Fast Food Chains That Never Use Frozen Patties

Oftentimes, we seem so focused on whether we can do something that we never stop to ask whether we should. For instance, several fast food burger chains claim to eschew freezers in 2022, and so only serve fresh, never-frozen beef patties to customers ... but should they? 

Absolutely! After all, the strict prioritization of fresh food items by modern diners might come across as enormously entitled when compared to, say, a Caribbean pirate's diet. But we can pass on certain food preservation methods (like freezing) and enjoy a burger that's only been refrigerated. So, why shouldn't we take advantage? Life is short — and modern food preferences aren't exactly akin to the genetics-run-amok scenario from "Jurassic Park."

To be perfectly clear, there's nothing wrong with frozen food whatsoever. In fact, many frozen foods are actually much healthier and better tasting than we give them credit for. But that's also context-dependent. Considering fast food's general reputation for serving less-than-stellar products, we find the prospect of a never-frozen burger rather reassuring. It's nice knowing your burger hasn't been sitting in a restaurant's freezer for months (or even years) before purchasing it.

Now, not every fast food restaurant serves burgers made with fresh beef. But if you're hoping to hit up one of the many burger joints that do, we've got you covered. So keep reading, as we reveal which fast food chains never use frozen beef patties.


When a little old lady took the marketing world by storm in the early 1980s and incredulously wondered where the beef was in a what has since become a classic Wendy's commercial, the answer must have been obvious. That's because, even without our 21st-century hindsight, the answer to the well-known question seems clear: it's in the fridge, not the freezer. At least, that's the case with every Wendy's restaurant, which has been offering fresh, never-frozen burgers to customers since day one (via Wendy's).

Wendy's is possibly the most well-known example of a fast food chain that never uses frozen beef patties. The restaurant's choice to offer fresh beef was driven by Dave Thomas' unwavering commitment to quality when he opened the first Wendy's in 1969. The old-fashioned hamburger chain still guarantees fresh beef patties at every U.S. and Canadian location more than half a century later. That's all the more impressive given the challenges of ensuring every restaurant has fresh beef at all times. In fact, those same difficulties likely inhibit Wendy's from extending its fresh, never-frozen promise into its other markets.

With just under 6,000 Wendy's locations in the U.S. as of November 2022, keeping fresh beef stocked in North America alone is a serious undertaking. Consequently, between 12,000 and 14,000 deliveries of fresh beef are made to Wendy's locations every week. Most impressive of all, a majority of those deliveries are locally sourced from North American cattle ranches.

In-N-Out Burger

As you're likely to notice, the fast food chains that use fresh beef patties are often regional entities. It makes perfect sense when you think about it in light of the logistical feats it must require. After all, consider the massive undertaking required by Wendy's to provide coast-to-coast fresh beef. This means that avoiding frozen burgers is simply not feasible for most companies. In-N-Out Burger seems determined to buck that trend, as its commitment to never serve previously-frozen products has kept its always-fresh burgers reserved for residents of the southwest and western U.S.

In fact, as of 2020, In-N-Out Burger had restaurants in only seven states throughout the Southwest and along the West Coast. But the fast food chain's decision to focus on the quality of its food over a higher quantity of locations is a simple matter of logistics. After all, the chances that In-N-Out Burger will expand too far beyond its current radius are slim for a very clear reason. "New restaurant locations are limited by the distance we can travel from our patty-making facilities," In-N-Out Burger's Vice President of planning and development Carl Van Fleet told Business Insider.

Frankly, In-N-Out seems content with its current, relatively small market reach within the U.S. So if you live on the East Coast and are hoping you can grab a double-double sometime soon, you either need to keep waiting or start on your next road trip.

The Habit Burger Grill

Though the terms are often used interchangeably, there's a pretty serious difference between habits and routines. Both are repetitive actions a person performs on a semi-regular basis, but routines require active thought to perform. Meanwhile, habits are generally done without thinking (via Harvard Business Review). We're not sure if The Habit Burger Grill's founders were thinking about that distinction when naming their restaurant, they were clearly concerned with providing an impeccable product. As evidence of that, take a look at the fast food chain's pledge to only serve fresh beef patties.

The Habit (as it often styles itself) hasn't found its operations to be overly restricted by that dedication to fresh beef patties, at least when it comes to corporate growth. As of 2022, The Habit Burger Grill has locations up and down both U.S. coasts, along with 11 internationally-located restaurants, as well (via The Habit Burger Grill). Clearly, that dedication to fresh beef patties isn't harming the chain's expansion efforts.

