10 Things You Should Know Before Your Next Visit To Burger King

Burger King first appeared as the Insta-Burger King restaurant in 1953 in Jacksonville, Florida (though the chain currently claims it got its start in 1954 and in Miami instead), the fast food restaurant quickly became one of the most well-known chains for hungry customers to grab a quick bite to eat. Sizzling fries, greasy burgers, and chicken sandwich options all currently grace the Burger King menu, and are marketed as a budget-friendly choice for those who don't want to spend too much money on a gourmet burger meal. Yet, while Burger King is known both in the United States and internationally, even the most reliable customers might not be privy to some of the inner workings of the fast food chain.

From menu items with over-the-top calorie and sodium counts to surprisingly expensive options and sandwiches that sit out for hours, there's plenty that Burger King customers may be overlooking or in the dark about. Here are a few things that customers might want to consider the next time they find themselves facing the Burger King menu.

Some menu items are more value-friendly than others

One of the advantages Burger King has over many other burger restaurants is its budget-friendly menu. But the truth is that customers should look at the fine print before ordering. For example, what you should know about its popular chicken nuggets is that they can go up to a 16-piece meal. That particular meal, which is typically only $4.89 (though this may vary by location), is more cost-effective per nugget than a $1.99 4-piece meal. 

Another potentially pricey option is the special meals occasionally offered by Burger King. The chain's Trick or Heat bundle, which we reviewed in 2023 and included a Whopper, Chicken Fries, a drink, regular fires, and a Hershey Sundae Pie, cost a potentially surprising $13. It's fair to assume most people do not go to Burger King to spend a high dollar amount, even for a specialty meal that comes with a variety of items. Some customers have said that these spendy specials give you too much food, anyway. Purchasing two value menu chicken sandwiches is not only cheaper than many limited-time promotional meals but can be filling without overdoing it.

A Burger King salad isn't always as healthy as one might think

When some people go out to eat, they're looking for a health-conscious lunch or dinner option that is not packed with calories. This may come in the form of a salad, something that could be full of healthy vegetables and protein. Yet, that is not necessarily the case when it comes to Burger King's Crispy Chicken Garden Salad, which can be packed with more calories than Burger King's iconic Whopper.

How is a salad on the same calorie wavelength as a Whopper? During a 2020 interview with Mashed, registered dietitian Sue Heikkinen stated that, while a Whopper clocked in at 675 calories, the Crispy Chicken Garden Salad came in at a staggering estimated 870 calories and 71 grams of fat. Yes, the salad has a base of lettuce, but it's the crispy part of the garden salad — that is, the battered and fried chicken on top  — that adds to the calories. If a person also uses dressing, then the salad will become even more calorie-dense. Needless to say, calling something a salad does not necessarily mean it is a healthy option, so it's best to think about the ingredients that go into a Burger King salad before you order.

The Whopper does not always live up to its advertising

It is common knowledge that Burger King, like many other companies in the world of fast food, relies heavily on marketing to promote its menu items. Yet, sometimes the difference between what's in the ad and what a customer receives can be a point of serious contention. Take the 2023 ad campaign featuring the Whopper with a bevy of fillings. These images led unhappy customers to file a class action lawsuit claiming that these marketing images — which included pictures on the chain's in-store menu boards — showed Burger King's Whopper burger with up to 35% more volume than what was in the burger served to diners. The suit also claimed that the pictured burger showed double the meat or more than the real thing.

Burger King went on the defensive and tried to get the case dismissed. However, Miami-based U.S. District Judge Roy Altman didn't let the fast food chain off so easily, stating that it had to go to court and defend itself against the claims that its depiction of the Whopper was wildly embellished. In October 2023, Burger King requested that the lawyers managing the class action lawsuit be sanctioned, while also noting that a similar suit brought against fast food chain Wendy's  (which included some of the same lawyers facing off against Burger King) had been dismissed in September of that year.

The Triple Whopper with cheese is a calorie bomb

The Whopper is one of Burger King's most advertised menu items, consisting of a 4-ounce beef patty, lettuce, tomato, onion, ketchup, mayonnaise, and pickles, all piled together on a sesame bun. Now, add two more beef patties and a slice of cheese, and you will have the Triple Whopper. While adding more protein is not necessarily a bad thing, the Triple Whopper is more than just protein with some vegetables and condiments — it is a calorie bomb. This specific menu item is 1,303 calories with 90 grams of fat on its own –that doesn't include a side of french fries and a drink.

A less calorie-dense option is a Whopper Jr. without mayonnaise and cheese. This burger is typically only 260 calories (330 calories with all of the fixings). While it is not nearly as large, the Whopper Jr. is sure to settle that Burger King craving and leave customers satisfied with their quick-meal option without quite so many extra calories.

Unpopular menu items may sit out for a while

The whole concept of fast food is in the name. Namely, restaurants are made to sling food out to customers in a very timely fashion, which then means that many of these places are pre-making some of the meals on the menu. Depending on how often something is ordered, these foods are then potentially left out under a heat lamp for a prolonged period. At least, that is reportedly the case for some of Burger King's less popular menu items. One Redditor who says that they used to work at a Burger King claimed that their chain would have some items sitting out not only all day but, in some cases, for multiple days. The worst offender, according to the writer, was the chain's Fish Fillet sandwich.

