11 Fast Food Burgers That Are Overrated

We all have our favorites when it comes to fast food burgers, but sometimes it's fun to try the latest and greatest. So, you decide to try that new place that all your friends are raving about — who knows, maybe it's worth all the buzz. Or, perhaps you're on a road trip and want a taste of that patty that the locals swear by. Whatever the case, there's a lot of hype, and you want in so you wait in line eager to try the latest craze. But after all that anticipation, the first bite is ... underwhelming. It's just okay, at best. Or worse, it might be burnt or undercooked in the middle.

Unfortunately, reality often doesn't align with expectations, especially if those expectations are sky-high. Fast food burgers can be delicious, but consistency is a gamble. Plus, they often pale in comparison to your favorite local spot — but that's beside the point. If you've fallen into the trap of highly rated but mediocre or downright bad fast food burgers, you're not alone. According to diners at these fast food chains, the following burgers are sorely overrated.

1. In-N-Out Burger

We might get a lot of hate for this one, but In-N-Out is perhaps one of the most overhyped burgers out there. The popular burger stop has reached a cult-like status among its fans, with many passionately declaring it the best fast food in the country. The chain has been around since 1948, and its menu has largely stayed the same since then. The hype may partially come from the fact that most of the restaurant's locations are in California, making it a must-try pit stop for any out-of-state and international travelers who have heard others sing its praises.

However, many diners feel short-changed when they try In-N-Out for the first time. One East Coaster, who grew up hearing people gush about the chain, said, "When I finally tried it I was disappointed because I was expecting one of the best burgers of my life. It was just fine. Good for the price but not amazing by any means." Many feel the same way, and even a few regulars admit that the excitement is overblown. Food writer and chef Andrew Zimmern also threw his hat into the ring, saying in an exclusive interview with Mashed that he doesn't understand In-N-Out's popularity, especially compared to other fast food chains. If you do plan on trying In-N-Out's burger, it's best to lower your expectations — at least just back down to regular fast food levels.

2. Whataburger

To say that Whataburger has a strong fanbase is an understatement. Since 1950, the Texas-based chain has been winning over the hearts of hungry diners with its promise of extra-large and delicious burgers. Like In-N-Out, tourists from non-Whataburger states flock to the restaurant with high expectations. However, many feel that the chain's signature burgers fall short in several notable ways.

Bombarded by Texans imploring them to try Whataburger, one reviewer (via Paper City) found their meal underwhelming. Despite the fanfare, their burger arrived overcooked, with toppings that were lacking in flavor and quality. Others share similar experiences, expressing disappointment at cold food, stale buns, and dry meat. To make matters worse, some believe that Whataburger has declined over the years. They feel the quality and value no longer justify a visit, especially compared to other similar burger chains. Of course, every location is different and experiences vary. One fan summed it up, saying, "Burgers can be hit or miss but when they hit it hits good." This inconsistency raises red flags — it's clear that there's a major gap between fans' glowing recommendations and the reality many diners face.

3. Shake Shack

Far from its humble beginnings as a hot dog cart in New York City, Shake Shack (after switching to burgers) now operates over 400 locations across the U.S. Unless you've been living under a rock, you've probably heard people vouch for its burgers. Enthusiastic fans rave about their high quality and taste, raising the expectations of the uninitiated.

Some people just don't understand the hype surrounding Shake Shack's burgers. After braving the infamously long lines, one first-time customer expressed disappointment (via Business Insider) at the small size of her burger. All in all, she found it overrated. Others echo this sentiment on sites like Reddit. One user sparked a lively discussion by posting a picture of their burger. Someone responded, "Don't get me wrong, it's not bad, it's actually pretty good. It's a good burger, not a great burger. And that teeny-tiny burger in the picture is about $7 ($9 for the double), and it really shouldn't be." Other users also chimed in to criticize the restaurant's pricing.

While prices can vary, reviews on TripAdvisor also called the burger overpriced, adding that it's too greasy and average taste-wise. Even the famed celebrity chef Gordon Ramsey confessed that he prefers In-N-Out to Shake Shack, which says a lot.

4. Five Guys

Five Guys has taken the world by storm since it first opened its doors in 1986. Known for using the finest ingredients, the chain has amassed a devoted following that believes its burgers reign supreme. With such high praise, inevitably, some people don't get it.

