Keto at McDonald’s: Best Low Carb Options on the Menu

At first glance, finding keto-friendly options at McDonald’s might seem difficult. Fortunately, since the menu is fully customizable, many McDonald’s meals can easily work with the keto diet. In this guide we’ll provide foods to avoid at all costs plus many breakfast and dinner options that won’t kick you out of ketosis. 

Table of Contents:

  • Foods to Avoid
  • What to Order
    • Breakfast
    • Burgers
    • Salads
    • Chicken
    • Plus a Bonus Tip!

Foods to Avoid

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Photo Credit

Knowing what not to order at McDonald’s for the keto diet is just as important as knowing what to order. If you’ve been doing keto for a while you’ll already know the short list of foods to avoid, but for those out there who are new to this health-boosting diet, here are the main items to ALWAYS AVOID in a McDonald’s keto breakfast or dinner

  • Bread of all types (this includes buns, McMuffins, bagels, McGriddles, biscuits, and pancakes)
  • French fries
  • Hash browns
  • Sweet tea
  • Regular soda
  • “Fruit” drinks with tons of sugar (like Gatorade or Fanta)
  • Milk (this includes milk in coffee and drinks from the McCafe menu)
  • Desserts – ice cream, milkshakes, McFlurrys, apple pies, cookies, etc.

What to Order

You can see from the list above that the easiest keto-friendly order at McDonald’s could be just a burger or grilled chicken sandwich sans bun, with water, unsweet tea, or diet soda to drink. Want more curated, detailed guidance on what to order? Read on for recommendations on menu items that come in at 10 grams of less net carbs per serving and so you can be “lovin’ it” without packing on the pounds. All nutrition information comes from the official McDonald’s nutrition calculator. 

1. Breakfast

Many people consider breakfast to be the easiest meal on the keto diet. Stick with the classic fare – fatty meats, eggs, cheese, and butter – and you can’t go wrong. McDonald’s has a variety of keto-friendly breakfast options to keep you full until lunchtime

Big Breakfast (hold the biscuit and hash browns)

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McDonald’s Big Breakfast normally comes with scrambled eggs, a sausage patty, a biscuit, and two hash browns. Nix the biscuit and hash browns to make this a keto-friendly breakfast. With just the eggs and sausage you’re looking at 2g net carbs, 340 calories, 29g fat, and 19g protein, which sizes up to a McDonald’s keto breakfast anyone can get behind.

Egg McMuffin (hold the muffin)

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The Egg McMuffin is a staple for McDonald’s breakfast, but that muffin breaks the carb bank if you’re on keto. Ask for no muffin, leaving just egg, ham, cheese, and butter for 3g net carbs, 160 calories, 11g fat, and 12g protein. While this isn’t the ideal macro makeup for keto, it’s definitely a low carb option that won’t kick you out of ketosis.

Bacon, Egg, & Cheese Biscuit (hold the biscuit)

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You can actually get the Bacon, Egg, & Cheese in a biscuit, muffin, bagel, or McGriddle pancakes at McDonald’s…but none of those will work if you’re trying to stay in ketosis. Instead, ask for the Bacon, Egg, & Cheese biscuit with no biscuit and the net carb count falls from 38g to just 3g. You’ll also get 190 calories, 13g fat, and 14g protein.

Steak, Egg, & Cheese Biscuit (hold the biscuit)

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Steak for breakfast? Yes please! This protein-packed option is a guaranteed hunger killer. Packing in 280 calories, 20g fat, and 22g protein for just a meager 3g net carbs, you’ll want to order this one, biscuit-less of course, when you’re having a late lunch.

Sausage, Egg, & Cheese Biscuit (hold the biscuit)

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The Sausage, Egg, & Cheese is just like its’ bacon and steak brothers above. As such, it is also offered on a variety of ketosis-busting breads that you must avoid at all costs. Order it biscuit-less for just 3g net carbs. While the carb count is low, it also packs a whopping 340 calories, 29g fat, and 16g protein, making it an excellent keto choice.

2. Burgers

Burgers are definitely what McDonald’s is known for, with it’s iconic Big Mac taking the lead of a variety of beefy choices. From a simple hamburger to the mouth-watering Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese, burger lovers can definitely satisfy their cravings without adding in too many carbs.

Big Mac (hold the bun & sauce)

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The Big Mac is what many people think of when they think of McDonald’s. Just as much a part of the brand as the Golden Arches, the Big Mac features two beef patties stacked with lettuce, pickles, onions, and the famous Big Mac sauce. Ordering the Big Mac as is will cost you 43g net carbs, but just omitting the bun takes that down to 6g net carbs, and nixing the sauce cuts it down to 4g (but it also cuts out 9g of fat, so if you have enough carbs left in the day to keep the sauce it definitely helps make the macros of this burger more keto-aligned). If you do decide to go bunless but keep the sauce, you’ll get 330 calories, 25g fat, and 18g protein as well.

Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese & Bacon (hold the bun & ketchup)

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The Double Quarter Pounder is another fan favorite and great option for keto dieters, boasting ½ pound of 100% beef. Leaving off the bun drops the net carb count from 40g to 9g, and giving the ketchup the axe brings it down to just 4g, which is very doable for keto dieters. Without a bun or ketchup, the Double Quarter Pounder has 590 calories, 43g fat, and 45g protein.

