However you feel about McDonald’s, it is inescapable. The franchise has outposts in over 100 countries throughout the world, with a total number of locations topping 36,000 (as of January 2018). Wherever you go, there is McDonald’s. And in every McDonald’s, you can find many of the same menu items: the standard burgers, the thin, salty fries. They may be called Le Big Mac or Patatas la Francesca, but you will know them all the same. And yet, despite the fact that fast food itself often stands in for the very concept of homogeneity, you can find regional specialties on international McDonald’s menus as well—including a bunch of McDonald’s fry variations around the world. So take a virtual tour of McDonald’s fries and see if any of them make you want to grab your passport.
McDonald’s Canada: Poutine
Of course you can get your fries turned into poutine at Canadian McDonald’s. But if you can’t get yourself to the Great White North with its great dark pools of rich, beefy gravy and oozy cheese curds, we happen to have a stellar Poutine recipe to try at home.
McDonald’s Austria: Waffle Fries
In Austria, the standard skinny fries are called Pommes Frites, but these waffle fries are Gitter Pommes (“Lattice Fries,” which sounds kind of quaint). They also have fried cheese bites!
McDonald’s Belgium: Cheesy Bacon Fries
Belgium is just one of many countries where you can find these so-called “fun fries” covered in cheese sauce and bacon bits—since January 2019, they’ve been available in the U.S. too, but allegedly it’s only for a limited time, whereas they appear to be a more permanent staple on some other countries’ menus, including Italy’s. (The McDonald’s Egypt menu advertises Paprika Cheese Fries, but I couldn’t find evidence of their existence on Instagram, so take that as you will.)
McDonald’s Indonesia: Potato Wedges
Thick potato wedges are another item that appears on the menu (right beside the regular fries famed the world over) at several international locations, from Guatamala (where they’re billed as McPatatas) to Russia. Lovers of jo jo potatoes will wish these were available Stateside.
McDonald’s India: Masala Wedges
The addition of “masala” to the potato wedge title on Indian McDonald’s menus would indicate that they have an extra dose of spice. You can also get Mexican cheesy fries from Indian McDonald’s (but not from Mexican McDonald’s).
McDonald’s Norway: Sweet Potato Fries
When they’re cooked to a proper crisp, sweet potato fries are pretty irresistible, but does Norway offer a chipotle aioli for dipping, like PNW chain Burgerville does with their seasonal sweet potato fries? No, but they do have an array of dips including a cheddar option and a hvitlok (garlic) sauce.
McDonald’s Denmark: Chili Cheese Tops
Okay, these aren’t fries, but they are a fried side that’s a worthy contender to any potato alternative. They’re available in some other locations, like Saudi Arabia and Norway. And Denmark does have their own fry variation too: Pepper Strips, which look like thin, ridged chips, but proved elusive on Instagram, hence the spotlight on Chili Cheese Tops.
McDonald’s Malaysia: Twister Fries
Back to potatoes, these “Twister Fries” are better known as curly fries, aka the most fun fries, though they can be lacking in the crispy-crunchy department. They’re also available in Singapore. In the U.S., you’ll just have to go to Arby’s.
McDonald’s Netherlands: Farmers Fries
Similar to but distinct from the wedge fries found in several other countries, these “boerenfriet” are just thick-cut versions of your standard fry. Naturally, they come with mayo for dipping.
McDonald’s Phillippines: Nori Fries
In the Philippines, you can get the classic McDonald’s fries with a packet of nori seasoning to shake things up. Photo evidence suggests a similar option in Japan, but with a wasabi packet. And there have also been shake-to-season fry offerings available at Indian McDonald’s from time to time: spicy piri piri fries and American-style “cream and onion” fries. Why don’t we have those?
McDonald’s Azerbaijan: Onion Rings
For potato haters (if in fact they exist), some McDonald’s offer onion rings; you can find them in Costa Rica and Turkey too.
Check out other international McDonald’s items, and a nutritional breakdown of Big Macs around the world.
Header image courtesy of Shutterstock.