The Top 50 Fast-Food Chains in America—Ranked by Popularity
Fancy McDonald's for its world-famous fries and Wendy's for the never-frozen cheeseburgers? While many fast-food-frequenting folks swear by their favorite drive-thru joint, have you ever wondered which restaurant continues to steal the heart of the majority and bridges the gap between our polarized population? YouGov, a firm that specializes in online research, has been keeping track of the most popular dining brands in America based on more than 1,500 interviews across multiple demographics taken between October 2021 and December 2021.
According to YouGov, popularity is "calculated by taking the proportion of people who view something positively and showing it as a percentage of all of the people who have given any opinion about that thing, including 'have heard of.'"
To help make YouGov's data of dining brands more digestible, we combed through the list and isolated just the fast-food chains. We ranked these fast-food joints from least to most popular.
And for more, check out The Oldest Fast-Food Chains in America—Revealed!
Checkers & Rally's
Looking for a classic burger? Look no further—it's dare we say, a checkmate ordering from here.
There really is something for everyone at this smoothie shop—besides frozen drinks you can sip on, there are smoothie bowls and plenty of bites.
Einstein Bros. Bagels
When you can't get to a local bagel shop, Einstein Bros. will do the trick.
This classic ice cream shop has lots of flavors and special days for BOGO-free sundaes. What more could you ask for?
Sbarro is best known for its large pizza slices that happen to be in every mall court. Classic.
Shake Shack has become an international megachain, so it's no surprise it made the list of the top 50 most popular fast-food spots.
You can't beat Wingstop's lunch special, with boneless wings, fries, and a drink for under $10.
What is Whataburger, you may ask? This regional joint is known for its menu's oversized meaty masterpieces and waiters' Southern hospitality.
Yes, Firehouse Subs was actually started by two brothers who happened to be firefighters before getting into the sandwich business.
Say a little prayer: This fried chicken fast-food chain made the cut.
Subway may have many more locations than Jersey Mike's, but this sandwich shop still made its way into the top 50.
Jimmy John's slogan is "Freaky Fast, Freaky Fresh," and it looks like customers find this to be true!
Long John Silver's
Ahoy, matey! This seafood-based fast-food chain comes in around the middle of the pack when it comes to the best fast-food spots in the U.S.
Are a charbroiled burger and decadent milkshake in your future? A visit to Carl's Jr. might be where you end up!
Jack in the Box
Whether you visit this smoothie chain on a trip to the mall or after a workout, nothing hits the spot like a drink from Orange Julius.
You can never go wrong with a hot dog and French fries combo, and what better place to order that than at Nathan's?
It's a California classic, but perhaps its exclusivity is what prevented In-N-Out from ranking higher in the minds of all Americans. For those who happen to live by one, customers have plenty of options to dig into, from the outrageous animal-style fries to the celeb-favorite protein-style burgers.
Another mall court and airport staple, Auntie Anne's pretzels are unmatched.
The sister brand to Carl's Jr. is cherished a bit more by their customers!
With thousands of locations across America, Panda Express is the top-ranking Asian dining brand in the country, according to the 2018 QSR 50 Ethnic Segment Report, which gathers the best restaurant brands in the country and segments them into categories.
True fans know that guacamole is extra—and they'll happily fork over the extra cash. Here's What to Order at Chipotle.
From the rotisserie chickens to the delectable mac and cheese, Boston Market is always a great stop for a hearty meal. Here are The Best & Worst Menu Items at Boston Market.
Papa John's is always boasting about its better ingredients, and it seems like there are plenty of customers who continue to order these pizzas.
"Pizza, pizza" has plenty of loyal fans, thanks to the "cheap and fast" vibe of the food. Speaking of pizza, do you know what the most popular pizza topping is in your state?
Starbucks has gathered a reputation for being the go-to place when you're in the mood for a pumpkin coffee drink once fall rolls around. And with their decadent Frappuccinos, there are plenty of sweet treats for non-coffee drinkers, too.
Quizno's offers up classic sandwiches, and who can resist the fresh pepper bar?
While Five Guys has some top-notch burgers and fries, this is a spot for peanut lovers, too. You can munch on peanuts that are available all over the restaurants while you order your meal.
Cold Stone Creamery
This ice cream shop serves up cold customized treats for whatever your heart desires, so it's basically a dream come true, right?
Sometimes, you just want one of Sonic's frozen drinks and a burger to go along with it. Yum!
Want to chow down on more juicy hamburgers? Here's where you can get The Absolute Best Burger in Every State.
The Colonel is still going strong! Who doesn't want to eat their chicken right out of a bucket?
Yes, the root beer chain sells food! Here are The Best & Worst Menu Items at A&W.
Those giant chocolate chip cookies that just call your name as you're walking by? They are a staple of all Mrs. Fields locations, so we don't blame you for having one now and then.
People surveyed described this sandwich shop as a "good value for money." If you're a Subway fan, you're not alone! Headed to Subway? Here's Every Subway Sandwich—Ranked for Nutrition!
Domino's is hailed by fans for being well-made and a good value. With wings and yummy chocolate lava cakes to go alongside a pizza, Domino's is simply beloved.
Plenty of loyal Popeyes fans eat there on the reg, and we know the chicken sandwich was truly worth all the hype.
From its house-made lemonade to that tasty mac and cheese to those fresh-baked bagels, Panera has it all. No wonder it ranked so highly on YouGov's list!
This taco joint rings its loyal customers' bells for being "everywhere and good quality." By the way, You'll Never Guess What Taco Bell Uses to Season Its Beef.
With a plethora of crusts, cheesy toppings, and grilled veggies to choose from, it's no surprise pizza lovers keep coming back to the Hut.
America actually does run on Dunkin', doesn't it? Those Munchkins are rather irresistible.
No mall trip is ever done without a pit stop at Cinnabon for a warm, gooey, perfectly sticky cinnamon bun.
Ranking higher than McDonald's and Burger King is the beloved redhead! The real question is, which flavor Frosty do you get: chocolate or vanilla?
From the affordably priced cups of caffeine to the hot-out-the-oven classic glazed doughnuts, it's easy to see why Krispy Kreme has such a devoted following.
Craving ice cream? Baskin Robbins comes in the first-place spot. And they have so many delicious scoop flavors!
Majority rules! Customers raved that the fast-food chain is "good quality," "never gets old," and is a "good value for money." That sounds like a winning combo to us! DQ even sold more than 175 million Blizzards the first year they introduced them in 1985—who knew?
For more, check out these 108 most popular sodas ranked by how toxic they are.
More content from Restaurants
- – McDonald's Latest Drive-Thru Innovation Could Soon Be Added to More Locations
- – 5 Fast-Food Chains Most Criticized By Customers
- – Chick-fil-A Just Unveiled a Solution To Its Ongoing Drive-Thru Issues
- – Burger King Is Launching Two Major New Burgers
- – This National Pizza Chain Just Announced Plans to Open 1,000 New Locations
- – 5 Controversial Rules Hooters Servers Have To Follow
- – These Steakhouse Chains Are Seeing Record Sales After Bringing Back a Pre-Pandemic Attraction
- – This Once-Popular Restaurant Chain Is Making a Comeback After 15 Years