The One Best Fast Food Menu Item From The 16 Biggest Chains

Table of Contents Arby’s — Smokehouse BrisketBurger King —Crispy Ch’King SandwichCarl’s Jr. — Double Western…

About a month ago, we dropped a compendium of the worst dishes across the fast food universe that included all of the stuff you should absolutely never order. research for that was a truly harrowing experience, but while we were doing it, we were also making note of each fast food chain’s best menu item. Between enduring awful creations like Carl’s Jr’s chicken stars or Chipotle’s Queso, we were also eating some of the tastiest, complex dishes fast food has to offer.

Below are the results of that second (much more rewarding) quest — 16 of the best menu items across the entire fast food universe. This is the stuff that you should be ordering if you only eat fast food once a month (or at each restaurant once a year). The stuff that serves as the best representation of what each chain has to offer.

Order any of these sixteen entries, and you’re bound to have an item that is worth every bit of money you spent on it. Let’s eat.

Arby’s — Smokehouse Brisket

Best Fast Food
Arby

This was a tough one. Arby’s has a shit ton of food. The chain’s “we have the meats” slogan is no joke. Roast turkey, corned beef, roast and fried chicken, gyro meat, and of course roast beef (the chain’s flagship meat)… It’s a lot. I came really close to choosing the classic Beef & Cheddar for this ranking, but, I’m going to have to go with the Smokehouse Brisket.

Yeah, the Beef & Cheddar is great, if you haven’t been to Arby’s before you should definitely order it, but the Smokehouse Brisket is something next level. Creamy and nutty gouda and fried onion rings sit above layers of tender smoked brisket, sandwiched by mayo and BBQ sauce on a toasted bun. The bun is admittedly pretty bland (the Beef & Cheddar wins on bread) but the rest of the sandwich is bursting with sumptuous smokey flavors and a pleasingly crunchy mouthfeel.

The brisket is more tender than fast food brisket deserves to be, it shifts between rich smokey and salty flavors with sweet top notes courtesy of the BBQ and gouda. Those crispy onion rings add more than a mouthfeel, they add an extra layer of savoriness to the whole sandwich.

The Bottom Line:

Arby’s best sandwich and unlike anything else offered in the fast food universe. Smokey, salty, sweet, crunchy — it has so much going for it it’s impossible to not like. So long as you like flavor.

Find your nearest Arby’s here.

Burger King —Crispy Ch’King Sandwich

BEst Fast Food
Burger King

Burger King is a chain we roast in just about every fast food ranking we’ve ever done. But when it came to picking the best menu item the choice was easy, it’s the Ch’King. Stupid name aside, Burger King’s revamped chicken sandwich — launched in 2021 — is hands down the best single item you can order at the chain.

Taking inspiration from Popeyes, Burger King’s Ch’King is simple. The stock build consists of a hand-breaded breast filet, thick-cut pickle chips, and a savory mayo-based sauce. BK hand breads its breast and it makes all the difference, the breading is crunchy and craggily — the perfect absorber of sauce — with black pepper and garlic powder heavy flavor housing a thick filet that is just a bit too dry to consider juicy, but still delicious and full of flavor.

The Bottom Line:

It isn’t a sandwich at Popeyes’ level, but it dunks on everything on Burger King’s menu like Jordan in his prime.

Find your nearest Burger King here.

Carl’s Jr. — Double Western Bacon Cheeseburger

Bacon
Carl

You roll up to a Carl’s Jr because you want a Double Western Bacon Cheeseburger, everything else on the menu is an afterthought. Two charbroiled meat patties, layers of crispy bacon, fried onion rings, and American cheese, all pulled together with sweet smokey BBQ flavors.

The bacon provides a touch of umami to the BBQ’s sweet and savory qualities and when coupled with the flavor of the charbroiled meat, there is a distinct smokiness to this burger unmatched by anything else across the fast food landscape.

The flavors are on point but what really elevates the experience is the crunch. The bacon and onion rings ensure that every bite is audible ecstasy, even just hearing another person eat this burger is enough to make you hungry.

The Bottom Line:

Carl’s Jr’s best burger. It’s crispy, smokey, sweet, and mouthwatering.

Find your nearest Carl’s Jr. here.