Since the fast food burger joint's slogan urges customers to "Make it a Habit," it's nice to know that The Habit Burger Grill is following its own lead. After all, it's made a habit of using fresh, never frozen beef patties at its locations each and every day.

Five Guys

Five Guys Burgers and Fries is a pretty straightforward establishment. There's no uncertainty about what it wants to do or what it serves since the whole concept is right there in the restaurant's name. Of course, while there's more than just burgers and fries at the fast food chain, imagining a trip to Five Guys without ordering a burger seems like a real waste of time. After all, who could resist one of the fast food chain's burgers, especially knowing it's made with fresh, never-before-frozen beef patties (via Facebook)? And after seeing (and smelling) it searing on the grill? We certainly can't imagine passing one up.

If you doubt the veracity of Five Guys' claims regarding its fresh beef products, consider taking a quick stroll through a Five Guys spot and looking for the freezer. Actually, we'll save you the trip: there are no freezers at any Five Guys locations (via Insider).

Nothing more blatantly illustrates the restaurant's devotion to using fresh beef at all times like its complete absence of freezers. We must say we find it a bit odd that a chain also known for selling milkshakes would find freezers so abhorrent to its brand. But then again, who are we to argue with those tasty end results?


If you've never had the pleasure of visiting a Culver's before, then you may at first find yourself turned off by the fast food chain's famous butterburger. But the burger restaurant's trademark portmanteau product isn't some bizarre beef-and-butter mutation, and you certainly won't find a stick of butter melting atop the item. According to Culver's, the "butter" simply refers to the burger's use of a buttered bun as a base. The burger itself contains nothing but beef — and fresh, never-frozen beef at that, as per Culver's.

The Wisconsin-based fast food establishment doesn't just guarantee always-fresh beef patties. It also uses a unique combination of three different beef cuts — sirloin, chuck, and plate — in its ground beef mixture (via Culver's). Just be careful not to drool on your phone screen or computer keyboard when you're imagining that tasty trio of proteins cooking on the grill.

If you're determined to sample a Culver's butterburger soon, we hope you don't live in the northeast. While there are Culver's locations in dozens of states throughout the U.S., none are open along the East Coast north of North Carolina. In other words, you may have to travel far to try this delightful midwestern concoction — but at least you know your burger will always be fresh upon arrival.


Have you ever wondered what a superhero eats? Just us? Well, even if that's the case, we'd still like to share our belief regarding The Incredible Hulk's favorite dining establishment: Smashburger. After all, not only does the fast food restaurant utilize a smashing technique when grilling its burgers — something the Hulk would love because, you know, "Hulk smash!" — but, according to its website, it also uses fresh, never-frozen, Certified Angus Beef. And who would love an unadulterated piece of protein more than a jacked, gigantic, irradiated green guy?

Since you read the title of this article, it's no surprise that the Denver-based fast food chain never uses frozen beef patties. But did you know it doesn't use fresh beef patties, either? Perhaps we're being too clever by half, so let's explain. Smashburger's entire premise (smashing ground beef down onto a grill) requires less of a patty, and more of a "hand-packed ball of meat" (via Smashburger).

In other words, Smashburger stands wholly alone on this list of fast food chains that never use frozen patties because it technically doesn't use patties at all. Call us a stickler for semantics if you must — just don't call Smashburger a purveyor of frozen beef products.


Residents of Texas have a deep and abiding love for the ubiquitous (at least in the Lone Star State) fast food chain known as Whataburger. Now, whether Texans prefer Whataburger for its actual products (or simply because it's right there at all times), we can't say for sure. But if Whataburger's only positive was market saturation, we doubt it would have become so beloved. That love is also surely earned due to the fact it only serves made-to-order burgers made from fresh meat (via Whataburger).

Knowing that Whataburger uses fresh beef and only prepares those burgers to order makes the chain's popularity easier to comprehend. Its hefty, five-inch bun doesn't hurt the cause, either — though we can't imagine taking a road trip to one of the 13 states with a Whataburger just for the bread.

We may have our doubts regarding the origin of the fast food chain's name, but maybe we're just warped by cynicism. After all, even if Whataburger's claim — that its first customers were so blown away they'd declare "what a burger" upon tasting it — is less than authentic, there's nothing wrong with a little corporate gamesmanship.

