Mashed Staff Chooses Their Favorite Fast Food Burgers Of All Time

The history of the humble burger has a contested origin with Texas and Connecticut doing battle for the invention of the now ubiquitous sandwich (via ABC News). Despite the ferocity in the arguments of its provenance, the versatile burger has gone on to successes few foods have known. And, when the fast-food industry exploded into the zeitgeist this unassuming layered little dish took center stage. 

The fast-food world is built on the shoulders of burger giants such as McDonald's Big Mac, Burger King's Whopper, and even Dave's Single from Wendy's. However, fast-food burger history is littered with many sandwiches that have come and gone despite being fan favorites. Case in point: Whataburger's Chop House Cheddar Burger arrived on the scene to great fanfare in 2009 but by 2016 it was all but condemned to obscurity. One Reddit user was so enamored with the burger they claimed, "I would do unholy things for them to bring this back."

Well, we here at Mashed are no strangers to what makes a great burger and we all have our favorites. So, we decided to compile the undisputed list of the best fast-food burgers of all time. 

Green Chile Burger from Blake's Lotaburger - Maria Scinto

Blake's Lotaburger may be a regional chain that's not too well known outside New Mexico, but in my opinion, it's way better than its much more famous rhyming-named competitor one state over. Lotaburger's Green Chile Burgers are the best! Probably because the chiles aren't canned Anaheims, but instead are real flame-roasted Hatch chiles that probably didn't have too far to travel because it just so happens that the Chile Capital of the World is in southwest New Mexico.

Lotaburger also puts green chiles on chicken sandwiches and in breakfast burritos, and even the fish sandwiches it has for Lent come with green chile tartar sauce. I seldom venture that deep into the menu, though. Just give me a Green Chile Burger with a side of fries (and more green chiles to put on those fries) and I'm happy.

In-N-Out's Double-Double - Jennifer Mathews

Friends are always surprised when I confess my weakness for particular fast food. I think it's easy to assume people in the food industry eat better, but as a child of the '80s, it's impossible to resist the familiar cravings now and again. I grew up on McDonald's, Chicken McNuggets at first, then the Big Mac when I got older — I even dabbled with Filet O'Fish for a while! But, when I moved to the West Coast, I discovered In-N-Out Burger and never looked back and in particular the Double-Double.

Their never-been-frozen beef patties, topped with freshly sliced tomatoes, caramelized onions, and iceberg lettuce, covered in their special sauce or "spread" as they call it, set themselves apart from other QSRs because it's fresher and customizable. The California chain doesn't have freezers or microwaves in their restaurants, and every component of their burgers is thoughtfully prepared, from the soft buns to the ratio of meat to cheese. It's almost better than making it at home. Even Julia Child loved In-N-Out Burgers; enough said!

P. Terry's Double Cheeseburger with special sauce - Sarah Mohamed

I'm from Austin, Texas, and in Austin, we love P. Terry's. The first location opened in 2005 down the street from the stunning, spring-fed, Barton Springs Municipal Pool. For many Austinites, going for a shockingly cold dip was almost always followed by a trip to P. Terry's.

They have a super simple menu, fresh ingredients, affordable prices, and attention to service and quality inspired by the burger joints of the '50s and '60s. A classic P. Terry's burger comes with lettuce, tomato, and special sauce with the option to add onions (grilled or fresh), jalapenos, or pickles. They also have chicken and veggie burgers. They keep things classic with thin patties and American cheese.

When I worked nights serving at a fine dining place, I would pass a P. Terry's on my commute home. Usually, I am a vegetable person, but I needed this burger to survive the time it took me to drive home, shower, and queue up Netflix. My version of the best-ever P. Terry's burger became a double cheeseburger with just special sauce, grilled onions, and pickles. I know it sounds basic, but trust me, it is even better than the original setup. You get to experience the unadulterated pleasure of melty processed cheese on meat, that saucy condiment blend, savory grilled onions, and tangy pickles. A few stolen finger-fulls of hot, salty, hand-cut fries from the paper bag in my passenger seat was always the perfect appetizer to an unparalleled fast food burger.

Whataburger's Patty Melt - Allison Lindsey

Sure, chains like In-N-Out and Shake Shack are in the running for the best fast-food burger of all time. But, no one does burgers like Whataburger. The Southern chain offers sloppy, sizeable, all-American burgers that actually keep you full. While their classic Whataburger is a Texas staple that everyone in America should try at least once, Whataburger's Patty Melt takes the title of the best fast-food burger of all time. 

Held together by two slices of buttery, charred Texas Toast, Whataburger's Patty Melt features two seasoned and smashed beef patties, two slices of Monterey Jack cheese, grilled onions, and Whataburger's homemade creamy pepper sauce. Don't forget a side of spicy ketchup!

Original Krystal Slider - Linda Brockman

With many burgers, bread is an afterthought — merely a tidy way to hold onto your burger. The Original Krystal burger, which reminds me of the now-defunct Royal Castle burger I grew up with in Miami, is different. 

The square slider has an indulgent bread-to-meat ratio, and the steam from the sweet, warm bun forms tiny puffs of soft bread that mesh with the meat patty. It's a tasty, tiny burger snuggled into an adorable bun and topped with pickles, onion bits, and a dot of mustard. One friend described it as "junk food at its finest." I agree.

Shake Shack's Avocado Bacon Burger - Leslie McMann

My favorite burger is the Avocado Bacon Burger from Shake Shack. It was an amazing combo of plant and animal fats on top of Shake Shack's quality burger patty, with an option to add melted cheese and a slathering of Shack Sauce (which is similar to Thousand Island dressing). But sadly, it's not advertised on the menu anymore. 

I don't know if it's officially discontinued but I'm pretty sure they can still make it for you because they likely carry all the ingredients. Shake Shack is a relatively young fast food brand but it's become an NYC staple. They're expanding so much that I think they want to have one shack every mile of NYC!

A Whopper from a Croatian Burger King - Matt Lardie

First, a confession – I don't usually like most fast food burgers and get maybe one or two a year, tops. Sometimes, however, the craving hits. One of the best burgers I've ever had was at a Burger King on the outskirts of Zagreb, Croatia, in 2017. My husband and I had been in the Balkans for work. It was the tail end of three weeks away from home and we were craving a basic burger

You see, burgers in Croatia, Serbia, and Bosnia are made differently and usually have baking soda in the ground meat mixture. They're tasty, but texturally nothing like what we're used to in the U.S. We saw a Burger King on the side of the highway and immediately pulled in. I got a very basic Whopper and damn if it wasn't one of the most delicious things I've ever had.

Culver's ButterBurger - Ceara Milligan

There are few culinary experiences more satisfying than sinking your teeth into a juicy, perfectly seasoned cheeseburger. There's nothing like the archetypal combination of a warm beef patty, melted cheese, zesty condiments, crunchy veggies, and of course, the split bun. To me, the bun is essential, as it can often make or break a burger (let alone any sandwich), which I've learned time and time again.

When it comes to the classic, humble cheeseburger recipe, no place does it better than Culver's. Perhaps I'm biased because I'm a ride-or-die Midwesterner, but I've tried most regional burgers and, for some reason, have remained loyal to Culver's all the while. The joint's bestseller, the ButterBurger, is made with all of the aforementioned elements, but consumers would say the bun is what makes it a standout — hence the iconic product's name. The crown of the bun is blessed with a dab of creamy butter, then toasted for a semi-charred flavor. The Wisconsin-based chain also prides itself on using fresh — never frozen — beef patties. Plus, every single meal is cooked to order. From growing up in the Chicago suburbs and now living in Milwaukee, Culver's holds a special place in my heart — and stomach.