What kind of cheese does McDonald’s use for breakfast?

McDonald’s uses a few different types of cheese for their breakfast menu items depending on the specific sandwich or dish. The most common cheeses are processed American cheese, cheddar cheese, and Swiss cheese. The type of cheese can vary slightly by location as well.

American Cheese

The most widely used cheese at McDonald’s for both breakfast and lunch/dinner menus is American cheese. This processed cheese product is made from a blend of milk, milkfat, milk protein concentrate, whey, milk powder, etc. It has a creamy texture and mild flavor that melts easily.

On the breakfast menu, McDonald’s uses American cheese slices on various sandwiches like the Bacon, Egg & Cheese Biscuit, Sausage Biscuit with Egg, Sausage McMuffin with Egg, and more. The egg sandwiches that come with an American cheese slice have a gooey, melted cheese texture thanks to the processed cheese that blends smoothly when heated.

Advantages of American Cheese

There are a few reasons why McDonald’s prefers to use American cheese for most of its breakfast sandwiches:

  • It has a mild, inoffensive taste that appeals to most palates.
  • It melts exceptionally well, creating a perfect melted cheese texture.
  • It is affordable, especially when mass produced.
  • It functions well in a fast food setting where sandwiches are made quickly.

American cheese hits the ideal balance of flavor, texture, meltability, and cost for a fast food breakfast sandwich.

Nutrition Facts

Here are some nutrition facts on McDonald’s American cheese slices:

Calories Protein Carbs Fat
49 3g 2g 4g

As you can see, a single slice is low in calories, protein, carbs, and fat. Of course, consuming an entire breakfast sandwich will provide higher macro-nutrient contents.

Cheddar Cheese

While American cheese is the most popular, McDonald’s does also offer cheddar cheese on select breakfast sandwiches.

Cheddar cheese has a sharper, more distinct flavor profile than American cheese. It is a harder cheese that melts well. McDonald’s likely uses a processed cheddar that makes it a bit milder in flavor but still with that distinct cheddar taste.

Some breakfast sandwiches made with cheddar include the Bacon, Egg & Cheese McGriddles, Bacon, Egg & Cheese Bagel, and the Steak, Egg & Cheese Bagel (uses shredded cheddar).

Advantages of Cheddar Cheese

Here’s why McDonald’s offers cheddar cheese on some of its breakfast options:

  • Cheddar has more robust, sharper notes than American cheese.
  • It provides an alternative flavor profile for customers who want something bolder.
  • The creamy, melty texture melts well on breakfast sandwiches.
  • Cheddar pairs nicely with meats like bacon and steak.

Overall, cheddar cheese adds a punch of flavor on some of McDonald’s heartier breakfast sandwiches.

Nutrition Facts

The nutrition facts in a slice of McDonald’s cheddar cheese are:

Calories Protein Carbs Fat
49 3g 1g 4g

As you can see, cheddar cheese has a similar nutritional profile to American cheese per slice.

Swiss Cheese

The third type of cheese you may find in a McDonald’s breakfast sandwich is Swiss cheese. This cheese has a mild, slightly sweet flavor with signature holes throughout.

McDonald’s uses Swiss cheese on some of its breakfast sandwiches like the Bacon, Egg & Swiss Croissant as well as the Sausage, Egg White & Swiss McMuffin.

Advantages of Swiss Cheese

Here are some reasons why Swiss cheese works well for McDonald’s breakfast menu:

  • It has a mild, crowd-pleasing taste.
  • When melted, it becomes creamy and gooey, perfect for breakfast sandwiches.
  • The distinctive holes give it an appetizing look.
  • It pairs well with egg and bacon.

In short, Swiss cheese is a nice change of pace from American and cheddar with its signature flavor and holes that melt smoothly into breakfast sandwiches.

Nutrition Facts

The nutrition information for a slice of Swiss cheese at McDonald’s is:

Calories Protein Carbs Fat
50 4g 1g 4g

Swiss cheese has a similar calorie, protein, carb, and fat content as American and cheddar cheese slices used at McDonald’s.

Why McDonald’s Uses These Cheeses

McDonald’s specifically uses American, cheddar, and Swiss cheeses for their breakfast sandwiches for a few key reasons:

  • These cheeses all melt exceptionally well, creating a perfect gooey cheese texture when heated.
  • The flavors are relatively mild, appealing to mass market tastes.
  • They are affordable, processed cheese products that keep costs down.
  • The taste and textures pair well with breakfast meats like sausage and bacon.
  • They can be made into uniform slices for quick, consistent assembly of sandwiches.

Cheeses like mozzarella or Monterey jack that don’t melt as smoothly or have more pungent flavors are not well-suited to McDonald’s needs for fast breakfast sandwich assembly. Overall, the melty, mild processed cheeses they use hit the right notes of taste, cost, and preparation for their high-volume breakfast menus.