The main problem that naysayers have is the price. More expensive than most fast food burgers, Five Guys asks a lot of its customers. For some, it's a bad deal. One price-shocked diner said that they paid $44 for three cheeseburgers and an order of fries. Though they were satisfied with their food, the hefty Five Guys price tag left them unwilling to return. The restaurant chain has come under fire recently for its high prices. One customer's receipt went viral on X, formerly known as Twitter, after it showed they paid $24.10 for a bacon cheeseburger, soda, and a small order of fries. In the comments, people were in disbelief, calling it a total rip-off. "The burgers aren't even good. I never got the appeal," wrote one disgruntled user.

Quality control seems to be another sticking point. TripAdvisor reviews mention issues like soggy, burnt, cold, or thin burgers, proving that premium prices don't always guarantee a premium experience.

5. Culver's

Established in 1984, Culver's dominates the fast food burger game in the Midwest. The Wisconsin-born institution is famous for two things: its frozen custard and the ButterBurger, a menu staple named for its buttered buns. In its popularity, the ButterBurger has earned a reputation for greatness, one that it often can't meet. While many will defend the burger to the very end, others find it overrated.

Dissatisfied customers have taken to online platforms to voice their grievances, reporting problems across the board. While fast food burgers are known to be greasy, some find the chain's offerings to be excessively so. Others take issue with the burger's construction, saying that Culver's practice of putting all the condiments on the bottom bun leaves the rest of the burger unpleasantly dry. "I really don't understand the love of Culver's burgers," one person wrote in a Reddit post. "They are super bland to me (just a mix of mayo and meh burger meat)." Reviewers on Yelp share similar criticisms, lamenting the lack of salt and seasoning between the buns. Missing that much-needed burst of flavor, the ButterBurger doesn't have enough going for it to make it stand out from other burgers on the market.

6. McDonald's

There's nothing more American than McDonald's. With over 40,000 stores worldwide, the restaurant is famous for offering reliable, cheap eats wherever it's located. McDonald's signature Big Mac has grown into a pop culture phenomenon, but does it deserve all the attention? 

According to recent customers, the chain doesn't live up to expectations. Diners say the burgers taste fake, blaming the various artificial ingredients and preservatives in the meat. While McDonald's claims its classic patties are now 100% beef (in the U.S. at least), customers still have problems with how they taste. One Reddit user compared the burger's flavor to meatloaf, prompting others to speak up in defense of meatloaf. Countless diners also have complaints about inconsistent quality. Taking to Yelp to share their experiences, customers encountered too much grease, missing patties, and rubber-like cheese, to name a few common issues. "The bun was so hard and stale it made noise when I tapped it," one distraught customer wrote. "Add to that the cold, dry beef." 

McDonald's may have been a big part of many people's childhoods, and you may even remember its burgers fondly today. However, nostalgia is a powerful thing — the reality is much less appetizing.

7. Freddy's Frozen Custard & Steakburgers

A relative newcomer (having opened in 2002), Freddy's Frozen Custard & Steakburgers is a rising star in the fast food landscape. The chain has been expanding rapidly in recent years, with locations now in 36 states across the country. Freddy's has won over countless fans with its crispy, smashed patties, flavored with Fry Seasoning. While many love the burgers and even consider them the best fast food has to offer, others find them lacking. 

Reviews on TripAdvisor paint a bleak picture, suggesting that fans (in their enthusiasm) may be exaggerating the burgers' quality. "Skinny greasy burgers," wrote one customer. "Cost is higher than expected. Just a downer experience after a lot of hype." Other reviewers agreed with this assessment, complaining that the burgers are overall mediocre. For another customer, the issue is the saltiness. They explained that one double has a much higher sodium content than a similar burger at Culver's. We found this to be true: Freddy's double steakburger contains 1,680 milligrams of sodium, while a double ButterBurger at Culver's (with roughly the same toppings) contains 780 milligrams. If that doesn't convince you, some reviewers threw in the towel, finding their burgers too salty to eat.

8. Burger King

Often seen as McDonald's biggest competitor, Burger King remains a popular choice for quick, easy food. Perhaps the best-loved item on the menu, the Whopper gives the Big Mac a run for its money. Many advocate for the burger as the best in its tier, praising its additions of mayo and ketchup as well as its size. But if you're expecting greatness, don't get your hopes up.

