The Best Fast Food Hash Browns According To 39% Of People

Fast food breakfasts like sausage and egg sandwiches, pancakes, and breakfast burritos really hit the spot, but let's be honest: They just aren't complete without a crispy hash brown on the side. More and more fast food restaurants jumped on the breakfast bandwagon over the last several years, after seeing competitors successfully pulling in early-morning drive-through commuters (via Eater.) And even though their morning sales took a hit during the pandemic when people were forced to stay home, the fast food giants have held onto their breakfast menus. They're eagerly eyeing customers' return to the daily commute, and the need for a quick-grab, hot breakfast. 

It's a no-brainer for fast food restaurants to include a hash brown on their breakfast menu: It's like the early morning version of a side of fries. However, while hash browns may be a ubiquitous drive-through menu item, that doesn't mean that everyone is doing it well. A recent Mashed poll asked 651 U.S.-based participants to share who they think has the best fast food hash brown. Out of all contenders — Chick-Fil-A, Burger King, Dunkin', Carl's Jr., McDonald's, and Taco Bell — there was a clear winner. 

This classic hash brown beats them all

The title of "best hash brown" goes to the restaurant that invented the fast food breakfast: McDonald's, with 39.02% of the Mashed poll respondents choosing their hash brown as the tastiest. According to CNN, McDonald's began serving breakfast in the early '70s beginning with their own creation, the Egg McMuffin. By 1977 they had a menu that included hotcakes, juice, scrambled eggs, and of course those hash browns. With several decades of practice, they've nailed the hash brown game. McDonald's oval hash brown patty shape is copied by only one other fast food restaurant in the Mashed poll: Taco Bell (per their website). Despite this, Taco Bell's version ranked at the very bottom, with only 5.68% of votes. 

The other fast food hash browns in the poll are all bite-sized, shaped like small nuggets or tater tots. Yet even with all that extra surface area for deep-fried color and crunch, they couldn't overtake the McDonald's hash brown patty. Chick-fil-A hash browns came the closest, with 20.58% of respondents choosing them as the best. The hash "rounds" at Carl's Jr. took third place with 14.13% of the votes, and Burger King was close behind with 12.14% of the votes. Dunkin' didn't fare well at all in the poll: They were the worst of the bite-size hash browns, with only 8.45% of votes — barely better than the bottom-ranked Taco Bell hash brown.