15 Unique Fast Food Burgers You Need To Try At Least Once

People who have never had a disappointing slice might be fond of claiming there's no such thing as a bad pizza, but simple common sense will tell you that it's absolutely possible to have a less than exemplary burger. Heck, there are lots of easy tells that reveal if a restaurant has bad burgers.  Excellent burgers are pretty easy to figure out too — and if you don't have time for the delicious trial and error, we've compiled a handy list of the best burgers in every state. 

Unique burgers, now that's a whole other ball park. Both great and disappointing burgers feature roughly the same building blocks — the bun, a burger patty or two, cheese, and assorted toppings from a finite pool of "things that traditionally go in a burger." So, what can you do when you wake up one day and feel like wolfing down a burger that's radically different from the usual fare? 

Don't worry, we've got you covered. There are wild burger makers out there who absolutely, positively don't give a damn about sticking with tradition whether they're inventing twists on the patty, bun, or toppings. Come, let's take a look at some of the most unique fast food burgers that you'll want to try at least once. 

Peanut Butter and Bacon Burger

Sweet and savory are a notoriously great pairing, if you know what you're doing. This applies to burgers as well as anything else, so while you might not want to add a scoop of, say, vanilla ice cream on your cheeseburger, there are ways to add that extra tang ... ways like peanut butter, which itself has sweet and salty aspects, as well as taste to spare. Now, all you need to do is add some bacon, and warn your taste buds in advance for the impeding happiness overdose.  

Your best bet for a fast food version of this opulent burger might be the aptly named Peanut Butter Bacon Burger from Shake Shack. The burger was briefly an official menu item at certain locations of the higher end chain circa 2010, per Eater NY, but has been known to be a popular part of the Shake Shack secret menu ever since. Even if they won't build one for you outright, you can always jerry rig one yourself. All you need to do is to order a Shackburger with extra bacon and a side of their peanut butter sauce, which you can add yourself to complete this delightful treat (via #HackTheMenu).

McRice

Whenever fast food burgers are discussed, it's only a matter of time before McDonald's makes an appearance. Though you'd expect such a massive chain to steer firmly away from anything but the most middle-of-the-road fare, Mickey D has been known to experiment with the kinds of foods you likely haven't tried yet, often in order to adapt to local tastes in their more faraway locations.   

Really, if you're eating at McDonald's anyway, any of their more exotic offerings you come across are worth trying at least once, if only for the experience. However, if you had to choose just one, the McRice may very well be the way to go. Per CNN Business, McDonald's Japan dropped this seasonal menu item in 2020. Essentially, it delivers the familiar McDonald's taste in a "bun" that's made of soy sauce-glazed rice, which the company notes offers "the usual burger taste while enjoying the exquisite harmony of a new flavor stemming from an unexpected combination." 

Created as an answer to customer preferences in the local, less bread-centric market, the rice burger was introduced in three varieties, including teriyaki, fried chicken, and bacon lettuce. The only drawback is that it appears to be a seasonal item of the McRib variety, so even if you find yourself in Japan, your trip might not coincide with the limited-time availability. In that case, however, you can always peruse the rice burgers of other chains, such as MOS Burger

New York Pizza Burger

Pizza and burgers are arguably the most iconic fast foods out there, so it's only natural to toy around with the idea to combine the two. Can it really be done, though? Sure, you can make one with a bunch of ingredients that are generally associated with the other, but let's be honest — a pizza with hamburger and American cheese is still just a pizza, albeit one with weird toppings. Likewise, a burger that's been fortified with, say, mozzarella and pepperoni can easily taste like, well, a burger — even if it's one with a minor identity crisis.

Perhaps the correct route, then, is to combine the most iconic aspects of both worlds in a way that won't confuse the old taste buds too much. In an effort to do just that, Burger King's arsenal has been known to contain the New York Pizza Burger, a 2,500-calorie monstrosity that combines the "slice of pie" delivery method of the pizza with the familiar Burger King taste, plus some strategic tweaks that take it toward replicating the pizza experience, like adding mozzarella, marinara, and pesto-flavored mayo. 