Chick-fil-A —Spicy Deluxe With Cheese

Best Fast Food
Chick-fil-A

There was a time when Chick-fil-A’s Spicy Deluxe was the GOAT. It was the flagship product that set Chick-fil-A apart from all the other fast food restaurants but Wendy’s. Just five years ago, if you wanted an edible fast food chicken sandwich you either went to Chick-fil-A or Wendy’s, everything else on the market was value menu, bottom of the barrel material. And then Popeyes dropped their chicken sandwich and forever changed our idea of what a fast food chicken sandwich should taste like.

Having said all of that, Chick-fil-A’s Spicy Deluxe still holds up. Featuring a tender and juicy breast filet marinated in pickle brine and coated in a thin breading seasoned with black pepper, paprika, cayenne, and garlic powder, spicy pepper jack cheese, lettuce, pickles, and a super soft bun, this sandwich is downright mouthwatering.

It’s not so spicy that it’ll have your brow sweating, but it has a sustained heat that simmers on the palate between bites and it’s small enough to eat without ushering you into a food coma like Popeyes’ more decadent sandwich.

The Bottom Line:

Still one of the best fast food chicken sandwiches your money can buy. Popeyes might be outshining it, but when you want something a little lighter that actually delivers on the spice, the Spicy Deluxe is the move.

Find your nearest Chick-fil-A here.

Chipotle — “The UPROXX” Custom Burrito

Best Chipotle Burrito
Dane Rivera

I did a whole article on how to construct the perfect Chipotle burrito and I still stand by it. If you want the perfect experience at Chipotle, one so good you’ll finally understand why this place is so beloved by its fans, build your burrito like this: pinto beans, white rice, barbacoa, any salsa of your choice (on the side), cheese, lettuce, and guacamole.

If you want to get granular about why that’s the best build, definitely hit up the full article, but in short what this build delivers is a touch of sweetness and a sizzling burn that ushers in earthy and creamy flavors with a mouthfeel that never gets too mushy and the right amount of ingredients that will enable the Chipotle employee to actually fold it and not have to do embarrassing shit like start over because your excess ingredients burst through the tortilla.

The Bottom Line:

Follow our build, it’s a masterpiece and a masterclass in how to make a structurally sound burrito.

Find your nearest Chipotle here.

Dairy Queen — Chocolate Dipped Cone

Best Fast Food
Dairy Queen

Dairy Queen’s food is so consistently bad that the chain shouldn’t even sell food (many locations don’t) they should just stick to what they’re good at — soft-serve ice cream. You could make the case for any of Dairy Queen’s delicious Blizzards to earn a spot on this ranking, but for me, I have to go with the best fast food chocolate-dipped cone your money can buy.

Dairy Queen’s vanilla soft serve is silky and creamy with a rich mouthfeel that sets it apart from other soft serves like McDonald’s, which comes across as too watery. Dipping the vanilla ice cream in some hot fudge adds that extra bit of decadence that makes this simple dish truly a crowd-pleaser.

I think that the DQ Blizzards can sometimes be a bit overkill. All those mix-ins might work to make your dessert seem more like a special treat, but those extra snacks end up muddying the rich and creamy flavor of the vanilla that serves as each Blizzard’s foundation. The Chocolate Dipped Cone gives you the best of both worlds. It’s not “just” a vanilla soft serve, it’s got something a little extra.

The Bottom Line:

The simple treat that put Dairy Queen on the map. It is the foundation that every Blizzard is built on, and in its simplicity, its Dairy Queen’s best.

Find your nearest Dairy Queen here.

KFC — Famous Bowl

Best Fast Food
KFC

When it came to KFC it was a toss-up for me between the Original Recipe chicken and the Famous Bowl. Since the Original Recipe is more of a category of foods at KFC than a single menu item, I’m giving the spot to the Famous Bowl.

This greatest hits package combines everything good about KFC, popcorn chicken, corn, mashed potatoes, and gravy, and throws them all together into a bowl. Not only is this a winner for combing the best of KFC into a single meal, but KFC is doing our work for us. Who amongst us doesn’t like dipping their fried chicken into the mashed potatoes and gravy?

The way that fried chicken batter pairs with the meaty and aromatic flavors of gravy and buttery mashed potato is truly next level.

The Bottom Line:

Savory, sumptuous, salty, crunchy, buttery — it’s everything good from KFC in one single item.

Find your nearest KFC here.

In-N-Out — The Double Double With Grilled Onions

Best Fast Food
In N Out

I know, I know, the Animal Style burger is the more obvious choice, but the Double Double is a classic and it’s my go-to order at In-N-Out. Animal Style is for the person who eats In-N-Out so often that they want something a bit different, but the Double Double is the burger that earned In-N-Out its beloved reputation.

