At some point in the history of our great country, the humble hamburger became an important piece of our daily lives and a comfort food that bridges all social and economic gaps. From its beginnings as a simple, lowly burger patty lying between two pieces of bread, the hamburger has grown in stature and importance to become more essential to our identity than just about any other food item. Although the style of burger we like can vary by region, it's a universally-loved food that satisfies the stomach and the soul.
Not just any burger can make the cut, however. There's no question that some burgers are just better than others, whether because we have fond memories attached to them, they remind us of home, or they're just so amazing that the taste transports us to some other delicious dimension temporarily. Some fast food burger joints remind us that simple is best, while others are changing things up with new additions or ingredients. Whether it's nostalgia, a taste of home or objectively the best burger out there in terms of taste, we've ranked every major fast food burger in the US. See what burgers made the cut, and why!
30 Krystal Sackfull (Krystal)
Those unfortunate souls who live outside of the Deep South or who have never traveled through there might not have heard of Krystal Burgers, and we are truly sorry for that. The basic Krystal burger is a small patty topped with diced onions, mustard and a slice of pickle, and a steamed bun, as per Krystal. Krystal has made these tiny gems miniature since before sliders were cool. Now imagine a bag full of 12 or 24 of these babies. Ohhh, yes.
29 The Butterburger (Culver's)
Culver's is a fan-favorite in the Midwest region, but new locations are popping up all the time so it's only a matter of time before they're nationwide. A basic burger done right deserves a spot on a best burger list, and Culver's Butterburger is their signature burger. As implied by the name, the beef patty, lettuce, tomato, mayo and pickle are all stacked on a lightly buttered bun, according to Culver's. Butter absolutely does make everything better.
28 The Whopper (Burger King)
Although fancier burgers have come a long way since the days when Burger King was a big dog in town, their Whopper will always hold a special place in many burger eaters' hearts. The flame-grilled beef patty is linked to childhood memories and earliest burger experiences, and in some places in the US is still the go-to burger, as per Burger King. We know what to expect with the Whopper, and we can rely on that so-familiar flavor when we need it.
27 The Big Mac (McDonald's)
The Big Mac might as well be part of our DNA—it's been McDonald's signature burger since 1968, according to McDonald's. Two patties are separated by an extra piece of bun, and the secret sauce has made the Big Mac what it is in our burger-eating culture. It tastes nothing like Burger King's Whopper, so often fans are divided along Big Mac or Whopper lines and don't cross on principle. Reliability makes the Big Mac a comfort food we can rely on.
26 S'Awesome Bacon Classic (Wendy's)
Wendy's has distinguished itself from the previous two brands by reminding customers that they don't freeze their beef patties. To that fresh patty, they've added bacon, cheese, lettuce, onion and a pickle all smothered in a new tangy sauce, according to Wendy's. It's a great, basic burger with a few extras to dress it up, and it's getting some deserved respect. We're not sure the name is as s'awesome as they say, but it tastes good and that's all we care about.
25 Bacon Cheese Krystal (Krystal)
Let's backtrack to the already-established basic goodness of the Krystal burger best enjoyed by the sack full, and add a slice of melted cheese and some crispy bacon to get the deliciousness known as a Bacon Cheese Krystal, as per Krystal. Their tried-and-true formula isn't messed up by a few extra decorations, but augmented for a nice change from the regular Krystal Burger. It's all still wrapped up in the classic steamed bun, thank goodness.
24 Classic Cheese Slider (White Castle)
There's nothing wrong with showing appreciation for tiny burgers. While the White Castle Classic Cheese Slider isn't going to win any top gourmet awards, it's another reliable burger that is always there for us when we need it—if we live on the East Coast that is. A thin patty is topped with a slice of cheese, grilled onions and a pickle on a dinner-roll style bun, according to White Castle. The only thing better than one slider is ten.
23 Bacon And Swiss Buttery Jack (Jack In The Box)
Here comes butter again, and we're so happy. We also like when we can get a different cheese, like Swiss. For those who think that bacon on a burger only adds and never subtracts, then this burger is a winner—not only is it topped with bacon, it's slathered with bacon mayo, explains Jack In The Box. We appreciate the appeal to our taste buds and total lack of concern for our overall health. Sometimes it just needs to taste good.
22 SuperSONIC Double Cheeseburger (Sonic)
If a single Sonic cheeseburger is delicious, then doubling the beef patties must be more delicious. The SuperSONIC Double Cheeseburger doesn't pretend to be anything fancy—it's just a hunger-abolishing burger that hits the spot. We like that Sonic isn't stingy with the pickles—instead of one lonely slice, they layer the SuperSONIC with pickle slices, according to Sonic. The two patties also get a slice of cheese each, which is only right and very tasty.
