Is McDonald’s Fish Real? (All You Need To Know)

McDonald’s is best known for its inexpensive food and fast cooking times. However, there is just something about getting a burger in 30 seconds that makes many question their food’s origins.

Luckily, there have not been many controversies involving McDonald’s’ food. Still, many can’t help but question the fish (which surely can’t be real, right?). Take a look below to find out all you need to know about McDonald’s’ fish!

Is McDonald’s Fish Real In [currentyear]?

McDonald’s uses real Alaskan Pollock for all of its fish in [currentyear]. The fish is caught just off the coast of Alaska, hence the name. Then, it is processed by a supplier into the square-shaped patties necessary for the Filet-O-Fish sandwiches. Plus, this company only uses sustainable sources and is picky about suppliers.

Keep reading for information on where this fish comes from and the process McDonald’s uses to pick suppliers!

What Is McDonald’s’ Fish Made Of?

Practically all of McDonald’s’ fish is made from wild-caught Alaska Pollock. That said, the company works hard to choose sustainable sources which help the environment.

About 20 years ago, McDonald’s began working with Conservation International, whose goal is to protect the long-term fish supply.

By working with this partner, McDonald’s could source its fish from sustainable suppliers.

Today, the company continues to serve only sustainable fish that is Marine Stewardship Council certified.

In other markets, McDonald’s works with different partners to ensure the fish is sustainable.

Using sustainable fish means that the company is doing several things. Firstly, McDonald’s knows exactly where its fish comes from (and so do you).

In the United States, all McDonald’s fish come from the Eastern Bering Sea and the Aleutian Islands off the coast of Alaska.

Plus, McDonald’s supports fisheries that generate little waste and have a low bycatch. Also, McDonald’s aims to use as much of each fish as possible.

Do McDonald’s’ Fish Filets Have Real Fish?

Yes, McDonald’s is extremely picky about the fish the company uses in its foods. Therefore, all of the Filet-O-Fish sandwiches use genuine Alaskan Pollock.

Also, this company only uses sustainable fish, so it has to meet many different guidelines. For instance, the fisheries must produce little waste and catch few non-target fish.

While this is great for the environment, it also means that the future supply of fish is protected.

Therefore, when you order a fish sandwich from McDonald’s, you can rest assured that the fish is high-quality and that catching it doesn’t damage the environment.

Is The Filet-O-Fish Vegetarian?

Is The Filet-O-Fish Vegetarian? McDonald's

Traditionally no, the Filet-O-Fish would not be suitable for a vegetarian diet.

That said, the sandwich is made from genuine Alaskan Pollock, which vegetarians typically do not accept. However, this isn’t necessarily always true.

Some vegetarians do eat fish. Therefore, this sandwich would be suitable for these vegetarians – for the most part.

Still, this sandwich includes cheese. However, the cheese is vegetarian, as it doesn’t contain any animal meat.

Further, the sandwich is fried in plant-based oil, making it vegetarian. With that said, McDonald’s uses this same oil to fry its chicken products.

So, there may be some cross-contamination going on. Usually, most vegetarians won’t mind the small level of cross-contamination.

But, if you’re allergic to meat, this may be a different story.

How Does McDonald’s Make The Fish Filet?

All fish filets at McDonald’s are made with Alaskan Pollock. That said, these fish are caught only twice a year.

After being caught, the processor cleans the fish and freezes them immediately, which preserves their freshness.

Then, the fish are transported to an approved supplier. Technically, it is this supplier that makes the fish filets. These fish are cut down to the right size and otherwise prepared for the store.

At each restaurant, the kitchen staff fries the fish filet for each order. These fish filets are kept frozen at the store to preserve freshness until they are fried.

For the most part, this process is the same across locations. However, the supplier may vary by location.

As you’d guess, McDonald’s tries to use suppliers nearby each store, improving the fish’s freshness.

Is McDonald’s’ Fish Filet Fried?

Yes, McDonald’s fries its fish filets in a similar manner to the chicken. Plus, McDonald’s uses the same oil to fry its chicken.

Therefore, there is some cross-contamination, which may be vital for those allergic to meat to know.

By frying the burger, the company reduces the cooking time considerably, which is vital because the company is very serious about keeping wait times short.

Further, other menu items have been discontinued simply because they took too long to cook.

After all, the average McDonald’s food item only takes a matter of seconds to make. Therefore, baking the filets would simply take too long.

What Oil Does McDonald’s Use For Fish?

All fried McDonald’s items are fried in the same oil. In fact, the company does not change the oil for each item, so there may be some cross-contamination involved.

Typically, this oil is a canola oil blend—generally, this company tries to use oils that are “healthier” as well as inexpensive. Plus, the oil has to be suitable for frying in the first place.

To know more, you can also read our posts on sauces at McDonald’s, where does McDonald’s get their chicken, and what fish does McDonald’s use.


McDonald’s utilizes Alaskan Pollock for all of its fish. This fish is caught just off the coast of Alaska by approved suppliers.

Then, it is transferred to factories that turn the fish into perfect squares for the Filet-O-Fish.

Based on this information, McDonald’s uses real fish in all its fish sandwiches. Plus, this fish is sustainably sourced, and the company is rather picky about who supplies it.

For instance, McDonald’s works closely with not-for-profits to pick the most sustainable suppliers.

Photo of author

Cara Suppa

Cara Suppa has been freelance writing for over a decade and holds a BA in English and an MS in Integrated Marketing Communications. Outside of work, she is an avid cook, gardener, and discount shopper.

Leave a Comment