Low Carb and Keto at McDonald’s (Updated 2020)

Learn how to order low carb at McDonald’s updated for 2020. In this pose will discuss the best keto options at McDonald’s as well as the removal of menu items due to the pandemic of 2020.

There are 2 general menu items that we will consider. First we will talk about burgers, then we will cover the chicken items. Some of the changes to note this year, were the removal of salads, grilled chicken options and the lack of all day breakfast ordering. (breakfast can only be ordered during breakfast hours right now.

I’m going to share pics, reviews, and recommendations from my real-life keto McDonald’s low carb orders including some 2020 menu updates due to the coronavirus.

We will rate the McDonalds menu on the following criteria:

  1. Availability of low carb entrees (less than 20 net carbs).
  2. Satiety of low carb entrees.
  3. Price of low carb entrees.
  4. Taste of low carb entrees.
  5. Ordering experience of keto items.

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McDonald’s has a location about 2 miles from my house. Well-known for their efficient operations, consistent quality, and global reach, McDonald’s earns the most revenue of any fast food chain in the world, raking in about $25 billion a year.

Let’s see if they deserve an even larger share of the low carb fast food market.

McDonald’s Keto Burgers

Good news, McDonalds has burgers and burgers are keto friendly. (minus the buns of course) There are plenty of options here that will keep your weight loss headed in the right direction. The menu items are also affordable which is super helpful if you’re on a tight budget. So let’s dive in with the keto friendly burger options.

Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese with no bun

My first time into McDonald’s for this project I ordered a bun-less Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese. That’s my go-to low carb order at McDonald’s.  For additional flavor & calories, I added extra lettuce and bacon.

Mr. SkinnyPants orders a low carb McDonald's double quarter pounder with cheese.
My low carb bunless Double Quarter Pounder from McDonald’s.
  • Macros for 1 patty: 3g net carbs, 25g of fat, and 25g of protein.
  • Macros for 2 patties: 6g net carbs, 50g of fat, and 50g of protein.
  • Macros for bacon: 2g net carbs, 10g of fat, 11g protein
  • Macros for 2 patties & bacon: 8g net carbs, 60g of fat, and 61g of protein.

It was delicious. Instead of trying to make the burger more filling by adding lettuce and bacon, I should have just ordered two burgers.

Ordering a bunless burger at McDonald’s is pretty easy, you tell the drive through attendant which burger you want and then ask for “no bun” and make sure they confirm it on the little ordering screen outside their drive-thru. The drive-thru attendants at McDonald’s must get the “no bun” order often because I wasn’t questioned about it.

Big Mac with no bun

I went back ordered a few other low carb entrees including a bunless Big Mac. Keeping with the theme you want to make sure you order it with no bun.Of course, the attendant always asks if you want to “make that a meal with fries and a drink,” and your answer should always be “No.” The fries alone have way too many carbs.

Mr. SkinnyPants orders a low carb Big Mac without the bun.
My low carb Big Mac.
  • Macros including sauce: 7g net carbs, 34g of fat, and 18g of protein.
  • Macros with no sauce: 5g net carbs, 25g of fat, and 18g of protein

It looks small outside of its bun, but tastes delicious. The tender beef patties, shredded lettuce, melted cheese, and Big Mac sauce all combined to make this one of the best low carb fast food entrees I’ve eaten.

Double Cheeseburger with No Bun

While less food than either the Quarter Pounder or Big Mac, the bunless double cheeseburger is a solid keto option. Make sure to not have the catsup as just one small catsup packet can pack 2g of carbs coming from sugar.

McDonald's Double Cheeseburger No Bun for Keto
This is what a double cheeseburger looks like with no bun
  • Macros with no catsup: 3g net carbs, 20g of fat, and 20g of protein

Personally I’d opt for the Big Mac if I were hungry but the double cheeseburger does only come with one slice of cheese so if you’re watching you calories this can be a good options.

McDonald’s Keto Friendly Chicken

As of 2020, there are only 2 chicken sandwich menu items remaining on the menu, the McChicken and the Buttermilk Crispy Chicken Sandwich.  Mickey Dee’s has removed the Artisan Chicken Sandwich but I’ve kept the review below in case it returns to the menu post covid.

Chicken although not as high in fat as the burgers, chicken is not high fat either. If we add some fat with bacon and mayo we have a couple good keto choices here.

