Burgers are one of the most iconic and recognizable American foods out there, so it’s only natural that fast food chains are eager to sell them to hungry and busy customers. But which restaurants do burgers best, and which seem to miss the mark on this classic American staple? Let’s find out with this list to find out the Top 10 Fast Food Burgers Ranked Worst to Best!
10. White Castle – Cheese Sliders
Starting off at the low end of this list are the White Castle Cheese Sliders. These burgers are pretty underwhelming, having very little to offer especially in terms of their size. They’re 2 inches by 2 inches, which makes them too small to eat just one. In order to get full off these burgers, you’d probably have to eat a few of them, which isn’t exactly convenient when you need to fill up fast or would rather eat a more balanced meal with different types of food. There just doesn’t seem to be a point in eating multiples of the same thing when one larger version would be enough, making White Castle’s sliders the most inconvenient entry of our list. Weirder still, the meat inside of these miniature burgers have holes punched into it, making for a very unnatural look that more resembles Swiss cheese than a burger patty. According to White Castle, the sliders are built this way because they’re steamed, not grilled, and the holes allow them to cook more efficiently. Even though this would definitely speed up their production, steaming the burgers would also make them lose the signature grilled taste that practically defines the classic American burger. The odd and tiny shape of the White Castle Cheese Sliders may be the only thing that stands out about these disappointing burgers.
9. Dairy Queen – Cheeseburger
Is anyone really surprised that Dairy Queen’s cheeseburger would rank this low on the list? Since Dairy Queen is an ice cream focused chain, it’s not like burgers are going to be the star of the menu, but this one manages to fall flat even when you know that savory foods aren’t this chain’s forte: a bare-bones burger that barely counts as anything more than a piece of meat between two slices of bread. If you order a burger from Dairy Queen, you know you shouldn’t expect much, but using your hard-earned money that could’ve been spent on one of their ice cream products — or even at a different burger chain entirely — for a small ⅙ pound patty with pickles, cheese, mustard, and ketchup is a bad move. Their 2 for $4 Super Snack deal is definitely tempting, but you’re much better off ordering a sundae and fries for that price than Dairy Queen’s burger. The bland topping selection makes the burger boring and minimal at best, and lifeless at worst, lacking the pizzazz or unique quality that could set it aside from other fast food burgers. Dairy Queen definitely could’ve tried a little harder with this one: the burger in its entirety looks like it was manufactured just so Dairy Queen could say they offered one on the menu. Bottom line – get a Blizzard instead!
8. Sonic – SuperSonic Double Cheeseburger
Coming up next on the lower end of the list is Sonic’s SuperSonic Double Cheeseburger. Sonic is known for its delicious tater tots and shakes, but the burgers here seem to be pretty basic and forgettable. The SuperSonic Double Cheeseburger comes with two meat patties, crinkle-cut pickles, diced onions, shredded lettuce, tomato, and the customer’s choice of mayo, mustard, or ketchup. It definitely has the building blocks of a good burger, but the choice of only one out of three condiments is a bit of a letdown for those who like putting more than one sauce on their burger. The mention of the burger being 100% beef on Sonic’s website is reassuring, but customers have reported their beef patties having a gray, industrial quality — which aren’t the best descriptors when it comes to what is supposed to be a delicious, classic American burger. Since there never seems to be a Sonic in residential areas, you’re more likely to crave it when you’re making your way down the highway — where most Sonic franchises seem to be most frequently located. The thrill of finally seeing a Sonic nearby may make you more excited to eat there, and may lead you to believe that the burger’s going to be a lot more delightful than what it actually is: an average burger that will leave you wishing you ordered tater tots or mozzarella sticks instead. Stopping at a Sonic is always a fun treat, but you’re better off picking something else from their menu to get the best experience.
