Is McDonald’s Cheese Real? (Not What You Think)

McDonald’s might be the second-largest fast-food restaurant in the world, but a lot of misconceptions about their ingredients, such as whether the cheese is real or fake, persist. 

We’ve got you covered if you’ve been wondering if the McDonald’s cheese is real, and you’ll find the answer to that and more below!

Is McDonald’s Cheese Real?

McDonald’s cheese is real American cheddar cheese mixed with other ingredients such as butter, water, milk, emulsifiers, food coloring, and whey powder. The primary ingredient is American cheddar, and there are no trans-fats found in the cheese. Furthermore, the cheese is only wrapped in plastic at the cheese factory so it doesn’t stick to each other.

There are a lot of other questions that people have asked about McDonald’s cheese, such as what’s in the cheese, so keep reading to learn all about it!

Is McDonald’s Cheese Fake?

McDonald’s cheese isn’t fake, but it only contains about 60% American cheddar cheese, and it’s not similar to any deli cheese you would purchase at the grocery store.

Additionally, McDonald’s adds other ingredients to the cheese to make it special to McDonald’s and give it the flexibility and color we’ve come to associate with the fast-food chain.

What’s Is In McDonald’s Cheese?

There are other ingredients found in McDonald’s cheese beyond the American cheddar cheese, such as water and salt.

Additionally, milk proteins, butter, whey powder, food coloring, natural cheese flavoring, and emulsifying salts are found in McDonald’s cheese

Furthermore, emulsifiers and butter are important for aiding the texture and color of processed foods and cheeses. 

What Brand of Cheese Does McDonald’s Use?

McDonald’s doesn’t use a brand of cheese that you can purchase in-store as their cheddar cheese is produced and mixed specifically for their restaurant. 

However, Great Lakes Cheese produces most of the American cheddar that McDonald’s uses within the United States. 

Who Supplies McDonald’s Cheese?

McDonald’s primarily uses one supplier for their cheese in the United States which is Great Lakes Cheese, with the main production plant being in Hiram, Ohio.

Furthermore, Great Lakes Cheese Plant supplies more than 18 million pounds of cheese to McDonald’s annually!

In addition to that, Great Lakes Cheese Plant has to maintain cheese production five days a week and 24 hours a day to keep up with the cheese orders placed by McDonald’s.

Interestingly, Great Lakes Cheese Plant hasn’t ever laid-off workers because McDonald’s keeps the plant so busy that the 1,800 employees have constant work and orders to make.

Why is McDonald’s Cheese Orange?

McDonald’s changed to an American cheese that contains beta carotene, which is naturally derived and has a reddish-orange pigmentation.

Additionally, changing the American cheese with one that has this beta carotene makes it a little healthier since it’s a naturally occurring pigment found in fruits and vegetables. 

Furthermore, there is also food coloring added to the cheese, which also gives the cheese a darker and more orange hue than traditional American cheese you’d find in the store. 

Did McDonald’s Remove Preservatives from Their Cheese?

Did McDonald’s Remove Preservatives from Their Cheese?

McDonald’s removed sorbic acid, which is a preservative, from the American cheddar cheese it uses on burgers and other menu items such as breakfast sandwiches. 

Furthermore, this was part of an effort to remove artificial ingredients from the popular McDonald’s food items with a specific emphasis on McDonald’s burgers and chicken sandwiches. 

However, removing sorbic acid does significantly alter the time that the cheese can be on the prep tables and takes it from seven hours to just four hours.

Is McDonald’s Cheese Lactose-Free?

McDonald’s cheese is not lactose-free and does contain milk, so if you have an intolerance to dairy, you should avoid it altogether.

However, McDonald’s does allow you to customize your meal, so you can ask for menu items to be made without cheese, including ordering a Big Mac without cheese.  

Does McDonald’s Cheese Vary by Country?

McDonald’s cheese does vary by country since the fast-food giant teams up with cheese producers within the country it’s operating, which could alter the taste slightly.

Furthermore, using factories and farmers native to the country, it allows McDonald’s to stay within the health and safety codes for that location.

In addition to that, by using native cheese producers in that particular country, McDonald’s is also creating jobs and increasing the financial well-being of the country.

Does McDonald’s Have Other Cheese Besides American?

McDonald’s in the United States does not serve any other cheese besides American cheddar and has no current plans to offer other cheese selections in the future. 

Can You Purchase McDonald’s Cheese In a Grocery Store?

Unfortunately, you cannot purchase McDonald’s cheese in the store since McDonald’s has a special creation made just for them with a blend of American cheddar cheese and other ingredients. 

What Store-Bought Cheese is Closest to McDonald’s Cheese?

You can get pretty close to McDonald’s cheese with Kraft Singles American Cheese, which is one of the most popular plastic cheeses on the market.

In addition to that, Kraft Singles has that flexible bend that McDonald’s cheese also has, and it melts in nearly an identical fashion. 

Likewise, it’s a name brand known internationally that’s fairly cheap to purchase at nearly any retail or grocery store.

However, the blends and ingredients found in McDonald’s and Kraft cheeses are different, so you’ll notice a bit of a taste difference. 

If you are looking to learn more about McDonald’s, you can also see our related posts on whether or not McDonald’s meat is real, if McDonald’s fries are gluten-free, and if McDonald’s ice cream is real.

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Marques Thomas

Marques Thomas graduated with a MBA in 2011. Since then, Marques has worked in the retail and consumer service industry as a manager, advisor, and marketer. Marques is also the head writer and founder of

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