Best fast food in the US in 2024: A definitive ranking

Maddy Kinkead
fast food logos

Dive in to a definitive ranking of the best fast food in America in 2024 and see if your favorite makes the top spot.

Japan has sushi, Spain has tapas, and the US has fast food. As the staple food of the star-spangled banner, there are lots of fast food joints to choose from, but who comes out on top?

Although there are many fast food chains that are state-specific, these won’t be included in the list unless they are well-known, like In-N-Out (sorry Biscuitville.)

Fast food
The best fast food in the US.

Best fast food, ranked

As always, we’ll be ranking these from worst to best. Food quality, public opinion of the brand, and value for money are the perameters here, so let’s see how the big names rank.

50. Wienerschnitzel

It’s a bold choice, for sure.

Wienerschnitzel gets a bad rep for it’s menu that centers around frankfurters, but you have to applaud them for their unique concept. That being said, their food is not for everyone. It is reasonably priced and the perfect fast food joint for an adventurous food.

Must try: Junkyard Dog

49. Del Taco

Del Taco also gives fast food fans bad vibes, but they have an extensive menu. With lots of choice, a value menu that is actually good value, and decently tasty tacos, we can confirm that Del Taco is not as bad as everyone says.

Must try: Grilled chicken taco salad with fresh guac

48. Papa John’s

Papa John’s has it’s place in this world. The pizza is great for a big eat, their sides are delicious and everything is reasonably priced. That being said, there are definitely better pizza chains out there.

Must try: Jalapeño poppers

47. Moe’s Southwest Grill

Moe’s does Tex Mex food that is healthy, and they use higher quality ingredients than most. But, for some reason, they fade into the crowd. With them being somewhere between a fast food joint and a chain restaurant, the price point is a little higher, but their menu is extensive and great for vegetarians.

Must try: The Homewrecker burrito

46. Long John Silver’s

Long John Silver’s is definitely your grandparents favorite fast food joint. With a seafood-focused menu, Long John Silver’s isn’t for everyone and their whole vibe is a little dated. That being said, if you’re a fan of seafood, the fish here is great quality, always crispy fried, and always delicious.

Must try: Wild Alaskan pollock sandwich

45. Church’s Chicken

churchs chicken
Texas chicken at its finest.

It’s tough out there for chicken chains, and unfortunately, Church’s is kind of ‘mid’. Their meat is juicy and tender, but the seasoning on their batter leaves something to be desired.

Must try: Original chicken sandwich

44. Quizno’s

Due to the fully customizable aspect of most sub shop menus, everyone’s experience of them varies greatly. That being said, the whole vibe of a Quizno’s is kind of off – it could be the dated decor or the fact that everyone says their food isn’t good. However, their ingredients are still fresh(ish) and it’s not the most unhealthy fast food chain.

Must try: Peppercorn steak sandwich

43. Subway

Subway is marginally better than Quizno’s, not because of their subs, but because of their sides. Their cookies are awesome (and come in a footlong) and their nachos are pretty good, too. Subway also has great deals meaning you can get big sandwiches whilst on a tight budget.

Must try: Footlong cookie

42. Domino’s

Domino’s is greasy, filling, and full of calories – exactly what you want when you need a fast food binge. Their pizza would probably make an Italian faint, but it’s all-American and all-delicious. The only downside is the price point as it is kind of expensive. However, there is a hack for never paying full price for a pizza again.

Must try: Buffalo chicken pizza

41. White Castle

white castle burger
White Castle’s sliders get a bad rep.

A white castle slider is a generally underwhelming experience when you consider the size of other fast food burgers. However, if you can get past the fact that they are tiny, their beef is good quality and the bread has a pillowy sweetness that is dreamy. Oh, and you can eat multiple sliders.

Must try: Gooey butter cake-on-a-stick

40. Checkers/Rally’s

Checkers/Rally’s, depending on where you are from, has the best fries in the biz. Okay, their burgers are nice, but the fries are what really stand out. They’re crispy, perfectly salted, and always hot. A frequently overrated snack.

