Best Burger Chains In The United States, Ranked

By Doug Norrie | Published

The Best Burger Chains

When it comes to burger chains and grabbing dinner or lunch from fast food joints, people for sure have their go-to favorites. Some can be geographically specific, while others just might have the exact kind of burger you like.

But when it comes to loyalty, and burger chain brand loyalty, specifically, there is definitely an order to how these places are ranked. MarketForce recently published some interesting findings about how loyal customers were to certain burger chains, and the findings might be a bit surprising. 

From this perspective, let’s take a look at the best burger chains in the United States.

1. In-N-Out Burger

Ask any California native and they will likely have a strong (read: very strong) opinion on In-and-Out burgers, fries, and all the rest of the menu. It’s been a California staple since it was first founded in 1948 and is still family owned and operated.

They have close to 400 locations, though you’ll have to travel west of the Rockies (mostly) to get these burgers. The popular favorite is the Double-Double, but it’s hard to go wrong on this menu.


2. Five Guys

Five Guys started as a family business (it’s literally Jerry Murrell and his four sons, 1+4=5) and has been among the most well-liked burger chains across the country for some time. Folks love the burgers of course, but you have to add on the fries as well which have become fan-favorites everywhere. The burgers are fresh, the buns taste great, and the whole experience is easy and friendly. 

3. Whataburger

Whataburger, whataname! The burger chain has been around for more than 80 years and has been a Texas staple for what seems like forever. The burger chain’s offerings include the Sweet & Spicy Bacon Burger and Whataburger Patty Melt as some of the best choices. Regionally speaking, it’s easy to see why this chain ranks so high.


4. Hardee’s/ Carl’s Jr.

Hardees and Carl’s Jr. were actually formed as separate businesses in the 1940s and after decades merged the two companies in 1997. Combining hamburger forces has been a great things for fans of these franchises. Some of their best offerings include The Original Angus Burger and the Famous Star with Cheese. Know that depending on where you are in the country, the offerings here are nearly 1:1.

5. Sonic Drive-in

Sonic might be known more for its hilarious commercials than for the actual burgers, though there are still plenty of fans of this franchise. The Drive-In aspect of Sonic definitely makes it unique but some of their food delivers as well. The Bacon Double Cheeseburger is one of their best options and from an experience standpoint, Sonic does deliver on that end.

6. Wendy’s

It’s here where we start to get into the true national chain restaurant part of the list. And it’s where the number of locations starts to become inversely proportional to how good the actual burgers taste. Dave Thomas started the company in 1969 and the burgers are distinctive from some of the other major players in the market. But this is still very much fast food folks.

7. Checkers and Rallys

Checkers and Rally’s started in Alabama and Kentucky respectively in the mid-80s and joined forces in 1999. One of their most popular offerings is the Big Buford Burger. The chain is low-cost, and among fans, doesn’t have nearly the following of some of the other mid-level players. There is a unique drive-in and ordering element to Checkers and Rally’s but the food does leave a bit to be desired.

8. Burger King

Burger King and McDonald’s have duked it out for years in terms of market dominance, but it isn’t like the food is blowing anyone anyway at this point. The chain is global at this point, and they do have their core offerings that some fans still swear by (hello Whopper), but this is among the class of too-big-to-really-fail chains. 

9. Jack in the Box

It’s not a good sign for a burger place when they might be best known for its tacos. But it says a lot about what you are getting when the chain offers all different foods from all different styles. The fare is cheap and there’s definitely a reason it is falling this low on the burger list. 

10. McDonald's

Saved the worst for last. Does anyone even need a primer on A: What is McDonald’s and B: Why it is this low on the list? The Golden Arches have become synonymous with the brand, and really chain restaurants in general. But the food is easily the worst of anything else on this list and it came in at the end of the line for brand loyalty. Though it is telling that although the loyalty is low, the number of locations (38K and counting) completely crushes everyone else.