.


Add fresh greens like spinach, kale, tomato or avocado for fiber, vitamins and antioxidants.

Lean Protein

Try nitrate-free turkey, roast beef or ham. Baked tofu is a healthy plant-based option.

Natural Cheese

Use real, unprocessed cheese in moderation for calcium, protein and probiotics.

Ethical Eggs

Choose free-range or organic eggs from pasture-raised chickens when possible.

Healthy Fats

Use olive oil, avocado or nut butters instead of soybean oil for more monounsaturated fats.

Herbs & Spices

Boost flavor and nutrition without excess salt, sugar or fat using garlic, onions, herbs and spices.


Fresh or dried fruits like berries, banana and apple provide antioxidants and natural sweetness.

Healthier McGriddle Hacks

While it’s ultimately healthier to avoid the McGriddle when possible, there are some simple ways to improve its nutrition if dining at McDonald’s:

– Order smallest McGriddle with just egg and cheese
– Request no margarine to lower saturated fat
– Add veggie toppings like tomato, onion or spinach
– Opt for side fruit cup instead of hash browns
– Choose milk, coffee or water instead of soda
– Share with a friend to reduce portion size
– Balance with healthier meals rest of the day

The Verdict

When examining the McGriddle’s ingredients, macronutrients, micronutrients and potential health impact, the sandwich clearly rates very poorly in terms of nutrition. With its refined carbs and excessive amounts of sugar, sodium, saturated fat and processed meat, the McGriddle is a calorie bomb that provides little or no nutritional value.

Eating a McGriddle occasionally or in a small portion is unlikely to negatively impact health. However, making it a regular part of your breakfast routine can promote weight gain, heart disease, diabetes, inflammation, cancer risk, nutrient deficiencies and poor mental health.

There are many simple ways to customize or swap out ingredients for a healthier breakfast sandwich that provides fiber, protein, vitamins and antioxidants without excess sugar and sodium. While convenient, affordable and tasty, the McDonald’s McGriddle is an indulgent treat best limited to occasional consumption as part of an overall balanced diet, not a healthy daily breakfast choice.


[1] McDonald’s USA Nutrition Facts for Popular Menu Items.

[2] U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture. 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Published December 2015.

[3] Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. The Nutrition Source – Healthy Breakfast Ideas.

[4] American Heart Association. Dietary Recommendations for Healthy Children.

[5] Healthline. Is Bacon Bad for You, or Good?

[6] Hu FB. Dietary pattern analysis: a new direction in nutritional epidemiology. Curr Opin Lipidol. 2002;13:3–9.

Leave a Comment