McDonald's french fries are a universally recognized fast-food staple. Though the chain might be known for its inexpensive burgers, the salty, crunchy fries are so famous worldwide, that for some people, they come to mind more readily than the Golden Arches logo. And with good reason; the fries are an essential component of the experience.
This may offend some traditionalists, but McDonald's fries aren't just a one-size-fits-all side. Countries around the world offer unique flavors and toppings to turn the classic side dish into something special, whether it's creating a recipe that better represents the food of their culture or simply adding different flavors to offer more variety to customers.
We'll travel around the world sampling some of the best, most interesting, and delicious varieties of the classic fried potato dish. If you're traveling to get a taste of the country or yearn for the flavors of home, there's a McDonald's fry out there for you.
Read more: 23 Fast Food Fries Ranked From Worst To Best
Singapore - Seaweed McShaker Fries
Seaweed McShaker fries are one of the most popular flavors of the Shake Shake fries. The concept behind this menu category is simple but brilliant. It provides McDonald's guests with a regular-old order of french fries but with an additional flavor packet of whatever is available in that particular Shake Shake season.
When you order the fries, you pour them into a bag along with the contents of the packet and shake everything up, hence the name McShaker. The seaweed adds a fantastic mix of savory flavors to the already salty fries. Garlic powder infuses a spicy bite to this mixture, along with earthy elements to bring a bit more complexity to the spuds. Of course, all of these ingredients plus the saltiness of the fries are designed to bring out the amazing umami flavor of the seaweed.
The seaweed shaker was so popular in Singapore that McDonald's released the packets worldwide. Perhaps it's the fun of wildly shaking a bag of fries yourself or simply the delicious layers of flavor, but this was one of the most popular twists on fries.
Unfortunately, the seaweed shaker fries are not a mainstay on Singapore McDonald's menus. They seem to be randomly released, lasting only a few months before they disappear. If you're making a trip to Singapore, keep an eye out on McDonald's social media pages. You may be there just in time to enjoy your own seaweed-packed snack.
Hong Kong - Ramen Fries
In 2019, McDonald's paired up with an unlikely partner: Cup Noodles. Together, they took the classic french fries to another level with ramen-inspired fries. If you've had the experience of being a broke university student who survived on packets of ramen, these fries will give you a feeling of nostalgia. Instead of just the generic ramen flavors like chicken or beef, Hong Kong McDonald's released two Shake Shake flavors in its Japanese-inspired line of meals.
The packets came in black garlic pork broth or sesame oil. Both seasonings added a deliciously salty, savory, and spice-packed punch to take the plain fries to another level. Although the taste is excellent, you may find yourself going through more soda because of the extra salt. Like Singapore's Shake Shake fries, these were only available for a few months. But you can take inspiration from this menu item and add a ramen packet to unsalted McDonald's fries to mimic this amazing line of flavors.
South Korea - Honey Butter McShaker Fries
Perhaps inspired by (or capitalizing on) the popularity of honey butter chips in South Korea, McDonald's released its own honey butter flavor in the form of McShaker fries. The flavor and texture combination could be compared to chicken and waffles, with a salty and crunchy profile from the fries paired with the honey's sweetness and creaminess from the butter. It's a unique pairing that works well when you want a sweet and salty contrast to go with the rest of your meal.
McDonald's released this delicious flavor packet in June of 2023 for South Korea's June holiday for students. The menu item was introduced for families as a quick, fun meal during their summer vacation, as kids especially love the immersive experience of shaking up their own fries. Families or very hungry individuals received a free packet of sauce if they bought a family pack.
Belgium - Smoky Chili Tomato McFlavor Fries
Covered in a delectable combination of tomatoes, onions, and a sauce similar to barbecue, you won't be able to resist these delicious french fry toppings at a Belgian McDonald's. Thankfully, the fast-food chain provides a tiny fork to enjoy this take on french fries, as it can be a bit messy. Regardless, you won't be able to put that fork down until the side is completely eaten.
This dish impresses most consumers because of its originality, blending the smokiness of the chili tomatoes, sweetness from the onions, and tanginess from the sauce. And, of course, don't forget the crunchy, golden fried potatoes, which provide a perfect base for these flavors to combine. For anyone traveling to or through Belgium, the smoky chili tomatoes McFlavor fries are a must-try. They offer a taste of the country's culinary creativity and showcase McDonald's ability to adapt to local preferences.
Egypt - Cheddar Cheese Fries
Plenty of Egyptians will tell you that the best place for french fries in the country is at McDonald's. And with a culture boasting some of the oldest and tastiest foods around, like falafel, grilled lamb, and stuffed grape leaves, the chain certainly has some specialized toppings to spice up its fries, right?