Must try: The fries

39. Sbarro

Sbarro looks like it is going to become a fast food chain of the past with a lot of its branches closing, that being said, they are a true homage to New York pizza culture. When you don’t feel like a whole pie, you can grab a slice of NY-style pizza that is actually really good.

Must try: Roman cheese slice

38. IHOP

IHOP is an American institution, and it should be appreciated for what it is. It’s popular with tourists, and their outrageous pancake stacks would make a 10-year-old’s eyes pop out of their heads. On top of that, they do great family meals that can feed five people for under $40.

Must try: Breakfast sampler

37. Smashburger

Good quality burgers

Smashburger has a fully customizable menu, including daily burger deals for $4.50 – which is kind of a steal. Their food is great quality, with the beef being slightly bland. What does make up for it though is the fries, which are topped with rosemary, garlic, and salt.

Must try: Smashfries

36. Panera

Panera gets ridiculed a lot online, but no one can deny that the broccoli cheddar soup in a bread bowl is absolutely delicious. The other menu items can hit or miss, but their soup bowls are a staple food item.

Must try: Broccoli cheddar soup bowl

35. Bojangles

Bojangles comes highly recommended by popular YouTubers Rhett and Link. Since they hyped it up, lots of people have been flocking to the chicken joint for some classic fried chicken and accompanying sides. The sides are the real star here, particularly the biscuits.

Must try: Mac & cheese or the biscuits.

34. Tim Horton’s

This Canadian fast food chain is making it’s way around the US, and for good reason too. Not only do they do great donuts, but their lunch and breakfast options are also extensive. And if that wasn’t enough, they do great coffee, too. The prices are also very reasonable.

Must try: Apple fritter donut

33. Little Caesars

Little Caesars meat pizzas are so good.

Little Caesars is the third-largest pizza chain in the world, and they do great deals on slices for pizza on a budget. That being said, this pizza is kind of in the same vein as Domino’s in that it’s definitely a ‘fast food’ pizza. That being said, it has its place.

Must try: Meat treat pizza

32. Fuddruckers

Fuddruckers burgers are good, but they are certainly don’t make the list of best burgers in the US. That being said, their topping bars are a pretty cool concept. You can put whatever you want on your burger, and they even have a nacho cheese dispenser.

Must try: Burger with all the toppings

33. Culver’s

This place is very popular with Wisconsinites, but it should be a favorite of every fast food fan once they’ve tried their burgers. Why? Because they butter the buns before they put the beef patties on, and the beef patties are farm-fresh.

Must try: Original butterBurger

32. Hardee’s/Carl’s Jr.

A lot of people on Reddit swear by this chain and say that it is better than McDonald’s. We don’t know about that, but their burgers are definitely bigger. Hardee’s/Carl’s Jr. has a classic feel that a lot of fast food chains don’t have nowadays, and is definitely a thing of nostalgia for a lot of people.

Must try: Western bacon cheeseburger

31. Jimmy John’s

jimmy John's
Just good quality sandwiches.

If you want a quick, quality sandwich with basic ingredients, JJ’s is great. Nothing really special going on besides that, but the fast service is something we can all appreciate in the busy world. A completely unoffensive chain.

Must try: The Beach Club

30. Cinnabon

Cinnabon makes treats that would literally make your teeth hurt, and we love them for that. The cinnamon buns and shakes are a little expensive, but they retain the wholesomeness of a freshly baked treat. They know what they are all about and they do it well.

Must try: Classic roll

29. A&W

A&W have been serving root beer floats since the early 1900s, and we have to respect our elders. They make decent, classic American food at a reasonable price, and they should be commended for always remaining consistent.

Must try: Root beer float

28. Whataburger

Whataburger makes a great, basic burger. Their ingredients are always fresh, never frozen, and this is a wholly underrated chain. That being said, their menu is kind of all over the place with its theme, and some of the items are a miss.

Must try: Honey butter chicken biscuit

27. Panda Express

panda house
Panda Express is doing something different.

Panda Express is know for huge portions, and of course, the orange chicken. Although some of their menu items can be a bit of a miss, and their food isn’t always the freshest, it’s tasty Asian food that’s not your typical fast food joint.

