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The Top 50 Fast-Food Chains in America in 2024—Ranked by Popularity

When it comes down to a popularity contest, these chains stand out from the rest.
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Are you hungry and need food in a flash? If so, you probably do what many Americans do and turn to your favorite fast-food chain for a tasty meal in a matter of minutes, all without breaking the bank. But, which fast-food chains reign supreme when it comes to pure popularity? Perhaps these chains don't have the flashiest menus or most complex ingredients, but when it comes down to a popularity contest, some chains stand out from the rest.

That's all according to internet polling firm YouGov, which recently released its regularly updated list of the most popular dining locations across the nation. According to YouGov, a chain's popularity is determined by the percentage of consumers that has a positive association with the brand. While these rankings consider all restaurant chains, today's roundup is strictly focused on fast-food establishments. From burgers to pizzas to ice cream, here are the top 50 most popular fast-food chains in America for 2024.

Carvel

Carvel ice cream
Carvel Ice Cream / Facebook

Just making the cut this year is Carvel, an ice cream shop perhaps best known by customers for its frozen cakes you can find in the grocery store. Carvel locations also serve multiple ice cream flavors in cones, sundaes, and more.

 8 Ice Cream Chains Where Chefs Actually Eat

Smoothie King

smoothie king
Shutterstock

Beverage chain Smoothie King offers frozen drinks made with real ingredients. It's hard to top that when you're in the mood for a refreshing, ice-cold beverage. It takes the place of Jamba Juice, which ranked 49th in the 2022 roundup but failed to make the cut this year.

Shake Shack

shake shack brownie batter hot cocoa shake
Shake Shack / Facebook

Hailed as one of the best burger chains in America, Shake Shack does a lot of things well, including its popular burgers and milkshakes. Expect to find everything from chicken sandwiches to hot dogs on the menu during your next visit.

Carl's Jr.

person holding carl's Jr. western bacon cheeseburger
Carl's Jr. / Facebook

Carl's Jr. has a menu filled with food items you might not find at other fast-food chains, from breakfast burritos to Chicken Stars. The brand dropped 10 slots from 2022, though it remains strong enough to be a top 50 brand. Carl's is a sister brand to Hardee's, which ranks higher on this list.

Fuddruckers

Fuddruckers
Fuddruckers / Facebook

Fuddruckers made its way onto the top 50 list this year after not appearing on the list in 2022. The once nearly extinct burger chain has made a comeback in recent years and is now considered one of the top burger chains in the country.

Raising Cane's

dipping raising canes chicken
Raising Cane's / Facebook

Raising Cane's has recently pushed for expansion, with a brand-new Times Square location opening up in New York City in 2023. The Southern-style chicken fast-food chain going nationwide likely plays a part in why it appears in this top 50 roundup.

Quiznos

quiznos
Shutterstock

Sandwich chain Quiznos has struggled in recent years, but it has since bounced back. Its popularity took a hit as a result, however, plummeting from number 23 in 2022's ranking.

Culver's

Culver's chocolate custard
Culver's / Facebook

Regional burger chain Culver's cracked the top 50 fast-food chains this year after not always making the cut in the past. Its popularity is thanks in large part to its signature ButterBurger and fresh frozen custard.

Einstein Bros. Bagels

Einstein Bros Bagels
Courtesy of Einstein Bros Bagels

Einstein Bros. Bagels saw a small jump from the 48th slot in 2022's roundup. Given the chain's menu of tasty breakfast sandwiches and an array of bagel options, it's no wonder it's becoming a top choice for consumers.

Orange Julius

Orange Julius
Orange Julius / Facebook

You may have distant memories of the chain at your now-defunct mall's food court, but Orange Julius is still a popular fast-food choice for many. Beyond the signature frozen orange-flavored beverage, it serves all kinds of smoothies with flavors such as pineapple, pomegranate, and piña colada.