McChicken Chicken Sandwich

At the time of this update they have still not added grilled chicken back to the menu do to corona. So the best we can do here is a McChicken sandwich with no bun.

Macros (no bun): 11 net carbs, 19g fat and 9g protein

It’s not a yummy as the Artisan Chicken sandwich below, but at 11net carbs it’s not a terrible option if you’re in a pinch. You can certainly do much worse if you’re not careful with your choices.

Buttermilk Crispy Chicken Sandwich

Ok to the Buttermilk Crispy Sandwich does taste better than the McChicken but with 16 net carbs it’s not a fantastic choice. However if you leave off the bun you’ll keep the carbs relatively low and add some fat and protein likely due to the buttermilk breading. If you dropped the tomato you can slash another gram of carbs if you so chose.

McDonalds Keto Buttermilk Chicken Fillet
Macros below match the photo above.

Macros (as pictured below): 16 net carbs, 26.5g fat and 19g protein

Again, we are making some concessions with our chicken options because they are so limited right now. I hope you at least find this helpful in making better choices for your keto diet.

Artisan Chicken Sandwich (no bun)

Updated for 2020: Due to the coronavirus McDonald’s has temporarily removed several items from the menu. The Artisan Chicken Sandwich was one of them. I hope it comes back cause it was good. If it does, my review below still stands

I also ordered a bunless Artisanal Chicken Sandwich with extra bacon and some mayo. I never really get excited about chicken entrees but this was really good.

Mr. Skinnypants ordered a low carb artisanal chicken club sandwich.
My low carb McDonald’s Artisan Chicken Club sandwich.

Since the pico guacamole dissappeared off the menu sometime in 2018, the added bacon and mayo offsets the blandness of grilled chicken. One piece of feedback for McDonald’s: I wish they’d chop up the chicken breast and put it on shredded lettuce so I could eat this like a salad. Sonic does this surprisingly well.

  • Macros(as pictured): 8g net carbs, 39g of fat, and 40g of protein.
  • Macros (w/pico guacamole): 6g net carbs, 19g of fat, and 29g of protein.

McDonald’s Nutrition for Keto

How many carbs are in a Big Mac with no bun? There are 7 carbs and 330 calories. It’s a good low carb option. The only problem is that you’ll need to order two Big Macs to fill up.

What are the Macros for Bacon at McDonalds? 2g carbs, 10g fat, 11g protein for 140 total calories

How many carbs does a McDonald’s bun have? (small): 28g carbs, 2g fat, 5g of protein for 150 total calories

How many carbs in a McDonald’s cheeseburger without the bun? 2g of carbs, 10g of fat, 10g of protein for 138 total calories

How many carbs in a quarter pounder at McDonald’s? A regular quarter pounder has 38g of carbs. Out keto version has only 3g.

McDonalds Keto Breakfast

You can read my complete review of keto options at McDonald’s for breakfast.

When I first did this post you could order breakfast all day but upon this update in 2020, they have discontinued all day breakfast. You’ll have to order breakfast items before 10:30 am now.

Egg McMuffin (no bun) Sausage & Egg Cheese biscuit (no biscuit), Bacon, Egg & Cheese biscuit (no biscuit)

I figured many people would be interested in ordering a low carb McDonald’s breakfast. As a practitioner of intermittent fasting, I rarely eat breakfast, but I did so for you, my keto Mcdonald’s reader.

My bunless breakfast trio. Bacon egg, & cheese biscuit, Sausage Egg & Cheese Biscuit, and Egg McMuffin

It was way too much food for breakfast, but I wanted to try their selection so I could make a good recommendation.

I really enjoyed the taste of the bunless Sausage patty, folded Egg & Cheese Biscuit and the bunless Egg McMuffin. They use a poached egg patty with the yolk in the middle.

I wasn’t a huge fan of the bunless Bacon, Egg & Cheese Biscuit. The bacon & cheese were fine, but they use a scrambled egg that tasted a bit dry and didn’t look as appetizing as the white egg patties they use for their other breakfast sandwiches.

Thoughts on ordering low carb at Mickey Dees

This particular location must not receive low carb breakfast orders very often as the person ringing me up struggled with it. He needed to ask a manager and one other associate how to ring it up and he had to correct one of the line chefs who inadvertently made my first egg sandwich with the bun.

