Fast Food Chains With The Best Comfort Food Options

Fast food may (or may not) be synonymous with what we'd all describe as comfort food. In fact, we'd venture to say that nearly all comfort food comes with its own level of subjectivity that hinges on personal perspective and how you define nourishing foods that truly bring contentment. Still, we're willing to bet that most would agree that there are certain foods out there that really work to universally soothe our minds, bodies, and taste buds. Thankfully, many of these same foods are also widely available at your local fast food eatery, even if you've never noticed them there before.

From homestyle favorites to a few unexpected grabs, there's a little something out there for everyone if you're willing to look hard enough. And unlike cooking up your favorite comfort meals at home, ordering from a fast food joint doesn't take more than a few words at the drive-thru speaker and a couple of minutes waiting in line before you can treat your tummy to something truly satisfying.

Eager to learn more? Join us on our mission to uncover the very best comfort food dishes the fast food world has to offer.

Wendy's chili con carne

Wendy's chili con carne is an awesome example of the ultimate comfort food that truly knows how to soothe our soul. Though we know we can (thankfully) enjoy this hot bowl of deliciousness any time of the year, we particularly love it when there's a bit of nip in the air.

So, what makes Wendy's chili con carne so delicious? Honestly, we aren't sure. Maybe it's the perfectly seasoned chunks of meat or the ever-so-comforting warmth of the bowl paired with all the familiar flavors of a chili done right. Either way, we knew Wendy's chili would make our list of fast food comfort foods, and we honestly feel honored to be able to snag this delicious dish from the drive-thru practically any time we wish.

Oh, and do you know that it isn't only the customers who love Wendy's chili fare? Yep, Wendy's own workers go ga-ga for it, too, according to an interesting thread we found on Reddit. Just goes to show, Wendy's chili con carne is the real deal! So, if you're looking for yummy comfort food made quick, this is definitely a good pick.

KFC mashed potatoes and gravy

Mmmm, how could you not think of mashed potatoes and gravy when you think of ultimate at-home comfort? For some reason, there aren't many fast food joints that offer up decadently whipped potatoes, and we really wish they did. There are, however, at least a handful of restaurants that do, but we've found that one fast food mashed potato pick, in particular, tends to be our favorite ... and that's KFC's mashed potatoes and gravy.

As many others can attest, KFC mashed potatoes have a special aura about them. They're creamy and have a unique taste that makes them stand out from other fast food potatoes we've tried. Not only this, but the gravy is also smooth and superbly flavorful, taking the already deliciously creamy base up and over the edge.

Of course, there are plenty of naysayers out there who claim that KFC mashed potatoes are basically garbage. And to that, we believe those people are entitled to their opinion. We don't actually expect every fast food mashed potato to literally taste like Mom's at-home recipe, but seriously, for what it is, can we all just agree that KFC has done a pretty good job imparting awesome flavor to such a comforting dish?

Boston Market mac & cheese

Boston Market may be known for finger-lickin' rotisserie-style chicken, but boy, oh boy, its mac and cheese really fits the bill for comfort food if you ask us. And we aren't the only ones who think so; plenty of folks over at Reddit seem to feel the same way, with many citing the mac and cheese as one of their favorite items on the Boston Market menu.

So, what is it about this particular mac and cheese that makes it so special? Most of us know the magical effect that mac and cheese tends to have on us anyway, especially when we're in a sour mood or the day is off to a horrible start. Nevertheless, Boston Market has managed to up the ante on this traditional classic by offering its own unique rendition of the beloved dish by featuring rotini noodles slathered in a mix of cheddar cheeses. According to the website, rotini noodles are known to hold more cheese, so we side with Boston Market in choosing these noodles over typical elbows any day.

Boston Market Mac and Cheese is indeed a head above the rest when it comes to fast food's pasta game. Thus, if you're ever in search of a great comfort food mac and cheese selection, this one should definitely be your primary pick.

Bojangles biscuits

Hot and fluffy freshly baked biscuits? Yup, that's how Bojangles does it, and no, we aren't just saying that. Bojangles is known to deliver biscuits that are literally baked fresh every day following a 49-step recipe process to ensure maximum freshness. Oh, but that's not all!

As if it weren't enough for Bojangles to offer biscuits in practically the same format our grandma would serve them, it goes the extra mile by giving us the option to select from berry-stuffed biscuits, pimento cheese smeared biscuits, biscuits stuffed with fluffy egg and breakfast meat, and even a fried steak biscuit for a hearty bite on a hungry morning.

