12 Worst Fast-Food Burgers of All Time, Say Dietitians
If you're a very busy person with barely enough time to squeeze in one meal a day, you might consider stopping at Applebee's for a Quesadilla Burger and getting that "to-do" out of your way. In one greasy, five-napkin sitting, you'll pack away nearly an entire day's calorie needs—and that's not counting the fries or Ultra Strength Tums you'll likely need, too. That burger might be a terrific choice if you happen to be an arctic explorer who needs to consume a lot of dietary fat to stay warm, given the high number of calories relative to the amount of saturated fats it contains. But according to some dietitians, for the average American, this sandwich ranks among the worst fast-food burgers you can eat. But hold on folks! If you're too busy for a sitdown lunch, there are more than enough heavy-duty ground beef meal deals available through the convenience of our nation's drive-thru windows.
"Eating this kind of food on a regular basis may contribute to increased risk of nearly every chronic disease, including hypertension, obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease," says expert nutritionist Lauren Manaker, MS, RDN, LD, CLEC, author of the First Time Mom's Pregnancy Cookbook and Fueling Male Fertility. "Plus, it is said that much fast-food packaging is made with poly-fluorochemicals known as 'forever chemicals.' While more research is needed to explore the effects of these chemicals, some studies suggest a potential link to negative reproductive health issues and liver injury."
Here's your menu of the worst fast-food burgers of all time. Bon appétit!
Pretzel Bacon Pub Triple From Wendy's
Where's the beef? Here you go: three-quarters of a pound of the never-frozen cow, slathered in warm beer cheese sauce. And since you can't have enough cheese, Wendy's throws on an extra slice of muenster. What's a pub burger without crispy fried onions and a soft pretzel for a bun?
"The U.S. Dietary Guidelines recommend keeping sodium intake to 2,300 milligrams; this burger gives you 82% of that daily limit," says Johna Burdeos, RD. "High sodium is associated with an increased risk of kidney disease, high blood pressure, and heart disease."
Triple Meat Whataburger From Whataburger
Despite that all-American mantra "more is better," when it comes to burgers, think "less is healthier." Order the regular, single-patty version and you'll still get a meal that makes your mouth sing "what a burger!" But you'll trim the calories and fat by almost half. Doing so, will also limit your consumption of trans fats to 1 gram. Trans fats are the worst of the worst fats for your body, increasing your risk of heart disease.
Quarter Pounder With Cheese & Bacon From McDonald's
With roughly one McDonald's restaurant per 24,000 people in the United States, you don't have to look hard to find the Golden Arches on the highway horizon.
"An occasional visit is OK," says Manaker. "You can find some better choices than other burgers that are packed with saturated fat."
For example, a regular hamburger at Micky D's is a healthier option than this bacon and cheese topped quarter pounder, which has "a whopping 630 calories, over half the recommended intake of sodium and 15 grams of saturated fat, which is 77% of the DV," says Manaker.
Bacon Cheeseburger From Five Guys
You might be noticing a pattern among these burger offerings, no? Here's a hint: it rhymes with "makin'." America's favorite cured meat adds hefty calories, fat, and sodium to an already fatty sandwich. And the fact that it is "applewood smoked" doesn't make it any healthier. Dietitians recommend leaving off the bacon, choosing a Little Hamburger from Five Guys and loading up on healthier toppings like lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, green peppers, and mushrooms.
SuperSONIC Bacon Double Cheeseburger From Sonic
Hey, guess what? Order Sonic's combo deal with fries and a large soda and you'll get more than triple the calories, a super sonic 3,790!
Smokey BBQ Triple Big Buford From Rally's or Checkers
Order this monster of a triple-patty hamburger from either Rally's or Checkers, and you'll be treated to 2,500 milligrams of sodium, which is 250 mg more than the American Heart Association recommends we limit ourselves to daily. If you have high blood pressure or, well, just happen to be an adult, the AHA suggest you limit yourself to just 1,550 mg of salt. "No one should consume this burger on a regular basis," warns Trista Best, MPH, RD, a registered dietitian with Balance One. "It's three burger patties and three slices of American cheese contribute 78 grams of fat and half of the standard calorie intake for a day."
Quesadilla Burger From Applebee's
This Tex-Mex-style burger has been a staple on the Applebee's menu for more than a decade. It is super filling.
"Applebee's quesadilla burger, which includes a side of classic fries, serves up 1,620 calories. That's practically a whole day's worth of calories for some people," says Burdeos. "If you eat a high calorie burger like this on a regular basis and eat other foods the rest of the day, you're likely going above your daily needs." That's a recipe for weight gain, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.
Monster Double Thickburger From Hardee's
If this burger's "monster" moniker doesn't scare you, its 4.5 grams of trans fats should. The American Heart Association recommends we get less than 1% of our daily fats from this the most dangerous type of fat, which is associated with increased risk of heart disease because it is known to raise LDL ("bad") cholesterol and lower HDL ("good") cholesterol. In other words, a typical 2,000-calorie-per-day diet should contain less than 2 grams of trans fats. Hardee's heftiest of burgers contains 4.5 grams of the bad stuff. The lesson? Never let yourself get so hungry, you order something called a "thickburger."
Triple Decker Bacon Cheeseburger From Friendly's
Sorry, friend. There's nothing amiable about this heart-attack on a bun. When first launched in 2019, Friendly's boasted that their new sandwich is stacked so high with meat and cheese "you'll need an elevator." I wonder if it's really that they misspelled "undertaker." What's worse, Friendly's challenged us to "finish the NEW Triple Decker Bacon Cheeseburger and NEW Candy Blast Monster Shake (add nearly 2,500 calories) in one visit." The prize for this: a free t-shirt (extra large, of course).
Bacon King From Burger King
Consider canceling the soda. In addition to all those calories, BK's biggest burger contains 14 grams of sugar, more than you'd get in a 12-ounce soda. May we suggest a Whopper Jr. as an alternative meal? You'll slash your total calories and sodium intake by about three-quarters.
Double Cheese Slider From White Castle
Don't let the 330 calories per burger fool you. Remember, these are sliders, and you'll probably slam at least two, maybe four, so, do the math. White Castle burgers are particularly high in sodium for such thin patties of meat.
Double-Double From In-N-Out Burger
Not the worst burger on this list of worsts, but this is the most caloric burger on the iconic SoCal franchise's menu at 670 calories and 1,440 mg of salt. Double-double means you get double the beef and double the cheese. If you're ordering one, might as well have it Animal Style, griddled in mustard and caramelized onions and doused with extra Thousand Island dressing.