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The 50 Biggest Fast Food Chains in America

According to the latest data, the Big Mac isn't as ubiquitous as a 6-inch turkey sub.

Sure, it might seem like there's a Starbucks or McDonald's on every corner…but what's even more ubiquitous than the coffee chain or iconic burger restaurant? To find out which quick-service and fast food chains are most abundant in all the land, we consulted QSR Magazine's most recent report on the top 50 chains with the most U.S. locations to determine the biggest fast food chains. Our list is made up of popular fast food chains with many locations nationwide (like Chick-Fil-A, Burger King, and McDonald's) and more regional restaurant chains (like In-N-Out, El Pollo Loco, and Marco's Pizza). If you haven't heard of some of these places before, it might be time to book a trip to that part of the US!

Read on to see if the results meet your expectations, and then discover what the 100 Most Popular Fast Food Items are at these nationwide chains.

Jason's Deli

Jasons deli plain jane potato
Jason's Deli/Facebook

You can find muffalettas, loaded baked potatoes, Caprese paninis, and the endless garden-fresh salad bar at any of the 273 Jason's Delis across the country.


In N Out burger and fries
Ashley Green/Unsplash

In-N-Out will only open stores where it can deliver its meat fresh from its distribution centers in California and Texas, making all of its 328 stores on the West Coast.

White Castle

White Castle exterior

Although they're not quite as charming and historical as the ones in Europe, you can find 380 White Castles here in America.

McAlister's Deli

Mcalisters deli roast beef
Courtesy of McAlister's Deli

From humble beginnings in a small town in Mississippi to a neighborhood favorite in 26 states, you can get McAlister's Famous Tea by the glass or the gallon at any of their 409 locations!

Boston Market

Boston Market

Before being purchased by McDonald's Corporation in 2002, Boston Market's rapid expansion to 461 locations left the company in a bit of a financial pickle. Failed attempts to spread globally caused Boston Market to reroute into supermarkets rather than opening new stores.

El Pollo Loco

El Pollo Loco lettuce tacos

People go crazy for this chicken joint's signature citrus-marinated, fire-grilled cuts at 477 El Pollo Loco-tions.

Noodles & Co.

Noodles and co wisconsin mac and cheese
Courtesy of Noodles and Co.

With 478 convenient locations ranging from Wisconsin to New York, you can try oodles of noodle combinations, or opt for their best-selling Wisconsin Mac & Cheese.

Steak 'n' Shake

Steak n shake

You can grab a Steakburger at any of Steak 'n' Shake's 511 locations, although this is the only type of steak you'll find on the menu. The famous burger is said to be made with a combination of T-bone and sirloin steak, ground like chopped meat.

Del Taco

Del Taco

Taco-bout a success story—the first Del Taco opened in California in 1964 and now has 564 fast food joints. If only the tacos were still 19 cents.



Although it fell short of In-N-Out when it came in number two for the country's favorite burger chain, Culver's boasts a whole 286 more locations than their competitor with 643 locations.

Moe's Southwest Grill

Moes homewrecker burrito
Courtesy of Moe's Southwest Grill

With 705 locations since its small start in Georgia in 2000, one of Chipotle's biggest competitors is still growing.


Qdoba chicken bowl
Courtesy of Qdoba

Let's hear it for the 726 Qdoba locations that don't charge extra for guac!

These are the easy, at-home recipes that help you lose weight.

Tim Hortons

Tim hortons iced mocha latte
Facebook/Tim Horton

This Ontario-based restaurant may have an impressive 738 shops in the U.S., but Tim Hortons is actually Canada's largest quick-serving chain.


Bojangles cajun filet biscuit
Courtesy of Bojangles'

You can find the famous chicken and biscuits at any of the 764 southeastern locations.


Whataburger burger and fries
Courtesy of Whataburger

Of the 821 Whataburgers, the proudest consumers are from Texas, where the chain started back in 1950.