Yes, Bojangles really does go all in when it comes to biscuits, and we must say, we're grateful. Not too into all the fancy toppings and mix-ins? No problem. Devour the biscuit plain or with a smidge of honey, jelly, or butter, and enjoy every bite!

McDonald's apple pie

All right, we might get a bit of flack for this one, and for that, we're prepared. But honestly, we wish people would be more willing to admit that McDonald's apple pies are pretty darn good. Sure, they aren't the same syrupy latticed goodness we're accustomed to eating on Thanksgiving, but for a small hand-held treat from a fast food joint, we think McDonald's has really outdone itself.

McDonald's apple pies have been on the scene for a while, but they've undergone a few changes as well. Most Micky D pies are no longer fried but are now baked, making them even more congruent with something you might dish up at home. The filling packs a robust apple flavor, and the ratio of apple to pastry is perfectly achieved. Even the ingredients align with the traditional ones you'd see your mom cooking with for a special holiday dinner, featuring all the basics like yeast, salt, cinnamon, sugar, flour, and, of course, plenty of apples. Yes, we know there are also other ingredients in McDonald's apple pies that are definitely not found in the homemade sort (modified food starch, anyone?), but hey, with it being a fast food restaurant, we're willing to extend a little grace for a pie this good.

Jollibee fried chicken

Whether you've ever heard of Jollibee before or this is your first time learning about the chain (it has 1,400 locations worldwide), you seriously need to go try its fried chicken. Sure, there are many restaurants out there offering fried chicken by the bucket, and this recommendation is by no means a knock on the others. However, we've noticed that everybody has their own expectation of what good fried chicken should actually taste like, so there's a lot of variability in which fried chicken brand people actually can agree on as tasting good.

Interestingly, this isn't so much the case with Jollibee's chicken. In most instances, people simply adore this fast food restaurant with a Filipino twist, with many claiming the fried chicken there (and even the gravy it offers to dip it in) is nothing short of spectacular. We even found one Reddit user going as far as to say that this fast food joint dishes up chicken that blows even KFC and Popeyes out of the water!

As for us? We're going to pull the "no comment" card on that one since any ranking of the best fried chicken brands tends to be a touchy subject among die-hard fans. Still, these comments serve as proof to show just how delicious most people think the fried chicken at Jollibee truly is.

Popeyes red beans and rice

Yes, beans and rice can totally be considered comfort food, especially if you've ever had it from Popeyes. Now, we're sure there are other regional restaurants out there that will offer red beans and rice if you really look, but truly, this is a standout side not commonly found at most national fast food chains.

Aside from being distinct, Popeyes red beans and rice actually tastes good. It's one thing to play on an 'ode to a Southern classic, but it is quite another to actually achieve the flavor profile to such an extent that patrons are left with no choice but to return on the mere whim of a craving when it comes to this spectacularly comforting side dish.

Popeyes red beans and rice is packed with flavor you might not immediately expect from throwing beans and rice together. It's perfectly seasoned with a Southern-style spin that truly is like no other. Nevertheless, we will warn you that this side might not suit every person's taste buds, especially those who aren't accustomed to authentic Louisiana flavors. Still, we're willing to bet most of you who love Southern-inspired comfort food will enjoy this one as much as we do.

KFC pot pie

If pot pie isn't classified as otherworldly in the realm of comfort, we're at a loss for what is. It isn't every day you can visit a fast food joint and see pot pie listed on the menu, but if you're lucky enough to have a KFC near you, you might just be able to snag one during your lunch break.

The KFC pot pie is chock-full of all the usual suspects you'd expect in a satisfying meal made from scratch, with savory chicken doused in warm gravy and mixed with chopped carrots, peas, and soft diced potatoes — ah, we're just melting at the thought! In addition, the pastry used to top the pot pie is light and flaky, making this a delicious and fairly uncommon pick that's sure to comfort you when you're in need of something soothing on the tongue. Pair this up with a Southern sweet tea or classic lemonade, and you've got a close-to-home comfort meal fit for royalty.

Panera Bread grilled cheese

A gooey grilled cheese sandwich might seem somewhat "kiddish" in its own right, and with that, we'd have to woefully agree. Still, there's something about indulging those childlike inclinations that just feels so oddly satisfying ... even if it isn't the most grown-up pick on the menu.

If you want a good grilled cheese, you won't be able to pull up to McDonald's and get one. But don't worry. You can still enjoy grilled cheese on a whim without having to dirty up your kitchen space with bread, cheese slices, and the smell of burnt butter hanging in the air. Go to Panera Bread to get your fix instead.

