Fast food menu hacks are a huge pain in the ass. Don’t get us wrong, we love the idea of remixing food and bringing some new excitement to our favorite restaurant’s menu. But a good menu hack is easier said than done. When you try to take a menu into your own hands you’re left completely at the whims of the person taking your order. They’ll either know what you’re talking about, won’t know, or will but pretend they don’t because they don’t want to deal with the hassle.
Frankly, we don’t blame them for that. They’re selling you burgers for a buck, you can’t demand too much.
Now McDonald’s is making the concept of ordering menu hacks easier. Sort of. Beginning today and running for an unspecified “limited time,” McDonald’s is allowing customers to order four well-known menu hacks by name. The four menu hacks include the Crunchy Double, the Surf + Turf, the Hash Brown McMuffin, and the legendary Land, Air & Sea burger. On a slightly more disappointing note, customers will still have to build them all themselves, which is unfortunate and kind of defeats the purpose of being able to order the menu hacks by name.
It’s also a bit wasteful. Once you start disassembling fast food and putting it back together, it looks incredibly unappetizing. Also what the hell are we supposed to do with all of these extra buns!?
We tasted the entire McDonald’s Hacked Menu so that you don’t have to. At the end of the day, only one of these is worth ordering, and we’re going to let you know what it is, but first, let’s start with the worst of the line-up. The dreaded Land, Air, & Sea Burger.
Land, Air, & Sea Burger
This thing actually makes me sad. It is the sort of dish you only eat as a dare or if you lost a bet. To say it’s horrible is putting it lightly. This monstrosity consists of a Big Mac with a chicken sandwich and filet-o-fish shoved into it one stomach-turning creation. It’s like the trashy Turducken of the fast food space and it is, without a doubt, the worst thing I’ve ever eaten in my entire life. Not only is biting this thing impossible (it takes all sorts of maneuvering if you want to experience beef, chicken, and fish in a single bite) but it’s a total clash of flavors. It begins fishy and flakey before melding into a hard-to-chew dry mess that tastes like what I imagine the Cup Noodle Shrimp-flavor styrofoam cup tastes like.
You read that right, the cup not the soup. This is trash.
Altogether this sandwich has three different sauces: tartar sauce, Big Mac sauce, and mayo, and when they combine they taste straight-up foul. The mouthfeel is also something I wouldn’t wish on my greatest enemy. It’s nervy, chewy, greasy, and full of varying textures that all break down at different stages in your mouth. Again, genuinely reminiscent of garbage.
Do yourself a favor and don’t ever eat this. McDonald’s makes the Land, Air & Sea Burger exclusive to the app and that’s where it should stay. If you pay for this thing, you’ll be mad at yourself. Also, chickens don’t fly.
Surf + Turf
The Surf + Turf makes a bit more sense than the horrible Land, Air, & Sea. It’s essentially the same thing but a bit simplified and better for it. In lieu of a Big Mac, this build requires a double cheeseburger, which is topped with cheese, pickles, ketchup, onion, and mustard, as well as a Filet-O-Fish sandwich. McDonald’s wants you keep the bottom bun of the cheeseburger and simply remove the top bun of the Filet-O-Fish to merge them together. I think that makes the sandwich a bit too heavy and overly bready, so I say ditch the middle bun idea and just throw that tartar sauce drenched fish filet under the meat patties of the double cheeseburger.
But also… don’t do that. Better idea: don’t even eat this! Seriously, it’s not good. It technically works, but I’m not sure who has ever asked to mix a fish filet sandwich with a burger in the first place. The tartar sauce is a bit of a distraction here, it introduces a slightly sour flavor to the burger which makes it taste like it’s going bad.
If you blind taste tested this sandwich, you’d think someone was trying to feed you something expired. Another miss from McDonald’s and an embarrassment to menu hacks as a concept.
I’m surprised to say that I think the Crunchy Double is actually pretty good. This is one of the simplest builds, it requires a double cheeseburger and a 6 piece order of McNuggets and a side of BBQ sauce. As you’re putting it together It’ll seem like too many nuggets, but you can actually double-layer the nuggets giving you two layers of beef and two layers of crispy chicken. Together, the nuggets add crunch and a bit more salt to the burger and the barbecue sauce works to bind the flavors together, helping them to taste like a cohesive whole rather than two distinctively different flavors and textures.
It would be a lot easier to build the Crunchy Double with one of McDonald’s McChicken filets instead of six individual nuggets, but then it wouldn’t taste nearly as good. The nuggets are airy and light whereas the filet is thick and dry.
Does that mean the Land, Air & Sea burger would taste better with nuggets? Probably. But we’re not willing to find out.
The Hash Brown McMuffin might be the least imaginative of the four menu hacks, but it’s by far the best. It combines the wonderful Sausage and Egg McMuffin with what is probably McDonald’s greatest contribution to the fast food space, the hash brown. Together, they create a crunchy, hearty, breakfast flavor bomb.
This tastes pretty much exactly as you’d imagine — the hash brown adds crunch and a salty, almost buttery flavor to the sandwich. It’s a bit greasier than I’d like, but you have to appreciate the convenience of having your entire breakfast meal in a single bite. The only thing that could make this thing better is adding bacon… so definitely do that!
If I had one complaint, aside from the lack of imagination, it would be that the hash brown isn’t a perfect fit for the English Muffin bun, leaving you with extra potato seeping out of both sides. This could be easily remedied by cutting the hash brown in half and stacking it, but then that leaves you with too big of a bite with too much focus on the potato flavor. It’s not perfect, but then… what menu hack is?
THE BOTTOM LINE:
If you had to order just one of these hacks, I’d go for the Hash Brown McMuffin.
We won’t lie to you, none of these taste very essential. And, ultimately, the whole hassle of having to build them yourself kind of makes the whole thing more work than it’s worth. It’s fun as a novelty, but if you want to make one of these a regular routine order it asks a lot of you, so keep that in mind.
Generally speaking, we love the concept of McDonald’s making menu hacks more accessible. They’re just doing it all wrong. The wastefulness of most of these hacks (extra buns and extra trash) coupled with the hassle and the disappointing end product just isn’t worth your time or money. If McDonald’s were smart, they’d make their entire menu customizable, like Taco Bell has.
Taco Bell is a true menu hacker’s paradise. Having said that, the Hash Brown McMuffin is the best wake-and-bake stoner food of all time.