21 Jalapeño Cheese Slider (White Castle)
Sometimes we want to add just a smidgen of spice to our lives, and White Castle comes through. They've taken their basic Cheese Slider and swapped the cheese for jalapeño cheese, as per White Castle. It's not fire-in-the-hole spicy, but it adds a kick to the dependable classic we know and love. This feisty little burger can also be ordered by the bagful so that no craving or hunger pang is left unsatisfied.
20 Original Whataburger (Whataburger)
Whataburger first opened in Texas in 1950, and is firmly established in the South. The Original Whataburger makes our list of best-tasting burgers, as do other chains' basic burgers, because of reliability and signature taste. While comprised of similar ingredients, like a grilled patty and the traditional toppings, there's just a difference in the flavor that we can't quite put our finger on but we love, as per Whataburger. It's all stacked the way the customer orders it on a simple toasted, sesame-seed-free bun.
19 Bacon Cheeseburger Toaster (Sonic)
Burger purists might look down their nose at the Bacon Cheeseburger Toaster, but we assure them that Texas Toast doesn't bring this burger down to sandwich status, but rather elevates it to something amazing. Bacon, standard burger toppings and a patty are joined by a crispy onion ring and hickory BBQ sauce and bookended by thick cut, buttered Texas Toast, as per Sonic. We don't even need fries. We just want to be alone with our thoughts while eating this.
18 Western Bacon Cheeseburger (Carl's Jr.)
Carl's Jr. was founded in 1941 selling hot dogs in Los Angeles, though they've clearly long forgotten about hot dogs with the Western Bacon Cheeseburger. Onion rings, BBQ sauce and bacon all cuddle together next to a decent-sized chargrilled beef patty topped with melted cheese on a sesame-seed bun, according to Carl's Jr. Don't look at the calorie count—just enjoy how the fried onion rings elevate this burger into something remarkable.
17 Sourdough Jack (Jack In The Box)
Swiss, instead of the more typical cheese, choice makes an appearance here, but what sets this burger apart, much like the Sonic Toaster, is the bread—in this case, sourdough. We think there's room for experimentation when it comes to burger bread choices. The sourdough bread has a slight tang and is toasted, capping off the two slices of Swiss cheese and bacon that enhance the burger patty, according to Jack In The Box.
16 The Frisco Thickburger (Hardee's)
The original Frisco Burger was retired some years ago, but it was a good move to bring in The Frisco Thickburger a couple of years later. Black Angus beef is nestled in between sourdough slices along with bacon and Swiss cheese, as per Hardee’s. It beats out Jack in the Box because the beef is better and the patty is thicker, although the sandwich composition is similar. Sometimes bigger is just better.
15 The Baconator (Wendy's)
Wendy's listened to some sage person who informed them that more is merrier. The Baconator features two quarter pound patties and six slices of bacon because nothing is sadder than ordering a bacon burger and getting a pitiful little single strip of bacon. Melty cheese, ketchup and mayo round out the basic burger ingredients, according to Wendy's. There's no pesky healthy veggie in sight on this carnivore-friendly burger wrapped in a plain, no-nonsense bun.
14 The Mushroom And Swiss Thickburger (Hardee's)
We love mushrooms! They pair perfectly with a great charbroiled burger. The mushrooms do push the Mushroom and Swiss Thickburger up in the ranks. Melted Swiss and mushrooms commingle with some modest slices of bacon on a great beef patty, as per Hardee’s, and it's all cushioned within a freshly baked bun. Our only concern is that there aren't more mushrooms per burger. We want mushrooms all over this thing, please.
13 The ½ LB. Guacamole Bacon Thickburger (Carl's Jr.)
The avocado is having its day for good reason. This long overlooked fruit, when mashed up into guacamole, can go anywhere and do anything. It combines with something Carl's Jr. calls Santa Fe sauce, as well as red onions and pepper jack cheese, according to Carl's Jr. Deviations like pepper jack cheese and red onions instead of the standard white onion slices are a good thing and we heartily appreciate them, but the guacamole lifts this burger up more than anything else.
12 The Double Shackburger (Shake Shack)
No-hormone beef and a potato roll—we're getting into the big leagues now. The Double Shackburger is simple—two patties, lettuce, tomato, and Shacksauce, according to Shake Shack. Freshly-ground beef and quality ingredients are what makes this simple burger so much better than many others that are more dressed up. They are technically nationwide, but there aren't many locations, so a number of states don't even have a Shake Shack. Many burger lovers are missing out.
11 The Original Double 'N Cheese (Steak 'N Shake)
Steak 'N Shake is a burger chain with Midwest origins that's been around since 1934 just making burgers. With that much practice, they've figured out how to do it right. The Original Double 'N Cheese takes the original that made the place a fan favorite and simply doubled it, because once again twice as much beef patty is only a good thing. Melted cheese and a toasted bun round off this simple pleasure, according to Steak 'N Shake.
