Chinese McDonalds 🍟 vs Chinese KFC 🍗 Who is REALLY Best?

Chinese McDonalds vs Chinese KFC 🥊 Head To Head

Chinese Mcdonald’s and Chinese KFC are extremely popular fast food outlets in China but also big competitors.

Although KFC currently has a hold over the market, you might be wondering, who is the better one in China?

So we broke down both of their histories and current offers. Which do you prefer? Why not take a read then tell us in the comments below!

If you’re interested in learning about food in general in Chinese, check out our video below.

Chinese McDonalds vs Chinese KFC || Fast Food in China

Chinese McDonalds vs Chinese KFC || McDonalds in China

Chinese McDonalds vs Chinese KFC || KFC in China

Chinese McDonalds vs Chinese KFC || Who is Best

Fast Food in China 🍟 🇨🇳

Fast food (快餐 – kuàicān) is just as popular in China as it is everywhere else in the world.

Chinese McDonalds vs Chinese KFC

Unlike in the West though, China has both traditional and local fast food outlets with unique dishes as well as big international brands to choose from.

Chinese Mcdonald’s and Chinese KFC have to work a lot harder to earn their customers.

Food in China is very important, often seen as therapy and the solution to illness and disease, so Chinese McDonalds and Chinese KFC have to fit around traditions.

Brand Names in Chinese

Brands like McDonalds were initially eaten by richer families and it was seen as a sign of wealth to eat there, but this changed over time.

Although the food isn’t as cheap as local dishes, most fast food chains offer deals, discounts and very agreeable membership deals, rewarding customers for loyalty.

Fast food outlets are also notorious for their extremely clean premises which interestingly, are one of the biggest reasons people continue to eat at them.

McDonalds 麦当劳(màidāngláo) 🍟

Chinese McDonalds hanzi, logo and pinyin

(24 xiǎoshí dàimìng, 30 fēnzhōng bì dá)
“Arrive on time within 30 minutes, 24 hours a day” is the McDonalds China promise.

Mcdonald’s opened its first franchise in China in 1990 and it plans to have over 5,000 stores in the country by 2022.

At one point in history, Beijing was home to the largest Mcdonald’s in the world, but it was later closed to make way for a shopping mall instead.

The company’s registered name in China was changed to golden arches in 2017 but all stores, delivery apps and citizens still call the store màidāngláo.

They regularly trend for offering some exciting limited edition dishes, which have included a spam burger with oreo cookie crumb filling and mayo, spicy chilli oil ice cream and a black and white burger bun combo that had many conspiracy theories behind it.

Big Potato Day

Chinese McDonalds Happy Meal hanzi, pinyin and image

McDonald’s also makes a great effort to contribute to specific local conditions, having created Big Potato Day, a pun to play on the phrase Dashu (大暑 – dàshǔ) which means great heat (but can also mean big potato).

This tradition began in 2015 for the franchise.

This is the annual period of time when China has its longest, hottest days of the year.

Mcdonald’s invites customers to come “以薯消暑” (yǐ shǔ xiāoshǔ) which translates to ‘cool off the heat with potatoes’.

They’ll typically release limited edition gifts, coupons for discounts and other marketing materials as incentives for customers to visit during this time period.

In 2018, Chinese McDonalds released umbrellas shaped like fries, in 2019 bucket hats and glasses shaped like fries and most recently in 2020, ‘meow meow potato clips’.

These cat paw-shaped finger gloves can be used to pick up chips without physically touching them, avoiding greasy fingers. Not convinced?

Here’s a link to them explaining (in Chinese) how to use them.

What To Order

Here’s our list of the most common choices at Chinese McDonalds, combined with a couple of Chinese specialties you can’t miss if you want to combine your favourite fast food with Chinese tradition.