The local twist on the classic fried potatoes is cheddar cheese and jalapeños. Okay, so the flavors aren't exactly Egypt-specific. But if you're traveling through Egypt and are missing a little taste of home, these are the fries for you. The side starts, of course, with perfectly fried and uniformly cut golden potatoes. Then, cheddar cheese -- not the shredded solid version, but the creamy sauce-like topping you can find at ballparks across the States -- is drizzled generously over the fries. To complete the nostalgia of your Little League years, jalapeños are sprinkled over the sauce, adding a tangy, sweet, and spicy element.
Germany - Netzkartoffeln
German McDonald's Netzkartoffeln, translated to net potatoes, may be inspired by traditional German potato pancakes known as Reibekuchen. But perhaps a better comparison would be Chick-fil-A's waffle fries, an iconic fast-food favorite. This side is made from grated potatoes, creating a waffle or netted texture that sets this salty snack apart from the typical uniform fry shape McDonald's is known for.
The netted design gives these fries a satisfying crunch and a distinctively homey feel. To enhance the appeal of Netzkartoffeln, you should pair this side with a German condiment staple: curry ketchup. This condiment balances the sweetness of ordinary tomato ketchup with the complexity of curry spices. It is one of the most popular condiments in Germany, and it pairs exceptionally well with the crispy, grated potato goodness. Together, the Netzkartoffeln and curry ketchup provide a quintessential taste of German comfort food with a McDonald's twist.
Spain - Sour Cream McShaker Deluxe Fries
Sour cream as an individual seasoning flavor sounds a bit strange, but a better description for this McShaker menu item would be sour cream and onion. If you think about the famous potato chip and apply the flavor profile to french fries, you'll have an idea of what to expect.
In a country known for its delicious small plates such as patatas bravas, a tangy fried spud with spicy tomato sauce, you might be surprised that Spanish McDonald's chose such a basic flavor combination. But topping french fries with sour cream is a popular choice worldwide, and it's no different in Spain. The creamy richness of sour cream complements the crispy exterior of the fries, creating a harmonious contrast that will leave your taste buds craving more. These fries offer an irresistible fusion of flavors, with the familiar duo of sour cream and onion taking center stage.
Netherlands - Paprika Herb McShaker Fries
The Netherlands isn't very well known for its food; okay, the country has stroopwafels and delicious pancakes, but what about savory or salty dishes? Well, the Dutch are incredibly passionate about french fries. So it should come as no surprise that the local McDonald's has to step up its game in order to be competitive. Enter the paprika herb Mcshaker fries.
It may surprise you to learn that the Netherlands is one of the top producers of paprika, a spicy, smoky, and earthy spice. Some of the most popular snacks seasoned with it include potato chips, rice waffles, and french fries. The fast-food chain created this amazing flavor combination by tossing the beloved golden fries in a blend of paprika, parsley, and other spices and herbs. The result is a satisfying citrusy and smoky flavor profile that leaves you wanting more. Though you may not find the best food in the world in the Netherlands, you'll find some fantastic french fries, including this delicious twist on the classic.
India - Masala Wedges
India's McDonald's took brave steps away from traditional french fries to offer wedges, thickly cut potato slices that are fried for a crispy exterior and soft interior. The result is a completely different texture compared to the crunchy original. But what really sets these fries apart is the generous sprinkling of masala in addition to salt. A seasoning that could be described as the heart and soul of Indian cooking, masala is a mixture of spices that varies from region to region. Generally, a masala spice mix combines roasted cinnamon, coriander, cumin, cardamom, and other spices, ground to a powder.
Together with the salty, thick-cut potatoes, the spice blend adds a tangy, sweet, and sharp flavor profile. Though many McDonald's around the world offer the same classic fries, India takes multiple steps away from the usual by offering potato wedges and incorporating masala spices into this side dish. This gives a great preview of countless Indian dishes and infuses the potatoes with the aromas and character that are present in the country's curries, stews, and snacks.
Indonesia - McShaker Fries Gulai Gurih
McDonald's McShaker fries gulai gurih, or curry fries, represent a delightful fusion of global fast food combined with the rich history of Indonesian cuisine. Characterized by bold and vibrant flavors, Indonesian food also includes a blend of sweet, savory, and spicy elements. The nation is known for its diverse culinary heritage, holding curry as a culinary cornerstone. It is the embodiment of complexity and depth, reflecting Indonesia's historical interactions with neighboring regions. Regional curries, often referred to as gulai, are known for their aromatic spices, including turmeric, coriander, cumin, and cloves.
