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15 Healthiest Fast-Food Burgers, According to Dietitians

Bite into these lighter, healthier fast-food burgers, recommended by RDs.
FACT CHECKED BY Olivia Tarantino

Let's face it—there aren't many things on this earth more satisfying than a hot, juicy burger from your favorite fast-food joint. Sometimes, you just need to give in to those cravings, whether it's a classic hamburger, a cheeseburger, or one loaded with bacon. Yet, if you're in the unique position of seeking out a fast-food burger that leans towards the healthier side, you'll want to know where to turn.

While it's a stretch to label any fast-food burger as "healthy," there are choices that are lighter on calories, fat, and sodium. In general, experts advise that you limit your fast-food consumption due to its association with health risks like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, and more.

However, there are times when you need to grab a fast-food meal because it's what is quickest, cheapest, and most convenient—or simply because you're craving it. In these cases, you might be on the lookout for options that won't completely derail your health goals. That's where learning about some of the healthiest fast-food burgers comes in handy.

To compile this list, we talked with a handful of expert dietitians to get their choices on better-for-you burger options. "You'll notice a trend on the list that isn't surprising—single burgers without all the fixings, cheese, extra meat, etc. because these are best when it comes to keeping calories, fat, saturated fat, and sodium in check," say Tammy Lakatos Shames, RDN, CDN, CFT, and Lyssie Lakatos, RDN, CDN, CFT, also known as The Nutrition Twins.

Ready to see which menu items made the list of healthiest fast-food burgers? Read on, and then learn about some fast-food burgers to skip by reading 10 Fast-Food Burgers with Over 1,000 Calories.

Burger King Hamburger

Burger King Hamburger
Burger King
Nutrition (Per order):
Calories: 250
Fat: 10 g (Saturated Fat: 4 g)
Sodium: 560 mg
Carbs: 29 g (Fiber: 1.1 g, Sugar: 7.1 g)
Protein: 13.1 g

"The regular hamburger at Burger King offers a relatively moderate calorie count of 250 calories, making it a reasonable option for those looking to manage their calorie intake," says Mary Sabat MS, RDN, LD. "Additionally, the burger provides 13 grams of protein, which is crucial for muscle maintenance and satiety."

One thing that Sabat notes about this burger is that even though the sodium here is lower than many other fast-food burgers, "the sodium content is still 560 milligrams, which contributes significantly to daily sodium intake and may need to be considered, especially for those watching their sodium intake for health reasons."

 The Best & Worst Menu Items at Burger King

Wendy's Jr. Cheeseburger

healthiest fast food burger-Wendys Jr Cheeseburger
Nutrition (Per order):
Calories: 290
Fat: 14 g (Saturated Fat: 6 g)
Sodium: 610 mg
Carbs: 26 g (Fiber: 1 g, Sugar: 6 g)
Protein: 14 g

Wendy's has plenty of fancy burger options like their Bourbon Bacon Cheeseburger or their infamous Dave's Triple. However, you can find some healthier options at this fast food joint, as well.

"At under 300 calories (290 to be exact), the Wendy's Jr. Cheeseburger has less than half of the calories of most burgers, so there's still wiggle room to amp up some nutrients by ordering a side salad," say the Nutrition Twins. "While the sodium and saturated fat in this cheeseburger aren't that low, they are lower than you'd find in many other burgers. If you skip the pickles and go light on the ketchup and mustard, you can drop the sodium significantly."

McDonald's Hamburger

McDonald's hamburger on a white background
Nutrition (Per order):
Calories: 250
Fat: 9 g (Saturated Fat: 3.5 g)
Sodium: 510 mg
Carbs: 31 g (Fiber: 1 g, Sugar: 6 g)
Protein: 12 g

You can certainly find plenty of heavy, unhealthier menu items at McDonald's, but for a lower-calorie, lower-fat burger, their regular hamburger is an easy choice.

"This McDonald's Hamburger tops the list when it comes calories, saturated fat, and sodium," say the Nutrition Twins. "Add apple slices or a healthy side from your own house to step up the fiber, antioxidants, and nutrients."

However, they add that"this burger's biggest shortcoming is that it only contains 12 grams of protein, and you want to aim for at least 20 grams of protein per meal."

 The Best & Worst Menu Items at McDonald's, According to RDs

Burger King Whopper Jr.

healthiest fast food burger-Burger King Whopper Jr.
Burger King
Nutrition (Per order):
Calories: 334
Fat: 18 g (Saturated Fat: 5 g)
Sodium: 601 mg
Carbs: 30 g (Fiber: 2.5 g, Sugar: 8 g)
Protein: 17 g

If you want a healthier burger option at Burger King but want a few more veggies than the regular hamburger, try the Whopper Jr. instead.

