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10 Healthiest Fast-Food Cheeseburgers, According to a Dietitian

Yes, you can have your cheeseburger and eat (relatively) healthy, too.
FACT CHECKED BY Olivia Tarantino

Fast-food cheeseburgers aren't typically top-of-mind when considering healthy fast food choices. Between the often lower quality meat, the ultra-processed refined buns, and the limited amount of veggies found on these sandwiches, you won't find many dietitians proactively telling people to run to a drive-thru for a fast-food cheeseburger over dishes made with whole grains, produce, and lean proteins.

Fast-food meals are a part of people's diets for many reasons, including access, lack of time (or desire) to cook, or being away from home with few other options. If you find yourself in a fast-food joint, a cheeseburger can fuel you with protein, carbs, and other nutrients to keep you satisfied. When it comes to cheeseburger options, some choices are better than others, thanks to being lower in calories, fat, and sodium than other options.

Here are the 10 healthiest fast-food cheeseburgers to enjoy if you are trying to support your health while indulging in this quintessential American sandwich—hopefully sans the super-sized fries and regular soda to accompany it. Read on, and for more, don't miss 15 Healthiest Fast-Food Burgers, According to Dietitians.

Wendy's Jr. Cheeseburger

Wendys Jr Cheeseburger
Wendy's
Nutrition (Per burger):
Calories: 290
Fat: 14 g (Saturated fat: 6 g)
Sodium: 610 mg
Carbs: 26 g (Fiber: 1 g, Sugar: 6 g)
Protein: 15 g

Wendy's Jr. Cheeseburger features a juicy, fresh beef patty topped with a slice of melted American cheese, crunchy pickles, and onions, all nestled between a soft, toasted bun. What makes Wendy's Jr. Cheeseburger a healthier choice compared to other fast-food options is its moderate portion size. With its balanced amount of protein, carbohydrates, and essential nutrients, the cheeseburger provides a satisfying meal without excessive calories. Additionally, Wendy's commitment to sourcing fresh, never-frozen beef ensures that the burger is tasty and aligns with a more health-conscious approach to fast food.

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McDonald's Regular Cheeseburger (Single)

mcdonalds cheeseburger
McDonald's
Nutrition (Per burger):
Calories: 300
Fat: 13 g (Saturated fat: 5.3 g)
Sodium: 720 mg
Carbs: 32 g (Fiber: 2 g, Sugar 7 g)
Protein: 15 g

The McDonald's regular single cheeseburger is a classic fast-food staple. This sandwich features a juicy, seasoned beef patty topped with a slice of melted American cheese, tangy pickles, chopped onions, ketchup, and mustard, all nestled between a soft, toasted bun. This burger clocks in at 300 calories and provides a whopping 15 grams of protein. The portion size of a McDonald's cheeseburger is smaller than many other fast-food items like triple-stacked burgers or large sandwiches, which helps with portion control and reducing overall caloric intake. McDonald's has also made efforts to improve the quality of its ingredients over the years, using 100% pure beef without fillers and no artificial preservatives in their cheese.

Shake Shack Cheeseburger

Shake Shack Single Cheeseburger
Shake Shack
Nutrition (Per burger):
Calories: 440
Fat: 24 g (Saturated Fat: 11 g)
Sodium: 1,200 mg
Carbs: 25 g (Fiber: 0 g, Sugar 5 g)
Protein: 29 g

The Shake Shack cheeseburger is a perfect example of American comfort food at its finest. This burger boasts an Angus beef patty topped with a generous slice of cheese and your choice of toppings on a toasted potato bun.

The Shake Shack cheeseburger can be considered a healthier choice for several reasons. Firstly, Shake Shack emphasizes using high-quality, fresh ingredients, such as 100% all-natural Angus beef free from hormones and antibiotics. Additionally, the cheeseburgers are cooked to order, which helps retain the meat's natural flavors and nutrients.

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In-N-Out Cheeseburger with Onion, Protein Style

Protein style burger at in-n-out
Kaley Roberts/Eat This, Not That!
Nutrition (Per burger):
Calories: 270
Fat: 19 g (Saturated Fat: 8 g)
Sodium: 800 mg
Carbs: 10 g (Fiber: 2 g, Sugar: 6 g)
Protein: 16 g

The beloved fast-food joint of celebs and California tourists offers a burger that can be a healthier choice than many of its other menu offerings. In-N-Out uses fresh, high-quality ingredients—the beef is free of additives and preservatives, and the vegetables, including the onions, are always fresh, never frozen. Eating fresh produce and quality meat can be part of a balanced diet.

Additionally, the simple ingredient list and absence of artificial additives make it a cleaner option for those looking to avoid overly processed foods.

Finally, customizing your cheeseburger to make it Protein Style will substitute the bun with a lettuce wrap, which can significantly reduce calorie and carbohydrate intake, aligning better with specific dietary preferences or restrictions. At less than 300 calories per burger, it's a better choice for those watching their caloric intake.

