Burgers have become one of the most iconic dishes in American cuisine. Nowadays, the image of grilling burgers on a hot summer day has become synonymous with All-American outdoor activities such backyard barbeques and summer picnics. But the appeal of the hamburger doesn’t stop there. The best fast food burgers are served as a quick and convenient meal found at countless famous fast food restaurants. In a poll of 2,000 self-identified hamburger enthusiasts conducted by OnePoll on behalf of White Castle, 58 percent admit to frequently ordering burgers when dining out. In fact, the average respondent eats about five burgers per month. When you do the math, the average American consumes approximately 60 burgers per year.
Burgers are not a new concept either. According to History, “the groundwork for the ground-beef sandwich was laid with the domestication of cattle (in Mesopotamia around 10,000 years ago), and with the growth of Hamburg, Germany, as an independent trading city in the 12th century, where beef delicacies were popular.” Fast forward to 1848 when the United States saw an increase in German immigration, bringing with them German beer gardens and traditional meat preparations. This prompted many restaurants to start serving a “Hamburg-style” chopped steak. By the 19th century, the hamburger had transitioned from being a ground beef patty served on a plate, to being placed in between two buns. Currently, nearly 50 billion hamburgers are consumed in just the United States per year.
The very first fast-food hamburger chain in the United States was White Castle, which opened in 1921. A little over two decades later, we see the start of McDonald’s and In-N-Out, both opening in 1948. According to Smithsonian Magazine, “Fast food took off in large part because of the highway system that we built in the 1950s and the 1960s. America started driving more than ever before and we rearranged our cities based on car travel, for better or worse. And it was a natural business response to the American on-the-go kind of lifestyle.”
History aside, if you’re wondering what the best fast food burger is for the next time you want to grab a bite, StudyFinds has you covered. We’ve done the research, compiling a list of the best fast food burgers most recommended across 10 expert sources. Continue reading to see if your favorite fast-food burger made the list!
The List: Best Fast Food Burgers, According to Food Experts
1. McDonald’s: Quarter Pounder with Cheese
When it comes to fast food chains, McDonald’s is most likely the first one that comes to mind. Rightfully so, as this fast food giant is “the world’s leading global foodservice retailer with over 38,000 locations in over 100 countries,” according to the McDonald’s official corporate website. Globally, McDonald’s serves over 69 million people per day.
Delish raves, “The McDonald’s Quarter Pounder with Cheese just hits the spot, and then some. It wasn’t too long ago when the menu items switched from frozen to fresh, which is a total game changer. McDonald’s captures such a unique taste in their burgers, sandwiched between their classic sesame seed buns that leaves us craving just one more bite.”
With a thick ¼ lb patty that has been described as ultra-juicy with pockets of grill char, it’s easy to see why this burger is a fan favorite. “The Quarter Pounder with Cheese is the model. Competing chains hate it. Other burgers want to be it. McDonald’s could serve nothing but Quarter Pounders, Double Cheeseburgers and fries and still make billions a year — it has mastered the art of simplicity,” gushes LA Times.
2. In-N-Out: Double-Double
In-N-Out’s tagline tells you everything you need about this fast food joint: “Quality you can taste.” The company prides itself on using fresh ingredients, never freezing, pre-packaging, or microwaving its food. The chain’s signature is the trademarked Double-Double. “The fresh beef patties are ground within In-N-Out’s own facilities and are delivered fresh – never frozen – to every location. This results in inexplicably juicy patties that marry well with slices of melty American cheese and all the other In-N-Out fixin’s that come with a Double-Double,” claims Thrillist.
Furthermore, the hamburger chain’s simple menu proves that you don’t always need to have all the frills, with just three main burger options: a double-double, cheeseburger, or hamburger. A food reporter from Insider raves, “Not only was this probably the best fast-food burger I’ve ever had, but it was also up there for one of the best burgers that I’ve ever eaten in general.”
And for those who are more health conscious, you’ll be happy to hear that the double-double has been deemed the best keto-friendly burger. “Protein Style burgers — which have lettuce instead of a bun — have long been part of In-N-Out’s “secret menu,” and they’re an easy shortcut to make any burger keto-friendly,” explains a dietician at Healthline.
3. Shake Shack: SmokeShack
Despite starting out as a hot dog cart in 2001, Shake Shack is showing that they are a strong contender in the burger game, with over 250 locations in 30 states. Shake Shack’s SmokeShack takes an interesting spin on the traditional burger with its Angus beef patty, applewood-smoked bacon, chopped cherry peppers, and a toasted potato bun. “A step above casual dining where you can even order a beer on draft, Shake Shack’s SmokeShack burger sets the bar high. Each element of the burger from the potato bun to the patty to the Niman Ranch applewood-smoked bacon creates a triple threat that leaves us so satisfied,” writes Delish.
“Executive chef David Standbridge, who was awarded two Michelin stars with Joel Robuchon, and now heads up the award-winning Shipwright’s Daughter in Mystic, CT., heads for his burger fix at Shake Shack,” reports Eat This, Not That! “The chef told us, ‘No contest. It’s the SmokeShack Burger from Shake Shack. It’s super bacon-y, and the potato bun just puts it over the top.'”
4. Five Guys: Bacon Cheeseburger
This family-owned food chain was born in 1986 and continues to grow to this day, with every family member still meeting every Tuesday. Everything at Five Guys is cooked from scratch, with their beef imported from Scotland, and food prep completed daily. Five Guys’ Bacon Cheeseburger is the most popular item on their menu, consisting of two patties, two strips of crispy bacon, melted American cheese, and served between two soft, toasted sesame buns. This burger made it onto Spoon University’s list: “You may be thinking that this burger is a tad basic to be included in the best fast food burgers, but Five Guys takes basic to a whole new level with their bacon cheeseburger.”
Not only does the bacon help elevate this simple burger, but there is a wide range of toppings that you can add as well. “The brand cooks its bacon cheeseburger to order and offers more than a dozen toppings like jalapenos, relish, and grilled onions,” states Business Insider. According to Five Guys’ official website, “Our burgers, dogs, and sandwiches come with as many of our 15 free toppings as you like. That means you have more than 250,000 possible combinations to choose from.”
5. Culver’s: ButterBurger
Although Culver’s is mainly a Midwest fast-food burger chain, with the majority of its locations in Wisconsin, its reputation spreads far and wide. Many have even compared the chain to heavy hitters such as In-N-Out, Shake Shake, and Five Guys. Anyone familiar with Culver’s knows that the ButterBurger is the way to go. The key thing about this burger that helps it stand out from the rest is its lightly buttered, toasted bun. “Culver’s still takes the trophy. This burger is really, really hard to fault,” says UPROXX. Bonus points for a beef patty that is always fresh, never frozen.
For those who love to experiment, the ButterBurger can be ordered as a single, double, or triple, along with a variety of toppings to choose from, including mushrooms, grilled or raw onions, and bacon. “It’s like they’re meeting all the criteria for a decent fast-food burger. Fresh, customizable, made to order – and it shows in the finished product,” claims Mashed.
You might also be interested in:
- Best Burritos in America
- Best Fast Food Breakfast
- Best Bagels in the USA
- Best Fast Food Salads
- Healthiest Fast Food Options
- Smithsonian Magazine
- LA Times
- Eat This, Not That!
- Spoon University
- Business Insider
Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations.