Popular Fast Food Menu Items Ranked

There's no doubt about it. Fast food is, quite possibly, one of the greatest inventions of all time. It's quick to grab, it fills up the stomach, and it tastes oh-so-delicious when done right.

Despite all the benefits of fast food, menus at these popular spots can sometimes be difficult to navigate, especially when new items are constantly spewed out. While each fast food restaurant will have its best and worst food selections, we've made an attempt to come up with our own curated list of which fast food menu items you can trust as a safe bet and which you might wish to avoid on your next rendezvous.

From healthy side dishes to hearty main entrées, we're here to give you the low down on how to get the most bang for your buck from your local drive-thru. So, pull up a chair and get comfortable. It's time to dive into our list of the popular fast food menu items, ranked.

Apple slices

First up are apple slices, and this low ranking is for reasons you likely can already imagine. Though ordering apple slices at the drive-thru might seem like a noble and healthful pick, it usually only takes a few milliseconds after you've received them to realize they aren't all they're cracked up to be.

The average whole apple at the grocery store will cost you less than a buck, and though prices on packets of fast food apples vary, sometimes they'll ring up close to a dollar. This wouldn't be an issue if it weren't for the fact that the apple slices you receive at fast food joints are, quite literally, just a few slices of apple. Not only that, but they also taste oddly different, with almost a watery vibe that we can't quite put our finger on.

We don't know about you, but while fine for kids or as a healthier side option, we'll have to pass on consistently buying this one. The price point isn't worth it, and the portion size likely won't keep anyone older than the age of 5 full for very long.

Soft serve ice cream

Soft-serve ice cream is amazing and can taste extra special when it comes from a fast food joint. So, why has it landed a spot so low on our ranking of popular fast food menu items? It isn't the ice cream itself; it's the machine it comes from that we're the most worried about.

According to Vermont's Agency of Agriculture Food and Markets, for example, ice cream machines need to be disassembled and washed on a daily basis to keep them clean. Our hope is that all fast food employees prioritize cleanliness as much as we do, but a quick scan of the topic across the internet seems to suggest otherwise. The harrowing stories of grossly strange things employees sometimes do with soft serve lead us to believe it might be best to steer clear of this creamy treat the next time you visit your local fast food hangout.


While we admit it's not very often you'll see pizza served at a traditional fast food spot, it does happen on occasion, so we thought we'd make it part of the list. Pizza usually comes and goes at fast food restaurants, with places like Subway and Panera Bread giving it their best shot. As you might imagine, pizza ranks pretty low on our list of best fast food fare because, after all, everyone knows the best pizza comes from locally owned pizzerias.

Still, the consensus on fast food pizza is usually really bad or average at best. And while that's fine if you're just looking for a super basic pizza, it isn't so great when you're a self-declared pizza connoisseur and want a mouthful of piping hot pie with some quality. For this reason, fast food pizza has earned itself a lower rank than some of the other items. It usually isn't too bad, but it also isn't crazy good, either.

Mozarella sticks

All right, we have to admit it. Mozzarella sticks are amazing when done right. That thick, gooey cheese dipped in bright, perfectly herbed marinara sauce can make for a great wake-up call on days when you're particularly ravenous. Unfortunately, mozzarella sticks can be pretty hit or miss, depending on which fast food spot you frequent. This could mean the difference between scoring a really great snack and one you'd rather give back — and get a full refund.

Thankfully, places like Arby's seem to be offering really tasty options in the melted cheese stick category, but mozzarella sticks at favorite fast food restaurants like Burger King may leave you wanting. We admit that you probably shouldn't expect restaurant-quality eats from your local drive-thru, but we'd at least like to sample something relatively close. Either way, mozzarella sticks can sometimes be a much-needed deviation from run-of-the-mill burger and fry fare, and thus, may still be worth giving a try. But will you actually enjoy them? That's to be determined.

Chicken nuggets

We're climbing the list a bit, and as we do, the outlook has the potential to transition from drab to helpful, offering a more promising perspective. Chicken nuggets are often more closely associated with kids' meals than they are adult cuisine, but if we're being honest, many of us love eating them. Whether it's a nostalgic trip down memory lane or an irresistible explosion of flavors, both serve as valid motivations to indulge in a generous helping of them at your neighborhood fast food joint.

