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The Top 50 Fast-Food Chains in America—Ranked by Popularity

Did your favorite burger joint crack the top 10? You'll be surprised which chain ranks number one.
FACT CHECKED BY Meaghan Cameron

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.

For the latest data, check out The Top 50 Fast-Food Chains in America in 2024—Ranked by Popularity.

Checkers & Rally's

Checkers restaurant
Flickr/ Phillip Pessar

Looking for a classic burger? Look no further—it's dare we say, a checkmate ordering from here.

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Jamba Juice

Jamba juice exterior

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

Einstein bros bagels

When you can't get to a local bagel shop, Einstein Bros. will do the trick.


Carvel ice cream shop
Susan Kehoe / Shutterstock

This classic ice cream shop has lots of flavors and special days for BOGO-free sundaes. What more could you ask for?

 The Best Ice Cream Shop in Every State


sbarro restaurant

Sbarro is best known for its large pizza slices that happen to be in every mall court. Classic.

Shake Shack

shake shack burger chicken and fries on tray
Joni Hanebutt/Shutterstock

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.

The easy way to make healthier comfort foods.


Wingstop restaurant exterior
Courtesy of Wingstop

You can't beat Wingstop's lunch special, with boneless wings, fries, and a drink for under $10.

 We Tried 5 Chain Restaurants' Chicken Wings & These Are the Best


whataburger sign

What is Whataburger, you may ask? This regional joint is known for its menu's oversized meaty masterpieces and waiters' Southern hospitality.

Firehouse Subs

firehouse subs storefront
Jonathan Weiss / Shutterstock

Yes, Firehouse Subs was actually started by two brothers who happened to be firefighters before getting into the sandwich business.

Church's Chicken

churchs chicken restaurant
Ken Wolter/Shutterstock

Say a little prayer: This fried chicken fast-food chain made the cut.

Jersey Mike's

Jersey mikes subs

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

jimmy johns

Jimmy John's slogan is "Freaky Fast, Freaky Fresh," and it looks like customers find this to be true!

Long John Silver's

long john silvers storefront

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.

 The Best Seafood Restaurant in Every State

Carl's Jr.

carls jr restaurant

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

Store front

Nuggets, milkshakes, and even tacos are on the menu at Jack in the Box. Another fast-food spot that has something for everyone! Here's The Top Swap at Jack in the Box.

Orange Julius

Orange julius

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.

Nathan's Famous

Nathans famous hot dogs storefront
Holly Vegter/Shutterstock

You can never go wrong with a hot dog and French fries combo, and what better place to order that than at Nathan's?

 We Tasted 8 Hot Dog Brands & This Is the Best

In-N-Out Burger

in-n-out burger restaurant
Michael Gordon/Shutterstock

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.

 11 Secrets In-N-Out Doesn't Want You to Know

Auntie Anne's

Auntie anne storefront

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!

Panda Express

Panda express

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.


chipotle mall

True fans know that guacamole is extra—and they'll happily fork over the extra cash. Here's What to Order at Chipotle.

White Castle

White castle logo on restaurant

Harold and Kumar aren't the only loyal customers who keep coming back to White Castle for some of those iconic sliders, and now, there is even an Impossible Slider on the menu.

Boston Market

Boston Market

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

papa johns
Courtesy of Papa John's

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.

Little Caesars

Little Caeasars

"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?


walk-in starbucks

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.


Quiznos exterior

Quizno's offers up classic sandwiches, and who can resist the fresh pepper bar?

Five Guys

Five guys burgers

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

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?


Sonic sign

Sometimes, you just want one of Sonic's frozen drinks and a burger to go along with it. Yum!

Burger King

burger king sign

While it may not be the most popular dining brand in the country, the King is still a top choice for many. Those Whoppers are still as tasty as ever, especially if you go for the Impossible Whopper.

Want to chow down on more juicy hamburgers? Here's where you can get The Absolute Best Burger in Every State.


kfc restaurant exterior

The Colonel is still going strong! Who doesn't want to eat their chicken right out of a bucket?

A&W Restaurants

A&W restaurant exterior
Susan Montgomery/Shutterstock

Yes, the root beer chain sells food! Here are The Best & Worst Menu Items at A&W.

Mrs. Fields

Mrs fields cookies

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.


subway neon open sign

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!


McDonald's store front

Are you still McLovin' it? You might've expected Mickey D's to claim a spot closer to the top, but those golden fries and Big Macs seem to have some more competition.


Domino's pizza sign

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.


popeyes restaurant storefront
Ken Wolter/Shutterstock

Plenty of loyal Popeyes fans eat there on the reg, and we know the chicken sandwich was truly worth all the hype.


panera bread

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!

Taco Bell

Taco bell restaurant

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.



Although loyal customers can't satisfy their fried chicken cravings on Sunday, Chick-fil-A still is a top spot to go when you're in the mood for a chicken sandwich and some waffle fries.

Pizza Hut

Pizza hut

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.


Arbys storefront
Courtesy of Arby's

For all the meat-lovers out there, Arby's is your place, especially if you're a fan of their staple, roast beef sandwiches.


Dunkin' donuts logo

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.


wendys baconfest sign
Jonathan Weiss/Shutterstock

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?

Krispy Kreme

Krispy kreme doughnuts & coffee

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.


baskin robbins outside

Craving ice cream? Baskin Robbins comes in the first-place spot. And they have so many delicious scoop flavors!

Dairy Queen

dairy queen deal
Courtesy of Dairy Queen

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.


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