Review: Fish McBites from McDonald’s

Let’s be honest here, the majority of us choose a burger or chicken over fish.  Fish is clearly the #3 animal protein for most of the year, but when the season of Lent approaches, the seafood onslaught begins.  Seafood offerings have dominated GrubGrade news this week as every company looks to capitalize on those abstaining from what they really want… anything but fish.  The only time I really consider fish at a fast food place is when I’m bombarded by the ads that always run around this time of year.  Fish McBites go nationwide on Fat Tuesday, February 12th, but my local McDonald’s started early. Fish McBites

McDonald’s describes their Fish McBites like this:

Bite through crispy tender pieces of poppable white, flaky Alaskan Pollock.  First taste the crisp seasoned coating, then plunge deep into a creamy, tangy tartar sauce.  Repeat until satisfied.

Fish McBites first went into testing early last year and it was only a matter of time that the rest of us would be indulging too.  We went through the rounds of Chicken McBites and the spicy version while no one really was thinking, “oh dude, Fish McBites are gonna be coming out next!”  A bite-sized, poppable food is perfect fast food grub and it’s not too much of a far out idea to batter and bread some little morsels of anything and sell it to the hungry. 

McDonald's Fish McBitesSo enter the season of Lent… this is just something that had to be done.  Usually around this time of year we’re getting special prices on the normally grossly overpriced McDonald’s Filet-O-Fish and those specials will still be appearing in your region no doubt.  The classic fish sandwich will take the backseat this year as these little fish nuggets called McBites take the drivers seat.  Speaking of driving…  Fish McBites take advantage of a handy box for grubbing on the go complete with a place for the ubiquitous tartar dipping sauce.  Like the Chicken McBites that came before it, Fish McBites will fit in your vehicles cup holder while bread crumbs litter everything else.Fish McBites from McDonald'sTaste-wise, you’ll be entering familiar territory with Fish McBites.  It’s consistent with the taste of the Filet-O-Fish patty even though the breading is completely different.  The breading doesn’t offer much of any updated flavor.  It’s a light and dusty breading that doesn’t overpower as a crust and lets the chunk of fish it’s enveloping still shine through.  We’re dealing with fish here and it’s more delicate than a chicken breast morsel so getting down deep into the tartar sauce towards the end was a little tricky holding things together, but I’m a pro.  As always, tartar sauce is the safe and expected dipping sauce choice providing the creamy balance to the crusty fish texture.Fish McBites McDonald'sAs expected, my fingers got more greasy and crumb-y than they normally would with the standard Chicken McNuggets or cousin Chicken McBites.  Not a complaint, just an observation… fish clearly doesn’t work as well as chicken for a breaded nugget.  Uncle Ted and Bobby once told me that fish don’t stink… under the water the fish don’t stink.  Fish McBites stink, it’s fish.  My son Ozzy caught an instant whiff and was all up in my GrubGrade reviewing procedures (see below).  McDonalds Fish McBitesYou’ve got three size choices with Fish Mcbites: a $2.29 snack size, a $3.29 regular size, and a $5.29 shareable size.  I went with the regular for $3.29 and felt a bit gypped.  My previous adventures with Chicken McBites had my box overflowing while Fish McBites left me with a feeling that I just opened a 60% full bag of potato chips.  On a positive, unlike like the Chicken McBites, there were no random pieces of meatless crust floating about.  Down to my last Fish McBite, each was full and consistent and perfectly intact.  I came away from Fish McBites neither impressed nor underwhelmed.  They were just about what I expected: gimmicky.  I’m not the biggest Filet-O-Fish lover, but I still missed the soft, steamed bun and sliver of American cheese for the first time ever.

Pros: Full McBites, no random pieces of crust strewn about. Packaging is good, not great (improve the sauce holder). Tartar sauce.

Cons: Fish is pricier than chicken and doesn't taste as good or have the versatility with sauce choices in my opinion. Spicy Fish McBites should have been an option right off the bat.