7. McDonald’s – Quarter Pounder
It’s sad to rank the Golden Arches so low on this list, but the Quarter Pounder can’t really compare to some of the other entries. Despite its ambitious name, the Quarter Pounder doesn’t come with all that many toppings. Other than the meat, all you really get are a few pickles, onions, and cheese, making it the most overhyped entries. Although the beef is made to order, the Quarter Pounder still lacks that authentic grilled taste that comes with the burgers we know and love. With their regular cheeseburgers being pretty basic already, the Quarter Pounder’s claims to be bigger and badder than your average sandwich fall flat when pitted against any other “premium” fast food burgers. That’s not to say McDonald’s is only good for chicken McNuggets, though; if you want a tastier burger from Mickey D’s, you’re better off skipping the Quarter Pounder entirely and going with its larger and more tempting cousin, the Big Mac. Even then, the Big Mac still doesn’t have all the toppings of a classic burger: it only adds another meat patty, shredded lettuce, and Big Mac Sauce to the equation, making the upgrade a bit anticlimactic. While other burgers from McDonald’s may use frozen meat, they recently switched to fresh beef for the Quarter Pounder, which made the sales for this burger increase significantly. Although it’s definitely a step in the right direction for McDonald’s to use fresh meat in their flagship burgers, the Quarter Pounder still can’t top some of the other entries on this list.
6. Burger King – Whopper
Beating out McDonald’s for our next slot is the Burger King Whopper, which definitely stakes its claim in many of our childhoods as the Mt. Everest of burgers. Since then, the Whopper has unfortunately taken a bit of a hit in terms of its grandiosity. The Whopper itself isn’t offensive by any means: it has a patty that is generous in size, a sesame seed bun, and comes with mayo, ketchup, lettuce, tomato, pickles, and sliced onion. The patties are flame-grilled — which is definitely a plus, compared to the Frankenstein-esque steamed patties mentioned earlier with White Castle — but some customers have expressed their disappointment with the flavor of the burger due to too much char on the beef, resulting in a drier taste. Since people had such high expectations of the Whopper as kids, it only makes sense that they would eventually grow out of it and realize it wasn’t as invincible as the commercials made it out to be. Burger King’s signature Whopper was released in 1957 as a heftier alternative to McDonald’s smaller burgers, but since then has been seriously overshadowed by the other burgers in its own lineup. The addition of more creative and tantalizing picks to Burger King’s menu, such as the Roadhouse or Philly Cheese King burgers, has pushed the Whopper from mega monster to middle-of-the-road in terms of fast food burgers.
5. A&W – Papa Burger
A&W’s Papa Burger has two patties, paired with all of the good stuff a burger should rightfully have: lettuce, tomatoes, onion, pickles, ketchup, and mustard. Although it’s off to a good start with the basic elements, what really makes this burger stand out is the addition of A&W’s special sauce, paired with the lightly toasted bun. While the bun and the lettuce provide a crisp crunchiness, the meat of the burger and the signature sauce adds softness, which make for an enjoyable meal. Double patties means that A&W isn’t skimping on the meat-to-topping ratio, either; evenly distributing the different elements with every bite. The reason why the Papa Burger doesn’t rank higher on this list is because of its overreliance on the sauce; without it, the meat would taste a bit underseasoned. Like Burger King, the grilled flavor of the Papa Burger can sometimes come at the cost of losing the flavor and juiciness of the meat, causing it to taste a bit too charred. While the sauces included on the Papa Burger can compensate for the dryness of the patty, the flavor of the meat itself can be easily overpowered by the toppings.
4. Wendy’s – Dave’s Single
Entering the higher tier of this list is Wendy’s with their Dave’s Single. Although Wendy’s has a plethora of burgers to choose from, the Dave’s Single is their most classic iteration. The burger comes with a quarter-pound patty, cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickles, ketchup, and mayo. They’re pretty generous with the toppings, too; enough to complement the meat well but not so much as to overpower the taste of the beef. Customers can feel good buying the Dave’s Single knowing that the meat patties are always fresh, despite their unique and somewhat odd square shape. The pros for this burger definitely outweigh the cons: it’s a well-rounded and sound choice to make if you’re passing by a Wendy’s and want a good burger fast. If we’re being super nitpicky, though, the burger could definitely benefit from the addition of onions: they would add a bit of extra crunch and make Dave’s Single all the more flavorful – unless of course, you hate onions. For people who can handle a little spice, the lack of mustard on this burger is a bit of a letdown, too. It’s not the biggest issue in the world — you could always add a bit onto the burger yourself — but if you’re going through the drive-thru, you might not want to stop what you’re doing entirely to bother opening up a condiment packet.
3. Shake Shack – Shackburger
Seriously, how much more Americana can you get than the Shackburger? The meat is juicy, the tomatoes are fresh, and the lettuce is crunchy, which makes for a fun yet minimal variety of textures and tastes. Although it may not be the most creative entry on this list, the Shackburger does the basic cheeseburger and does it well; the beef patties are always fresh and big enough to complement the toppings without overpowering them. The Shackburger defaults to a non-GMO potato bun, but can easily be switched out for a lettuce wrap or a gluten-free bun if desired. Having built their company based on wanting to invoke memories from everyone’s childhood, Shake Shack combines two of the most iconic American foods – burgers and milkshakes – to not only fill an empty stomach, but to create an all-around nostalgic atmosphere right from the first bite. They may take a bit longer to make than at McDonald’s or Burger King, but the outcome is totally worth a few extra minutes of your time. The only thing that keeps them from making it to the top of this list is that they’re a little too small to be enjoyed alone — you’d likely have to order a milkshake or another side to be completely satisfied. What would make this burger even better would be the option to add a few more toppings, even to simply make it a little bigger, so it can be enjoyed on its own without needing an extra side to seal the deal.
2. In-N-Out Burger – Cheeseburger
In-N-Out does the basics justice with their cheeseburger. It includes a toasted bun, American cheese, tomatoes, onion, lettuce, and special sauce. What makes this burger stand out among other burgers is the fact that the beef is locally sourced and ground on-site by In-N-Out employees themselves. This means the patties are always juicy and fresh-tasting. Not only that, but In-N-Out gives you a playful and creative approach to maximize your burger experience with their Not So Secret Menu; for example, any burger can be ordered “animal style,” which gives In-N-Out the go-ahead to grill your burger with mustard, add extra special sauce, pickles, and caramelized onions — yum! Secret menus are nothing new, but In-N-Out’s approach is a fresh and funny spin on the phenomenon as a whole – a not so secret ‘secret menu’. Plus, it adds another level of customization to really mold the burger to your tastes. Unfortunately, In-N-Out’s locations are fewer and farther between than some of its competitors, making it more difficult to find than Wendy’s or even Sonic, but it’s definitely a burger worth checking out if you’re within range of a location.
1. Five Guys – Cheeseburger
If what you’re looking for is a big burger for a big appetite, look no further than Five Guys Burgers and Fries. The name isn’t for show, either: it’s clear upon entering a Five Guys that this chain’s burgers are the main event. The patties are cooked fresh, giving the meat a flavorful and juicy taste every single time. You can also add as many toppings and sauces from their selected list as you want for no extra charge. This list includes toppings like hot sauce and grilled mushrooms, which aren’t always available at other fast food chains. If you’re super hungry for a quick meal, or just having a rough night and want some fast food, Five Guys definitely sticks out among its competitors due to this customization feature. It’s great if you like a lot of stuff on your burger, and definitely comes in handy if you’re picky about certain ingredients. If you can eat it fast enough, it may prove rewarding to stack your sandwich high with sauces and other extras; however, if you’re planning on saving half for later, the bun might get overloaded from the combined juiciness of the meat and the sauce – a good problem to have when it comes to burgers. Don’t worry: you can always add some hand-cut fries into the equation to soak up some of the extra sauce. The flexibility and creative potential of these burgers, paired with the delicious taste of the meat and the clear attention put into cooking it, makes Five Guys worthy of taking the top slot of this list.