Marco's Pizza

marcos pizza

Marco's Pizza didn't even crack QSR's top 50 list last year. It expanded by 97 units since last year and now has 867 locations nationwide.

Checkers & Rally's

Checkers restaurant
Flickr/ Phillip Pessar

A 1999 merger helped these fast food chains, who share headquarters in Tampa, Florida, to reach a total of 873 spots.


Zaxbys chicken wing plate with ranch in center

The predominantly southern chain has 890 locations, but no matter where you visit Zaxby's, people are obsessed with their dipping sauces.

Church's Chicken

Church's chicken dinner table spread
Church's Chicken/Facebook

Boasting the title of fourth largest chicken restaurant chain, you can get fried chicken from Church's at any of their 1,009 locations.



Headquartered in Dallas, Texas, Wingstop has expanded from one small Texas restaurant in 1994 to a chain of 1,027 locations nationwide.

Firehouse Subs

Firehouse subs sandwich
Firehouse Subs/Facebook

Firehouse Subs was started by the firemen and police officers of the Sorensen family in 1994. Since then, news of the famous sandwiches caught fire and the franchise has expanded to 1,091 locations.

Carl's Jr.

Carl's Jr moonshine burger
Carl's Jr./Facebook

While Carl's Jr. dominates the West Coast and Hardee's the east, the sister fast food chains boast 1,156 locations across the nation altogether.

Auntie Anne's

Auntie Annes soft pretzel
Courtesy of Auntie Anne's

Although the pretzel chain is mostly known for their shopping mall stands, Auntie Anne's originally started at a farmer's market as a way for founder Anne Beiler to support her husband's dream of a free family counseling center, and boy did it pay off—the franchise now has 1,311 locations.

Five Guys

Five guys burger fries milkshake
Courtesy of Five Guys

When Five Guys started franchising in 2003, the Virginia headquartered company began a period of rapid expansion that has failed to stop since. Today you can enjoy burgers, fries, and a selection of shakes (including the signature bacon shake) at any of the chains 1,321 locations.

Jersey Mike's

Jersey mikes philly cheesesteak sub order 17 facebook
Jersey Mikes/Facebook

Despite its name, Jersey Mike's has expanded way past its original Jersey roots. Today, its 1,343 locations can be found all across the country and are even gaining popularity on the West Coast, especially in Southern California.

Papa Murphy's

Papa murphys

For the freshest pizza around, take-and-bake the Gourmet Delite, Stuffed, or Signature pies—or opt for creating your own—at any of Papa Murphy's 1,483 locations.



Hardee's ceased operating in tandem with its sister brand, Carl's Jr. in 2018, claiming its own stake on this list. Now that Hardee's is on its own, it goes to show that people love biting into the juicy charbroiled burgers on 1,864 menus across the nation.

Panda Express

Panda Express
Facebook/Panda Express

You can pick up your favorite chow mein, orange chicken, fried rice, and more at any of this fast-casual chain's 2,011 locations, most of which are located in mall food courts. Who doesn't love Chinese food and shopping?

Panera Bread

Panera Bread broccoli cheddar soup in bread bowl
Panera Bread/Facebook

Originally the St. Louis Bread Company, there are now 2,043 locations serving soup and pasta in hearty bread bowls.


Chick fil a spicy deluxe sandwich fries soda
Courtesy of Chick-fil-A

Chick-Fil-A snags a spot on America's favorite fast food chains, and with 2,225 locations, you can "Eat Mor Chikin" in almost every state.


Popeyes chicken strips
Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen

Whether you opt for the blackened tenders or the popcorn shrimp, be sure to grab the Southern-style fare at any of Popeyes' 2,231 locations.

Jack in the Box

Jack in the Box burgers and fries
Jack in the Box/Facebook

Jack in the Box's deep-fried and fully-loaded taco is a fan-favorite among its 2,251 locations—but that shouldn't give you the green light to order it.