Must try: Hot orange chicken

26. Jersey Mike’s

Another sub shop, but Jersey Mike’s is clearly the best. They have a real authentic deli vibe that the likes of Subway and Jersey John’s just don’t have. On top of that, they slice the meat and cheese in front of you and bake their bread fresh in-store every day, so everything feels fresher.

Must try: The Club Sub

25. Steak N’ Shake

Steak N’ Shake is the perfect place to go if you have a hankering for a high-end burger, but the budget of a value menu. Their burgers are made with pure steak and are perfectly seasoned and well priced. A truly underrated choice.

Must try: White truffle prime steakburger

24. Waffle House

Waffle House is always there when you need it. They open 24 hours a day and have the vibe of a local, cozy diner. The prices are great and their scrambled eggs are really tasty. They are exactly what you want a 2am.

Must try: All-Star Special

23. Denny’s

dennys food
Denny’s is a US staple.

Another good breakfast joint that always seems to be open. Denny’s has been around for a long time and they get a rep for being a kind of depressing place to go for a meal. They do make good food, especially their pancakes, and their prices are great. Thei sandwiches are also awesome.

Must try: The Grand Slamwich

22. Arby’s

Speaking of sandwiches, Arby’s does a good old country-style meat sandwich, and they do it well. Their roast beef is always fresh, and you get a hefty amount. They also do awesome deals. They also just recently dropped a burger made with wagyu beef that is really top-notch.

Must try: Arby’s classic beef ‘n’ cheddar

21. Krispy Kreme

Krispy Kreme has been killing it with its promotions, and they are always releasing creative donuts to keep customers interested. Although they don’t serve much else than coffee and donuts, they do great coffee and you can see them making donuts fresh. Also, you can nearly see your reflection in those original glazed donuts.

Must try: Original glazed donut

20. Sonic Drive-In

Sonic has their staff on roller skates, which must be terrible for them but is a lot of dun for customers. Their food is good, but their shakes are better. On top of that, they just launched all-new groovy fries that come with a secret groovy sauce. America’s Drive-In is classic and authentic, but it’s not amazing when compared to other chains.

Must try: Oreo cheesecake shake

19. Crumbl

crumbl cookies
Crumbl cookies are a big hit.

Crumbl only began in 2017, but since then has opened 918 stores across the US. They really are one of the most talked about food places at the minute, and for good reason. They are always releasing creative cookies delivered fresh to your door or picked up in-store, and they come in a cute pink box. What’s not to love?

Must try: Snickerdoodle cupcake cookie

18. Buffalo Wild Wings

Buffalo Wild Wings is known to be for sports fans, but B-Dubs is much more than that. With all-you-can-eat wings for $19.99, and a range of rubs and sauces for the chicken itself, this chain is really good.

Must try: Original buffalo boneless wings

17. Wingstop

Wingstop is a relatively new fast-food chain that has been making waves with foodies across the US and has recently branched out with worldwide stores. They have 14 sauces and rubs, and their chicken is great quality. The fries are also excellent.

Must try: Hote honey rub

15. Jack in the Box

Jack in the Box is a popular fast food spot for stoners, but their food does more than just satisfy the munchies. They have a great value menu for under $4 that was recently dropped, and they do everything from burgers to tiny tacos. They aren’t excellent at any one thing, but they’re pretty good at everything.

Must try: Curly fries

16. KFC

KFC food
Finger Lickin’ Good.

You can’t beat a bucket of fried chicken, and KFC knows how that’s done. Not only that, but they are constantly trying to rival other chains and recently dropped saucy nuggets, as well as quesadillas. Always bettering themselves, and always delicious.

Must try: Popcorn chicken

15. Chick-fil-A

Chick-fil-A is the modern foodie’s favorite fast food restaurant, and their classic menu items are pretty fire. That being said, their newest releases have kind of been missing the mark recently, and they recently changed the quality of their chicken. Let’s just hope that this OG doesn’t let their standards slip.

14. Shake Shack

Shake Shack is kind of pricey, but their burgers are always restaurant quality, On top of that, their shakes that are made with frozen custard are next-level and the flavors are always inventive. A cool, modern approach to fast food.

