Would you like fries with that?
Americans consume an average of 2.4 burgers per day, which works out at around 50 billion burgers per year.
Whether it’s chicken, beef, veggie, mushroom or halloumi, we all love burgers, and they come in so many different shapes, sizes and even colors.
We’ll often grab a burger to treat ourselves from our favorite fast food chain, whether we don’t care about the calories, or we’re trying to be more mindful of what we consume.
But do you actually know which burgers are amongst the highest and lowest in calories?
In honor of National Cheeseburger Day, we looked at 20 of the biggest fast food chains in America, including Burger King, Wendy’s, Shake Shack and McDonalds, to uncover the burgers with the most and least amount of calories (according to their website menus) – so you don’t have to.
To do this, we looked at hundreds of burgers across each fast food chain’s website, comparing the nutritional value for each. We found the highest calorie and lowest calorie burger on each site, and compared them.
And the results are interesting…
Burger King’s Bacon King came top, with 2,102 calories in the mighty beef burger. Fatburger followed suit, with its Fatburger’s XXXL Triple Kingburger having over 1,600 calories in one serving. Often, triple burgers are on hidden menus or restricted to challenges, but Fatburger’s is on the menu to satisfy any hungry person’s taste buds.
In third place is Wendy’s Bourbon Bacon Cheeseburger Triple at 1,420 calories, which features almost a pound’s worth of fresh beef with bourbon and bacon in the sauce – a true beef lover’s treat.
No vegan or vegetarian burgers were the highest calorie options in any chain we reviewed, however the chicken options at KFC, Chick-fil-A and Popeyes topped the list in those respective chains. This isn’t surprising however, as these chains are chicken-based. Of the restaurants which serve chicken, beef, and other burgers, beef always topped the list.
Of course, not all burgers are high in calories. And when you’re going to fast food chains, you don’t always want the burger which is the biggest – you may want to count your calories.
Funnily enough, Burger King’s hamburger topped the list as the lowest-calorie burger available from all 20 fast food chains, with just 241 calories. The mighty hamburger is one of the most popular dishes in America, where it was born.
Hamburgers ruled the list of the lowest calorie burgers, beating grilled chicken and vegetarian alternatives. McDonalds and Wendy’s rounded out the top three with their hamburger versions. A&W, Dairy Queen, In n Out and Five Guys all featured their hamburger as their lowest calorie burger option too.
Kerri Ferraioli, nutritionist at YorkTest said:“It’s no surprise that fast food burgers often have a high number of calories, but our research shows the stark contrast between many burgers and how your choice can cover your standard calorie daily recommendations.
“Burgers at fast food restaurants are often nothing short of delicious, but they often have a high number of calories. When these stark numbers come to light, some burgers are more than your daily calorie allowance. I would suggest being mindful with your food choices when it comes to consuming fast food regularly.
“While having a higher number of calories from time to time isn’t a bad thing, it can increase your chances of gaining weight in the long term. Chicken burgers often had a lower calorie count due to their reduction in saturated fat and higher amounts of omega-6 fatty acids than other animal meats, alongside being high in protein.”
According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, moderately active women should consume up to 2,200 calories per day, while men should limit themselves to around 2,800, depending on their age and lifestyle.
If you’re concerned that your gut health is not as it should be and a food sensitivity test could be an underlying issue, check out our Premium Food Sensitivity Test.
To reveal which burgers are the highest and lowest in calories, we used nutritional data from each restaurant’s own online U.S. menu to conduct our research. These figures were correct as of 09/16/21.
When there was a burger with an estimated range, we used the average number of calories. Sliders and burgers specifically listed under children’s menus were omitted from our research.
There are more than 20 fast-food chains in America serving burgers, however these chains were selected due to their prevalence across the United States.
Burgers which weren’t either the highest or lowest calorie option on a menu were not included in this research.