It’s salty, juicy, features the best American cheese on the planet, and when topped with grilled onions, full of savory flavors that will make your mouth water and help you to understand just why the drive-thru lines are always so damn long.

Every ingredient on this burger is just on point. The meat is juicy, the lettuce is crisp and bright where every other lettuce in the fast food universe is wilted, the tomatoes are ripe and flavorful, the special sauce cuts through with tart goodness, and the cheese is hands down the best American cheese in all of fast food. If we did a blind taste test of American cheese slices, this wins, no contest.

Also, at no extra charge, you can add grilled onions and chopped chilies to your burgers which is the best and easiest menu hack in the entire fast food universe.

The Bottom Line:

It’s impossible to not like the Double Double. You can think it’s overrated, you can say you’ve had better burgers, but you can’t say it’s not good. This is simply one of the best (and on some days THE best) fast food burgers you can buy for under $10.

Find your nearest In-N-Out here.

Jack in the Box — Sourdough Jack

Best Fast Food
Jack in the Box

It was hard to pick a favorite at Jack in the Box because for the most part, Jack in the Box… kind of sucks. Don’t get me wrong, there are certain nights when nothing hits like those weird 99¢ tacos, and the curly fries are truly a gift, but… Okay, I’m going to go ahead and come out and say it — Jack in the Box is stoner food.

This is a food you should only eat when you’re either high out of your mind or intoxicated off your ass. In those states, just about everything from the menu is worth trying at least once. But when you’re sober? This stuff is downright awful.

For our pick on the best menu item at JiB, we went with the Sourdough Jack if only for the novelty of being able to order a patty melt from a fast food drive-thru. This burger consists of a single meat patty topped with bacon, juicy slices of tomato, mayonnaise, ketchup, and *sigh* something called “Swiss-style cheese” on two slices of toasted sourdough. Just use real fucking Swiss Jack in the Box! It’s not an incredibly expensive product!

The sourdough isn’t as crunchy and flavorful as you expect it to be — this bread is soft and spongey — but it offers a buttery twist on a typical bacon burger, and the thinner slices of bread help to put a larger focus on the contents inside.

The Bottom Line:

The only thing worth ordering at Jack in the Box while sober.

Find your nearest Jack in the Box here.

McDonald’s — French Fries

Best Fast Food
McDonald

Everybody loves McDonald’s fries. When you get a fresh order of these things, few things taste better. They have the exact right amount of salt over a buttery potato flavor and what I’m convinced is the tiniest hint of sugar, helping to make them so addictive.

McDonald’s fans all have their favorites — some f*ck with the classic Double Cheeseburger, nuggets have been a best seller since they were first introduced, and a lonely few people swear on the Big Mac, but you better believe in each of those occasions, they’re also getting a side of fries. If you randomly get asked one day by a friend or colleague, “I’m hitting McDonald’s, do you want anything?” You’re going to ask for an order of fries.

Even when you aren’t hungry.

The Bottom Line:

McDonald’s French fries aren’t just the best thing on the entire Golden Arches menu, they’re some of the best fries in all of fast food.

Find your nearest McDonald’s here.

Popeyes —The Chicken Sandwich

Best Fast Food
Popeyes

I’ve already name-checked Popeyes’ chicken sandwich about three times in this article, so you should’ve seen this one coming. It’s hard to express in a single entry what makes the Popeyes Chicken Sandwich so damn good (which is probably why I’ve written not one, not two, but three articles about it), but in short, this sandwich is the juiciest, crunchiest, and best tasting chicken sandwich in all of fast food.

Fried to a perfect golden brown, each bite is a melding of buttery, garlicky, and peppery flavors. While the mayo, pickle chips, and potato roll are a little lacking and have some room for improvement, once the thing comes together it’s undeniably one of the best fast food sandwiches you’ll ever eat. Chicken or otherwise.

The Bottom Line:

The current fast food GOAT. This is a no-brainer, if you go to Popeyes just a handful of times a year, you need to order this 99.9% of the time, or else what the hell are you doing?

Find your nearest Popeyes here.

Rally’s/ Checkers — Fries

Best Fast Food
Rallys

I need to be honest about Rally’s, while I love the chain as much as the next person, I have to admit that under all the nostalgia I have for the chain all of their food, from the burgers to the chicken, to the hot dogs and wings, are middling at best. The fries, however, with their breaded cajun seasoning, mixing garlic and onion powder with paprika, black pepper, and the right amount of salt, are a cut above everything Rally’s has on the menu.