The 8 Healthiest Fast-Food Smoothies To Order Right Now

Church's Texas Chicken

churchs chicken
Church's Texas Chicken/ Facebook

Church's Texas Chicken has had an eye on expansion in the last few years. The fast-food chain specializes in fried chicken, and it serves several Southern sides to go along with its fried bird, including baked mac and cheese, honey-butter biscuits, and fried okra.

Wingstop

Wingstop / Facebook

If it's wings you're after, then Wingstop is perhaps the best fast-food option. There is a reason chefs rave about this place. The chain offers roughly a dozen different sauces and dry rubs to flavor your wings, all with varying levels of heat.

In-N-Out Burger

Kit Leong / Shutterstock

With its Double-Double burgers, Animal-Style fries, and a not-so-secret menu, In-N-Out has become a West Coast staple over the decades. Customers love its affordable prices and simple menu that can be customized in several different ways to suit personal preferences.

Long John Silver's

long john silvers storefront
Shutterstock

There aren't many fast-food chains specializing in seafood these days, which makes Long John Silver's sort of unique and probably helped to keep its popularity intact over the years.

Starbucks

Starbucks customers holding cups
Farknot Architect / Shutterstock

Coffee giant Starbucks took a bit of a hit since past roundups, where it has ranked higher. Just 51% of respondents viewed the brand favorably in the latest survey. It is still a force to be reckoned with thanks to its fan-favorite menu items that include seasonal specialties, holiday menus, and year-round classics.

Jack in the Box

jack in the box breakfast
Jack in the Box / Facebook

Looking for a midnight snack? Jack in the Box's menu has plenty of late-night snacks to keep you happy. Its menu keeps its customers fed throughout the day as well, with breakfast and lunch favorites like the Bacon Breakfast Jack and Sourdough Jack.

Whataburger

whataburger bacon blue cheese burger and fries
Whataburger / Facebook

Whataburger, which got its start in Texas, is beloved by customers for its fresh burgers made with high-quality ingredients as well as its unique breakfast sandwiches. Whataburger has plenty of tasty choices, from patty melts to hot apple pies, to keep regulars coming back.

Firehouse Subs

firehouse subs meatball sub
Firehouse Subs / Facebook

Firehouse Subs leaped nearly 10 spots from past rankings. Known for its hot subs, the sandwich chain is one where chefs like to eat.

Panda Express

panda express family feast
Panda Express / Facebook

Considered the largest family-owned Asian restaurant chain in America, Panda Express has grown to 2,300 locations worldwide. A meal at Panda Express can range from a simple two-ingredient bowl to a hearty plate with multiple proteins and sides.

Jimmy John's

jimmy johns sandwiches
Courtesy of Jimmy John's

Are you in the mood for a sandwich? Jimmy John's serves both classic cold-cut subs as well as savory hot sandwiches, all made with hand-sliced meat.

 11 Restaurant Chains With the Most Outrageous Sandwiches

Hardee's

Hardee's restaurants
James R. Martin / Shutterstock

Once again, Hardee's has outranked its sister brand, Carl's Jr.  Both fast-food chains feature the Happy Star logo and many similar menu items, though Hardee's has more locations.

Steak 'n Shake

Steak 'n Shake burger, fries, and drink
Steak 'n Shake / Facebook

The burger patties at Steak 'n Shake stand out for their blend of meat from round, sirloin, and t-bone cuts. Despite many of its locations closing in the last couple of years, Steak 'n Shake still leaped onto this top 50 roundup.

Nathan's Famous

nathan's famous hot dogs and fries
Nathan's Famous / Facebook

Famous for its hot dogs, Nathan's Famous excels at its core products. Pair those hot dogs with a side of cheese fries and you're in fast-food heaven.

Auntie Anne's

auntie annes pretzel
Shutterstock

Pretzel fans are likely well familiar with the fast-food chain Auntie Anne's. It's a staple at malls across America, with classic soft pretzels, pretzel bites, and cinnamon sugar pretzels for dessert.

Jersey Mike's Subs

jersey mikes slicing
Jersey Mike's Subs / Facebook

When it comes to sandwich chains, Jersey Mike's is a popular choice. The chain makes fresh hot and cold sandwiches featuring all of the usual suspects. That, along with the more than 2,500 locations across America, makes this a bustling lunch spot.