 The Best & Worst Menu Items at In-N-Out Burger, According to a Dietitian

White Castle Cheese Slider

White Castle Cheese Slider
White Castle
Nutrition (Per burger):
Calories: 170
Fat: 9 g (Saturated Fat: 4 g)
Sodium: 370 mg
Carbs: 16 g (Fiber 1 g, Sugar: 2 g)
Protein: 8 g

The White Castle Cheese Slider is a bite-sized delight renowned for its unique taste and convenience. This iconic slider features a perfectly steamed, juicy beef patty cooked on a bed of onions, allowing the flavors to infuse into the meat. The patty is then topped with a slice of American cheese.

The White Castle Cheese Slider can be a surprisingly viable choice when considering healthier fast-food options. These sliders are smaller, making portion control more manageable than larger burgers. Additionally, White Castle uses 100% beef, free from additives and fillers, ensuring a more natural protein source. The cheese adds calcium, and the onions provide vitamins and fiber.

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Five Guys Little Cheeseburger

Five Guys Little Cheeseburger
Five Guys / DoorDash
Nutrition (Per burger):
Calories: 610
Fat: 32 g (Saturated fat: 15 g)
Sodium: 690 mg
Carbs: 39.5 g (Fiber: 2 g, Sugar 9 g)
Protein: 27 g

The Five Guys Little Cheeseburger comprises a hand-formed beef patty nestled between a soft, toasted sesame seed bun. Melted American cheese layers each patty, adding a creamy, flavorful richness. Customization is key at Five Guys, allowing customers to personalize their cheeseburger with various fresh toppings, such as crispy lettuce, ripe tomatoes, crunchy pickles, grilled onions, and an array of sauces. This customization enables diners to add nutrient-rich vegetables to their meal. Furthermore, Five Guys cook their burgers on the spot, which means no heat lamps or microwaves are involved, helping to maintain the nutritional integrity of the ingredients.

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Jack in the Box Jr. Cheeseburger

Jack in the Box Jr. Cheeseburger
Jack in the Box
Nutrition (Per burger):
Calories: 370
Fat: 21 g (Saturated fat: 7 g)
Sodium: 880 mg
Carbs: 30 g (Fiber: 1 g, Sugar: 4 g)
Protein: 16 g

The Jack in the Box Jr. Cheeseburger is a classic fast-food delight that satisfies cravings for a hearty, delicious meal. This burger features a juicy beef patty, topped with a slice of melted American cheese. Nestled between a soft, toasted bun, the 100% beef burger is complemented by melty American cheese, one pickle, ketchup, and mustard on a toasted buttery bakery bun.

This burger contains a modest calorie count compared to other fast-food offerings, helping those who are mindful of their caloric intake. The cheeseburger also provides a balanced mix of macronutrients, offering protein from the beef patty, essential for muscle repair and growth.

 The Best & Worst Menu Items at Jack in the Box, According to a Nutritionist

Hardee's Mushroom and Swiss Single

hardees Mushroom and Swiss Thickburger
Hardee's
Nutrition (Per burger):
Calories: 560
Fat: 29 g (Saturated fat: 12 g)
Sodium: 1,330 mg
Carbs: 49 g (Fiber: 3 g, Sugar: 13 g)
Protein: 30 g

Hardee's Mushroom and Swiss Single features a Quarter Pound 100% Angus beef patty topped with melted Swiss and finished with mushroom sauce, all served on a perfectly toasted potato bun. While this burger is loaded with sodium and has a significant amount of saturated fat, it is lower in calories than many of the other Hardees offerings. It also contains some fiber and a boost of protein, which can help promote satiety, possibly helping combat hunger pangs. This burger's sodium and saturated fat are relatively high, so if you are focused on your heart health, this one may be an option to skip.

Sonic Quarter Pound Double Cheeseburger

sonic Quarter Pound Double Cheeseburger
Sonic
Nutrition (Per burger):
Calories: 560
Fat: 35 g (Saturated fat: 12 g)
Sodium: 1,230 mg
Carbs: 34 g (Fiber: 0 g, Sugar: 6 g)
Protein: 26 g

Surprisingly, this double cheeseburger is one of the "better for you" choices at this restaurant, using the term "better for you" as a relative one. This Sonic Cheeseburger is a classic American favorite that combines savory flavors with hearty ingredients. It starts with two beef patties with two slices of American cheese, pickles, ketchup, and mustard on a toasted bun.

Again, this burger's calories, sodium, and saturated fat make it a less-than-stellar choice for people focused on their heart health. But this sandwich does clock in at a lot less than 1,000 calories, making it a better choice when compared to other options on the Sonic menu.

Checker's All American Cheeseburger

Checker's All American Cheeseburger
Rally's
Nutrition (Per burger):
Calories: 330
Fat: 18 g (Saturated fat: 7 g)
Sodium: 1,050 mg
Carbs: 31 g (Fiber: 1 g, Sugar: 8 g)
Protein: 13 g

Checkers' Cheeseburger features a hamburger patty, topped with cheese, pickles, ketchup and mustard, all on a sesame seed bun.

This cheeseburger is relatively lower in calories and saturated fat than other options. However, it does offer a boost of sodium, clocking in at over 1,000 calories per sandwich, making it another cheeseburger you should limit or avoid if you are focused on heart health.

Lauren Manaker, MS, RDN, LD, CLEC, CPT
Lauren Manaker is an award-winning registered dietitian, book author, and recipe developer who has been in practice for almost 20 years. Read more about Lauren