吉士汉堡包 (Jí shì hànbǎobāo)Cheeseburger
巨无霸 (Jù wú bà)Big Mac
开心乐园餐 (Kāixīn lèyuán cān)Happy Meal
麦乐鸡 (Mài lè jī)Chicken Nuggets
双层吉士汉堡 (Shuāng céng jí shì hànbǎo)Double Cheeseburger
薯条 (Shǔ tiáo)Fries
香芋派 (Xiāng yù pài)Taro pie
菠萝派 (Bōluó pài)Pineapple pie
原味珍珠奶茶 (Yuánwèi zhēnzhū nǎichá)Original Pearl Milk Tea
优品豆浆 (Yōu pǐn dòujiāng)Traditional Soy Milk
咸蛋黄鸡丝粥 (Xián dànhuáng jī sī zhōu)Congee with Chicken and Egg
烟肉蛋麦满分 (Yān ròu dàn mài mǎnfēn)Egg, Bacon and Cheese McMuffin
猪柳蛋麦满分 (Zhū liǔ dàn mài mǎnfēn)Egg, Sausage and Cheese McMuffin

KFC – 肯德基 (kěndéjī) 🍗

Chinese KFC hanzi, pinyin and logo

KFC opened its doors in China back in 1987.

It currently boasts more than 5,000 restaurants nationwide in around 1,100 cities in China.

It was the first fast food chain to open up there and still thrives today.

At the time of opening, its Beijing store actually broke a world record for being the biggest fast-food restaurant internationally!

KFC has integrated well into China, offering a combined selection of traditional Western and Chinese dishes. This of course all centre around its typical key ingredient – chicken, which we actually can tell you so much more about here!

The current owners of the KFC franchises in China also own the rights to Pizza Hut and Taco Bell there, so you just know they know how to deliver tasty food.

KFC specialises in Chicken based dishes but is also recognised for certain options we might not see in the west – including egg tarts and milk tea.

One key difference though is flavour – many of the chicken options are spicy.

K Pro – KFC With A Twist

KFC also listens to demand and acts on it. In 2017, they opened K Pro – a healthier, fancier version of KFC that is available only in China – so arguably the true Chinese KFC!

Portions are smaller and many locations don’t seem to be too far (physically) from the more traditional KFC restaurants.

Chinese KFC franchises are currently in Beijing, Hangzhou and Shanghai and they’re marketed at sophisticated diners and white collar workers, compared to the family and student vibes present in the usual KFC restaurants.

The menus offer include healthy salads, panini’s sweet potato fries and truffle on top of lightly fried chicken on seasonal menus that change regularly.

There are no bargain buckets or chicken combo meals.

Even the logo has shifted away from the more traditional colours to green, black and brown to allow for an entire brand image shift.

KFC understands a lot about marketing and has always remained focused on what parents want to see (meat-filled dishes with traditional options) compared to Mcdonald’s which aims its marketing directed at children.

As a result, K Pro, despite reservations, remains thriving.

Chinese Food Culture // The 8 Great Chinese Cuisines Thumbnail

Chinese Food Culture // The 8 Great Chinese Cuisines

Chinese cuisines have typically been divided into ‘Eight Great Cuisines’ as a means of simplifying this vast and complex tradition.

What To Order

脆皮鸡薯条单人餐 (Cuì pí jī shǔ tiáo dān rén cān)Chicken and fries single meal
鸡肫辣翅 (Jī zhūn là chì)Chicken gizzard and spicy wings
黄金脆皮鸡6块装 (Huángjīn cuì pí jī 6 kuài zhuāng)6 crispy chicken wings
劲爆鸡米花加点 (Jìngbào jī mǐhuā jiādiǎn)Popcorn chicken
黄金鸡块(5块)加点 (Huángjīn jī kuài (5 kuài) jiādiǎn)5 chicken nuggets
醇香土豆泥 (Chúnxiāng tǔdòu ní)Mashed potato with gravy
波纹薯条加点 (Bōwén shǔ tiáo jiādiǎn)Crinkled fries
避风塘酿翅1对 (Bìfēngtáng niàng chì 1 duì)Shrimped stuffed wings
肯德基金汤肥牛饭 (Kěndéjī jīntāng féi niú fàn)Beef and rice soup
20块辣翅 (20 Kuài là chì)20 pieces of spicy chicken
咸蛋黄奶盖奶茶 (Xián dànhuáng nǎi gài nǎichá)Milk tea with salted egg yolk
纯纯玉米饮 (Chún chún yùmǐ yǐn)A drink of pure corn
外送全家桶原鸡 (Wài sòng quánjiā tǒng yuán jī)Family bucket combo meal

Chinese KFC vs Chinese McDonalds // Who Wins?