In the U.S., you could only get this giant burger shaped like a six-slice pizza at New York City's Burger King Whopper Bar, and it isn't currently available in the country. However, it appears to remain a part of their international arsenal, and has been known to appear as a delivery-only special in regional markets, like Honduras (via Facebook). 

The Hamdog

Scene: Nashville, Tennessee. Per SmartCompany, a man called Mark Murray was feeling peckish after a long night out, and since he couldn't choose between a burger and a hot dog, he acquired one of each. "I was in the passenger seat munching away on the burger, and I decided to start on the hotdog at the same time. S*** was going everywhere," he described the dining experience. "I said to my partner at the time, 'Wouldn't it be easier if they joined these bloody things together?' I think I then passed out, but the idea stuck with me."

Murray started tinkering away, earned some initial publicity by appearing on "Shark Tank Australia," got his peculiarly shaped hamburger-hot dog hybrid patented in 2009, and has been chipping away at the market ever since. The burger is essentially a combination of a bisected burger patty and a hot dog, in a custom bun that can accommodate both, and complete with all the appropriate toppings. 

The creation has reportedly been making waves in Australia as an event fast food item, and the official Hamdog Facebook page contains gems that range from a clip from "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert" about the burger to a post that calls for international Hamdog vendors. As such, who knows? Perhaps a fast food restaurant or a food truck near you bites, and you can experience this mother of all fast food guilty pleasures yourself. 

Ramen Burger

When a burger goes viral, you know that it's worth tasting. Per CNN, the ramen burger got its start in 2013 when Japanese-American ramen enthusiast Keizo Shimamoto introduced his $8 fast food creation at Brooklyn's Smorgasburg food market. His original version contains little more than the noodle buns, a burger patty, some arugula and scallion, and certain "trade secrets." Yet, the sum total of the ingredients was a burger that's one of the best food inventions of the 2010s.

You'll absolutely want to try Shimamoto's version if you can. As the Los Angeles Times notes, he's in Southern California these days, and though his mission as of 2021 was to focus on more traditional ramen at his restaurant Ramen Shack in San Juan Capistrano, he'll probably whip out the ramen burger every now and then. Perhaps he'll even partner with a chain restaurant for a large-scale release, like he did with Red Robin in 2016.    

While waiting for the ramen burger to reemerge, however, you might do well to keep your eyes peeled for other versions of the theme. Shimamoto acknowledges that various proto-ramen burgers have been around long before his spin, and if you ask us, you'd do well to test whichever ramen burger comes your way; for instance, Shimamoto was personally inspired by Tokyo's ramen sandwiches with noodle buns and chashu pork belly. 

Pizza Mac

Another far different combination of the pizza and the burger comes courtesy of McDonald's (per Burgerlad). The Pizza Mac is a German Basics Menu (think Value Menu) item that consists of two burger patties, cheese, onions, a "mozzarella spread," and some spiced tomato sauce — all inside a special, cheesy pizza-style bun.  

The combination might sound a little bit odd, but it's definitely different enough from the Burger King version to count as its own thing. You might have to do a little bit of hunting to sink your teeth in this luscious abomination, though. Pizza Mac seems to be a bit of a regional item, that has a tendency to pop up in places like Germany, but the very fact that it exists means that it has a chance to turn up in other locations, too. If you chance upon the opportunity to sample one, you totally should, too. In 2020, an Insider reviewer sampled a chicken sandwich version of the Pizza Mac in a Finnish McDonalds location, and praised the bun and the sauce to high heaven. 

Conflicted Burger

Vegetarian and vegan burgers have been having a moment in recent years, which is only fair, considering all the decades they were completely and utterly ignored. Still, even now, it can be easy to approach the whole veggie burger thing as an either-or scenario: Either you go vegetarian, or you double down on meat.

Not so in BurgerFi, the innovative burger chain that's all too happy to serve you a Conflicted Burger. At first glance, the burger is a fairly regular double cheeseburger, with lettuce, tomato, and the chain's take on secret sauce, with the sole "conflict" being the inclusion of both white cheddar and American cheese. And then, you look at the patties, and realize that one of them is a regular Angus beef patty ... and the other is a vegetarian patty. It's a small, yet groundbreaking thing that gives you the best of both worlds in the tastiest possible fashion. 