Shake Shack

Did Shake Shack squander a golden opportunity for a memorable ad campaign by not reworking the B-52s song "Love Shack" into a jingle? Maybe. Then again, wanting to see it embrace a dated pop song for commercial purposes may only appeal to some of us. Shake Shack itself likely doesn't see a need for gimmicky advertisements. After all, according to CNBC, Shake Shack's mission revolves around serving high-quality, always-fresh ingredients — which is why it never uses frozen beef patties.

According to Shake Shack, the fast food chain's distinctive ground beef blend is made with 100% Angus beef, ground fresh at each location. Yet, Shake Shack hasn't always used fresh beef burgers, in part because the restaurant's first location was a hot dog stand in New York City. It took three years for the original Shake Shack stand to begin selling burgers.

Shake Shack's addition of burgers in 2004 (when its original stand was expanded to a kiosk) opened the floodgates for its expansion. By August 2021, there were 339 Shake Shack locations throughout the world, with 200 within the U.S. (via Restaurant Business Online). Since the nation's appetite for a freshly ground, juicy burger never seems to be satisfied, we imagine Shake Shack's numbers will only continue growing.


We miss Stuart Scott, and we're willing to bet that the founders of the fast food chain Mooyah do, too. We suppose there's a chance that the "Mooyah" name wasn't inspired by the late "SportsCenter" anchor's signature "boo-yah!" catchphrase. Then again, it's hard to see it being a simple coincidence. Either way, it's sort of nice knowing the fast food burger chain would be making Scott proud with its 100% Certified Angus Beef burgers (via Mooyah), which are never frozen before cooking.

Since its beginnings, Mooyah has been on a mission to offer guests an experience that's equally enjoyable for their taste buds and funny bones. Obviously, providing fresh, never-frozen beef patties goes a long way toward accomplishing that goal. But the idea of a memorably entertaining visit matters to the restaurant, as well, with a tongue-in-cheek business approach apparent to anyone perusing the company's history on its website.

Considering the company's FAQ page mentions the Mooyah name was (jokingly) derived from the way a Wisconsin cow says "mooyah" instead of "booyah," our guess regarding the origin of the chain's name may be off. After all, the name could just as easily be a reference to the popular midwest stew known as booyah rather than a gone-but-not-forgotten sports anchor. Still, we appreciate the opportunity to honor Scott's legacy anyway Mooyah with a never-frozen beef patty.


Let's be real here, folks: Nobody's ordering a cheeseburger from a fast food chain and expecting to drop a few pants sizes in the process. In that sense, we sort of appreciate the decision by Fatburger to seemingly cut out any pretext, and simply tell it like it is with its name. There's something refreshing about the so-called Last Great Hamburger Stand's honesty when it serves a Fatburger to its customers. That would be one made with fresh, hand-crafted, never-frozen beef patties, of course (via Fatburger).

Would Fatburger have survived more than 60 years if the fast food chain used frozen beef patties? It's certainly possible (just ask McDonald's and Burger King, ahem). Yet without its dedication to offering a farm-to-table type of burger — or cow-to-burger, if you will — it's easy to envision Fatburger getting lost in the shuffle. After all, as of 2016, there were more than 20 different fast food burger brands operating in the U.S. alone (via Restaurant Business Online).

As it stands, Fatburger has been able to maintain steady growth amongst all that competition, with its 100th U.S. restaurant opening its doors in September 2021 (via QSR). What the future holds for Fatburger, no one knows. But as long as it keeps prioritizing fresh beef patties, it's unlikely to fade away any time soon.

Epic Burger

Webster's dictionary defines "epic" as ... actually, never mind. We won't bore you with the Jim Belushi of openings, because we're better than that. Still, we do find it sort of amusing that the smallest fast food burger chain we've included on this list — Epic Burger, which has only seven locations in and around Chicago as of 2022 — boasts the grandest name of them all. A little more obviously, Epic Burger lives up to the moniker, in part by never using frozen beef patties (via Your Chicago Guide).

Now, Epic Burger doesn't just ensure its burgers are always fresh. The restaurant chain claims to offer consumers a burger that's devoid of all preservatives and additives, while remaining affordable, too (via Epic Burger). What's more, Epic Burger serves beef that's certified halal, meaning it meets dietary regulations set for Muslims (via BBC).

When we consider the widespread persistence of Islamophobia in the U.S., we can't help but praise a company that chooses to offer an inclusive product. Even better, the fact that Epic Burger wouldn't deign to freeze its namesake product more than merits its place on this list.