Other Breakfast Items with Cheese

In addition to breakfast sandwiches, there are a few other items on McDonald’s breakfast menu that contain cheese:

  • Hash Browns – While plain hash browns contain just potatoes, fried onions, and oil, McDonald’s also offers loaded hash browns with crumbled sausage and shredded cheddar cheese.
  • Bagel with Cream Cheese – McDonald’s serves an Asiago cheese bagel warmed up with a cream cheese schmear.
  • Cinnamon Roll – The cinnamon roll may contain cream cheese icing on top for added richness.
  • McGriddles – These breakfast sandwiches with syrup-infused buns may contain American or cheddar cheese.

So while American, cheddar, and Swiss are the most common, you can also find cream cheese or shredded cheddar used in McDonald’s other breakfast items.

Cheese Options at McDonald’s Around the World

While American, cheddar, and Swiss cheese are used most commonly in the U.S., McDonald’s breakfast offerings around the world use local cheese varieties tailored to regional tastes. Here are some examples:

  • In France, McDonald’s uses French Emmental cheese, a type of Swiss cheese, on croissant breakfast sandwiches.
  • In India, paneer, a soft, mild cheese common in Indian cuisine, can be found in breakfast wraps and sandwiches.
  • In Japan, Gouda cheese is offered as an option on McMuffin-style sandwiches.
  • In Mexico, Oaxaca cheese, a type of mozzarella, is served melted on McMuffins and breakfast burritos.

So while American cheese is the standard in the U.S., McDonald’s tailors its cheese options abroad based on local tastes and what pairs well with classic breakfast items like eggs and sausage.

McDonald’s Cheese Suppliers

McDonald’s works with a number of major dairy suppliers to source the huge volumes of cheese needed for its breakfast and lunch/dinner menus across tens of thousands of locations.

Two of the top McDonald’s cheese suppliers are:

  • Kraft – A leading dairy company that produces the branded American cheese slices used on Egg McMuffins and other sandwiches.
  • Leprino Foods – The world’s largest mozzarella producer also supplies McDonald’s with cheeses like cheddar and Swiss.

McDonald’s demands quality and consistency in its cheese products. By partnering with major players like Kraft and Leprino Foods, they can source affordable, mass-produced cheese slices and shreds that melt and taste the same from one McDonald’s to another.

Cheese Production Methods for McDonald’s

The cheese slices McDonald’s uses are produced through a manufacturing process that allows for mass production and uniform products. Here are some details on how the cheese is made:

  • Milk is pasteurized to destroy harmful bacteria.
  • Ingredients like milkfat, whey, and milk protein concentrate are blended together in vats based on the type of cheese being produced.
  • Emulsifying salts are added to help create the smooth, uniform texture.
  • Coloring agents may be added, especially for American cheese.
  • The cheese mixture is heated and poured into molds to form blocks or slices.
  • The shaped cheese is cooled then packaged for distribution.

This highly mechanized process allows the McDonald’s cheese suppliers to churn out thousands of pounds per day of cheese slices or shreds. The automated production results in cheese products with very consistent size, texture and flavor for McDonald’s breakfast sandwiches from one location to the next.

Why Real Cheese Isn’t Used

While cheese products are used rather than real sliced or block cheeses, there are practical reasons why McDonald’s doesn’t use real cheese for its breakfast sandwiches:

  • Natural cheeses don’t melt as smoothly, especially when heated quickly.
  • Shredding real cheeses results in variability in texture.
  • Natural cheeses are more expensive compared to processed cheese products.
  • Supplying thousands of locations with real cheese would be logistically challenging.
  • Uniformity in size and flavor would not be possible across locations.

So for a fast food operation like McDonald’s, processed cheese products make the most sense for getting reliable, affordable products that can be quickly melted and assembled into breakfast sandwiches.

Nutrition Facts on McDonald’s Breakfast Sandwiches

Here is a look at the nutrition facts for two of McDonald’s most popular cheese-containing breakfast sandwiches:

Egg McMuffin

Calories Fat Carbs Protein
300 12g 30g 18g

Sausage McMuffin with Egg

Calories Fat Carbs Protein
370 24g 28g 20g

Adding the cheese and meat increases the fat, calories, and protein. But both sandwiches deliver quite a bit of nutrition in a handy, portable breakfast meal.


To summarize, the primary cheeses McDonald’s uses for its breakfast menu are:

  • American cheese – Mild, melty processed cheese on Egg McMuffins and biscuit sandwiches
  • Cheddar cheese – Sharper flavored option for bagels and McGriddles
  • Swiss cheese – Mild, holey cheese for croissants and Egg White McMuffins

These processed cheese products check all the boxes for McDonald’s needs – affordable, melty, mild flavor, and able to be mass-produced into uniform slices. This allows them to churn out quick and tasty cheese-laden breakfast sandwiches like Sausage McMuffins, Bacon, Egg & Cheese Biscuits, and cheesy Hash Browns to hungry morning customers day after day.

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