"Fairly close in nutrition stats compared Wendy's Jr. cheeseburger, this burger has 334 calories, so it doesn't break the calorie bank," say the Nutrition Twins. "While the calories are slightly higher than the Wendy's burger, the sodium is slightly lower, as well as the saturated fat."

They also add that this burger has "17 grams of satisfying protein," which can help keep you full longer.

 All of Burger King's Burgers & Sandwiches—Ranked by a Dietitian

Whataburger Jr.

Whataburger Jr. on a white background

Nutrition (Per order):
Calories: 310
Fat: 11 g (Saturated Fat: 3 g)
Sodium: 750 mg
Carbs: 37 g (Fiber: 2 g, Sugar: 6 g)
Protein: 14 g

With only 310 calories, the Whataburger Jr. is an easy choice for those wanting a lower-calorie fast-food option. Not only that, but Sabat says "the Whataburger Jr. provides a decent balance of macronutrients, with 14 grams of protein and 11 grams of fat, and this combination of protein and fat helps promote satiety and keeps hunger at bay for longer periods."

When you order this Jr. burger instead of something heavier like the Triple Meat Whataburger—which has over 1,000 calories—you'll be able to enjoy the taste and convenience of a fast-food while still staying in line with some of your health goals.

BurgerFi Single Burger

single hamburger on white background
Nutrition (Per order):
Calories: 510
Fat: 29 g (Saturated Fat: 10 g, Trans Fat: 1 g)
Sodium: 640 mg
Carbs: 28 g (Fiber: 4 g, Sugar: 9 g)
Protein: 37 g

BurgerFi is known for using grass-fed beef and cleaner ingredients, but this fast-food restaurant still has its fair share of calorie-laden, sodium-heavy menu options, like their Ultimate Bacon Cheeseburger, CEO Burger, or their BBQ Rodeo Burger—which is two burger patties piled high with crispy fried onions, cheese, and barbecue sauce. The good news is that you can find some lighter alternatives here as well, such as their simple BurgerFi Burger.

"With just 510 calories, this burger offers a moderate calorie count, making it suitable for those conscious of their intake, but what truly sets it apart is its impressive protein content of 37 grams, derived from the high-quality sources used, contributing to muscle maintenance and satiety," says Sabat. "Additionally, the inclusion of 4 grams of fiber aids in digestion and promotes feelings of fullness."

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BurgerFi VegiFi Burger

BurgerFi veggie burger
Nutrition (Per order):
Calories: 520
Fat: 25 g (Saturated Fat: 9 g)
Sodium: 820 mg
Carbs: 57 g (Fiber: 7 g, Sugar: 11 g)
Protein: 18 g

Veggie burgers at fast-food chains can be hit or miss when it comes to nutrition, but the VegiFi Burger from BurgerFi made it on our list for a number of reasons.

"With 520 calories, it offers a satisfying meal without excessive calorie intake, and what really sets this veggie burger apart is its impressive protein content of 18 grams, which is notably high for a plant-based burger," says Sabat. "This substantial protein content not only contributes to feelings of fullness and satiety but also supports muscle maintenance and repair. Additionally, with 7 grams of fiber, this veggie burger provides a significant boost in dietary fiber, aiding in digestion and promoting overall gut health."

Sabat notes, "By opting for this burger, individuals can effectively reduce their meat consumption while still enjoying a filling and nutritious meal."

 7 Healthiest Veggie Burgers—and 5 To Avoid

Jack in the Box Jr. Jumbo Jack

Jack in the Box hamburger on a white background
Jack In The Box
Nutrition (Per order):
Calories: 400
Fat: 25 g (Saturated Fat: 6 g)
Sodium: 700 mg
Carbs: 31 g (Fiber: 1 g, Sugar: 5 g)
Protein: 14 g

"The Jr. Jumbo Jack at Jack in the Box emerges as a favorable option for those seeking a lighter choice when indulging in fast food," says Sabat. With 400 calories, 25 grams of fat, 6 grams of saturated fat, and 14 grams of protein, this burger has a better nutritional balance than many other fast-food burger options around. And when it comes to Jack In The Box menu items specifically, this is one of the healthiest choices you can make.

In-N-Out Hamburger With Onion

in-N-out hamburger
Courtesy of In-N-Out
Nutrition (Per order):
Calories: 390
Fat: 19 g (Saturated Fat: 5 g)
Sodium: 650 mg
Carbs: 39 g (Fiber: 3 g, Sugar: 10 g)
Protein: 16 g

"It may not be the most decadent choice on the menu, but the single patty hamburger without cheese is a fast-food burger with a solid nutrition profile," says Sydney Greene, MS, RDN. "I typically recommend someone aim to have at least 15 grams of protein in their meal and anywhere from 10-20 grams of fat, so this burger is spot on."