There are some elements we can’t compare – both have branches that open 24/7, both deliver similar dishes we know from the West through a quick QR code and both consistently update their digital menus to meet new demands. They also both have laminated physical menus in English for customers who aren’t fluent in Chinese – handy!

However, that won’t stop us from comparing a couple of elements of Chinese Mcdonald’s and Chinese KFC to help you make your decision.

Disclaimer: All opinions put forward are subjective. Both restaurants have pros and cons.

– Selection

For selection, hand’s down we have to vote KFC.

They bring everything you’ll find at home, some traditional Chinese treats and a whole lot of combined, tasty snacks you can’t find anywhere else.

(Although for some, they might be a bit too adventurous for you).

Some of Chinese KFC's current 2021 dishes.
Images taken from the official KFC China website

KFC offers a wide range of tasty snacks and goes even further – offering chicken, chips and beer combos plus children’s meals that come with free books as a gift!

There are very few fast food restaurants offering Budweiser or any other beer alongside their child-friendly dishes. So Chinese KFC gets a 10/10 for their menu.

Chinese Mcdonald’s offers a very similar menu to what you’ll find at home with only a few additions.

Most of these additions are very in line with traditional Chinese dishes – soybean milk and congee (粥) for breakfast or a nice taro pie.

Some of Chinese Mcdonalds 2021 dishes
Images taken from the official McDonalds China website

The menu is significantly smaller with a more select combination of dishes on offer, however, for someone who is new to China, this can be refreshing.

KFC’s menu can be daunting for its sheer mass and long names which are much harder to translate or try and say at the checkout.

Mcdonald’s gets a 7/10 for its limited but manageable menu.

Chinese McDonalds

Rating: 7 out of 10.

Chinese KFC

Rating: 10 out of 10.

– Nutritional Transparency

McDonald’s very clearly shows the energy, protein, fat, carbohydrates, sodium and calcium each dish offers underneath with a clear description.

They also have a nutrition calculator available on the site and encourage customers to add together their dishes to understand the impact one meal has on their body.

However, the Chinese Mcdonald’s website (which is translatable into other languages if you’re using Google Chrome), boasts about how each meal is very healthy and filled with nutrition…

KFC also offers information about nutritional values on the website however it’s not as visible and needs to be found instead.

This is unsurprising as fast food consumption is rising in China hand in hand with obesity levels and many are blaming big food chains for this.

As people choose to continue eating from both KFC and Mcdonald’s though, KFC’s website loses it points for lack of transparency around ingredients and health.

Chinese McDonalds

Rating: 8 out of 10.

Chinese KFC

Rating: 7 out of 10.

– Price 💰

Neither are cheap.

If anything, both are actually more expensive than in the West when comparing average salaries and the prices of local fast food joints.

However, McDonalds and KFC both offer great discounts and combo meals. In fact, Chinese McDonald’s offers further loyalty rewards for customers who choose to download their app.

Their gifts are catered to the seasons and are arguably better than the ones we see in the West. So for price, both earn a respectable 5/10.

After all, neither are struggling for business in spite of costs as convenience and taste play a bigger role in the decision making.

Chinese McDonalds

Rating: 5 out of 10.

Chinese KFC

Rating: 5 out of 10.

In conclusion – both Chinese KFC and Chinese Mcdonald’s have their advantages and disadvantages. Ultimately, we can’t tell you who to go to but hopefully, after reading our advice and tips, you will find it easier to decide who to choose.

Chinese McDonalds

Rating: 7 out of 10.

Rating: 8 out of 10.

Rating: 5 out of 10.

Chinese KFC

Rating: 10 out of 10.

Rating: 7 out of 10.

Rating: 5 out of 10.
20 / 3022 / 30

Do you agree? Which is your favourite out of the two? Or is there another one you prefer?

Drop us a comment below and join the action!

Chinese McDonalds vs Chinese KFC – FAQs

What’s McDonalds called in Chinese?

McDonalds is 麦当劳 (màidāngláo) in Chinese.

What’s KFC called in Chinese?

KFC is 肯德基 (kěndéjī) in Chinese.

Is fast food in China the same as in the West?

Fast food (快餐 – kuàicān) in China is rich in variety. There are both local and Western options available to everyone.

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