The fries are the reason you pull into the drive-thru, everything else is just a side order to this main event.

The Bottom Line:

Sorry to fans of the Big Buford and the wonderfully named Mother Cruncher, but this is far and above Rally’s best menu item. No contest.

Find your nearest Rally’s/Checkers here.

Raising Canes— Chicken Tenders

Best Fast Food
Raising Canes

This one kind of feels like I’m cheating because aside from the Texas toast, coleslaw and fries, this is Raising Cane’s only menu item. Even the sandwich from this place is nothing more than a few tenders in a bun. This is fast food’s current best fried chicken. It’s tender and juicy, never frozen, and practically melts in your mouth.

If Raising Canes wanted to make a proper chicken sandwich, Popeyes wouldn’t even be able to be mentioned in the same conversation as Raising Canes. The chicken is that good.

The Bottom Line:

Pro tip: Ask for your finger combo “extra crispy,” with a bit more crunch this chicken tastes even better and the few extra minutes of cook time don’t take away from the juiciness of the bird. While you’re at it, might as well order the French Toast too, in which case you should ask for it “BOB” style, which stands for buttered on both sides.

Find your nearest Raising Cane’s here.

Shake Shack — Shack Burger

Best Fast Food
Shake Shack

A while back we hit every fast food restaurant we could and ordered a simple beef patty. Yes, you read that right, just the patty. No bread, no tomato, no sauce, no cheese, nothing! In that taste test, we found that Shake Shack’s meat patty was in an entirely different class.

Shake Shack uses a special Pat LaFrieda proprietary meat blend, we’re pretty sure there is some sirloin mixed in with chuck, giving each bite of beef this sumptuous juicy mouthwatering flavor that is perfectly encased in a Maillard-reaction blessed crust, courtesy of Shake Shack’s smash burger cooking method.

Shake Shack has all sorts of other things worth ordering on the menu, and we’ll give a shout out to the nuggets, chicken sandwiches, and even the more adventurous burgers like the current Bourbon Bacon Cheddar, but not grabbing a classic Shack Burger feels like you’re not truly eating at Shake Shack at all.

The Bottom Line:

It’s salty, buttery, savory, and truly one of the best burgers you’ll ever eat anywhere.

Find your nearest Shake Shack here.

Taco Bell — Crunch Wrap Supreme

Best Fast Food
Taco Bell

At Taco Bell the choice is easy, the chain’s best food innovation is the Crunch Wrap Supreme, which combines the best of a burrito with the best of a taco for something wholly unique. Crispy lettuce, tomato, and sour cream are separated by a crunch shell housing beef, ground beef, and nacho cheese all wrapped in an oversized grilled flour tortilla.

What’s not to like? It’s crunchy, flavorful, and filling, offering a spin on the Mexican food staples Taco Bell builds its menu on that tastes uniquely “Taco Bell.”

The Bottom Line:

Taco Bell is at its best when it doesn’t try to make straight Mexican food, and instead gives us weird stoner-friendly Frankensteinian creations, like this thing.

Find your nearest Taco Bell here.

Wendy’s —Baconator

Best Fast Food
Wendy

Take away every fast casual restaurant on the market, no Shake Shacks, no In-N-Out’s, no Fat Burgers or Umami Burgers. If you want a good burger in a world without fast casual chains, where are you going? The only answer is Wendy’s.

Wendy’s blows McDonald’s, Burger King, Jack in the Box, Rally’s, Carl’s Jr, and pretty much every drive-thru burger (except for In-N-Out) out of the water. The beef is thick, fresh, and never frozen, offering a lot of juicy beefy flavor that consistently comes out as perfectly cooked.

On the Baconator you get two quarter-pound patties plus a double layer of cheese and smokey bacon. You’ll notice there is no lettuce here. That’s because Wendy’s isn’t fucking around. This is a salty smokey meat bomb.

Wendy’s bacon is also in another class when compared to its peers. It’s adequately smokey and thick enough to actually taste, unlike a lot of the competition out there that utilizes bacon to merely add crunch.

Can’t handle the Baconator? Wendy’s also sells the Son of Baconator, which still features two patties, but with a smaller footprint that is a bit easier to stomach without feeling like you’re about to dive headfirst into a hardcore food coma. One of those weird mid-day naps where you wake up with the meat sweats.

The Bottom Line:

An indulgent beast of a burger. If you’re all about smokey, sweet, and savory flavors, you can’t go wrong with the Baconator.

Find your nearest Wendy’s here.