The Highest-Calorie Item on McDonald’s Menu Isn't What You Expect

Nope, it's not the Big Mac.
Nope, it's not the Big Mac. / Nathan Stirk/GettyImages

Most McDonald's customers don't visit the restaurant for its healthy options. Known for serving salty, greasy fare that's prepared on a griddle or in a fryer, the chain has become the poster child for decadent fast food. But their burgers and fries aren't the worst offenders. If you break down the nutrition facts, the least healthy item on the McDonald's menu may surprise you.

According to Insider, the McDonald's item with the highest calorie count isn't the Double Quarter Pounder or the Big Mac—it's not even on the regular lunch and dinner menu. The chain's Big Breakfast With Hotcakes holds this distinction, packing 1150 calories into its hash brown, hotcakes, sausage, and biscuits, not including the butter and syrup that come on the side. The rest of the meal's nutrition information doesn't look much better. If you finish the breakfast on your own, you'll have consumed 35 grams of fat (25 grams of which is LDL cholesterol-promoting saturated fat) and 2090 milligrams of sodium, which is close to the daily limit recommended by the CDC.

The other corner of the McDonald's menu to be wary of is the dessert section. The second-most caloric item from the chain is a 16-ounce McFlurry with M&M's, which contains 930 calories. That's more than twice the calories in a McDouble. The ice cream treat also features 83 grams of sugar, which is equivalent to about seven McDonald's apple pies.

If you're watching your calorie intake, many of McDonald's most popular menu items fare better in this category than you might assume. A Big Mac is only 550 calories, compared to the 660-calorie Burger King Whopper and the 980-calorie cheeseburger from Five Guys. And of course, there's nothing wrong with enjoying a hearty breakfast or a sweet McFlurry from the chain—but learning the nutrition facts before you order them can help you avoid any unpleasant surprises when it's time to eat.