Taste: 5.75/10
Value: 5.75/10
Grubbing on-the-go: 7.00/10
Price: $3.29 regular size

Overall GrubGrade: 5.75/10

More Info:
Nutrition Facts:
Snack  - 250 calories
Regular - 370 calories
Shareable - 740 calories

30 comments on “Review: Fish McBites from McDonald’s

  1. NayNay20 says:

    I had it when it was in test phases in TX and I felt the same way. Even though I don’t love the sandwich, I missed the bun and cheese for some odd reason.

  2. Roger C. says:

    You saved me some money.

  3. Ljay says:

    I eat fish often and of it is probably my favorite protein (just finished off a nice piece of grilled salmon about 5 minutes ago). Unfortunately, the filet o fish sandwich is a mere shell of it’s former self. The beauty of that sandwich was a nice crispy exterior, the soft bun, and a dollop of tarter sauce. Pre-cooking has, imo, destroyed all flavor and all of the freshly cooked textures you would normally get from McDonalds products like their quarter pounder and their filet o’fish.

    As a lover of fish, I will give these a shot when they come to town but I’m just about all in with pre-cooked food from this place. Of course, I only eat there about once a year anyway so I doubt they will be wondering where the revenue went when I stop darkening their doorway.

    • Roger C. says:

      I agree, McDonald’s has got to change the way they cook their food now. I watched a show on MSNBC about McDonald’s. Just disgusting. Everything is pre-done now, basically. Get rid of a few of the 10,000 items on that menu and do your food properly!!!

      • Raiders757 says:

        I agree, Rodger. Especially with that last part. I think that’s a problem with a lot of fast food chains as well as a lot of other restaurants and casual dining places. The menus are getting packed with far too many items and it seems to affect the quality of the food whether it was great or even mediocre to begin with.

        I’ve always believed that eating establishments are better off concentrating on the few items they do best and leave the rest off the menu. I don’t need special “limited time offers” or a vast selection to bring me through the door. Good food is what attracts me, and if I haven’t been in a while, offer up a BOGO or some coupons to get me to return.

    • Dilbert says:

      Pre-cooked tastes better to me. Oh well, to each his/her own.

  4. rob says:

    I don’t think they offer a big enough advantage over chicken to be worth bothering with.

  5. kikurage says:

    Cat’s look is speaking a lot of things about McBites. This is not a fish dish.

  6. Sherry says:

    I think I might wait for their $1 promotion later in the month… This doesn’t seem like a product worth its original price.

  7. Rusty Shackleford says:

    The bun and the cheese instead of lettuce are really the strongest points of the fish filet… I mean, all these fast food burgers use cod, the only difference is in the bun and cheese vs lettuce.. Anyway, I’ll stick to the fish filet if I want fish from mcdonalds, or the arby’s fish sandwich if it sticks around.. at least it’s a bigger cod serving than the similar BK and Wendy’s sandwiches.

  8. Thomas says:

    Price is 4, 5 and 7 dollars in Southern California, what a joke

  9. Justin Theo says:

    Great review. I had these last night, pretty mediocre.

  10. Suzanne says:

    McDonald’s is supposedly trying to rebrand itself as healthier, yet they continue down the path of exponentially adding fat and carbs with these little fried nuggets. Higher profits for them, unhealthier for us, per usual.

  11. Elise says:

    “My son Ozzy” haha awesome

  12. Just had them a few minutes ago, not impressed. Lacked flavor and the tartar sauce was almost tasteless. Would not buy again, not even for $1.

  13. Richard says:

    4, 5, and 7!?!?!?

    Well I only paid 3.29 for the regular serving. I thought they tasted good.

  14. MP says:

    Back in the late 1990s / early 2000s, McD’s used to have the $1.99 Filet-o-Fish combo meal with small fries & Mr Pibb. I loved it so much I would usually get 2 & sometimes got 3. But of course, I ended up with too many bad ones; some over-seasoned, some flimsy coating while others were hard as a rock; some cold while others piping hot. Then I realized that I enjoyed the bun, cheese, tartar sauce & breading more than any part of the fish itself. That’s when I decided to give up McDonald’s for good & never looked back.

