On April 12, McDonald’s released the limited-time-only Strawberry Shortcake McFlurry “just in time for spring.” As a concept, strawberry shortcake is a fairly safe bet; you can’t really go wrong with fruit and cake crumbles mixed into vanilla soft serve, right? These are all natural buddies in dessert. So it’s all the more disappointing to discover that McDonald’s latest release is a forgettable flop, thanks to a crucial misstep.
I began to have my doubts when I read the official description for this McFlurry back in March. As a brand rep confirmed to Good Morning America, the dessert features “signature creamy vanilla soft serve, strawberry-flavored clusters and crispy, butter shortbread cookies.” Strawberry-flavored? Clusters? No chunks of actual frozen fruit? No sauce, syrup, or other remotely liquid component? Shortbread cookies instead of shortcake crumbles? It all struck me as a series of curious decisions. I mean, if someone orders anything strawberry shortcake flavored, it’s probably because they like the strawberries.
What does McDonald’s Strawberry Shortcake McFlurry taste like?
I ordered this McFlurry myself to be sure I wasn’t being overly cynical. It features crunchy pink bits unevenly mixed into the soft serve, along with some crunchy shortbread bits. The texture of the pink crunchies is similar to Grape-Nuts (maybe slightly less gravelly), and their flavor is artificial in a strawberry lip balm sort of way. There’s less to be said about the cookie bits, which are just sort of there, adding virtually the same texture as the pink stuff but not much of its own flavor. Since this is a frozen dessert, all the flavors were muted even further.
Between this disappointing McFlurry flavor, the relatively uninspired Smoky BLT Quarter Pounder, and the Bacon Ranch McCrispy (a fried chicken sandwich with ranch and bacon), there just hasn’t been a lot of spark in McDonald’s new stuff in 2023. If the McDonald’s R&D team is in a creative slump, that’s okay. We’ve got ideas.
Almost any other set of creative decisions would have made this McFlurry better. I mean, McDonald’s has been known to sell strawberry ice cream sundaes with standard strawberry topping, both in the United States and other markets; a component like that would have improved the Strawberry Shortcake McFlurry exponentially. Hell, you wouldn’t even need chunks of strawberry or real fruit puree in there—even an artificially colored/flavored syrup would have made it nicer than flavor-infused cereal bits. The vibes just feel off in every conceivable way.
It turns out I’m not the only one who feels this way about the Strawberry Shortcake McFlurry. Delish found very mixed reactions to the thing across social media. I know from experience that developing limited-time offerings takes a lot of time and effort, but it seems odd to me that this McFlurry made it through that whole process without anyone asking whether it could be any better. Desserts are an oft-neglected category in fast food (though they really shouldn’t be), and the Strawberry Shortcake McFlurry just seems to confirm that frozen treats will always play second fiddle to the hot stuff.
This is the best McDonald’s McFlurry
If you’re in the mood to follow up your burger with something sweet, skip the Strawberry Shortcake McFlurry. Instead, follow my expert advice for the best McDonald’s McFlurry experience imaginable: Order a regular Oreo McFlurry, then add hot fudge. It costs a little extra, but the contrasting warmth of the fudge does truly amazing things to the soft serve, and it’s sure to be better than any limited-time offering in the McFlurry lineup.
The Strawberry Shortcake McFlurry should have been an easy hit, and it’s frustrating to see McDonald’s miss the mark here. Whatever the team is cooking up next, let’s hope it’s something they’re genuinely enthusiastic about, because surely we’ll be able to taste it.