We’re Lukewarm on McDonald’s Newest Pastry

Are these things meant to be eaten hot? We're not so sure.

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cheese danish
Photo: Dennis Lee

McDonald’s released a limited-time addition to the McCafé Bakery lineup this week: the Cheese Danish, not seen on the McDonald’s menu since its introduction (and subsequent disappearance) in the 1980s. While a cheese danish probably doesn’t sound all that novel, it’s possible the throwback item is meant to evoke a sense of nostalgia. (I’m an early 80s baby and do not remember the danish.) Regardless, it definitely wants to call to mind fall flavor, with the announcement boldly declaring, “There’s a New Fall Treat in Town.

What is the McDonald’s Cheese Danish?

The press release describes the product as “flakey pastry with a sweet cream cheese filling and topped with a buttery streusel and light vanilla drizzle.” It also notes that this danish is “a fresh take” on the 1980s version, though it doesn’t specify what’s been upgraded in the latest release.

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I visited my nearest McDonald’s and ordered a Cheese Danish from the kiosk to go. When I was handed the bag, I realized that the bag was warm, very warm. Hot, even. So I stopped at the countertop and pulled it out—sure enough, the danish was piping hot. So hot, in fact, it was borderline scalding. I used a fork to cut it up and examined it a little closer.

Image for article titled We’re Lukewarm on McDonald’s Newest Pastry
Photo: Dennis Lee
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Have you ever had a hot cheese danish before? I’m used to them being room temperature, but perhaps that’s because the majority of my cheese danish experiences have involved prepackaged versions from the grocery store. I just assumed that’s how you ate them. Other contexts in which the cheese danish appears, like hotel breakfast buffets, similarly suggest the pastry is meant to be eaten at room temp.

How does the McDonald’s Cheese Danish taste?

I rarely eat a cheese danish, but when I do, I’m in complete bliss. There’s something about that soft pastry with a tangy cream cheese filling and streusel crumble that hits a very specific craving. But when a cheese danish is served as hot, as I received it at McDonald’s, the pastry dough becomes extremely soft, steamed by the enclosed heat, and the cream cheese in the center changes from an opaque creamy cool center to a lava-like gel.

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This changes the experience immensely. Maybe it’s because I’m used to a cheese danish being scarfable at room temperature and I’m just a creature of habit who felt slowed down by the scalding temps. Warmed this way, it’s virtually unrecognizable as a danish, aside from the cream cheese flavor, which has been muted by the heat. It’s not to say the pastry is terrible this way, just that the temperature altered its properties quite a bit. Aside from that, it’s a serviceable pastry that is perfectly middling, if not a little too sweet.

When I asked a McDonald’s rep if the Cheese Danish is heated up by default, I was told that they are served heated upon request, and that the only bakery items typically served hot by default are cinnamon rolls. The McDonald’s press release does not mention anything about a hot danish, and I did not request one.

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After nosing around on YouTube, I found that other McDonald’s customers received varying products. One YouTuber, The Tasting Diva, mentioned that hers was served warm, and YouTuber Casual Gamer Reed confirmed the same thing. But then one YouTube user, Peep This Out, says his was served at room temp.

McDonald’s POV: NEW Cheese Danish

A more definitive answer comes from user Stephen Patula, who appears to be an actual McDonald’s employee. He films himself in the video above preparing a Cheese Danish, which he pops into the microwave and enjoys for himself. (I realize that if you’re an employee you may be allowed liberties that customers don’t have, like direct access to the kitchen’s microwave, so take this how you will.)

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Why am I engaging in such deep investigative journalism about the temperature of a danish? Because in the end, I think I just like room temperature danishes better. Heated up, this breakfast pastry gets bumped down a little in grade, but when it cooled to room temp at my desk later on, I liked it a little better. It’s certainly a richer pastry than the Glazed Pull-Apart Donut, but the danish is also messier than most other items in McDonald’s McCafe Bakery pastry lineup, so not great for a road trip or a commute.

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While I wouldn’t go out of my way for this one, if you’re a pastry-and-coffee person, the new Cheese Danish from McDonald’s is fine if nothing remarkable (and costs $2.59 at my location). My advice is to order from an employee at the counter rather than using the kiosk if you want to specify the temperature of your danish.