Burgers. They’re cheap, they taste good and they go great with a side of fries and a soft drink. It’s the ultimate form of fast food, and has become a popular dish outside of the fast food industry as well. Everyone has their favorites and there are plenty to choose from. But which out of these are the best is entirely subjective. That being said, people are always going to have their reasons as to why they think their favorite brand puts out the best burgers.
In 2014 YouGov polled over 1.2 million Americans over the course of a few weeks to determine who had the best burger/fries combination. The big names like McDonald’s, Burger King and Wendy’s were all up there with some smaller chains making their case as well. While this was basically a popularity contest, the Big Mac – easily the most recognizable burger out there – fell well behind several other types of burgers.
These are the 11 best bargain burgers and fries according to the YouGov poll.
12 Honorable Mention: Shake Shack
While it might have not been mentioned on the YouGov poll, Shake Shack has earned a reputation among consumers. In the short time that it’s been around, The New York City based operation has been receiving rave reviews and was voted as the 11th best burger in America by The Daily Meal. While it might not be a colossal franchise, it has expanded a great deal since it first opened in 2004. The once small chain popped up in several States in the US before going international, and now has locations in London, Moscow and Dubai.
11 White Castle – Fries: 1%, Burger: 4%
White Castle was first founded in 1921, and is credited as being the first ever fast food chain in the United States. At the time of its conception, Americans were hesitant when it came to eating ground beef, but the Kansas based burger joint took off nonetheless. Apart from the towering designs of their establishments, White Castle is probably best known for their signature “sliders.” More square than round, they’re served several at a time and were called the most influential burger of all time by Time magazine.
10 Whataburger – Fries: 2%, Burger: 5%
Whataburger is pretty popular in the southern United States and has over seven hundred locations to date. The San Antonio based fast food chain started up in 1950 near a Corpus Christi community college. The franchise grew slowly over time and had reached over three hundred stores by the 80s. Like most burger places, Whataburger offers a wide variety of meals, but the chain's most popular product is still the original Whataburger. Though it might have gotten a little pricier from the days when it could be bought for a quarter, it’s still pretty big hit.
9 Carl’s Jr. – Fries: 2%, Burger: 4%
One of the largest fast food chains in the United States, Carl’s Jr. has recently began expanding their restaurants globally. Perhaps best known for their somewhat provocative ad campaigns, there have been a number of celebrities promoting various items on the Carl’s Jr. menu. Paris Hilton, Kate Upton and Kim Kardashian are just some of the many who’ve been featured in the provocative commercials. But all that aside, Carl’s Jr. is a burger joint first and foremost. While the products themselves might get a little overshadowed by the people promoting them, they’ve been keeping the California based burger joint going strong for over seventy years.
8 Jack in the Box – Fries: 2%, Burger: 5%
Jack in the Box serves 21 states in the U.S. and has been doing so since it was founded back in 1951. The California based burger joint operates over two thousand locations across the United States. The fries might not be too popular with consumers, but their burgers are what’s keeping them going strong. The franchise has an instantly recognizable mascot character – Jack Box – who has been in use since 1994 and has stared in a number of the chain's commercials.
7 Hardee’s – Fries: 2%, Burger: 5%
Much like their sibling restaurant, Carl’s Jr., Hardee’s isn’t too popular when it comes to fries, but has a slight advantage when it comes to hamburgers. Unlike its sibling chain, Hardee’s restaurants are much smaller in number, but win the popularity contest just slightly. Much like Carl’s Jr. however, Hardee’s employs the same brand of risqué advertising, and are often found along with their sister chain in commercials that spotlight similar menu items for both restaurants.
6 In-N-Out-Burger – Fries: 5%, Burger: 9%
In-N-Out-Burger is one of the biggest fast food restaurants in the southwest United States. They’ve developed a great reputation with their customers over the years and are often rated positively in customer satisfaction surveys, so it’s no surprise to see their products rated so favorably by consumers. While the menu isn’t huge, it’s consistent. And that’s probably why they’re so popular with their customers. Compared to other restaurants on this list thus far, In-N-Out-Burger has a pretty balanced menu and most customers seem satisfied with both their fries and burgers.
5 Arby’s – Fries: 7%, Burger: 1%
The opinion on Arby’s seems to be pretty one-sided. Great fries but not so good burgers. To be fair, compared to the other establishments on this list, Arby’s “burgers” are a little different. In fact they aren’t even burgers, they’re sandwiches. Most of the menu consists of deli-style meats with a few fried chicken sandwiches thrown in. The restaurant's famous curly fries seem to be a home run with consumers, however, and while their sandwiches may not be too popular, they’ve at least got a decent amount of customers who love their fries.
4 Wendy’s – Fries: 7%, Burger: 14%
While they might not have themselves a signature burger like McDonald’s and Burger King, Wendy’s boasts a large selection of products and their Baconator is one of the franchise's most popular and most recognizable burgers. Wendy’s burgers are some of the best out there according to consumers, and it’s no surprise seeing as people have had over forty years to grow accustom to eating them. Next to McDonald’s, Wendy’s has one of the most easily recognizable mascots in the food industry. The Ohio based franchise has grown to be one of the largest fast food chains in North America, as well as being one of the most popular.
3 Five Guys – Fries: 9%, Burger: 15%
Five Guys is a relatively young chain that has blown up in recent years. It’s the fastest growing fast food chain in the United States, and a big reason for that is the quality of their burgers. It’s nothing fancy, but it’s gotten really popular. It’s kind of a do it yourself system – like Subway – where customers choose what kind of burger they want and then select their toppings. A simple system, but simple is often the best way to go. The fries are cooked in peanut oil and are offered in standard form on spicy Cajun style.
2 Burger King – Fries: 10%, Burger: 15%
The only other fast food joint that can apparently hold a candle to Five Guys’ burgers is Burger King. The six-decade-old franchise is tied for first with the best burgers according to consumers. The Whopper has been the chain's signature product and is right up there with the Big Mac as one of the most recognizable burgers in the world. Burger King is one of the largest fast food franchises out there, alongside McDonald’s and Wendy’s. It’s not surprising to see them rank so high given their large market.
1 McDonald’s – Fries: 34%, Burger: 7%
McDonald’s has the best fries in the world, hands down. They pretty much blow all other competition out of the water on that front. But strangely their most iconic product – the Big Mac – isn’t as well received by consumers and falls behind Wendy’s, Burger King, Five Guys and In-N-Out-Burger. While the burgers may be popular they’ve been painted as being somewhat unhealthy over recent years which might explain why it’s so far behind in the poll. But this is fast food, it’s not generally healthy to begin with. So long as it’s cheap and it tastes good, everyone’s happy.