McShaker fries gulai gurih infuse the beloved fries with the rich flavors of Indonesian curry, blending the country's culinary history with modern-day fast food. The blend of salty fries paired with the aromatic curry seasoning creates a gustatory experience that resonates with the country's diverse culinary landscape. This innovative take on the classic menu item allows both locals and visitors to experience the allure of Indonesian cuisine in a convenient and familiar form. If you're making your way to Indonesia, you'll be able to experience the perfect meeting of two worlds.
Canada - Poutine
Perhaps one of Canada's most well-known foods (at least from the perspective of an American) is poutine, a hearty take on french fries. McDonald's Canada adds this twist to its classic french fries lineup. If you're unfamiliar with poutine, the recipe tops traditional fries with squeaky cheese curds and a rich brown gravy. The combination of crunchy fried potatoes, tangy curds, and an unctuous gravy creates a satisfying result you'll definitely want to order.
When poutine was invented in the 1950s in Quebec, it was an instant hit. Because of the filling ingredients and the convenience of slapping together the premade items, poutine was an obvious choice for McDonald's to adapt to its menu. Eaten as a snack, side dish, or full-on meal, poutine has become a cherished part of Canadian culinary offerings. The McDonald's version provides a quick and affordable way for you to enjoy the country's classic comfort food. Next time you find yourself across the northern border, take a pit stop for this nourishing dish.
Chile - Papas Duquesas
The Chilean McDonald's commonly experiments with the classic menu, and although papas duquesas move away from the classic french fry, the dish stays true to its Chilean roots. Papas duquesas, or duchess potatoes, consist of mashed potatoes, egg yolk, and butter shaped into a ball, then deep fried. This take on fried potatoes still provides the crispiness of regular fries while adding a contrasting texture of creamy mashed potatoes in the center.
Unlike many of the versions of fries on this list, papas duquesas were introduced sometime in the early 2000s, probably to encourage locals to eat at the fast-food chain. Since then, this has been a staple side dish on the McDonald's menu, and its continued popularity has seen it make its way onto menus across the country's fast-food scene.
You can find papas duquesas on McDonald's menus throughout South America, too. Whether you're stopping in for a late-night snack after a night of drinking or enjoying a lunchtime meal, these hot and crispy fried potatoes are a perfect side.
Czech Republic - McShaker Vinegar Fries
In the Czech Republic, McDonald's introduced a familiar twist to the classic fast-food fries that has already made its way across the globe. The fries come with a zesty flavor profile that has captured the hearts and taste buds of many. The secret ingredient? Vinegar. As a topping for french fries, vinegar is a global phenomenon -- for good reason. Its sharp acidity cuts through the rich and starchy elements of the fried potatoes, creating a delightful contrast of flavors and textures.
The popularity of vinegar on fries extends beyond the Czech Republic and is already a mainstay in countries like the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia. Locally, salt and vinegar are commonly served with fried potatoes and a generous portion of fried fish. The acidity of the vinegar is not only delicious but also serves as a versatile condiment that complements the crispy potatoes.
Romania - Dipping Strips
Romania's dipping strip french fries are a delightful departure from traditional potato sides and offer a novel twist on the popular menu item. These fries are celebrated for their ingenious pairing of crispy potato strips with an array of mouthwatering dipping sauces.
Of course, the fries themselves are expertly prepared to achieve the perfect balance of a golden, crunchy exterior with a soft, tender interior. Their size and shape are definitely one of the more unique styles of fried spuds, combining the length and thickness of wedges with ridges similar to wavy potato chips. They're great on their own, simply spiced with onion, black pepper, and salt.
Yet what really makes the dipping strip french fries exceptional is the assortment of sauces they come with, enhancing the taste profile and transforming each fry into a flavor-packed journey. These flavorful condiments range from classic ketchup to zesty garlic aioli, offering customers the opportunity to personalize their snack. Whether you prefer a hint of smokiness or a tangy kick, there's a sauce to satisfy your cravings.
Argentina - Tasty Bacon Fries
Tasty bacon fries are an indulgent combination of crispy golden potato sticks, savory bacon bits, and a generous drizzle of the signature Tasty sauce. Served with the classic McDonald's fries, the potatoes offer a great base and a crispy and fluffy texture that's deliciously salty and earthy. What sets these apart is the addition of smoky bacon bits to provide a delightful contrast in texture and taste. These savory bits are generously sprinkled over the fries, ensuring you get a kick of bacon in every bite.
The Tasty sauce takes it to another level, adding complementary flavors that go with the saltiness of the bacon and the earthiness of the potatoes. This unique condiment is a creamy, smoky, peppery blend with hints of sweetness from onion powder. It adds a rich dimension to the fries, enhancing the overall taste and making each bite an explosion of flavors.
Read the original article on Mashed.