Big Mac from McDonald’s is an actual measurement tool, well you know now. Called the “Big Mac index”, experts and curiosity seekers from around the world use the burger as a way of understanding and relating prices in different countries. It’s an easy index to follow since most of us are familiar with both the menu item and its price. But is it really that important? What does knowing the price of a McDonald’s burger do? Well if you’re planning on traveling and you’re a big McDonald’s fan then it helps to know how much you’re going to spend on your favorite burger. Jokes aside, it actually does serve a purpose.
The Big Mac Index was invented by The Economist in 1986. The idea behind this is often referred to as Burgernomics (not sure how we feel about all of these puns) and it is meant to serve as a basic guide to figuring out the cost of living in different countries. It might sound silly, but Burgernomics can actually provide some valuable insight into which currencies are being under valued and those that are being over valued. You can also determine how “inflated” that particular country’s economy is based on the price of the burger. McDonald’s is a “budget friendly” fast food joint so most of their menu items are far cheaper than their competitors’. By finding the price of the Big Mac in another country and comparing it to the price in other places, you can determine how well the country is doing so to speak.
Burgernomics aside, let’s take a look at what a Big Mac will run you in other countries:
By the way, this data is from January 2019 and comes from Statista. The results are also quoted in US dollars.
10. Australia ($4.35)
That’s right if you want to eat a Big Mac in the land down under you’ll have to fork over $4.35 or about the same as a Starbucks venti pumpkin spice latte with a caramel flavor shot added for flare. McDonald’s markets the burger as containing two 100% pure Aussie beef patties, iceberg lettuce, cheese, onions, pickles, and of course that special Big Mac sauce. All of this is wedged between two toasted sesame seed buns. So basically, it’s the Big Mac we’re all familiar with. We’re not sure what the difference between Aussie beef patties and regular beef patties are, but we’re pretty sure that isn’t one. Either way, you’ll be paying a premium for their beef patties.
There was also a Double Big Mac at one point in Australia as well. It was quickly discontinued and replaced with the Grand Big Mac. This monster burger uses larger patties that are 1/3 lbs. In 2017, they also released the Big Mac BLT as part of a promotion.
9. Brazil ($4.55)
Back in the early 2000’s the Big Mac was around $1.50 in most parts of the world, including Brazil. However now, it’ll cost you $4.55 for just the sandwich. What caused the inflation? Honestly, nobody really knows. It could be a combination of things like economics, exchange, or even the fact that McDonald’s is considered to be a tourist trap. Thus, it’s a luxury and its menu items incur luxury prices to reflect that. Also, many locals are far more content to eat rice, beans, and vegetarian options over the calorie rich burger. So since it’s marketed towards tourists instead of locals, you get the higher price. But honestly, who is going to stop into McDonald’s in Brazil for a Big Mac when you have all kinds of other interesting local cuisine available?
You can also find a Cheddar McMelt on their menu, which sounds absolutely delicious despite the fact that we were just knocking them for catering to tourists. This sandwich has creamy cheddar cheese, soy sauce, and grilled onions on a beef burger patty. It also comes on a whole-wheat bun instead of the traditional sesame seed one. You can also find banana flavored pies as well as vegetarian burger options on their menu. Okay, we’re starting to see how it can rope in tourists now…
8. Israel ($4.58)
For the most part, Israel’s Big Mac is pretty close to what we’re used to in the United States. However, there are a few key differences. For starters, the meat is 100% kosher and is cooked on charcoal rather than being fried. This means that cheese isn’t an option at some of the locations, but many will still offer cheeseburgers. If you’d rather spend your money on something else instead of a Big Mac, you can also opt for the McKebab or the McShawarma. You won’t find these anywhere else so while McDonald’s might not have been on your list of places to visit in Israel, you might want to add it.
Also if you’re visiting during Passover when Jewish people don’t eat bread, the bulk of these McDonald’s locations will serve the burgers on lettuce or matzo instead of the traditional buns. However, don’t expect a discount on your meal if bread isn’t available; you’ll still be paying $4.58 for the sandwich.
7. Denmark ($4.60)
Why would you pay .60 cents more for the same burger in Denmark than you would in the United States? After all, there’s really no difference between the American version and Denmark’s take on it. Well according to reports from 2014, McDonald’s is a pretty good place to work. Employees are paid a staggering $20 an hour and the company is unionized. This means that overhead costs are pretty Mc-High (sorry) and in order to cover them, the menu items are marked up. And if you’re interested in comparing this to US McDonald’s wages, Denmark pays its employees about double what those in the states get. And honestly that’s worth. Working in fast food isn’t pleasant for anybody. If you’ve ever had the displeasure of working in fast food then you’re probably thinking that $20 is right on the mark. We think so too.
Thus, it really isn’t that surprising that Denmark takes spot #7 on our list for the world’s highest Big Mac prices.
