The 18 Best Burger Chains In America (2024)

When thinking about American cuisine, is there any dish that comes to mind quicker than the hamburger? The simple combination of a beef patty sandwiched between two buns is deeply engrained in the nation's culinary landscape, with over 84,000 burger restaurants across the United States as of November 2023. That's quite a lot of patties being flipped every day.

Over the years, numerous chains have tried to perfect the hamburger and differentiate themselves in the industry. Some have moved away from processed ingredients to exclusively using the highest-quality beef. Others have been working to make their burgers larger and juicier.

With so many restaurants focusing on hamburgers, you're likely not far from at least one or two burger chains. Each one has its own distinct strength, whether it's highly customizable orders or a to-die-for menu with tasty french fries and milkshakes. No matter the attraction, there are some burger chains that have risen to the top of the American psyche, proving time and time again that they are among the best.

Some burger chains have succeeded in expanding to nearly every corner of the country. Other chains have made headlines for their innovative menu offerings.From regional hotspots to national giants, here are the best burger chains in America right now.

Wendy's

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Unlike its fast-food rivals McDonald's and Burger King, Wendy's is committed to making burgers using fresh, never frozen beef. In fact, the Ohio-based burger chain has focused on high-quality ingredients since it first opened. The result is an array of food across its more than 6,500 U.S. locations that customers love, from its burgers to its beloved Frosty dessert.

Though the distinguishable square burger patties are somewhat meant to trick you into thinking you are eating a bigger sandwich, make no mistake that the patties are fresh and of the highest caliber. The menu at Wendy's includes a few unique offerings you do not normally see at a fast-food burger chain, including its popular baked potatoes.

Professional chefs even have their go-to Wendy's orders, emphasizing the brand's wide reach and commitment to quality ingredients. Wendy's has also been quite innovative over the years with the flavors and sizes that it includes on its menu. Recently, Wendy's has also launched seasonal Frosty flavors, including Peppermintand Orange Dreamsicle. The chain has also switched things up with its french fries, like offering premium Garlic Fries for a limited time. It goes to show that Wendy's is not afraid to take risks, and in many ways, it has paid off.

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Five Guys

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If the menu at Five Guys seems small, take a closer look: according to the chain, there are a quarter of a million ways to order a hamburger within its highly customized ordering system. On top of that, all of Five Guys' burger toppings come at no extra cost, so you can add whatever you want without the fear of your tab slowly creeping up. With so much control over what goes on your burger, it's no wonder that Five Guys is one of the highest-ranked burger chains among satisfied customers. Beyond customization, Five Guys uses never-frozen patties that are hand-made every day.

One of the unique selling points of Five Guys is its affinity for peanut oil. It is the only oil used in restaurants, giving its french fries that irresistible flavor. And to keep its customers even more satisfied, