What You Need to Know About Grilled Fast Food

What You Need to Know About Grilled Fast Food

You’ve probably noticed all the added grill menu options at your local fast food joints for the summer, but they may not be the real-deal-over-the-fire-char you expect.

How can you tell it’s really been cooked over that open flame?

It should come as no surprise that stylists utilize tricks of the trade to make food appear more appetizing in commercials. So, you may not be getting grilled meat at all. This is how you can be sure.

Faking it > making it


For consumers, it’s often about visual perception over the actual taste when it comes to grilled fast food.

“It’s important to see the grill marks [on food products] because that is what makes it ‘grilled.’ Even if the brand uses a smoke flavour and doesn’t actually grill the meat, in advertising and on packaging the grill marks work as a visual cue for the consumer,” says food stylist Claudia Ficca.

Most of the frozen meats that you get served at chain fast food joints go through a machine that applies near-perfect grill marks onto them before being frozen and packaged. The faux grill marks save time for line cooks, while giving that visual us consumers are looking for in our grilled meat.

This extends outside of fast food restaurants, too; you can find a number of frozen meat options with pre-grilled marks.

Related: Is it time to give bug burgers a chance?

The real deal grillers

If you’re a char purist, not to worry – not all fast food restaurants use grill stamps on their patties. Burger King, for example, is one of the largest chains that flame-grills their beef—which they’ve been doing since 1954.

Photo Credit: Breaking the Walls/Shutterstock.com; Chase Clausen/Shutterstock.com

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