6. Euro Area ($4.64)
What exactly is the “Euro Area”? Well, it’s also known as the Eurozone and it encompasses 19 countries that use the Euro currency. This list includes: Germany, Ireland, France, Belgium, Spain, Italy, Malta, Cyprus, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Austria, Finland, Greece, Portugal, Slovenia, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, and Slovakia. The reason why we didn’t use one specific country here is because the price is same in these 19 countries.
In these countries, you’ll spend $4.64 on your Big Mac. It comes with all of the same toppings as the American version, but with a higher price tag. You can also opt for the smaller Big Mac Jr., which is a few cents cheaper than the Big Mac but features the same delicious toppings just on a smaller burger patty. The Big Mac Jr. is one of the newest items to grace the company’s menu and arrived as part of their 50th anniversary celebration. You can also go for the Grand Mac, which is a larger version of the Big Mac if you’re feeling particularly hungry.
There are also unique menu variations across the European country list if you’re craving something different. In Belgium, you can sink your teeth into the Croque McDo with Emmental cheese and ham that’s toasted between two thick buns. In Denmark, you can pick up the chicken salsa cheeseburger. Want something for breakfast? Hop over to France and order the Croque McDo donuts.
5. Canada ($5.08)
In a country that’s constantly the boot of “sorry” jokes (and we’re sorry for these terrible puns), they certainly don’t seem apologetic about their high Big Mac prices. So what makes the burger worth $5 and some change? Well, it’s pretty much the same burger you can grab in America for far less. Also sorry to disappoint you, but the Big Mac “special sauce” isn’t maple syrup; it’s the sauce we’re all familiar with. However, the combo is where things change a bit. You’ll still get your drink, but you’ll also get your choice of French Fries or poutine (French fries with cheese curds topped with brown gravy). You can also add bacon to your sandwich but don’t expect it to be what we refer to as Canadian bacon; these are the crispy strips that we’re all familiar with.
On the menu you can also find Tim Horton’s coffee; a Canadian staple.
4. United States ($5.58)
You’re probably thinking, “wait! I thought the Big Mac was cheaper in America than a lot of these places? After all, you said that Burger X in country Y was Z amount of cents more expensive than the American chain!” You’re right. However, there are a handful of cities and states where the cost of the burger is so outrageous that it caused the United States to place #4 on our list. For the most part in the States, you’ll pay a lot less for your Big Mac than you will in other countries, but if you’re visiting tourist traps expect that price to sky rocket.
One of those places in particular is Disney; both World and Land. At these theme parks, you can expect to spend about $8 for that McDonald’s staple. Shocking, right?! While that’s definitely on the high end, bustling cities like New York and San Francisco sell their Big Macs for an average of $5.58. That’s significantly higher than a lot of the other countries on the list. And as far as differences go, there isn’t any: it’s the exact same burger.
3. Sweden ($5.84)
After tax, you can expect to spend $6 on a Big Mac in Sweden. That’s more than it would cost for an entire Happy Meal! That alone would encourage us to skip McDonald’s (and fast food in general) in hopes of something healthier! However, McDonald’s in Sweden has you covered there too. If you want something that’s less calorie laden but tastier than a bowl of greens, you can opt for the McVegan. It’s pretty close to the Big Mac, but the patty is made of cannellini and kidney beans. It’s then topped with onions, carrots, tomatoes, and green peppers before being served on a crisp lettuce bun. While we’ve personally never had one, those who have claim that the vegan patty is actually tastier than the regular meat patty.
And if you’re fresh off the ski slopes, you can also duck into their McSki drive-thru (yes, we’re serious) and grab a bite before heading back to the powder and slopes.
2. Norway ($5.86)
According to studies, Norway has one of the most overvalued currencies in the entire world. Because of this, you’ll pay over $6 to satiate your Big Mac cravings. And once again, there isn’t anything special about this burger in comparison to other countries. It’s still the same beef patties on the same sesame seed buns with the same toppings and sauce; just at a staggering premium. However, you can also pick other McDonald’s treats that are exclusive to Sweden. These include the El Maco, which is a burger that is topped with sour cream and salsa then paired with barbecue spiced fries (yum!) and the Laksewrap. This unique sandwich is composed of deep-fried fish, salad, and topped with a mango slice wrapped inside a tortilla.
1. Switzerland ($6.62)
Switzerland’s scenery isn’t the only thing that will take your breath away; once you get a peek at how much a Big Mac will cost you, you’ll be struggling for air. Switzerland takes the cake as having the most expensive Big Mac in the world. Weighing in at almost $7 for just the burger, you’d expect to get something different out of it or a treat, right? Nope. Switzerland’s Big Mac is the exact same as any other Big Mac and that price is for just the sandwich. No fries. No drinks. No apple pie. No prize. So why is it so expensive? Well, considering the fact that Switzerland is actually one of the most expensive countries in the world to live in, it makes sense that their Big Mac is also pretty expensive. According to studies, residents get paid pretty well so it’s all relative; the locals can easily afford it. However if you’re visiting and you’re on a tight budget, the Big Mac might not be the option you’re after.