This Restaurant Makes America’s Favorite Fast Food Burger

Find out which fast-food joint reigns supreme across America and what makes the best fast-food burger so special

Everyone knows Americans love beef. But while steakhouses abound across the United States, there are other countries that love steak just as much, if not more. When it comes to the burger, however, no one does it better than us. “An American sandwich is a hamburger. A hamburger is a piece of America,” says David “Rev” Ciancio, a hospitality marketing specialist, burger expert and co-founder of Handcraft Burgers and Brews in New York. “It’s decadent, it has eye appeal, it’s versatile and it tastes delicious.” Indeed, the only thing more American than an excellent burger might be the country’s best fast-food burger.

“The hamburger became a piece of our culture because of fast food, not because of fine dining or local diners,” says Ciancio. “You can eat it on the go, or you can sit down and eat it. The food is delicious, it’s easy to get and, oftentimes, it’s conveniently located and priced.”

People have strong opinions about their fast food—ask a group of hungry diners for thoughts on the best burger, best fast-food fries or America’s favorite pizza chain, and you’re bound to get a whole range of answers. So we decided to get to the bottom of America’s favorite restaurant for fast-food burgers. Keep reading to find out which reigns supreme as the best fast-food burger in the nation, plus others that rule across the USA.

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Rounding up the best fast-food burgers

To determine the best fast-food burger, we turned to survey giant Market Force’s 2022 quick-service restaurant survey. It polled more than 5,000 U.S. consumers about their experiences and preferences when it comes to the best burger chains, considering factors like repeat business, convenience, satisfaction, customer service, problem incidence, trust, food quality, menu choices, service speed, order accuracy, curb appeal, atmosphere, value for the money, staff friendliness, cleanliness and healthy food options. (Yes, that’s a lot of factors. Market Force meant business.)

Another good reason to consider so many factors: It helps cut through the emotional attachments and highlight the true quality of the food. “We’ve grown up eating these so many times, and we have such nostalgic memories attached to going out to eat with our friends or our parents,” Ciancio says. “And I think as Americans, as a society, we’re just used to taking sides.”

Indeed, folks might have a particularly strong opinion about Wendy’s baked potato, McDonald’s Sprite or another menu item separate from the burgers that influences their choices. Or maybe they have not lived in the United States for their whole lives and are more familiar with European fast-food chains. The Market Force survey took all these potential allegiances and familiarities into account, along with numerous other considerations, to determine the best fast-food burger in America.

The best fast-food burger in America

exterior of In-and-out Burger fast food restaurantAaronP/Bauer-Griffin/getty images

Drumroll, please…

According to the survey, In-N-Out Burger has the best fast-food burger in America. The West Coast–based burger chain led the survey in almost every category, including overall satisfaction, customer loyalty index, trust, value for the money, food quality, staff friendliness, cleanliness, order accuracy, problem-free experience, curb appeal, atmosphere and healthy food options.

“I think people love the In-N-Out burgers for many reasons. One, they’ve been around forever and stood the test of time. Then they’re convenient, with two drive-throughs at each location,” says Ciancio. “It’s relatively inexpensive, and the menu is tiny! You know what you’re getting; it’s easy to make a decision. Plus, it’s fresh, and it’s tasty, and I think over time, they’ve just built a cult around that.”

While In-N-Out didn’t invent the hamburger, it has certainly perfected how to serve a burger—and fast.

The top 10 best fast-food burgers

Here are the burger chains that round out the top 10, based on the survey’s customer loyalty index, a metric that combines customer satisfaction and the likelihood that customers will recommend the burger.

  1. In-N-Out Burger
  2. Culver’s
  3. Five Guys
  4. Whataburger
  5. Carl’s Jr./Hardee’s
  6. Sonic
  7. Wendy’s
  8. Burger King
  9. Jack in the Box
  10. Checker’s/Rally’s

Despite the recent launch of its adult Happy Meal, McDonald’s didn’t make the cut, coming in at number 11.

Now that you know the best fast-food burger in the country, discover America’s favorite ice cream flavor and the grocery store with the best reputation.

Sources:

  • David “Rev” Ciancio, hospitality marketing specialist, burger expert and co-founder of Handcraft Burgers and Brews in New York
  • Market Force: “Quick Service Restaurant Panel Research Summary”

Alyssa Sybertz
Alyssa Sybertz is a lifestyle writer and food expert covering cookbooks, cooking, and all things kitchen, plus healthy tips and happiness boosters for Reader's Digest. When she's not writing about things that bring her joy, she's hiking, cooking or reading (and writing) romance. Alyssa is also the author of The OMAD Diet.