White Castle

white castle original slider combo
White Castle

With dirt-cheap sliders that deliver on taste and value, White Castle has for decades been a reliable fast-food chain for inexpensive food options. Over the years, those basic sliders have evolved to include more unique options, such as the Jalapeño Cheese and Impossible varieties.

Chipotle Mexican Grill

chipotle burrito bowl
Chipotle / Facebook

With a focus on fresh ingredients, Chipotle serves Mexican cuisine in a made-to-order fashion. Fans are fiercely loyal to the brand, despite having to spend extra for guacamole.

Little Caesars

little caesars deep dish
Little Caesars / Facebook

"Pizza pizza," anyone? Little Caesars not only serves traditional round pizzas, but it also specializes in rectangular Detroit-style deep-dish pizzas.

Cold Stone Creamery

Cold Stone Creamery ice cream
Cold Stone Creamery / Facebook

Named for the cold granite its frozen novelties are prepared on, Cold Stone Creamery offers several customizable desserts. Choose from classic desserts or create your own, and watch in awe as the ingredients are mixed in front of your eyes.

Burger King

SrideeStudio / Shutterstock

With its signature Whopper sandwich, Burger King has been a worthy competitor among fast-food burger chains since it opened in 1954. In recent years, Burger King has introduced a number of interesting and limited-time items to its menu.

 10 Best Fast-Food Burgers Under $5

Papa Johns

papa johns epic stuffed crust pizza
Papa Johns Pizza / Facebook

Papa Johns moved up six places since its 2022 ranking. It's one of America's largest pizza chains, and clearly one of its most popular. Some 60% of respondents viewed the brand favorably in the latest survey. Its cheesy Epic Stuffed Crust Pizza also helps win everyone over.

Sonic Drive-In

sonic drive in
Sonic Drive-In / Facebook

With its drive-in ordering system, Sonic Drive-In is as much of a novelty for the ordering experience as it is for its menu items. Choose from a selection of hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken nuggets, and fries, and a server will bring your order to you without you having to step out of your car.

Popeyes

Popeyes chicken
David Tran Photo / Shutterstock

Do you "love that chicken from Popeyes?" A lot of customers do, whether they go for a chicken sandwich or a basket of fried chicken. There's no doubt about it, the fast-food brand excels at its core product, consistently ranking high among all the chicken chains.

Domino's

domino's perfect combo deal
Courtesy of Domino's

Domino's saw a dip from its number 13 ranking in 2022, but it still has a strong showing in the top 20. It is hard to argue with the value Domino's provides. The chain offers menu items including pasta, lava cake, and Buffalo wings, so you don't even have to be craving pizza to enjoy a take-out meal from Domino's.

Chick-fil-A

Chick-fil-A meal
Summer_Wind / Shutterstock

Famously closed on Sundays, Chick-fil-A has skyrocketed in popularity over the years. You won't find any hamburgers here, as Chick-fil-A's menu consists of chicken sandwiches and nuggets. Pair those with some waffle fries and lemonade, and you have the makings of a classic Chick-fil-A meal.

Arby's

arbys half pound
Arby's

They certainly "have the meats." Arby's has several meat-centric sandwiches to choose from, including its signature roast beef, Buffalo chicken, corned beef, brisket, and roast turkey. The chain has a lot of sandwich options you won't find at the average burger chain.

Panera Bread

panera value duet grilled cheese and tomato soup
Panera Bread (21 Airport Square, North Wales, PA) / Facebook

Customers can enjoy a sandwich, soup, or salad with artisanal vibes at Panera Bread. Can't decide? From the menu, opt for a You Pick Two meal combo, a hallmark of the brand.

Pizza Hut

Pizza Hut Big Dinner Box
Pizza Hut / Facebook

The top-rated pizza chain in this ranking, Pizza Hut is appreciated by customers for its value and quality—a pizza from Pizza Hut will surely feed a crowd of hungry friends. You'll find a plethora of toppings, the famous Original Stuffed Crust, and popular sides like cheese sticks.