The fillets are not the only broadly unpopular menu items that can be left under heat lamps for hours on end. According to Reddit, the Whopper Jr., Chicken Fries, and Chicken Nuggets often tend to find themselves in the same predicament. Not only is it gross that Burger King food potentially sits out so long, but paying customers should not have to deal with rubbery meals because employees are pre-making menu items when no one has even ordered them. If it is common knowledge an item does not sell, do not make it in bulk.

The Ultimate Breakfast Platter may be too much to start your day

Cooking breakfast in the morning is not an option for everyone, especially if they're running late. That's where Burger King breakfast comes into play, namely the Ultimate Breakfast Platter, which consists of pancakes, hashbrowns, eggs, sausage, and a biscuit. It has everything that a person needs for a hearty breakfast on the go. At least, it does on paper. 

While breakfast is widely considered something we all need to get our energy levels up and brain power working, the 930 calories and 44 total grams of fat in the Ultimate Breakfast Platter may not be what you're looking for. Customers have noted that the pancakes alone are enough to fill you up without eating everything else on the platter. That alone may seriously reduce its value — are you really going to eat those leftovers later?

A good alternative option is one of Burger King's breakfast sandwiches — maybe avoid anything with double in the name if you're looking at your calorie intake. The Egg & Cheese Croissan'wich is only 340 calories and a potentially better way to start one's day than the calorie-packed, gut-stuffing Breakfast Platter. 

The Bacon King is a potential health risk

Not all fast food burgers are created equal. In some cases, one burger might be more of a detriment to your health than others. On Burger King's menu, that health risk might sneak past in the form of the Bacon King. Consisting of two beef patties, American cheese, ketchup, and mayonnaise, not to mention the fact that it's typically topped with a hearty portion of thick-cut bacon, the Bacon King comes in at a whopping 1,710 calories. To many, this might just be one of the worst fast food burgers on the market in terms of nutrition.

During an interview with SheFinds, registered dietitian Sheri Berger explained that there are many risk factors associated with eating a Bacon King due to its saturated fat content (which currently comes in at about 48 grams per serving) and relatively high levels of salt. She stated that saturated fats and sodium are not great for one's heart health when eaten regularly, especially when the American Heart Association recommends 13 grams of saturated fat per day, or about half the amount in this single burger. Add in a large order of french fries and a drink, and you are likely looking at over 600 added calories.

Some breakfast sandwiches may have surprising amounts of sodium

We should all come together and agree that any menu item with the word "double" in the name can be seen right away as a likely unhealthy option, especially if said menu item is coming from a fast food chain. Burger King's Double Sausage, Egg & Cheese Croissan'wich, and Biscuit are the particular issue here, as each breakfast sandwich is packed with a serious sodium punch. The Croissan'wich's sodium value is 2,196 grams, and the Biscuit comes with 2,526 grams of sodium, which is more than the entire recommended daily value for an adult, according to the FDA. That much sodium on a regular basis can contribute to a slew of health issues, including high blood pressure, a loss of calcium, and an increased risk of stroke and developing serious heart disease.

Even taking out the issue of sodium, these breakfast sandwiches are still not exactly on the healthy side. They clock in at 882.9 and 852.9 calories respectively, putting them on the higher end of breakfast sandwich calorie counts. The American Institute of Cancer Research states that a more reasonable egg and cheese breakfast sandwich should be between 300 and 350 calories, which is what someone may have in mind when they order off the BK menu. This may well make one reconsider going to Burger King for the first meal of the day, considering their Double Sausage, Egg & Cheese Croissan'wich, and Biscuit can deliver more than double the calories of other breakfast sandwiches.

Adding cheese might cost more than you think

A lot of people enjoy cheese on their burgers, but Burger King's Whopper does not necessarily have cheese included in the assortment of toppings typically offered with the burger. Instead, diners will have to specifically ask for a Whopper with cheese. Doing so is cause for an extra payment of 50 cents to a full $1, though the exact prices may vary by location. 

As of 2024, a Whopper without cheese is $6.39 (though that will also potentially vary by location). With cheese, that sandwich can potentially reach $7 or more, and that's without added drinks or sides. A plain cheeseburger is approximately $1.99, but is admittedly not the same as a Whopper. From a business perspective, this cheese upcharge offers a way to make extra money from a relatively low-cost ingredient, but it's a move and extra cost that customers may want to consider when ordering their next Burger King burger.

The Impossible Whopper may not be as healthy as you think

When it first came on the market, Impossible Meat was advertised as a plant-based alternative to meat patties but still with a distinct meat-like flavor. Because of its plant-based status, it may be easy to assume that the Impossible Meat patty is more healthy than a similarly-sized beef patty. Yet, you may want to rethink that preconceived notion. Registered dietician Sharon Zarabi, then the director of the Bariatric Program at Lenox Hill Hospital, pushed back against the idea during a 2019 interview with Healthline, the same year that Burger King introduced the Impossible Whopper. 

Zarabi explained that the new patty is not necessarily healthier than its beefy counterpart. In fact, the Whopper came in at 660 calories with 40g of fat and 28g of protein, while the Impossible Whopper was 630 calories, 34g of fat, and 25g of protein. The Impossible Whopper was lower in cholesterol (10mg to the original's 90mg) but had significantly higher amounts of sodium (1,240mg compared to 980mg in the meat-based Whopper).