According to Greene, you can also replace the hamburger bun with lettuce, to improve the nutritional value even more.

 The Best & Worst Menu Items at In-N-Out Burger

Shake Shack Hamburger

Shake Shack burger
Shake Shack
Nutrition (Per order):
Calories: 370
Fat: 18 g (Saturated Fat: 8 g)
Sodium: 850 mg
Carbs: 24 g (Fiber: 0 g, Sugar: 5 g)

Sometimes you just need to treat yourself to a burger at Shake Shack with cheese fries and a famous malt shake. However, if you're looking for a lighter option, try a regular Shake Shack Hamburger—and pass on the shake.

"Shake Shack uses fresh ingredients and 100% all-beef patties made in-house with a wide selection of vegetable toppings and a lettuce bun alternative," says Amy Goodson, MS, RD, CSSD, LD. A downside that Goodson points out is that this burger is still on the higher end of calories and total fat.

Shake Shack Shroom Burger

Shake Shack shroom burger
Shake shack
Nutrition (Per order):
Calories: 510
Fat: 27 g (Saturated Fat: 10 g)
Sodium: 670 mg
Carbs: 49 g (Fiber: 0 g, Sugar: 7 g)

Speaking of fresh ingredients from Shake Shack, if you're into a non-meat take on a fast food burger, you'll love the restaurant's Shroom Burger option.

"With all of the fake meats popping up on fast food menus, a burger that is made out of portobello mushroom is a breath of fresh air," says Greene. "This 'burger' also has significantly less sodium than some of the other Shack burgers."

 10 Best & Worst Menu Items at Shake Shack

Five Guys Little Hamburger

Five Guys Little Hamburger
Courtesy of Five Guys/Facebook
Nutrition (Per order):
Calories: 540
Fat: 26 g
Sodium: 380 mg
Carbs: 39 g

"The Little Hamburger provides one patty versus the standard two and is made with fresh in-house patties without additives," says Goodson. "You have the bonus of adding any toppings you want, and I recommend lettuce, tomatoes, and grilled onions to add a bit of color and nutrients."

To make this among the healthiest of fast-food burgers, you can also replace the bun with lettuce, which adds even more nutritional value and cuts some of your carbohydrates.

Culver's Original ButterBurger

butter burger
Courtesy of Culver's
Nutrition (Per order):
Calories: 390
Fat: 17 g (Saturated Fat: 7 g)
Sodium: 480 mg
Carbs: 38 g (Fiber: 1 g, Sugar: 6 g)
Protein: 20 g

Culver's is arguably most known for its frozen custard, but their ButterBurger is delicious and not too shabby when it comes to nutritional value. Compared to many other fast food burgers, this one is lower in calories, as well as total and saturated fat. It is especially low in sodium and the second lowest on our list, right behind the Five Guys Little Hamburger. Another benefit of ordering this one is the 20 grams of protein per sandwich.

Steak 'n Shake Single Steakburger

Steak n' Shake Steakburger healthiest fast food burger
Courtesy of Steak 'n Shake
Nutrition (Per order):
Calories: 320
Fat: 14 g (Saturated Fat: 5 g)
Sodium: 820 mg
Carbs: 32 g (Fiber: 3 g, Sugar: 6 g)
Protein: 15 g

The Steak 'n Shake Steakburger is one of the lower-calorie options on the list and is also fairly mild in saturated fat compared to most fast food burgers. The famous fries at Steak 'n Shake are obviously what they're most known for (that and their shakes, of course), but to keep this meal relatively "healthy," you may want to pass on those and just stick to the burger.

 8 Healthiest Fast-Food Sandwiches, According to RDs

Elevation Single Burger

hand holding a hamburger from Elevation Burger
Facebook/Elevation Burger
Nutrition (Per order):
Calories: 330
Fat: 14 g (Saturated Fat: 6 g)
Sodium: 520 mg
Carbs: 29 g (Fiber: 1 g, Sugar: 4 g)
Protein: 23 g

Elevation Burger is a smaller, lesser-known burger franchise than something like Burger King or McDonald's, but this northeastern fast-food restaurant makes one of the healthiest fast-food burgers that's also delicious. If you find yourself at one of its locations in New York, Maine, Maryland, Virginia, or D.C., you'll have a few lighter burger options to choose from, like the Elevation Single Burger.

"With just 330 calories, the Single Burger offers a considerable 23 grams of high-quality protein, which is essential for muscle maintenance and satiety," says Sabat. Not only that, but the saturated fat (6 grams) and sodium (520 milligrams) content are both lower than many other popular fast-food burgers.

This story has been updated to include new information, fact-checking, and copyedits.

Samantha Boesch
Samantha was born and raised in Orlando, Florida and now works as a writer in Brooklyn, NY. Read more about Samantha
Sources referenced in this article
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