Chicken McNuggets

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This article is about McDonalds' version of the product. For chicken nuggets in general, see Chicken nugget.
Chicken McNuggets
Chicken McNuggets
Nutritional value per 10 pieces (162 g) No sauce
Energy 440 kcal (1,800 kJ)
30 g (10%)
Sugars 0 g
Dietary fiber 2 g
30 g (44%)
Saturated 5 g (25%)
22 g
Vitamin A equiv.
0 μg
Vitamin C
2 mg
20 mg
1 mg
900 mg
Other constituents
Energy from fat 270 kcal (1,100 kJ)
Cholesterol 65 mg (22%)

May vary outside United States.
Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults.
Source: McDonald's Meal Builder

Chicken McNuggets (introduced in 1983 with support from the McNugget Mania campaign) are a type of chicken product offered by international fast-food restaurant chain McDonald's. They consist of small pieces of processed chicken meat that have been battered and deep fried.

Description and origin[edit]

The Chicken McNugget is a small piece of processed chicken meat that is fried in batter and flash-frozen, then shipped out and sold at McDonald's restaurants. It was conceived by Keystone Foods founder Herb Lotman in the late 1970s.[1][2]

McDonald's first executive chef, René Arend, created the Chicken McNuggets recipe in 1979. "The McNuggets were so well-received that every franchise wanted them", said Arend in a 2009 interview. "There wasn't a system to supply enough chicken".[3] Supply problems were solved by 1983, and Chicken McNuggets became available nationwide.[4]

According to McDonald's, the nuggets come in four shapes: the bell, the bowtie, the ball and the boot.[5]


As of October 9, 2010, the ingredients within the United States are as follows: Chicken, water, salt, sodium phosphates. Battered and breaded with bleached wheat flour, water, modified food starch, salt, spices, wheat gluten, paprika, dextrose (sugar), yeast, garlic powder, rosemary, partially hydrogenated soybean oil and cottonseed oil with mono- and diglycerides, leavening (sodium acid pyrophosphate, baking soda, ammonium bicarbonate, monocalcium phosphate), natural flavor (plant source) with extracts of paprika. Fried in vegetable oil (Canola oil, corn oil, soybean oil, hydrogenated soybean oil with TBHQ and citric acid). Dimethylpolysiloxane is added as an antifoaming agent. McDonald's ingredients can vary outside of the US.


Chicken McNuggets are sold in various portion sizes depending on the country of purchase. In the United States they come in packs of 4, 6, 10, 20, and 40 (in selected stores).[6] In some markets, including the United Kingdom, they are sold in packs of 4 (as part of a Happy Meal), 6, 9 or 20 (as a "ShareBox").[7] In New Zealand and Australia they are also available in 3 packs in Happy Meals and Heart Foundation approved "Tick healthy" meals. A 50-piece McNuggets meal deal has been promoted at times for special events such as the NFL's Super Bowl.[8]

McNuggets come with a choice of various flavors of dipping sauce (Pure Honey, Tangy Barbeque, Sweet n' Sour, Honey Mustard, Hot Mustard, Spicy Buffalo, Sweet Chili, Curry, Creamy Ranch, Habanero Ranch and Chipotle Barbecue). Ketchup is also frequently used as a dipping sauce.

They have recently been introduced by McDonald's in India, first as a part of its "Breakfast Meal" and later in the regular menu in May 2009. A halal version of the McNuggets have been sold at two franchises in Dearborn, Michigan, beginning in the early 2000s, bringing in double the average McNuggets sales.[9]


In a 2002 lawsuit against McDonald's, a judge commented that Chicken McNuggets are a "McFrankenstein" creation.[10] The judge identified that rather than being merely chicken fried in a pan, McNuggets included elements not utilized by the home cook, including unusual sounding ingredients like: extracts of rosemary, vitamins (niacin, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), leavening (baking soda, calcium lactate, etc.).[11]

PETA Protestors dressed as chickens demonstrating in New York City's Times Square against how McDonald's kills chickens to make Chicken McNuggets.

