The 50 Best Fast Food Chains of 2021

Year 1 of COVID-19 was defined by divergent realities. Quick service establishments fare much better than their competitors. Once the initial wave of uncertainty passed (was it even safe to get food while driving?), the sector’s longstanding strength outside its four walls crystallized. Not only that, however, but the agility and innovation that has always defined the category.

And now? You could say that quick service, especially drive-thru, has become the hottest retail ticket in town. As this year’s QSR 50 shows, many concepts are not being recalibrated as a result of the pandemic; they soar. Major, sometimes four-digit, growth prospects are on the table for fast casuals and fast food icons.

But the coast is not free of obstacles. The past year has provided frequent hurdles, from Omicron to an ongoing labor battle that extends far beyond the crisis. Hot topics such as robotics, AI, automation and integration have emerged in response and given operators more leads to connect with guests than ever before.


And ultimately, we may well be heading into a golden era of rapid service growth unlike anything we’ve seen in decades.

Here’s a look at this year’s top 50 quick service brands in America, ranked by total US system-wide sales.

Click here for a free download of the full QSR 50 and brand-by-brand breakdown.

Note: If you are viewing on a computer, please click the arrow in the image to continue. * Indicates estimate by QSR.

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