When they gave me my to-go bag, I noticed they had put all the buns on the side in the wrappers. I don’t like temptation, so I explained that I had an allergy and a McDonald’s employee accepted the buns back.

I have one other minor criticism to share related to how they stacked the bunless breakfast sandwiches. They put the sliced cheese on the bottom on a styrofoam plate, underneath warm meat & eggs such that the cheese was melting and sticking to the plate.

I fixed the stacking issue myself for the photo, but it did require getting my fingers messy. It would have been inconvenient if I were trying to eat in my car.

A better approach would have been to tell them I wanted a McDonald’s low carb breakfast bowl with sausage, egg, and cheese and then see if they could build that for me. Maybe next time.

The McDonald’s employees who served me were all very friendly, helpful, and accommodating.  As I was checking my bag to make sure they got the order right,  my cashier came over to check on me. That was a nice gesture.

I’m more than willing to be patient with fast food places who try hard to accommodate their customers and act friendly. I know that special low carb orders are relatively uncommon and can put a wrench in their processes.

That said, I went back and did a more thorough review of the low carb McDonald’s breakfast options.

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Best Keto Meals at McDonald’s

For breakfast, I recommend you order one bunless Egg McMuffin (comes with sliced ham, egg white patty, and slice of cheese ) and one bunless Sausage & Egg Cheese McMuffin.  I was plenty full after eating those two.

For lunch or dinner, I recommend the bunless Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese. Get two if you’re pretty hungry.

If you need a small snack, they have a side salad with 4 net carbs and a 4-piece chicken nugget with 10 net carbs.

For drinks, you can get a low carb McDonald’s coffee, a Dasani Bottled water, Diet Coke or Diet Dr. Pepper, or unsweetened ice tea.

Other Good Low Carb Options

Bunless burgers, grilled chicken salads (crispy chicken has too many carbs), and bunless breakfast sandwiches.

There’s really no such thing as low carb McDonald’s chicken nuggets unless you can be satisfied by a 6-piece which offers only 270 calories for 15 net carbs.

If you’re into sauces, dips, dressings, & condiments, the following are great options at McDonald’s because they have 3 net carbs or less (net carbs in parentheses):

  • Creamy Ranch Sauce (1)
  • Spicy Buffalo Sauce (1)
  • Marinara Sauce (2)
  • Ketchup Packet (3)
  • Newman’s Own® Low Fat Balsamic Vinaigrette (3) – This is the ONLY salad dressing you should order at McDonald’s. The others are too high carb.

If you’re super hungry, I wouldn’t mess with the grilled chicken salads or the tiny nugget orders. They won’t be satisfying enough for a meal based on my previous experiences (not described in this post).

Items that are too high carb

In case you’re new to low carb or keto eating, I’ll start by saying that all McDonald’s buns, fries, hash browns, tortillas, pancakes, and desserts (cookies, shakes, cones, etc) should be avoided.

There are also some less obvious entrees and sides to avoid that I’ve listed below. They seem like they might be low carb, but aren’t.

Tempting entrees to avoid:

  • 10-piece Chicken Nuggets or larger – 24 net carbs (due to food starch and wheat starch in the breading)
  • Crispy Chicken Salads –  20 – 40 net carbs due to breading on the chicken.
  • Bunless Crispy Chicken Sandwiches – 20+ net carbs due to breading on the chicken
  • Southwest Salads – 20 net carbs thanks to add tortilla strips, corn, and beans.

Tempting sides to avoid:

  • Cuties (the little oranges) – 8 net carbs
  • GoGurt – 9 net carbs

Tempting sauces to avoid:

  • Honey Mustard Sauce – 5 net carbs
  • Chipotle Barbecue Sauce – 11 net carbs
  • Tangy Barbecue Sauce – 12 net carbs
  • Sweet Chili Sauce – 12 net carbs
  • Sweet ‘N Sour Sauce – 12 net carbs

Tempting salad dressings to avoid: 

  • Newman’s Own® Low Fat Italian Dressing – 7 net carbs
  • Newman’s Own® Ranch Dressing – 9 net carbs
  • Newman’s Own® Creamy Southwest Dressing – 11 net carbs
  • Newman’s Own® Low Fat Sesame Ginger Dressing – 14 net carbs

Basically stick to bunless burgers and bunless egg sandwiches and stay from the sides & sauces, and you’ll be fine :).