Chipotle tacos
Chipotle Mexican Grill/Facebook

With a little bit of help from their largest investor, McDonald's, Chipotle expanded from just 16 restaurants in 1998 to 500 by 2005. These days, you can get your favorite Mexican fare from any of the 2,371 locations.


Baskin Robbins

When craving a cone, most folks opt for a single scoop of either Oreo, vanilla, mint chocolate chip, chocolate, or very berry strawberry at one of the 2,538 Baskin-Robbins shops.

Jimmy John's

Jimmy johns Vito
Courtesy of Jimmy John's

Jimmy John's expanded its sandwich emporium by 108 stores in a year, climbing up to an impressive 2,755 in cities ranging from Phoenix to Philadelphia.

Papa John's

Papa johns cheese pizza
Courtesy of Papa John's

Although Papa John's prides itself in using "better ingredients" and therefore serving up better pizza than its competitors, its lowly 3,314 locations compared to Pizza Hut and Domino's aren't doing the brand justice.


Arby's restaurant at night

Widely praised for the classic roast beef sandwiches that Arby's has been slow-roasting since the mid-sixties, the sub shop climbed to 3,415 spots in 2017.

Sonic Drive-In

Sonic Drive Thru

The Oklahoma-based drive-in has 3,593 locations in its homeland where you can grab an All-American Dog, a Chili Cheese Coney, or even splurge with a side of fluffy tots.


KFC exterior

Kentucky Fried Chicken's humble beginnings as a roadside restaurant in Corbin circa 1930 transformed it into a globe-spanning chain, boasting 4,109 U.S.-based locations as of 2017.

Little Caesars

Little Caeasars

Snag one of Little Caesars' hot-n-ready pies at any of the 4,332 locations. The pizza parlor is the third-largest pizza chain in the country, expectedly trailing behind Pizza Hut and Domino's.

Dairy Queen

Dairy queen

Dairy Queen may have 4,455 units across the coasts, but the Blizzard sovereign's fan food is no match for the Frosty and McFlurry.


Domino's pizza sign

When Domino's opened up shop in 1960, the now-global chain consisted of just a single location that was dubbed DomiNick's. Fast forward six decades later, and the pizza place has 5,587 locations under its belt.


wendys spicy chicken sandwich

Dave Thomas founded the fast-food chain with fresh, never frozen beef at the crux of Wendy's menu—which is likely why the chain has expanded to an impressive 5,769 locations.

Taco Bell

Taco bell burrito and chicken taco
Taco Bell/Facebook

Whether you're craving Mexican for lunch or inebriated and famished at 3 a.m., you can find the dichromatic bell logo tacked on 6,446 storefronts across the U.S.

Burger King

Burger king burger chicken nuggets fries and cookie
Burger King/Facebook

Snag a Whopper and a paper crown at any of the 7,226 locations nationwide, up a whole 70 spots from the previous year.

Pizza Hut

Pizza hut

Craving stuffed crust? Pizza Hut's loaded cheesy bites pizza will have you covered.

Dunkin' Donuts

Dunkin donuts iced coffee
Facebook/Dunkin Donuts

America runs on Dunkin', so we expected the doughnut chain to rank in the top five. You can find glazed doughnuts and iced macchiatos at all 12,538 locations.


Starbucks caramel frappuccino
Courtesy of Starbucks

The U.S. is home to 13,930 Starbucks locations, expanding by 758 stores in just one year.


Mcdonalds french fries
Courtesy of McDonald's

Surprisingly enough, one of the oldest, most ubiquitous, and most iconic American restaurants isn't actually the biggest in the U.S. The Golden Arches' 14,036 locations beat out Starbucks but still came in second place.


Subway chicken bacon ranch melt

The prolific sub shop boasts a whopping 25,908 locations across the nation, beating its closest competitor, Arby's, by almost eightfold.

April Benshosan
April is a born-and-raised Brooklynite who has a passion for all things health, wellness, and tastebud-related. Read more about April