For one, the Whopper fails to live up to its advertised size. While larger than your average fast food burger, the Whopper falls short of its own promises. Don't take our word for it — Burger King is currently facing a lawsuit (via Reuters) for portraying the Whopper on menu boards as bigger than it really is. If this weren't bad enough, customers have plenty of other criticisms. "The burger patties are gross. They have a wax/crayon aftertaste now. Clearly a cheaper supplier," wrote one disillusioned customer on Reddit. This is one online discussion of many that suggests a general decline in quality. Some commenters denounced the chain's use of old, dry toppings and stale buns, while others picked apart the Whopper's inconsistent application of sauces. Whether or not quality has gone downhill or if people now have higher standards, it seems Burger King disappoints in more ways than one.

9. White Castle

White Castle, which first opened its doors back in 1921, is widely considered the first fast food burger chain in the world. The restaurant's burgers are smaller than most. In fact, the chain invented the concept of sliders, and they remain popular to this day. Thanks to the 2004 cult classic film, "Harold and Kumar" fans still flock to White Castle, looking to retrace the duo's iconic journey. With such a storied past, an air of legend surrounds the chain's sliders. Unfortunately, their backstory is more interesting than the reality.

One traveler from Austria, admittedly enticed by Harold and Kumar, described their first trip to White Castle on Reddit. "It looked like a greasy mix of moist sludge and really old onions," they said of the sliders. Sadly, the mini burgers tasted as disgusting as they looked, and their partner felt sick the next day. While this doesn't inspire much confidence, neither do other customer reviews. On TripAdvisor, one diner noted the burgers as tasting like something you'd get from a frozen microwavable meal. Others compared them to cardboard and accused the chain of skimping on the meat. White Castle's long history has cultivated a sense of nostalgia for many, and its pop cultural significance has cemented it as a must-try for tourists. However, the sliders just don't hold up to these lofty expectations.

10. Steak 'n Shake

Not to be confused with Shake Shack, Steak 'n Shake is a Midwestern burger chain with roots in Illinois. Since 1934, the restaurant has made it its mission to provide the best burgers and shakes in the nation. If you ask any one of its loyal fans, they'll say the chain's burgers live up to this promise. However, other customers beg to disagree.

Reviews point to a decline in quality and taste, possibly due to various changes in ownership over the years. Many people have fond memories of growing up on Steak 'n Shake burgers. For one such customer, their recent (and last) visit came as a shock: "I remember we waited so long in the drive through and then when we got our food our burger was cold, but not like room temperature, actually ice cube cold." Unfortunately, this is a problem that's all too common. While some diners find their burgers perfectly cooked, many have had issues with undercooked and burnt patties. Others bemoan diminishing portion sizes, describing the patties as overshadowed by significantly larger buns and tomato slices. Some even call the burger inedible, blaming an overabundance of grease, seasoning, and salt. Inconsistencies like these are a recipe for disaster, and it's no surprise that Steak 'n Shake's burgers can't meet customers' expectations.

11. Fatburger

Fatburger first opened in 1947 with the bold slogan "The Last Great Hamburger Stand." Today, the Los Angeles-based chain extends across the country, having made a name for itself among burger enthusiasts everywhere. Notable fans have included Ice Cube and Notorious B.I.G., who famously name-dropped the chain in their music. This rich history fuels the restaurant's legendary status, raising the bar for its burgers to impossible heights.

Customers everywhere say the burgers don't live up to the hype. One person posted a picture from the chain's website on Reddit, seeking recommendations for their first visit. Another user replied, "This picture and OP's question are so full of hope. The reality is so full of disappointment. Fatburger looks soooo nice in ads. That's about all the love I can give Fatburger." Others agreed, saying that the burgers are overpriced for their low quality.

Reviews on TripAdvisor consistently mention the chain's high prices. Diners call the burgers average and wonder why the chain charges premium prices for such a meal. Others have found the burgers to be subpar, like one customer (and former Fatburger devotee) who described its patties as dry and overcooked. They expressed sadness that the burgers were no longer the tasty treats they once loved. While the chain is culturally significant, it seems that its burgers are ultimately a forgettable experience.