Here are the most popular fast food brands in America

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Key points

  • The major fast food brands all have familiar names: McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, Taco Bell and KFC.
  • McDonald’s serves 69 million people every day, more than the population of Thailand and the UK.
  • Americans now spend more on fast food than on groceries.

The fast food industry is a multi-billion dollar business in the United States. Recovering from the pandemic, the industry is expected to generate $331 billion this year. There is no doubt that Americans love their fast food. And with so many options to choose, it can be difficult to know which brands are the most popular. The major fast food brands all have familiar names: McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, Taco Bell and KFC.

McDonald’s is by far the most popular fast food chain in the United States. It has approximately 13,500 locations in the United States, 40,000 worldwide, and operates in 118 countries. McDonald’s serves 69 million people every day, more than the population of Thailand and the UK.

Starbucks is number 2, powered by the Starbucks Card program and Starbucks mobile ordering and payment. No. 3 is Chick-fil-A, which is about three times smaller than Taco Bell in terms of number of locations, but generates 33% more revenue. Chick-fil-A is arguably the fastest growing fast food brand in the country, in fact. Taco Bell and Wendy’s round out the top five. A new Taco Bell has opened on average every two hours over the past year.

We’ve compiled a list of the most popular fast food brands in America, based on total US sales and locations in 2021.


System-wide sales, 2021

Number of slots


$45.96 billion

13,458 pitches


$24.3 billion

15,450 pitches


$16.7 billion

2,732 pitches

Taco Bell

$12.6 billion

7,002 pitches


$11.1 billion

5,938 pitches


$10.4 billion

9,244 pitches

Burger King

$10 billion

7,105 pitches


$9.4 billion

21,147 pitches


$8.6 billion

6,560 pitches


$7.5 billion

2,966 pitches

Sonic drive-in

$5.8 billion

3,552 pitches

panera bread

$5.7 billion

2,080 pitches

pizza hut

$5.5 billion

6,548 pitches


$5.1 billion

3,953 pitches

Kitchen Louisiana Popeyes

$4.5 billion

2,754 pitches

dairy queen

$4.5 billion

4,339 pitches


$4.5 billion

3,409 pitches

Panda Express

$4.5 billion

2,334 pitches

Little Caesars

$4.2 billion

4,181 pitches

jack in the box

$4.1 billion

2,218 pitches

Daddy Johns

$3.5 billion

3,164 pitches


$2.7 billion

873 pitches


$2.5 billion

837 pitches

Raising Caine

$2.4 billion

567 pitches

At Jimmy John’s

$2.3 billion

2,657 pitches

wing stop

$2.3 billion

1,534 pitches

At Zaxby’s

$2.2 billion

908 pitches

Jersey Mike’s

$2.2 billion

2,100 pitches


$2.1 billion

1,734 pitches

five guys

$2.1 billion

1,390 pitches

Carl’s Jr.

$1.6 billion

1,058 pitches


$1.5 billion

773 pitches

Burger In-N-Out

$1.2 billion

370 pitches

fire station submarines

$1 billion

1,140 pitches

Krispy Kreme

$996 million

358 pitches

El Pollo Loco

$973 million

481 pitches

Tropical Smoothie Coffee

$948 million

1,039 pitches

Del Taco

$931 million

600 pitches


$931 million

834 pitches

Marco’s pizza

$899 million

1,002 pitches

McAlister’s Deli

$869 million

505 pitches


$835 million

739 pitches

Papa Murphy’s

$809 million

1,240 pitches

Shake Shack

$777 million

243 pitches

Church Chicken

$776 million

892 pitches

Freddy’s frozen custard and steak

$759 million

420 pitches

Tim Hortons

$687 million

637 pitches

Baskin Robbins

$686 million

2,317 pitches

by Moe

$661 million

659 pitches

white castle

$615 million

349 pitches

Data source: QSR magazine.

There are many types of Fast food, ranging from global chains like McDonald’s and KFC, to local businesses like hamburger restaurants and pizzerias. Fast food is a staple of the American diet today. In fact, Americans now spend more on fast food than races. This is partly due to the recession as people have had to alter their personal finances and have often turned to cheap and convenient meals instead of cooking at home. But it’s also due to the growing popularity and ease of accessing fast food chain fare through methods like food delivery apps.

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