Double Cheeseburger with Bacon (hold the bun & ketchup)

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If a half pound of beef seems like a little much, and you’re not a Big Mac sauce fan, the Double Cheeseburger with Bacon may be for you. Ask for no bun or ketchup and you’ll already be down to 3g net carbs with 280 calories, 20g fat, and 20g protein. Ask them to add bacon for an extra fat and protein punch for no net carbs!

Bacon McDouble (hold the bun & ketchup)

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Keto on a budget? The McDouble gives even value shoppers some keto bang for their buck. Just order sans bun and ketchup for 3g net carbs, 230 calories, 16g fat, and 17g protein. Just like the Double Cheeseburger above, ask them to add bacon for extra calories, fat, and protein at no carb cost.

3. Salads

Salads should always be a go-to for the keto dieter when eating out, especially at a fast-food place. Salads are guaranteed to pack in the nutrients with leafy greens and colorful veggies for a low carb McDonald’s meal that’s an all-around good choice. However, it’s easy to let the carbs get out of control when we start adding dressings and other toppings. So always order grilled chicken instead of crispy (crispy = breaded and fried) and stick to the dressings shown below to keep it fresh, healthy, and keto-friendly.

Bacon Ranch Grilled Chicken Salad

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Another hard-hitter in the protein department, the Bacon Ranch Grilled Chicken Salad delivers 42g of protein, 320 calories, and 14g fat for only 5g net carbs! That leaves plenty of room for a packet of your favorite dressing….say, umm…ranch?

Side salad

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While the side salad might not suffice as a full meal, it makes an awesome, vitamin-packed snack with only 2g net carbs. You’ll definitely need to add some fat and protein to keep your macros within keto ranges since the side salad only has 15 calories, 0g fat, and 1g protein, but you won’t have to worry about this little guy ruining your ketosis. 

Newman’s Own Ranch Dressing

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A favorite for tons of keto dieters, ranch dressing is usually a safe bet in moderate amounts. Enjoy a packet from McDonald’s of Newman’s Own Ranch Dressing for just 7g net carbs, 140 calories, 11g fat, and 1g protein. This is by far the most keto-friendly salad dressing McDonald’s offers.

Newman’s Own Family Recipe Italian Dressing

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One packet of this fat-free, flavorful italian dressing has just 7g net carbs, so feel free to add it to your Bacon Ranch Grilled Chicken Salad or Side salad. You’ll also be adding 50 calories, 2.5g fat, and 1g protein. For those who aren’t ranch lovers, this is a solid option.

Newman’s Own Balsamic Vinaigrette

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This low-fat balsamic vinaigrette is the lowest carb salad dressing McDonald’s offers, with just 4g net carbs, 35 calories, 2g fat, and 0g protein. While it lacks enough fat or protein to be ideal for keto, it’s low net carb count make it a great choice, and it gives balsamic fans a way to enjoy their salad with that signature tang.

4. Chicken

Not everyone is a burger lover. For those who prefer white, leaner meats, McDonald’s also offer chicken options suited for the keto dieter, although the lack of fat might throw your macros off if not offset later on with a high fat food.

Artisan Grilled Chicken Sandwich (hold the bun)

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Drop 40g of net carbs off of the Artisan Grilled Chicken Sandwich just by leaving off the bun, leaving just 2g net carbs, 160 calories, 4g fat, and 29g protein. With a carb count so low you may be tempted to enjoy two of these chicken filets, but the high protein count would likely throw your keto macros for a loop, so stick to just one to stay in ketosis.

5. Bonus tip - You can still make it a combo!

That’s right, no need to suffer with a dry mouth after that bunless burger or muffinless McMuffin. Just make it a low carb McDonald’s combo with a side salad and a water, unsweet tea, or diet soda and you’re good to go ! The side salad only adds 2g net carbs (without dressing) while the water or diet soda has no net carbs at all. Now, this doesn’t mean that diet soda is “healthy”, but when faced with all the sugar-loaded options at McDonald’s, sometimes the lesser of many evils is all you can do. If the thought of all that neuron-killing aspartame is too much for you though, just stick with the water for a guilt-free beverage. Bonus points if you choose the recyclable cup instead of the plastic bottle!

Conclusion

You might not think of McDonald’s first when thinking of low carb or keto-friendly food options, but you might want to think again. Thanks to the addition of healthy menu items like salads along with a fully customizable menu, you can stay in ketosis while enjoying breakfast, lunch, or dinner with the family.

It’s advisable to keep the visits to McDonald’s and all other fast food locations as limited as possible. Even though the affordability and convenience may be enticing, highly processed fast food just doesn’t offer the nutrition value of whole foods made from scratch at home

However, you can now enjoy a bite while the kids create those nugget-filled childhood memories without fear of wrecking your waistline.

References & Additional Resources:

  • https://mrskinnypants.com/how-to-order-low-carb-or-keto-at-mcdonalds/
  • https://www.mcdonalds.com/us/en-us/about-our-food/nutrition-calculator.html
  • https://surviveketo.com/mcdonalds-low-carb-keto-options/
  • https://www.kissmyketo.com/blogs/food/lowcarb-keto-mcdonalds-options-for-on-the-go
  • https://lowcarbyum.com/low-carb-mcdonalds/
  • https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/keto-fast-foods
  • https://forgetsugarfriday.com/keto-mcdonalds/