Yes, you'll definitely see this pick on the kids menu, but that's okay because it's actually listed on the adult menu too. With this sandwich you'll find distinctly flavored American cheese layered on top of thick and hearty white miche bread before it's cooked to perfection and delivered to you warm and toasty. It isn't fancy and may not be something you'd order on a first date, but hey, that's what secretly enjoying childhood classics is all about, right?

Hardee's peaches and cream cheese fried pie

Corralling the words "peaches," "cream cheese," and "fried pie" all in one menu item description is enough to make us want to take a special trip to Hardee's, even if there isn't one near us. Yep, it's true; Hardee's offers a peaches and cream cheese fried pie, and, according to one reviewer, this hand-held pie is awesome.

Now, we will say that a peaches and cream cheese pie isn't quite as common of a flavor as apple pie, but the smooth fruity flavor of peaches melded with the rich decadence of cream cheese is enough to make us unequivocally consider this a comfort food, even if we've never necessarily sampled something like this at home.

Indeed, a peach pie has somewhat of a Southern flair to it, and, in accordance with its taste, we're SO here for it. We love the crispness of the fried crust intertwined with the richness of the filling. It's definitely worth grabbing; so be sure to make a trip to your local Hardee's to sample it if it sounds like something that'd suit your fancy.

KFC cole slaw

We've already mentioned a couple of KFC standouts here, but we just couldn't help but touch base when it comes to KFC's cole slaw. If you've never had the pleasure of sampling this one yourself, you'll know that the cole slaw at KFC is nearly flawless, making it the perfect choice when you're craving the comfort that comes with devouring creamy cole slaw but don't exactly want to visit a sit-in restaurant.

Now, we'll admit, we aren't sure what exactly it is about KFC's cole slaw that gets everyone in a tizzy (ourselves included). Could it be the delicately sweet flavor paired with the perfect amount of crunch? Maybe. But one thing we know for certain is that we aren't alone when it comes to our desire for this specific KFC side. According to Reddit users, KFC cole slaw could easily be classified as one of the best fast food side dishes out there, though we're sure a few other chains may have offerings that come close. So, take it from us, if it's cole slaw you want, then KFC's the way to go.

Culver's North Atlantic cod dinner

Culver's is known for serving up hot, fresh, and delicious burgers along with frozen custard fit for a king. But did you know that Culver's also offers its own rendition of fish 'n chips to its customers? It's true. The fish tastes unbelievably tender, flaky, and fresh, something we don't often associate with typical drive-thru fast food.

So, how do you order it? To start, you'll need to decide whether you want to sample Culver's North Atlantic cod either as a sandwich or on its own as part of a meal. The meal naturally comes with cole slaw and fries; however, you could switch out the sides in most circumstances if you really want to. In either case, you can expect the bold, tantalizing flavor of fresh fish that packs such a clean and refreshing taste you'll likely forget you're eating fast food in the first place.

Subway meatball sub

We know, we know. A meatball sub isn't exactly a homestyle favorite, but, if you're being honest, you'll agree with us that this grab is totally comforting in its own right. A meatball sub done virtually anywhere is likely to be a joyride, but for some reason, the one featured at Subway really delivers a slap to our taste buds that we rather appreciate. Add to that the fact that you can customize the sub any way you choose, and you've got a meal well deserving of your bite!

In case you aren't already aware, Subway features a variety of options for dressing up your meatball subs any way you choose. The bread, cheese, and even the veggies can be completely customized to suit your tastes. Still, we think Subway's meatball subs are pretty darn good as they come, with hearty meatballs drenched in marinara stacked atop fluffy artisan bread and sprinkled with mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses before being thrown into the toaster to deliver utter perfection.

No, it isn't what everyone considers a comfort food, but to us, anything that brings your mouth this much enjoyment on an otherwise blah day certainly is worthy of the mention.

Arby's mozzarella cheese sticks

Just as any other true mozzarella cheese fan can attest, not a day goes by when we aren't craving mozzarella sticks. The best cheese sticks come fried to a crispy crunch, offering satisfying amounts of gooey cheese that could stretch for miles if we wanted it to.

Sadly, most fast food mozzarella sticks aren't likely to achieve these high standards ... but Arby's? It definitely knows how to get the job done right. Arby's mozzarella sticks are fried to a perfect crisp and deliver an impeccable amount of cheese with an infinite stretch, making it truly worthy of its prestigious "cheese stick" name. It is then served with a cup of hearty marinara, which makes the perfect pairing for this exceptional Arby's offering that truly melts our hearts.

No, it isn't a health food, nor should it be. But if it's pure unadulterated comfort you're after, welcome to the ultimate comfort food.