    FoF was $1.59 & from what I’m reading, it sounds like a total rip-off now. The fish meat itself is a total joke & should be $1.50; tops.

  15. Ty Gerhardt says:

    I tried them the other day with fries. I was impressed. You get a bigger fish bite than you do with the FOF and the protein to calorie ratio is higher without the bun and cheese.

    PRO TIP: Malt vinegar as a dipping sauce makes them sing. Way better than the tartar sauce. I hope they make them a permanent part if the menu. Perfect for a quick fish and chips fix.

  16. Nick says:

    They come in four sizes. Happy Meal (7 Pieces), Snack (10 Pieces), Regular (15 Pieces) and Shareable (30 Pieces). The snack bites were by weight, and they were never weighed before sending out to the customers, so many workers didn’t know the proper amounts and over stuffed the boxes. Changing this for the bites allows the customer to know exactly how many bites they are getting in each box.

    Also, as you noted, the chicken bites also had random crumbs of no chicken (and, unfortunately, it was all too common to have mostly crumbs and very few large pieces of chicken), so while it may seem that the boxes are less full, they are more full of meat this time around, which should make you feel less gypped, as you are able to eat the full amount of the meat product that you paid for.

  17. Mary says:

    Today at lunch they had an employee come by the tables and offer the diners free samples. I must say it’s not that bad but then I don’t have a refine taste. Not a fan of tartar sauce but I may consider that Malt Vinegar alternative that Ty is suggesting.

  18. Tom B says:

    Does anyone know if they will still be doing the actual Filet-o-Fish sandwich promotions again this year? I think last year in my (Minnesota) market they were 2/$3.33 but today is Ash Wednesday and I’m not seeing anything for the sandwich, only these little bites. It says in the article they will “no doubt” be happening and I sure hope so!

    • Ray180 says:

      I’ve seen 2 for $3 promo on the sandwich for the last 2 or 3 weeks in my area. Pretty sure it’s still going on too. I also just got a new coupon book in the mail yesterday (Love Those!) and it has a buy 1 get 1 free for the fish sandwich, but that actually costs more than the 2 for $3. Happy fishin’!

  19. Ray180 says:

    I had these for the first time yesterday and I think Ryan said it best: “I came away from Fish McBites neither impressed nor underwhelmed.” They were okay but nothing great. I can’t imagine I’ll ever pay full price for them.

    Perhaps with some real tartar sauce (or vinegar) they would be better. That tartar sauce in the cup is an embarrassment to tartar sauce everywhere… flavorless and too thin. I ended up dipping my bites in ketchup, which isn’t a terrible idea since I ate my fish sticks that way as a kid. Perhaps I can request the fish sandwich tartar sauce like someone else suggested.

  20. I love the new Fish McBites. It’s always nice to have other options if you don’t feel like eating red meat. My 12 year old twins love them too! The breaking adds a significant amount of carbs however (so I don’t eat more than a small handful). Has anyone tried the Fish McBites App?

  21. Lily says:

    Love these! Im surprised at the low rating. I give it a 9/10

  22. Oldseabass says:

    Here’s the thing: the McD fish sandwich is plain, bun over microwaved, fish is not substantial for the price. Breading on that puppy is tasteless. Extremely institutional high school fair. While Pollack is a fine choice for fried fish, their sandwich is really not thick enough to justify the cost. The breading is not crunchy and tasteless. Arby’s right now has the best fish sandwich going on . Abdows had the best ever. Do you recall? Well back to the “fish bites” or what ever-simply stupid. Not in a real world as the test kitchen propounded.Stark-dim-and silly. Kind of like when they came out with the double cheese burger and you wanted lettuce and tom on it and it was a buck extra-stupid corporate crap. I will do Windy’s first when they do fish, and Arby second if thet continue.

  23. […] New to the Long John Silver’s menu is Dippin’ Fish Strips.  Priced at $2.99 for the Snack Box which comes with five fish strips and your choice of sauce.  The Snack Box has a compartment for your dipping sauce like McDonald’s Fish McBites. […]

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