When Does McDonald’s Serve Lunch?

From the classic Big Mac to the Egg McMuffin, McDonald’s serves almost anything you can imagine for every meal of the day.

They have the classic nuggets, burgers, fries plus foods like fish, and coffee, and smoothies. And other countries also carry local menu items like rice in Asia, gazpacho in Spain, and tzatziki wraps in Croatia.

While you may get a craving for burgers early in the morning, McDonald’s does not serve burgers during their breakfast time.

You can get burgers only during their lunchtime. Over 90% of Mcdonald’s franchise owners have their own operating hours, but the majority of them have the same breakfast and lunchtime hours.

McDonald’s starts serving lunch at 10:30 am on Monday through Friday, and 11:00 am on Saturdays and Sundays. McDonald’s stops serving lunch menu at their closing time or 5:00 am if it is a 24-hour location.

Lunch on Saturdays and Sundays starts 30 minutes later because they have higher demands for breakfast on the weekends.

McDonald’s does not serve lunch all day and is unlikely to do so in the future due to lower demand for burgers in the morning.

Regular McDonald’s Location

Most McDonald’s locations with regular business hours open from 5:00am to 11:00pm, some opens even earlier at 4:00am and close later at midnight.

Mon-FriSat & Sun
Breakfast StartAt OpeningAt Opening
Breakfast End10:30 AM11:00 AM
Lunch Starts10:30 AM11:00 AM
Lunch EndAt ClosingAt Closing

24 Hour McDonald’s Location

Mon-FriSat & Sun
Breakfast Start5:00 AM5:00 AM
Breakfast End10:30 AM11:00 AM
Lunch Starts10:30 AM11:00 AM
Lunch End5:00 AM5:00 AM

McDonald’s has been serving breakfast since 1975. In 2015, the company moved to an all-day breakfast menu, but in 2020 amidst the pandemic, McDonald’s breakfast again returned to only the morning hours to cut costs and customer wait times.

Even 24-hour locations do not serve the entire menu all day because machines have to be turned off and cleaned at some point. McDonald’s menu and hours vary widely from country to country.

What About 24 Hour Locations?

McDonald’s does not serve lunch all-day. They only serve burgers, fries, nuggets and non-breakfast sandwiches after 10:30 am until closing. In some locations, lunch hours start at 11 am and it may vary from weekdays to weekends with some locations opting to serve lunch later on the weekends.

24-hour McDonald’s locations also cannot serve lunch all-day because they have to shut down the grill for a few hours every day for cleaning. The actual time when equipment is off for maintenance and cleaning will vary depending on the location.

If you are by a 24-hour McDonald’s, and not sure when they are available for burgers and fries the best thing to do is call ahead and ask. These McDonald’s menu items are only available after 10:30 am:

  • Burgers
    • Big Mac
    • Quarter Pounder with Cheese
    • Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese
    • Quarter Pounder with Cheese Deluxe
    • McDouble
    • Quarter Pounder with Cheese Bacon
    • Cheeseburger
    • Double Cheeseburger
    • Hamburger
  • Chicken and Sandwiches
    • McRib
    • McNuggets
    • Buttermilk Crispy Chicken Sandwich
    • McChicken
    • Filet-o-Fish
  • World Famous Fries
  • Happy Meal

Of course, some locations have more on the menu and McDonald’s is known to offer local cuisine items. A good rule of thumb is that burgers, chicken, fish and fries are considered main menu items and only available for lunch and dinner hours. Here is a glance at alternatives to McDonalds for lunch time:

AlternativesHours
In-n-out10:30 am – 1 am
Wendy’sAfter 10:30 am
Burger KingAfter 10:30 am at most locations
WhataburgerAll-day
Carl’s JrAll-day
Culver’sAfter 10:30 am

You can get a burger at McDonald’s starting at 10:30 am at most locations. However, some locations shift from breakfast to lunch at 11 am. From 5 am or opening to mid-morning, McDonald’s just offers their breakfast menu items and McCafé bakery items.

According to a former McDonald’s employee of 25 years, when McDonalds first introduced breakfast in the 1970s, McDonald’s employees were told to ‘convert the customer’ the breakfast. They could not serve breakfast and lunch at the same time.

However, there is plenty to choose from on the McDonald’s breakfast menu!

No Burgers in the Morning (Reasons)

The top two reasons why McDonald’s doesn’t serve burgers in the morning are the cost and low demand. According to what a company spokesperson told the Wall Street Journal in 2018, “the demand isn’t strong enough to warrant running the burger grill in the morning.”

However, there are several other reasons why McDonald’s doesn’t serve burgers in the morning. For instance, according to the McDonald’s site, breakfast items and main menu items have to be cooked at different temperatures, but on the same stoves. So, they can’t cook both at the same time with their limited space.

This makes sense as you can’t cook eggs and a hamburger at the same temperature, otherwise, you will either overcook the eggs or undercook the burger.

The transition from breakfast to lunch also takes time, and from 10 am to 11 am McDonald’s employees have to clean the cooking areas, change out condiments and food, and prepare for the lunch rush.

However, at some point, McDonald’s has solved the issue of cooking breakfast and lunch simultaneously when they started offering breakfast all-day. Although, with all-day breakfast, it can take longer to get food on the table.

Another reason McDonald’s doesn’t serve burgers in the morning is that it would extend customer wait time as they have to switch off cook eggs and burgers on the same equipment but at different temperatures.

Although, with McDonald’s average wait time of five minutes some customers argue that they would be willing to wait longer for a burger in the morning.

Some people have reported getting a burger for breakfast at McDonald’s when the location is very slow, and they aren’t in a hurry. In some cases, if the employees are extremely nice and willing to give the customer what they want, you may be able to get a burger before 10:30 am.

However, you should consider how busy the restaurant is and how much time you’re willing to wait for your food before asking. And don’t be upset if they say no. It just never hurts to ask!

McDonald’s Closing time for Lunch

McDonald’s (regular) stops serving Lunch & Dinner at their closing time.

McDonald’s dinner and lunch menu are essentially the same and they only switch between their breakfast menu and main menu.

McDonald’s (24 hours) stop serving Lunch & Dinner at 5:00 am.

Even though McDonald’s 24-hour locations never ‘close’, they still have to shut off the grill and equipment for cleaning every daily. The times for when they shut down equipment may vary by location.

So, the availably of menu items at McDonald’s after hours may vary by location. To be sure you do not waste a trip, you can always call ahead to see if they’re still serving McFlurry’s or burgers late at night.

Additionally, even if McDonald’s locations are open 24 hours, many close their dining area after 11 pm and only have the driver-through available from 11 pm to 5 am (at times when government restrictions allow for open dining areas, otherwise it is drive-through only, all-day).

More McDonald’s Questions Answered

McDonald’s fries are considered a main menu item at McDonalds, which are only available after 10:30 am until closing. For most 24-hour locations, McDonald’s fries are not available from 5 am to 11 am.

According to a former McDonald’s employee, many locations turn off their ice cream machines every night from 1 am to 2 am and turn them back on around 5 am or 6 am. This is because it’s not good for the machines to stay on 24/7.

The equipment needs to rest and be cleaned sometimes. Ultimately, McDonald’s ice cream availability depends on the location (and whether or not the machine is broken!)

McCafe coffee drinks and smoothies are available any time of day at most locations. In fact, almost all McDonald’s drinks, including sodas, are available anytime the restaurant is open.

The reason that burgers, nuggets and fries are only available during lunch hours is that they have to be cooked separately from breakfast items.

Drinks, on the other hand, can be made at any time of day and don’t have to share equipment as burgers and eggs do.