Still, chicken nuggets can be a bit boring unless they're paired with something. We don't know many people who take their chicken nuggets plain, and since they don't normally come with customizable options, you're kind of just stuck with the same old nugget with every order. Nevertheless, the dipping sauces at several fast food locations are what give us hope for this old-time classic, with many restaurants offering fun and yummy options to dunk your chicken nuggets in. Choose from dips like barbecue, ranch, or honey mustard to get you started. These sauces often breathe new life into drab old nuggets, and for that, we're grateful!


We know that salads aren't exactly everyone's idea of a good fast food meal, but honestly, they're in demand, especially for those looking to eat light for cheap. And while you may think that fast food restaurants would only offer the most basic of options, the truth of the matter is that fast food chains are thinking up interesting and fun flavor combos to please even their salad-loving patrons.

We've spotted some fast food restaurants featuring yummy crispy chicken salads with red onion and tomato, while others get more interesting with seasonal berries, granola, and apples thrown in the mix. No matter what you're craving, there's probably a salad out there to soothe that itch. Not only that, but restaurants often tend to offer flavorful salad dressing options, though they're likely loaded with sugar and other additives, so be sure to check the nutrition label if that matters to you.

All in all, a salad can be a pretty solid pick from a fast food restaurant, even if it does veer on the healthier side.

Baked potato

Love cooking up fluffy baked potatoes in your own kitchen? Depending on which restaurant you frequent, you might be able to order something similar right from your local fast food menu.

Baked potatoes are a lighter and healthier fast food alternative to fries. And since they aren't drenched in a lot of oil, you can feel good about ordering one to pair with your salad, grilled chicken sandwich, or burger. Fast food joints often dish up baked potatoes topped with a variety of ingredients, which, in our opinion, is part of the fun. But if you aren't into soft potatoes stuffed with cheese, sour cream, and other heavy toppings, try asking for your potato plain instead.

From what we can tell, Wendy's and Arby's offer the most variety for loaded baked potatoes, but you can likely find them other places as well. Just keep your eyes peeled if you want to give this somewhat uncommon side a go. With potatoes that can be stuffed with lots of yummy toppings, we're willing to bet you'll be glad you did!

Onion rings

If you love crispy onion rings as much as we do, you likely know why this one made it so high up on our list. Yep, onion rings are a fast food delight, and when you find them, it's well worth grabbing an order or two.

Like with anything else in fast food, you'll find a wide range of differences concerning which fast food onion rings are good versus which aren't. Though we love onion rings, there are definitely some fast food chains that can make such a perfect side dish no longer seem appetizing, as it may end up overdone, greasy, or just plain burnt. Steak n Shake, Whataburger, and Culver's are said to have noteworthy onion rings, while many seem to think Burger King's rendition is worth skipping. Either way, we'd recommend giving this tasty side dish a try if you haven't already. You may find yourself ordering them in lieu of fries more often.

Hot dog

Hot dogs aren't on every fast food menu, but when they are, you're usually in for a treat. In general, it isn't hard to make a good hot dog, but some restaurants feature better quality meat and toppings than others. Freddy's Frozen Custard, for example, carries fresh Vienna beef dogs, while other yummy quick-serve hot dog joints make no such claim. Regardless, a good hot dog is a good hot dog, especially when you have fun toppings like bacon, cheese, onions, and chili to choose from. We've found that places like Portillo's and others have particularly tasty hot dog combos that, in fact, may actually make you forget all about that typical burger that's usually dominating your order. 

Load it up the way you like, but just remember that you might not find hot dogs gracing every fast food chain menu. If you do happen to snag a good dog, consider yourself lucky. Grab one, two, or three, and get ready to chow down!

French fries

We can't say we've met very many people who don't like french fries, and that, we think, is for good reason. French fries are hot, salty, crispy, and delicious. Plus, they pair perfectly with a main entrée. Moreover, french fries can be dipped in milkshakes or eaten as a snack on their own, making it virtually common sense that they would rank so high on our list of fast food faves.

Tired of the same old salty side every time? No worries. Companies today know how to up the ante, with some, like Rally's, coming up with its own fry flavor combinations that make them perfectly unique. Moreover, some restaurants offer fully loaded fries with interesting combinations such as chicken, ranch, bacon, and cheese to satisfy your snacktime cravings.

Yes, regular salted fries taste incredible, but as creative as fast food restaurant chains have been getting, it's possible to really spice things up and take things beyond the norm when you want to. Thus, in recognition of french fries' irresistible allure, we're awarding them a prime position in our hierarchy of fast food menu items.