Conflicted Burger started its life as a secret menu item, per ChewBoom, but its immense popularity made BurgerFi shrug and officialize its status on their menu. As such, if you're not into the arbitrary secrecy of the whole secret menu scene, you can — and totally should — now order one from the chain's regular selection.

Little Mule

It's easy to assume that the best place to go for a specific food item is one that specializes on it: a burger place for a burger, a pizza place for a pizza, a steakhouse for a steak, and so forth. Dog Haus scoffs at such crippling overspecialization, and as a result, its sizable menu offers everything from hot dogs to sliders, chicken sandwiches, and excellent burgers. The one common denominator is the signature Hawaiian rolls used for all of these — and if you've never had a burger in a Hawaiian roll, all we can say is you're missing out.

Dog Haus uses King's Hawaiian rolls, which bring a nice sweetness in the burger's flavor profile. To get the absolute most of this roll, you may want to avoid going too smoky with the ingredients, so BBQ sauce and smoked bacon are, for once, things to avoid. Instead, pairing the sweetness of the Hawaiian roll with a little bit of kick and succulent texture will be your friend, here. As such, the next time you fancy a Dog Haus burger, try the Little Mule. Its barrage of jalapenos and chipotle aioli combine well with the decadent mess of avocado, fried egg, and the twin opulence of American and cotija cheese. None of the ingredients here are too extravagant, but the way they team up to massage your taste buds is well worth experiencing.  

Mac 'n' Cheese & Croquette Burger

Mac and cheese is a comfort food. A good burger is a comfort food. Need we say more to make your mouth water? Curiously enough, though, fast food chains don't offer mac and cheese burgers as often as the deliciousness of the idea would make you assume, possibly because of the sheer messiness of mac and cheese. As such, one of the most notorious examples of this delicious combination comes all the way from Japan, where the popular MOS Burger fast food chain rolled out the Mac and Cheese Croquette Burger in 2021 (via Japan Today). Along with some delicious mac and cheese — a food that's reportedly alien to the vast majority of Japanese people — the burger replaces the traditional patty with a potato croquette and meat sauce. Messy? Probably. Delicious? Oh, certainly.

If either a trip to Japan or the whole "croquette with meat sauce" thing is a step too far for you, there are more traditional versions of the mac and cheese burger. For instance, fast casual chain Friendly's has been known to rock a Bacon Mac N Cheese Burger that, like the name suggests, is a bacon cheeseburger with a generous portion of mac and cheese thrown between the buns for good measure. 

Mushroom and Swiss ButterBurger

If you step into a Culver's location, it's easy to be enticed by their whole ButterBurger concept and keep your order relatively normal, in order to file that buttered bun experience in its correct place in your mental burger databank. It is, of course, perfectly acceptable to do so by going for the Original ButterBurger or a Deluxe version of the theme. However, that means you're completely missing out on the most unique creation on the menu: The Mushroom Swiss ButterBurger.  

As noted by one enthusiastic Tripadvisor reviewer, this tasty burger is the "best mushroom swiss burger out there," and a lot of this hinges on the succulent, sautéed, delicately spiced white buttom mushrooms. The combination of them, two slices of Wisconsin Swiss cheese, and Culver's signature buttered, toasted bun makes this double cheeseburger utterly delicious, and almost too fancy to have a place on a fast food menu. Almost. 

The Sufganiking

Donuts fit in your hand. Most burgers fit in your hand, too. Donuts are roughly the size of burger buns. Now, if only some mad genius would use all this information to create a truly unique fast food item  ... oh, hi, Burger King's Sufganiking

High end burger restaurants – such as Florida's The Burger Spot and their esteemed The Glazed One – have been known to deploy variations of the Luther Burger, which is essentially a cheeseburger with bacon and a Krispy Kreme donut instead of a regular bun (via Snopes). The Sufganiking takes the concept and brings it into the fast food world with a delicious twist: Instead of a regular donut, it replaces the burger bun with two sufganiyot doughnuts that are filled with ketchup instead of the usual jelly. This literal burst of flavor may, unfortunately, be somewhat tricky to acquire, seeing as it's a limited-time Hanukkah season burger that's sold in Israel. 

