McDonald's testing fresh, not frozen, hamburger patties

Hadley Malcolm

McDonald's is testing to see if consumers warm up to hamburger patties that don't come out of the freezer.

McDonald's is testing fresh burger patties instead of frozen in select stores in the Dallas area.

The fast-food chain is testing hamburgers made from fresh beef in 14 locations in the Dallas area, the company says. Instead of frozen patties, burgers like the Bacon Clubhouse and Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese are being molded from freshly ground beef.

If rolled out nationwide, the move could help McDonald's repel competition from rival chains like Shake Shack and In-N-Out, both of which tout using fresh, never frozen, beef in their burgers.

The patties are formed from the same grade of beef as the frozen variety, and employees are cooking them as customers order.

The test has been going on since November, but "it's very premature to draw any conclusions" yet, says spokeswoman Lisa McComb. Considering McDonald's has 14,000 locations in the U.S., rolling out fresh patties to all of them would no doubt be a huge undertaking.

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"Like all of our tests, this one, too, is designed to see what works and what doesn’t within our restaurants," McComb says, adding that the company is monitoring operations, customer response and price points.

Fast-food chains have drawn the ire of health advocates and customers for menus heavy on processed food and a lack of fresh options.

It's trying other experiments as well, such as new sizes of  the Big Mac. In test is a huge a one-third pound "Grand Mac" and a single patty "Mac Jr." in some restaurants in Ohio and Dallas-Fort Worth.