Must try: Shack stack burger

13. Starbucks

Starbucks started off as a simple coffee chain, but with their ever-expanding food menu and drive-thrus popping up everywhere, they are in fast food territory. Their menu is a lot of fun and their salads and sandwiches are good, the only downside to this place is the price point, which can be very pricey.

Must try: Caramel coffee frappuccino

12. Zaxby’s

zaxbys food
Zaxby’s recently collabed with Mr. Beast.

After recently dropping a meal box with Mr. Beast, Zaxby’s looks to be making big moves to become one of the nation’s most popular chicken restaurants. Their menu is pretty standard for a fried chicken place, but they are kind of overrated because the quality of their food is just so good for the price.

Must try: Spicy signature sandwich

11. Taco Bell

Taco Bell’s menu is always changing, and nobody can fault the Baja Blast. That being said, the reason they have just missed one of our top ten spots is due to the quality of their food. A lot of the menu items use the same four ingredients, and they always skimp on lettuce and cheese. Still, The Bell is an undisputed classic.

Must try: Cantina chicken taco

10. Dairy Queen

Dairy Queen is a totally underrated spot. Their Blizzards are amazing, the creations are endless, and they do a pretty great burger, too. Do not disrespect the Queen of fast food.

Must try: Any Blizzard

9. Burger King

The Whopper is one of the greatest fast food burgers of all time, and we recently crowned it the best fast food burger. That being said, the rest of the Burger King menu is only okay and the other burgers can be kind of hit or miss. We forgive them though, those flame-grilled patties are a thing of beauty.

8. Popeye’s

popeyes food
Popeye’s chicken seasoning is incredible.

Beyoncé’s favorite fast food chain is also highly commended in our books. Popeye’s chicken is coated with pure magic (and mystery spices), and is always juicy and crispy. They recently dropped a value meal too that can get you some fried chicken for a great price.

Must try: Spicy chicken tenders

7. Dunkin’

Dunkin’ have been killing it recently with their menu drops, and this summer, they are set to release some s’mores items that will satisfy any sweet tooth. On top of that, Dunkin’ does some great coffee, and of course, great donuts.

Must try: The hashbrowns

6. Chipotle

Chipotle got into a little beef recently with food blogger Keith Lee, which led to people ‘exposing’ them for skimping on portion sizes. All of that aside though, Chipotle always uses fresh ingredients and is much higher quality than anything else out there.

Must try: Chicken quesadilla

5. Wendy’s

Wendy’s never misses the mark with that homestyle chili. And on top of that, they have great burgers, chicken, and pretty much anything else you could ask for. On top of that, they are giving away free fries every Friday for the rest of the year. Oh, and don’t even get us started on those delicious Frosties.

4. Raising Cane’s

raising cane's
Raising Cane’s has taken the internet by storm.

Raising Cane’s is the new kid on the block that is taking TikTok by storm, and for good reason too. Their chicken is crispy, their Texas toast is crispier, and you can get a large drinks cup of their addictive Cane’s sauce. Literally anything from this place is high-key amazing.

Must try: A bucket of Cane’s sauce

3 McDonald’s

The Golden Arches is the OG fast food chain, and for that, we commend them. They invented the Big Mac and fast food culture, and they are still one of the best. However, there are other chains doing more interesting things and serving up better quality burgers. That being said, McDonald’s is something everyone craves, and for good reason.

Must try: Big Mac

2. Five Guys

Five Guys makes those burgers right in front of you, and they’ll put any of their 8 toppings on top, completely for free. Yes okay, the burgers are a little pricey, but you get huge portions of authentic skin-on fries, and hearty, high quality burgers.

Must try: Fries

1. In-N-Out

In-N-Out burger
In-N-Out takes the gold medal.

Sorry to anyone not on the west coast, but In-N-Out is the best fast food chain out there. Everything is cooked fresh, nothing stays on a warmer and the fries are made fresh too right in the restaurant and are never frozen. Order your burger animal-style for a taste sensation. They also won the top spot on our best burger list.

Must try: Double-Double animal-style

If you’re still looking for more definitive rankings, check out our list of the best chicken nuggets and best burgers out there.

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