McGriddles: One Of America’s Favorite On-The-Go Breakfasts

McGriddles breakfast sandwich from McDonald's puts egg, cheese, and breakfast meat in between two pancakes, and it's one of America's most famous on-the-go breakfasts.

By Rick Gonzales | Published

The McDonald’s McGriddles has often times been hailed as one of the greatest breakfast creations fast food has ever seen. Okay, so we may be overstating that just a bit, but ever since the fast-food giant first introduced the popular breakfast menu item, it has been selling like, well, hotcakes. So, what are McDonald’s McGriddles and how did they become so popular with the breakfast folks?


The idea behind the McGriddles is simple and brilliant, or as some would say, simply brilliant. By the time McDonald’s brought the McGriddles to the masses, they already had a solid breakfast menu. So, why not combine a few items?

The original McGriddles is comprised of eggs, bacon, and cheese (doesn’t that combination have a familiar ring to it?) all put together inside two McGriddles cakes. It is a lovely, delectable, supremely tasty combination of sweet and salty that has breakfast foodies licking their chops over. Often, time and time again.

To be more precise with the McGriddles and how it is put together, we’ll now take you on a tour of the scrumptious breakfast sammy. The eggs are real and folded. The cheese is sliced pasteurized processed American cheese, and the bacon is thick-cut Applewood smoked.

All of these ingredients are laid neatly inside two McGriddles cakes (stamped with a bold M on the outside of it), which are pancakes built like buns. If you haven’t had McGriddles cakes you don’t know what you are missing, but if you have, you know exactly what you are getting. The question then becomes, how do they get those syrup crystals inside the McGriddles cake?


McDonald’s began their breakfast menu way back in 1972, but two years prior, it was franchise owner Jim Delligatti (the man given credit for inventing the Big Mac inside his Pittsburgh franchises) who got permission from McDonald’s founder Ray Croc to begin selling doughnuts and other sweets at his stores during breakfast hours. The move was popular and over the next year, they began to plan out a continental breakfast-type addition. From this, California franchisee Herb Peterson brought out the Egg McMuffin, a good 30 years before we’d see the likes of the McGriddle.

Slowly, but surely, the McDonald’s breakfast menu caught on and by the time 1977 rolled around, McDonald’s was introducing its breakfast menu to the entire country. Leading the way, obviously, was the Egg McMuffin. We were still a long way away from the tasty McGriddles.

Over the pre-McGriddles years, McDonald’s introduced other breakfast items. Another big hit for them came in 1986 when biscuits became part of the breakfast lexicon. According to McDonald’s sources, after this introduction of biscuits, McDonald’s breakfast items were so popular that they were serving one out of four breakfasts in the United States that were not cooked at home.

In 1991, McDonald’s decided to test out the Tex-Mex popularity. This is when they added a breakfast burrito to the menu. It was a Tex-Mex inspiration that came from two Houston-area franchise owners.



We fast forward to 2003 and Tom Ryan. You may not know his name but you certainly have heard of some of his creations. Ryan is well known for creating popular foods such as Stuffed Crust Pizza at Pizza Hut, Lover’s Line at Pizza Hut, The Bigfoot at Pizza Hut, Fruit ‘n Yogurt Parfait at McDonald’s, and Quiznos Steakhouse Beef Dip.

Ryan is also known as the inventor of McDonald’s McGriddles. Although he won’t take complete credit for the popular invention, he does say that it was the Denny’s Grand Slam breakfast that inspired him (“We basically took the Grand Slam Denny’s breakfast and put it in your hand.”) though there was much more to it.

“The idea behind McGriddles was that we had breakfast covered, but it was all savory—it was bacon and eggs, English muffins and bagels, and wraps and all that. But the big void on our menu was something sweet [that fits] in your hand,” Ryan explained via Mashed.

He also went on to explain that the key to designing a new food product is to understand your consumer base and why they come to you and why you are valuable to them. “What McDonald’s knew was that they needed branded products that were convenient to eat while you’re on the go, and available at a drive-through, because that’s how most people use McDonald’s.”Keeping all that in mind is how the McGriddles came to be.

Ryan was looking to invent something sweet and savory but was running into one big problem. “And the only little piece of technology we needed was how do you get the syrup inside the pancakes so you don’t have to have syrup in one hand, sandwich in the other [when you’re driving]. We worked hard to get those little syrup crystals, and once we had that, McGriddles happened really quickly.”


As Ryan went on to explain, food products like the syrup crystals created for the McGriddle cakes are called “inclusions.” So, he went to a couple of companies that specialized in creating inclusions to explain what he was looking for. He told them, “We want a syrup crystal that melts at this temperature and gives you a really nice [maple] flavor. They said, we’ll work on that, and then we got it in. It sounds simple, but it took us a year and a half to commercialize—not because the idea took that long to figure out, but because we had to build the capacity to do it in McDonald’s [locations].”

Now with the product complete, it was time to introduce it to the public. It went on the menu full-time but seeing as that McDonald’s was the fast food giant supreme, they had to take to the airwaves as well. Below you will see the first McGriddles commercial in its cringy, original form.

2003 sure does seem like a lifetime ago and for some, it probably is. This commercial didn’t age well, the acting was less than spectacular, and the special effects, please. But it did the job McDonald’s paid those actors to do which was to promote and sell their new product.


McDonald’s has always pushed for innovation. This is how they got to where they are and how we got the Big Mac, the Egg McMuffin, and yes, the McGriddles. Sometimes innovation works, and sometimes it doesn’t, as McDonald’s found out with their variations of the popular breakfast item.

There are three staples when it comes to McGriddles varieties – sausage; sausage, egg, and cheese; and bacon, egg, and cheese. You can’t blame them (McDonald’s) for wanting to step outside that box to see if anything else would stick. So, they tried the McGriddles French Toast, which substituted McGriddles cakes for a French toast bun.

They have also tried including fruit with the McGriddles and begun to test out the inclusion of blueberries in their McGriddle cakes. Some McDonald’s locations began to serve the McGriddles Stack, which was an offering of an extra patty or two of sausage. Most recently, some locations began to offer the Chicken McGriddles.

There have also been some strange creations when it comes to the McGriddles. For instance, in Philadelphia, they included scrapple (pork scraps with cornmeal and wheat flour), egg, and cheese McGriddles on their menu and in Hawaii, they got the famous spam, egg, and cheese McGriddles. It is unclear what or how those Philly locations put together their scrapple.


If you haven’t tried one of these babies, what exactly are you waiting for? Sweet and savory is what the McGriddles promise and they deliver each and every time. These are great for those on the go and who don’t have time to sit at your local Denny’s for their Grand Slam breakfast.