10 The Double Del (Del Taco)
The reason this burger comes in so high in the rankings is that no one in their right mind would expect a fast-food taco joint to do a burger right—but they do, and it's worth a road-test. Although unfortunately limited to the West Coast, Del Taco turns out a very respectable double cheeseburger, and will even add bacon strips, as per Del Taco. It's a shocker, we know—but the patties are grilled and thick, making this a worthy burger.
9 The California Classic Double Cheeseburger (Carl's Jr)
Carl's Jr. is originally a West Coast fast food chain, so we understand why they made the California Classic, which was created to compete with In-N-Out. It doesn't, but we appreciate the effort and give them points for trying, because it is good. Two healthy-sized patties are stacked with the usual burger additives and double cheese slices and topped with Thousand Island dressing, according to Carl's Jr. If the line at In-N-Out is too long, this'll do in a pinch.
8 The SmokeShack (Shake Shack)
The SmokeShack is another reason why Shake Shack should be on burger lovers' radar. Once again, hooray for fresh ingredients—Shake Shack tops either one or two freshly-ground beef patties with Applewood-smoked bacon and chopped cherry peppers, according to Shake Shack. It's not a Shake Shack burger without Shacksauce, either. As far as we know, this is the only burger that comes standard with cherry peppers, which just shows the attention Shake Shack pays to creating something different.
7 Bacon Cheeseburger (Five Guys)
Five Guys' patties are hand-squished—no frozen or pre-made patties to sadden burger connoisseurs. The Bacon Cheeseburger is what it sounds like-fresh beef, fresh bacon and Kraft cheese on a sesame-seed bun, as per Five Guys. An incredibly delicious burger is enhanced by fantastic customer service, which is why the Five Guys fast food chain is often ranked higher than other burger chains. Customers can mix and match additional toppings, including grilled onions or jalapeños.
6 Spicy Jalapeño Baja Burger (Smashburger)
The Spicy Jalapeño Baja Burger is a fan favorite. Jalapeños, pepper jack cheese, and chipotle mayo are balanced with creamy guacamole on Smashburger's signature smashed beef patty, according to Smashburger. Smashburger ups their game by enclosing all this in a chipotle bun, and yes, that makes a huge difference in all the right ways. True fans of spicy will find this merely warm, but the rest of us will want something cold to wash this hot burger down with.
5 Truffle Mushroom And Swiss (Smashburger)
The fast-food burger gets fancy with the Truffle Mushroom and Swiss. Cremini, not the standard button mushrooms we're used to, stars on this burger and is enhanced by truffle mayo, as per Smashburger. Of course, the standard smashed beef patty is in play, and an egg bun allows the rich truffle and mushroom flavors to stand out. There's room in the burger market for richer flavors and a more sophisticated palate. Gourmands love burgers, too.
4 The Santa Barbara Charburger (The Habit secret menu)
The Santa Barbara Charburger started out as a secret menu fan favorite, but has now been added as a main menu item—it is just that good. Habit Burger friendliness is paired with a deliciously-charred patty, topped with fresh avocado and cheese, and snuggled into a sourdough bun of perfection, according to The Habit. It's not pre-made or prepackaged guacamole on this one, but fresh-cut avocado wedges that makes this burger an absolute star.
3 The Artery Annihilator (Five Guys secret menu)
For customers who value flavor over everything else, including their doctor's opinion, there's the Artery Annihilator, a Five Guys secret menu superstar. If the guy at the counter doesn't know this behemoth by name, simply ask for a Bacon Cheeseburger with a hot dog cut in half and placed on top, as per Delish. Go for broke after that and top it with any or all of the free toppings at Five Guys for a meal to end all meals.
2 The Double Double Animal Style (In N Out)
In-N-Out only does burgers and customer happiness with occasional milkshakes. No chicken, no hot dogs. The Double Double is essentially the world's best cheeseburger times two, as per In-N-Out. The Animal Style part comes in when grilled onions are added instead of fresh onions, and In-N-Out's thousand island-like dressing is added, smothering the burger in something truly wonderful. In-N-Out's only “experimentation” is to give customers the option to Animal Style the burger or the fries. That's it, and that's fine.
1 The 4X4 (In-N-Out secret menu)
For West Coasters, the 4X4 isn't really a secret. Also called the QuadQuad by only In-N-Out and none of the customers, four delectable beef patties are stacked with four slices of cheese on a single bun with lettuce, tomato, and even this can be made Animal Style, according to In-N-Out. There's a reason why the lines for In-N-Out curl around the restaurant into the street at any time on any day—it is hands-down the top go-to fast food burger.