A&W Restaurants

a&w root beer float
Courtesy of A&W

Fans of A&W root beer will be happy to know that the brand still has its own chain of fast-food restaurants. Customers can order the signature root beer made fresh on-site, alongside burgers and hot dogs off its menu.

Five Guys

Five Guys Little Hamburger
Photo: Five Guys / Facebook

Five Guys just barely missed the top 10 this year, but don't be mistaken, customers love the brand. Known for its made-to-order burgers and french fries cooked in peanut oil, this fast-food chain delivers big on flavor.

 11 Delicious Burgers You Can Only Order Off 'Secret Menus'

McDonald's

McDonald's burgers
Patcharaporn Puttipon4289 / Shutterstock

McDonald's barely made the top 10 this year. Perhaps the most widely recognized fast-food brand in the world, McDonald's has been serving Big Macs, shoestring french fries, and milkshakes since 1955. About 63% of respondents viewed the brand favorably in the latest survey.

Dunkin'

people taking dunkin' donuts
Dunkin' / Facebook

When you need breakfast on the go, there's probably a Dunkin' close by. If you live on the East Coast, you likely live near at least one location. The coffee chain has grown its menu over time to include items such as avocado toast and breakfast burritos, but many Dunkin' fans like to stick with the basic doughnut and iced coffee combos.

Subway

subway steak and cheese
Subway / Facebook

Subway is the largest fast-food chain in America, with more than 20,000 locations nationwide, according to QSR Magazine. The fast-casual sandwich concept where your lunch is made right in front of you introduced healthier options to would-be fast-food diners when it first opened in 1965 in Bridgeport, Conn.

KFC

KFC fried chicken
Shutterstock

KFC is a quintessentially American brand of fast food known the world over. Customers can choose from a variety of combinations that include fried chicken breasts, wings, and thighs, served with several hearty comfort food side dishes.

Taco Bell

Taco Bell Crunchwrap Supreme
Taco Bell / Facebook

Fast-casual Mexican chains have been popping up all across the nation in recent years, but none can surpass Taco Bell in terms of popularity. The chain has more than 7,200 locations nationwide, so there are plenty of places to go when you want a Crunchwrap Supreme and a refreshing sip of Baja Blast off the menu.

Krispy Kreme

krispy kreme glazed doughnut and iced coffee
Krispy Kreme Doughnuts / Facebook

The reigning king of fast-food doughnuts in this roundup is Krispy Kreme. The chain is known far and wide for its signature glazed donuts. When the red light is turned on, the doughnuts are at peak freshness.

Cinnabon

cinnabon order and store
Cinnabon / Facebook

A common sight in shopping mall food courts, Cinnabon is there for those sweet, sweet cinnamon roll cravings. America's sweet tooth must be strong, given its placement in the top five.

Wendy's

wendys frosty with fries
Wendy's / Facebook

Where else can you dine on a cheeseburger, a bowl of chili, a baked potato, and a frozen dessert all under one roof? Wendy's has been a top choice among fast-food aficionados for decades, with customers coming back for its delicious Frosty and Baconator.

Dairy Queen

Dairy Queen Blizzard
Dairy Queen / Facebook

Having taken home the gold in 2022, Dairy Queen comes in at number two for this roundup. The classic soft-serve ice cream chain is known for its cones, Blizzards, and other frozen dessert novelties.

 7 Fast-Food Chains With the Best Soft-Serve Ice Cream

Baskin–Robbins

baskin robbins ice cream
Baskin–Robbins US/ Facebook

Taking the top spot this year is Baskin–Robbins, the ice cream shop known for its array of flavors. It has been considered among the best fast-food chains in America for a while, so it's no surprise that it takes home the number one prize this year. A whopping 75% of respondents viewed the brand favorably in the latest survey.

Carly Neil
Carly Neil is a freelance writer specializing in all things food, travel, Disney, and theme parks. Read more about Carly