Fish sandwich

A good fish sandwich is such a fun find, especially if you tend to drool over flavor combinations like tartar sauce, cheddar, coleslaw, malt vinegar, and fries. Every fast food chain does its own version of fried fish a little differently, and of course, some taste better than others. Still, when it comes to fish, everyone has their own version of what's acceptable and what's not, making the prized fish sandwich a very subjective, albeit much-sought-after item gracing fast food menus.

Restaurants like McDonald's often keep their fish sandwiches classically simple with a good helping of tartar sauce and cheddar layered atop a soft and fluffy bun. Other fast food establishments, like Culver's, take it up a notch by offering fresh crunchy cod on top of a bed of lettuce and hearty hoagie all while drowning the fish filet in a special recipe tartar sauce and serving it with a side of fries and cole slaw.

Despite the potential for opposing views, we think fish sandwiches are a fresh and tasty spin on otherwise heavy fast food cuisine. For that reason, fish sandwiches earn a special place in our hearts as an amazing fast food menu option, especially when you're in the mood for something different.


There are so many chains offering enticing and creative tacos these days, and we have to say, we love having all the options. While sandwiches and fries typically satisfy, the arrival of options like tacos, nachos, and burritos offers a delightful departure from the realms of ordinary fast food fare.

Chains like Taco Bell and Del Taco are always coming up with new and tasty ways to treat our palate, and for this, we are most grateful. Seasonal and regional offerings paired with delicious melty cheese, exotic spices, and unique toppings all make for an exhilarating and fresh new spin on traditional fast food.

Not only are tacos absolutely delicious, but they also typically come cheap. The price point paired with the freaky fast preparation can make you think twice about all the effort you go through to make virtually the same thing at home. It's for these reasons we totally think tacos deserve a top spot on our list of popular fast foods.

Breakfast sandwich

Whoever came up with breakfast sandwiches seriously deserves a pat on the back. Breakfast sandwiches help make our mornings worth waking up for, especially on a busy Monday when we'd love nothing more than to be back in bed asleep. It's for this reason we deem breakfast sandwiches worthy of your purchase and, not only that, but the fact is you also have a plethora of choices to pick from when visiting various fast food chains that work to make things that much more pleasing.

So, what uniquely filling breakfast items are out there? Try Wendy's Breakfast Baconator on your next morning run or try McDonald's well-known McGriddle if you like sweet and savory. In need of something different? Try the honey butter chicken biscuit from Chick-fil-A instead. No matter which sammie you choose, we're willing to bet it'll start your day off right. In fact, we can almost guarantee it.


Though there are many options you could choose from when visiting your local fast food eatery, there's nothing better than placing a quintessential plump and juicy cheeseburger at the forefront of your fast food meal. Not only do burgers take up most menu offerings from places like Culver's, McDonald's, White Castle's, Burger King, In-N-Out, Wendy's, and more, but these places also generally go out of their way to supply you with amazing flavor combinations to keep you begging for more.

In addition, there are a multitude of side dishes worthy of matching with a burger — many of which we've already mentioned — that can make your fast food meal purchase that much more exciting. If you aren't in the mood for traditional fries, try sampling crispy onion rings, gooey mozzarella sticks, or a loaded baked potato in their stead.

Need something to slurp? Burgers go great with thick, ice-cold milkshakes or even a bubbly soda. There are so many ways to pair it; we couldn't help but mention burgers as one of our top picks for fast food cuisine. Yum!

Chicken sandwich

You may be curious about why we've ranked the chicken sandwich as our top choice for fast food offerings. The reasoning is simple: They taste really good. Don't trust our judgment? Just take a look at major chains like Chick-fil-A that have made the majority of their profits simply selling chicken sandwiches to avid fans. Reddit users concur, stating that chicken sandwiches appeal to the "adult" palate as opposed to when we were Happy Meal-crazed kids. They also seem to fare better on the stomach than heavy greasy burgers do.

Today, fast food chains offer a plethora of yummy choices when it comes to chicken, including options like grilled chicken sandwiches, fried chicken sandwiches, chicken on biscuits, and more. When paired with filling and wholesome sides like a baked potato, salad, or fries, you've got a flavorful fast food order that'll suit even the pickiest taste buds. Enjoy!