The 2004 documentary Super Size Me states that "[o]riginally created from old chickens that can no longer lay eggs, McNuggets are now made from chickens with unusually large breasts. They're stripped from the bone, and ground-up into a sort of 'chicken mash', which is then combined with all sorts of stabilizers and preservatives, pressed into familiar shapes, breaded, deep-fried, freeze-dried, and then shipped to a McDonald's near you." Super Size Me also alleged inclusion of chemicals such as tertiary butylhydroquinone (a phenolic antioxidant used as a chemical preservative), polydimethylsiloxane (an anti-foaming agent), and other ingredients not used by a typical home cook.[12] This was subsequently restated by CNN.[13] Marion Nestle, a New York University professor and author of What to Eat, says the tertiary butylhydroquinone and dimethylpolysiloxane in McNuggets probably pose no health risks. As a general rule, though, she advocates not eating any food with an ingredient that is difficult for one to pronounce.[13]

As of October 9, 2010, dimethylpolysiloxane and Tert-Butylhydroquinone (TBHQ) are listed as ingredients in the McNuggets cooking process.[14] According to Lisa McComb, a media relations representative for McDonald's, dimethylpolysiloxane is used as a matter of safety to keep the frying oil from foaming. The chemical is a form of silicone also used in cosmetics and Silly Putty. A review of animal studies by the World Health Organization found no adverse health effects associated with dimethylpolysiloxane. TBHQ is a common preservative for vegetable oils, cereals, nuts, cookies, chips, and animal fats,[15] found in other foods like Girl Scout Cookies[16] and Quaker Chewy Granola Bars.[17] The U.S. Food and Drug Administration sets an upper limit of 0.02% (0.0002) of the oil or fat content in foods,[18] which like other foods, applies to the oil used in McNuggets. Effective use of TBHQ is 1 gram per 5000 grams of cooking oil (1 gram per 11 pounds of cooking oil).

McNugget numbers[edit]

A mathematical problem, discussed on Eric W. Weisstein's MathWorld[19] and Brady Haran's YouTube channel "Numberphile,"[20] is that of determining the greatest number of McNuggets which cannot be made from any combination of pack sizes on offer. For example, in the UK, McNuggets are sold in boxes of 6, 9 or 20 (excluding Happy Meals). Consequently, the greatest number of McNuggets which cannot be purchased exactly is 43, the Frobenius number of the set {6,9,20}.[19]


  1. ^ "Keystone Foods". MCDONALD'S. 13 May 2014. Retrieved 13 May 2014. 
  2. ^ "Herb Lotman dies at 80; created system for making McDonald's burgers". LATIMES. 11 May 2014. Retrieved 13 May 2014. 
  3. ^ "The Cult of the McRib". MAXIM. 3 February 2009. Retrieved 25 October 2011. 
  4. ^ "History of McDonald's Corporation – FundingUniverse". Retrieved 2013-02-03. 
  5. ^ "From Chicken to McNuggets - McDonalds". Retrieved 2014-03-18. 
  6. ^ "Chicken McNuggets". McDonald's. Retrieved 21 April 2014. 
  7. ^ "Chicken". McDonald's. Retrieved 21 April 2014. 
  8. ^ Aamoth, Doug. "CrunchDeals: 50 piece Chicken McNuggets bucket for $10 this weekend". Crunch Deals. Retrieved 2 December 2010. 
  9. ^ "Halal McNuggets a Hit in Detroit". Huda. 
  10. ^ Weiser, Benjamin (26 January 2003). "Word for Word/Fast-Food Fracas; Your Honor, We Call Our Next Witness: McFrankenstein". New York Times. Retrieved 2 December 2010. 
  11. ^ Weiser, Benjamin (26 January 2003). "Word for Word/Fast-Food Fracas; Your Honor, We Call Our Next Witness: McFrankenstein". The New York Times. 
  12. ^ Morgan Spurlock (2004). Super Size Me. 
  13. ^ a b Martin, David (25 June 2010). "All McNuggets not created equal". CNN. Retrieved 2 December 2010. 
  14. ^ "McDonald's USA Ingredients Listing for Popular Menu Items" (PDF). McDonalds. 9 October 2010. p. 5. Retrieved 2 December 2010. 
  15. ^ "TBHQ — The most effective choice for vegetable oils". 
  16. ^ "Nutrition Information for Girl Scout Cookies". 
  17. ^ "Quaker Chewy Granola Bars — Chocolate Chip Nutritional Information". 
  18. ^ "21 C.F.R. § 172.185". Retrieved 2013-02-03. 
  19. ^ a b Weisstein, Eric W. "McNugget Number". MathWorld. Wolfram Research, Inc. Retrieved 21 April 2014. 
  20. ^ "How to order 43 Chicken McNuggets - Numberphile". Numberphile. Retrieved 21 April 2014.