REVIEW: McDonald’s McRib (2021)

McDonald s McRib  2021 Sandwich

I have had a McRib. In fact, I have had more than one McRib. If I had to guess, I’d wager that I’ve had somewhere between three and five McRibs. Each fall, there are some immutable truths: your brother-in-law will attempt to persuade you to let him take you deer hunting, people will spend the week after the time change complaining about how early it gets dark, and McDonald’s will act like they are doing the world no small favor by bringing back everyone’s favorite processed pork-parts patty.

And every three or four years, I go, “Do I like a McRib? People go nuts for these things. But I can’t remember…” And so I eat one and then go right back to forgetting. But now that I am committing my thoughts to the Internet — and provided the domain fees for this site continue to be paid — I will never again forget how I feel about this annual porkwich.

Here’s how I feel: I probably don’t need to eat another one of these again in my life.

That’s not to say this sandwich is aggressively bad or that it is an affront to my gastric sensibilities; it’s fine. But “fine” only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades, and the fact of the matter is this: there are 15 better menu items you can order from McDonald’s.

Furthermore, if you have an unyielding hankering for a pork-patty sandwich, you can probably get a cheaper and more delicious one somewhere else. QuikTrip, a multi-region chain of convenience stores, sells a much better and cheaper BBQ pork riblet sandwich. I mean, sure, you have to microwave it yourself, but it’s a small trade-off for a vastly superior product.

So, what is it about the McRib that keeps me from — ba-da-ba-ba-ba — loving it?

The pork patty itself is perfectly okay. It’s meaty and chewy, and what one probably expects from “restructured meat” composed primarily of pork shoulder. It’s inoffensive (if uninspired). There are no “subtle undertones” or “complex nuances” to be had; it is chewy, and identifiably meat, and that’s pretty much it.

McDonald s McRib  2021 Onions

The same can be said of the pickles, which are McD’s standard, flimsy sour discs, and the onions, which are respectably crunchy and tangy. The bun is a bland (but again, just fine) homestyle roll that is dusted with some sort of seed. (Nearly everything on the Internet identifies it as a sesame seed bun, but this isn’t true. The ones on the McRib bun are tiny and round and yellow, like a poppy seed, but not. I think this is called “corn dusted”?)

Anyway, what I think really ruins the McRib is the bath of sweet sauce the patty receives. The sauce is tart and pungently tangy, like ketchup that has gone south, and the sandwich is absolutely SWIMMING in it. You cannot take a bite of this thing without splurting or dripping the sticky red goo everywhere. It is a slasher-film of a lunch.

McDonald s McRib  2021 Side

In the end, I think this sandwich thrives off of two things: 1) nostalgia and 2) limited availability. I’d be genuinely surprised if many people try one for the first time this November and instantly begin a countdown clock until its sloppy return.

Purchased Price: $5.29
Rating: 5 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 520 calories, 28 grams of fat, 9 grams of saturated fat, 75 milligrams of cholesterol, 890 milligrams of sodium, 46 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 13 grams of sugars, and 24 grams of protein.

(Editor’s Note: Last year, I decided we would review the McRib every time it returns, and each time it would be a different writer. I’m doing it mostly for funsies, but I also want to read different takes on this sandwich. If you’re interested, here’s our review from 2020.)

18 thoughts to “REVIEW: McDonald’s McRib (2021)”

  1. I, too, fall into the trap of getting ONE every time they bring this back. I then remember that I don’t really like them at all and beat myself up over forgetting how I actually feel about this “sandwich”. With that being said, I will buy another one once this disappears and is inevitably brought back. And then the vicious cycle will repeat itself.

    1. I was Looking forward to trying it after many years. It was not good. The taste and texture was off. Will never again have another!

  2. Yeah I had this the other day because I hadn’t had it in years and wow was it bad. I would have put it more at the 3 if I’m honest. I don’t really like the generic cheap BBQ you get from some of the bottled ones (not all just the lower end ones) and this tasted exactly like that with really not much else taste wise. Not sure if the older versions tasted better or if it’s just nostalgia goggles like humans are known to have (I’ve had that happen a lot and it sucks when something you remember loving tastes bad now).

  3. It’s very telling that they slather on so much sauce and onions. I don’t think it’s BAD but it is the very definition of mediocre.

  4. Wow, I can’t believe just how much I’m in the minority on this one.

    It is well worth mentioning, firstly, that (a) I am not a fan of meat, in general; (b) I am particularly not a fan of pork; and (c) I am even less a fan of any kind of rib(s). And, yet, in spite of the above three facts…I really enjoyed the (part of) one that I had recently. (I have, in fact, ONLY had one recently…as in, I had never, ever had one before. Reasons being…well, refer to points (a), (b), and (c) above.) I finally broke down and had some of my husband’s, a couple of weeks ago, and straight up loved it…much to my own surprise. :O

    Another thing I wanted to mention: The ones that we got (he got a couple, for himself) were NOWHERE nearly as smothered in sauce as the one you had (judging not only from your review, but also from the pictures). That one was clearly a case of McDonald’s-worker error, there; not how they are typically, or supposed to be, served.

    Just giving a (totally) different POV. 🙂

    1. Disagree on the smothering. I’ve been going for the McRib every year since the modern era of its comeback and it’s ALWAYS over-sauced. This is true of different locations. I ordered one online Sunday and there was no option for light sauce (which I’d learned to ask for) and the bun was almost disintegrating from moistness.

  5. i’ve only ever had one – it was a couple years ago… i didn’t really like bbq sauce for a long time, so it never interested me. and i’ve always been super bothered by the shape of the patty – you obviously don’t eat the bones, so why are they represented??
    i didn’t hate it after i removed most of the onions (ordered no pickles because i hate soggy bread). i’ll get another one someday probably.

    ^the top view in the first photo brings to mind the old school Burger King chicken parm and wish now i’m wishing *that* sandwich would make an occasional comeback.

    1. Your timing is incredible– they JUST brought their original Italian chicken sandwich back a few days ago. (For a limited time only.) Get on it!

  6. I always have at least one (and then hate myself even more) every year when it comes around, because…ummm…i hate myself?

    Has anyone else had one this year and thought that the bbq is spicier than it used to be?

  7. I have not had a McRib in years and so I took McDonald’s up on one a couple of years ago and was very disappointed. I seem to remember kind of liking them, but the most recent version tasted just horrible. Either they have changed the product or my palette has changed…probably both. Either way, I agree with Brandon’s take – “I probably don’t need to eat another one of these again in my life.”

  8. I always get a few of these whenever they come around, and they’re still the best sandwich McDonald’s currently produces. Yes, the oversaturation of sauce can be a turn off, but when you get one that’s right, it’s just perfect. Fortunately one of my local McDonald’s gets it right every time.

    I was also extremely excited about the Italian chicken making a return to Burger King, but the losing streak continues. An abysmal reincarnation, super dry and flavorless.

  9. If they were smothered in Sweet Baby Rays BBQ sauce, I would try one. It’s the only BBQ sauce I like.

  10. The Mcrib is good but apparently this year they boosted the price. Two meals fo $20.00…0pted out to find a healthier meal for same price. That’s ends my seasonal McRib run.

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