Is McDonalds Low Carb Friendly?

I rated McDonald’s keto friendly because you can order almost any of their burgers without a bun and they’ll be low carb. They also have a few on-menu, low carb salads you can select from if you’re in the mood for greens.

For breakfast, you can order bunless Egg McMuffins along with a black coffee and concoct yourself a decent little low carb breakfast or try one of my other top 10 keto fast food breakfasts.

  • Low carb friendly – Yes
  • Keto entrees on menu – Not many. They have three different grilled chicken salads and a 4-piece & 6-piece chicken nugget that come in under 20 net carbs. Low carb dieters will need to special request / order off menu, mostly.
  • Keto entrees off menu – Yes, this is where McDonald’s shines. Their bunless burgers are delicious. You can also get bunless Egg McMuffins.
  • Satiety of low carb entrees – Good. I felt somewhat satisfied after eating a bunless double quarter pounder with cheese & bacon, but still had room to eat my son’s cheeseburger patty that he didn’t touch (and I could have eaten more too). The bunless burgers don’t come with much lettuce and they pack it snugly in a small bowl, so psychologically it doesn’t feel like you’re eating a lot. Their bunless breakfast sandwiches were surprisingly filling.
  • Taste of low carb entrees – Great. My bunless burger was amazing and I really enjoyed my bunless sausage egg & cheese biscuit and my bunless egg mcmuffin.
  • Price of low carb entrees – Great. I only paid $6.25 for my double quarter pounder with cheese and that includes $1.20 for extra bacon and $0.25 for extra lettuce. If I had to do it over again, I’d scratch the extra bacon and lettuce, and just order two double quarter pounders for $9.60 ($4.80 each) — which would be an even better value. My bunless Big Mac was $3.30 and my bunless Artisan Chicken Club with Bacon was $6.00. For breakfast, I paid about $2.90 apiece for the three bunless egg sandwiches I ordered. I only really needed two to get full, so a low carb breakfast at McDonald’s can be had for less than $6.
  • Ordering experience – Ok. Going through the drive through for lunch, they got my double quarter pounder right, but accidentally left the bun on my son’s bunless cheeseburger. My son didn’t mind, of course :). He’s a lovable 2-year old Carb Eating Sucka so he actually ate only the bun and left the patty with cheese for me. For breakfast, I ordered inside at the counter and the employees were very helpful and friendly, but made a few mistakes. You can read more about those mistakes below in the “What I ordered” section of this post.

I really enjoyed my two low carb eating experiences at McDonald’s for this project. My main criticism of McDonald’s is that they only carry four entrees on the menu that are less than 20 grams net carbs and that in 2020 they have further limited our options by removing grilled chicken and salads from the menu entirely. Here is hoping things change post covid!

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Other Keto Fast Food Burgers

If fast food burger joints are your thing, you will enjoy, Arby’s Low Carb Fast, my Burger King Low Carb Menu, maybe take a peek at the Wendy’s Keto friendly options, or grab an In-N-Out Protein Style Burger at In-N-Out. One of my favorites non burger options is the chopped up grilled chicken sandwich from Sonic.

If you want to know my favorite fast food lunches of all time, take a peek at my top 10 low carb fast food lunches.

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Enter your email above and I’ll send you all my low carb / keto ordering guides for all 30 top fast food chains in the US. I’ll keep you updated as menu items change during the year as well as other helpful keto diet tips for 2020 and beyond.

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6 thoughts on “Low Carb and Keto at McDonald’s (Updated 2020)”

  1. My husband and I have been low carbing since February,2020. He has lost 20 pounds and I have lst 30. We have had 10 piece w/barbecue sauce at least once a week and sometimes twice and it hasn’t kept us from losing. We consider them a treat. We know it’s somewhat of a cheat, but we are still losing.

  2. Love these fast food meal guides! I did not realize that my go-to 8 piece nugget had so many carbs. Now that I know they’ll do no-bun sandwiches, I’m in. Thanks!

  3. Sometimes they screw up in the drive-thru and I just don’t feel like dealing with it that day, I toss the buns to the birds. The wild birds are very happy with the treat.


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