Zinger Double Down King

Sometimes, a unique fast food item is unique for a reason, and KFC's Double Down is one of the more infamous examples of the kind of thing you won't find other fast food chains rushing to copy. However, KFC itself has, appropriately enough, doubled down on the all-meat sandwich creation, and while its popularity has been on the wane Stateside, KFC has been happy to experiment with its creation even further in other countries. 

"But what does this have to do with burgers?" you might ask. Well, in 2014, KFC Korea unleashed a Double Down variation called Zinger Double Down King (via Grub Street). This burgerified Double Down variation basically consists of a burger patty, bacon, and some sauces between two pieces of KFC chicken. Something about the sheer overindulgence of it all makes this strange, strange burger kind of alluring — a bucket list item, almost.

While this particular item doesn't appear to be available in South Korean KFC locations at the moment, KFC Korea still has several curious Double Down creations on offer, so there's no telling when this Zinger Double Down King makes its comeback, too. Per KL Foodie, Peninsular Malaysian KFC stores have also recently reintroduced various Double Downs in the menu, so who knows where they — and, potentially, the Zinger Double Down King — will pop up next?

Halloween Whopper

Sometimes, the dining experience is influenced by aesthetics just as much as it is by the taste. While the fast food burger might still taste more or less like business as usual, a dramatic shift in color alone can make an otherwise unassuming burger rise above the competition — or, failing that, it'll at least make an interesting Instagram post. 

Which brings us to Burger King's Halloween Whopper. This black-bun treat is impressive-looking and as tasty as you can expect from the King, and worth trying for the experience alone. Unfortunately, you might have a hard time finding one Stateside. Per FoodBeast, this black burger was already a staple in Japan before it debuted in the U.S. in 2015. Unfortunately, the Halloween Whopper became a major flop due to an unfortunate side effect that caused several eaters to have bathroom experiences that prominently featured the color green, thanks to some of the bun's food coloring lingering in their system.

As such, you might have to travel to places that still carry black burgers as seasonal items. Per People, Japan during Halloween is arguably the hotspot for these dark burgers, since both McDonalds' black-bunned Squid Ink Burger and Burger King's Kuro Burger — which also features black cheese and black sauce — have been known to appear on local menus around that time. If you prefer something extra spicy, Burger King Thailand has also offered a black Ghost Burger

Fatburger XXXL

At some point in their life, a burger aficionado may feel the need to go big. After all, a good burger is rarely good for your health, so on occasion, you might be tempted to go all out and order the biggest fast food burger you can find, if only so you can say you've tackled the challenge of consuming one. 

If such a calorie bomb tickles your fancy, you might wish to visit Fatburger for the biggest thing in the appropriately-named chain's menu: the XXXL, aka Triple Kingburger. This massive monstrosity is one of the stockier fast food items you can order without customizing your burger with a ton of extra patties. If you order it with "the works," the 1.5 pounds of beef will be accompanied by a mound of toppings, to the tune of up to 2,050 calories. Is it something you should be eating? Probably not, especially on the regular. Is it a uniquely massive feast that you can't help but wanting to try at least once? Totally.  

The Rocky Mountain High Cheese Burger Delight

In 2019, Carl's Jr. created a true rarity of a burger that immediately piques the interest of anyone who's ever celebrated 4/20, "the marijuana holiday" (via Vox). This one-off offering was only available in a single location in Denver, Colorado, on April 20, 2019 (via The Denver Post). As is probably obvious from the context and the burger's retail price of $4.20, the big selling point of the Rocky Mountain High Cheese Burger Delight was the special Santa Fe Sauce, which contained five milligrams of CBD per burger — though, it should be noted, the sauce doesn't have psychoactive properties. Even when you strip away the CBD novelty value, the Rocky Mountain High Cheese Burger Delight is a pretty delicious-sounding burger, with waffle fries, pepper jack cheese, and pickled jalapenos to go with the sauce and the two patties. 

For those who wish to one day sample this unique item, the dark cloud of disappointment over missing the incredibly short window of sampling it does have a silver lining: Carl's Jr. has noted that the burger may well make a comeback in the future. "We are currently testing at one store in Denver, and there is potential to expand as regulations allow," the company told The Denver Post.