I am currently am working on a custom theme. In this theme, I have a menu that I registered using register-nav-menu, and then I am displaying the menu to my web page using the wp_nav_menu function.

However, I like to retrieve the list of menu items only (the actual menu item names only that were used in wp-admin area to create the menu, and without any html), and I would like save that list of items to an array (i.e, not display it).

So, a psuedo code would look like this

$menu_items = get_list_of_items($name_of_menu); // $name_of_menu is the result of register-nav-menu, and get_list_of_items is the psuedo function
foreach ($menu_items as $item) {
    // do something with the item

Is there a way of doing so? Thanks.

4 Answers 4


wp_get_nav_menu_items would appear to be exactly what you require. It returns an array of menu objects.


As @vancoder mentions, wp_get_nav_menu_items() is the way to go, however I think a better detailed answer would be more helpful for people in the future.

Said function returns an array of WP_Post Object objects (so you access the values with an arrow, eg. $item->title).

For a basic setup, you could use the following:

$menuLocations = get_nav_menu_locations(); // Get our nav locations (set in our theme, usually functions.php)
                                           // This returns an array of menu locations ([LOCATION_NAME] = MENU_ID);

$menuID = $menuLocations['primary']; // Get the *primary* menu ID

$primaryNav = wp_get_nav_menu_items($menuID); // Get the array of wp objects, the nav items for our queried location.

Then you can just loop over that $primaryNav variable, for example:

foreach ( $primaryNav as $navItem ) {

    echo '<li><a href="'.$navItem->url.'" title="'.$navItem->title.'">'.$navItem->title.'</a></li>';

  • 1
    to me this returns "false"
    – John Smith
    Jan 24, 2018 at 9:43
  • 4
    Are you copy-pasting @JohnSmith? You'll need to use your menu's ID.
    – Brad Adams
    Feb 22, 2018 at 1:56
  • I found this far easier than using the walker class. Nice one!
    – Lee
    Mar 27, 2019 at 18:48

Modified version of above with recursive loops.

Add To Functions.php

function wp_get_menu_array($current_menu='Main Menu') {

    $menu_array = wp_get_nav_menu_items($current_menu);

    $menu = array();

    function populate_children($menu_array, $menu_item)
        $children = array();
        if (!empty($menu_array)){
            foreach ($menu_array as $k=>$m) {
                if ($m->menu_item_parent == $menu_item->ID) {
                    $children[$m->ID] = array();
                    $children[$m->ID]['ID'] = $m->ID;
                    $children[$m->ID]['title'] = $m->title;
                    $children[$m->ID]['url'] = $m->url;
                    $children[$m->ID]['children'] = populate_children($menu_array, $m);
        return $children;

    foreach ($menu_array as $m) {
        if (empty($m->menu_item_parent)) {
            $menu[$m->ID] = array();
            $menu[$m->ID]['ID'] = $m->ID;
            $menu[$m->ID]['title'] = $m->title;
            $menu[$m->ID]['url'] = $m->url;
            $menu[$m->ID]['children'] = populate_children($menu_array, $m);

    return $menu;

  • Hey Pete how do you apply an active close to this?
    – RMH
    Mar 4, 2021 at 1:18

Get simple array of menu.

Add To Functions.php

    function wp_get_menu_array($current_menu) {

    $array_menu = wp_get_nav_menu_items($current_menu);
    $menu = array();
    foreach ($array_menu as $m) {
        if (empty($m->menu_item_parent)) {
            $menu[$m->ID] = array();
            $menu[$m->ID]['ID'] = $m->ID;
            $menu[$m->ID]['title'] = $m->title;
            $menu[$m->ID]['url'] = $m->url;
            $menu[$m->ID]['children'] = array();
    $submenu = array();
    foreach ($array_menu as $m) {
        if ($m->menu_item_parent) {
            $submenu[$m->ID] = array();
            $submenu[$m->ID]['ID'] = $m->ID;
            $submenu[$m->ID]['title'] = $m->title;
            $submenu[$m->ID]['url'] = $m->url;
            $menu[$m->menu_item_parent]['children'][$m->ID] = $submenu[$m->ID];
    return $menu;

Go to Your Header And Call Function

 $a = wp_get_menu_array('top-menu-header');                         
 print_r($a); exit;                       

  • This is a decent answer, however it only goes 1 level deep. Sep 11, 2019 at 5:26

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