Takeaway Truth: McDonald’s ‘Real Choices’ Chicken Salad Range

Takeaway Truth: McDonald’s ‘Real Choices’ Chicken Salad Range

Takeaway Truth is an occasional Lifehacker feature where we compare marketing images against what you actually get served. Today: McDonald’s Real Choices Crunchy Noodle Chicken Salad and Warm Chicken Salad.

Fast food restaurants have been known to gild the lily when it comes to accurate depictions of their menu items. Far too often, the mouth-watering feast on the poster turns out to be a limp and oily morsel. In a bid to keep the fry-jockey overlords honest, we’ve decided to document the reality of fast food — it was either that, or go postal like Michael Douglas in Falling Down.

In a bid to retain health-conscious customers, McDonald’s has introduced a new “Real Choices” concept to its menu with a focus on vaguely nutritious food options.

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The Real Choices range comprises a trio of chicken wraps reminiscent of Red Rooster’s ‘RoosterRap’ Range, a handful of breakfast items and two new salads: the Crunchy Noodle Chicken Salad and Warm Chicken Salad.

The Warm Chicken Salad comes with a choice of crispy or grilled “100% Australian” chicken, a mixture of iceberg and cos lettuce, red cabbage, carrot, red onion and grape tomatoes with a choice of Balsamic, Sweet Sesame and Zesty Portuguese dressings. The Crunchy Noodle Chicken Salad is basically the same meal with crunchy noodles added to the mix.

The Warm Grilled Chicken Salad has a total energy count of 745 kilojoules (or 1210kJ for the crispy chicken version) while the Crunchy Noodle Chicken Salad comes in at a heftier 2020kJ/2480kJ (for grilled and crispy chicken respectively.) [clear] [clear]

We wouldn’t have thought that a sprinkling of fried noodles would more than double the amount kilojoules, but there you go. It’s also worth noting that the above kilojoule count does not include the dressings, which pack in an additional 1040kJ, 951kJ and 103kJ for the Zesty Portuguese, Sweet Sesame and Balsamic, respectively.

You can check out an advertisement for the McDonald’s range below.

To find out how McDonald’s Real Choice salads compare to their zesty marketing images, we grabbed one of each from an outlet in Blaxland, NSW.

The first thing that stands out about these salads is their size — the bowl is much larger than the TV adverts let on, which is a refreshing reversal of the norm (i.e. — the real product usually looks smaller.) To put it another way, Seinfeld fans who regularly frequent McDonald’s finally have a “big salad” to call their own. Huzzah!

However, while being generously sized is definitely a bonus, that’s only part of the battle won. How do the actual ingredients stack up? Here’s how each salad looks compared to the image on McDonald’s website, along with our score for each:

McDonald’s ‘Real Choices’ Warm Chicken Salad

Takeaway Truth: McDonald’s ‘Real Choices’ Chicken Salad Range

There’s not much to complain about with this salad — the vegetables are abundant and colourfully crisp looking, the chicken portions are roughly similar (albeit less tactfully arranged) and there’s a good mix of ingredients instead of falling back on cheap lettuce. The amount of salad does seem slightly more generous in the advertised image, but we’ll put that down to a trick of perspective. For the introductory price of $6.95 this is pretty hard to fault.

Truth Rating: 9/10

McDonald’s ‘Real Choices’ Crunchy Noodle Chicken Salad

Takeaway Truth: McDonald’s ‘Real Choices’ Chicken Salad Range

Oh dear. Someone appears to have forgotten about our noodles. We checked the bag to see if you’re supposed to add them yourself but to no avail. While we’re sure this is a semi-isolated incident we can only judge by what we were given and this meal clearly fails to live up to its promise (“crunchy noodles” is even in the product name!) In addition to the missing noodles, the chicken crumbs appear coarser and decidedly less golden. The salad is suspiciously low in the bowl too.

Truth Rating: 5/10

All in all, the Real Choices Chicken Salad Range is a worthy addition to Ronald’s menu. Provided your local store has adequately trained staff who don’t forget to add the noodles, you can expect the marketing to match the real thing.

Which fast food franchise or menu item would you like us to tackle next? Let us know in the comments section below.


  • All things considered, if you rearranged the chicken to be neat on top i think it would look the same, id have given it a 7 or 8.

    • Agreed. The Crunchy Noodle Chicken Salad lost extra points for neglecting to include the crunchy noodles. Kind of a big oversight.

      • Do you think the addition of crunchy noodles means you get less salad? Of course in your case they forgot the noodles. And I sincerely doubt crunchy noodle salad would require you to add your own noodles.

        • As someone who works at McDonalds, I can assure you, both the Warm and the Crunchy Noodle salads are expected to have the same amount of salad.
          The difference pictured above would of been due to employee negligence (missing noodles and lack of actual salad)

          If prepared properly, the Crunchy Noodle salad should look exactly like the Warm salad, with the addition of noodles. The hefty increase in kilojoules can be attributed to the fact that they’re deep fried. Surprising how much that can add >.>

  • Slightly off-topic (but mentioned at the top of the article), the new breakfast burrito was pretty good. I got the one without sausage (urgh).

    • I had one the other day, it would have got 4/10 for presentation (should be a burrito, not a taco people!)
      But an 11/10 for taste. MY GOD

  • The main difference that stands out to me is the large chunks of onion. The onion is still in rings in the advertised images, but much thinner ones.

  • given my extensive history eating mcdonalds, i would think that the massive jump in kilojoules between the two salads is not only due to the noodles but also that the crunchy noodle salad appears to be using crispy (battered) chicken instead of the grilled chicken that is found in the other one

    • Both salads offer a grilled or crispy chicken option and the kJ count is included for all four. So it has nothing to do with the type of chicken.

  • Wow, they’ve done pretty well with the presentation, especially compared to the burgers.

  • Out of interest, if the product you received was “defective” (as in the case of the noodle one) wouldn’t it be your right to get it exchanged? I mean it’s not really a fair comparison if it’s only a one-off happening with one lazy guy in one branch – and not broadly reflective of the experience of your general audience who would be more likely to get one *with* noodles.

    • Very much true. Even if that salad did have noodles, you could demand an exchange based solely off the fact it contains almost half the salad it’s meant to.

  • same thing happened to me.they forgot to add noodle to my salad.it happened very often, i guess..

  • Just tried the warm salad with grilled chicken. Pretty impressed! A couple of the grape tomatoes seemed a bit old when I bit into them but I’ve had the same issue with their previous salads so I’ve come to expect that! Yes the Portuguese dressing has a heap of calories but they also give you enough to drown the salad so if you only use 1/5 of it you still get the nice flavour for a reasonable number of calories overall. Very dissappointed with their wraps though. The old wraps were so much nicer and reasonably healthy. They have changed the bread to a soggy burrito bread and all of them now have more calories than a Big Mac!

  • I have just bought a chicken burger from Macdonalds in Erindale. It has to be the worst presented lump of hydrocarbons I’ve ever seen. I felt cheated. Then I thought that this might be self-regulation by Macdonalds in an attempt to turn the public off their product. Keep up the good work Maccers, Erindale.

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