These are some of the most and least calorific burgers at U.S. fast-food chains

These are some of the most and least calorific burgers at U.S. fast-food chains

4 minute read time

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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 from our favorite fast food chain to treat ourselves, 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…

RankFast-food chainHighest calorie burgerCalories^
 1FatburgerXXXL (Triple Kingburger)1868*
 2Wendy’sPretzel Bacon Pub Triple1,530
 3Carl’s JrDouble Guacamole Bacon Angus Burger1,340
 4SmashburgerDouble Carolina BBQ Burnt Ends Burger1,280
 5Burger KingBacon king1,200
 6Sonic Drive-InSupersonic bacon double cheeseburger with mayo1,140
 7CulversPepper Grinder Pub Burger, Triple1,130
 8WhataburgerTriple Meat Whataburger®1,075
 9Five GuysBacon Cheeseburger1,060
 10Dairy QueenBackyard Bacon Ranch Burger – Triple and Loaded A.1. Burger – Triple1,020
 11Jack in the BoxBacon Ultimate Cheeseburger930
 12Shake ShackDouble Veggie Shack910
 13Steak n’ Shake**Butter Steakburger870
 14PopeyesClassic Bacon & Cheese Chicken Sandwich and Spicy Bacon & Cheese Chicken Sandwich830
 15Arby’sHalf pound beef ‘n cheddar740
 15McDonaldsDouble Quarter Pounder®* with Cheese740
 17In n OutDouble-Double with onion670
 18A&WBacon Double Cheeseburger650
 18KFCSpicy Chicken Sandwich650
 20Chick-fil-ASpicy Deluxe Sandwich w/ Colby Jack540

^Each calorie figure is the standard nutritional figure for the menu item, it doesn’t take into account bun swaps for lettuce, and sauce swaps for example.

Fatburger’s XXXL (Triple Kingburger) came top, with 1,868 calories in the mighty beef burger, according to its website. Wendy’s followed suit, with its Pretzel Bacon Pub Triple having over 1,500 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 Carl Jr’s Double Guacamole Bacon Angus Burger at 1,340 calories, which features over half a pound’s worth of fresh angus beef with two things almost every foodie loves – guacamole and bacon.

Shake Shack’s Double Veggie Stack was the only vegetarian option to make it onto the highest calorie list, with over 900 calories in one of the meat free burgers.

No vegan 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 predominantly 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 watch your calories.

The 20 lowest calorie burgers at US fast food chains

RankFast-food chainLowest calorie burger Calories
 1Burger KingHamburger250
 1WendysJr. Hamburger250
 4WhataburgerWhataburger Jr310
 5Steak n’ ShakeSingle Steakburger without cheese320
 5Dairy QueenHamburger320
 7Sonic Drive-InJr. Burger340
 9Arby’sClassic roast beef sandwich360
 10Carl’s JrCharbroiled BBQ chicken sandwich370
 10Shake ShackSingle hamburger370
 12Chick-fil-AGrilled chicken sandwich390
 12In n OutHamburger with onion390
 12CulversThe Original Single Butterburger and Grilled Chicken Sandwich390
 15Jack in the BoxJr Jumbo Jack400
 16KFCChicken Little*420
 17SmashburgerClassic smash grilled chicken burger470
 18FatburgerImpossible Burger485
 19Five GuysLittle hamburger540
 20PopeyesClassic chicken sandwich and Spicy Chicken Sandwich699

Burger King, McDonalds and Wendy’s hamburger offerings topped the lists as the lowest calorie burgers from all 20 fast food chains, with just 250 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 daily calorie recommendations.”

“Burgers at fast food restaurants are often nothing short of delicious, but they often contain a high number of calories and allergens. I would suggest being mindful with your food choices when it comes to consuming fast food regularly and taking a food sensitivity test to ensure you can enjoy the food you’ve ordered without any discomfort.”

“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.

Our methodology

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 August 2023.

When there was a burger with an estimated range, we used the average number of calories. Children’s burgers and sliders 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.

*There are some hidden burgers on menus or limited edition ones, but the burgers included on the lists are always on the menu at the chains.

**Steak n’ Shake’s 7×7 burger has more calories than the Butter Steakburger, but it’s no longer on the menu – it is on the nutritional menu though.


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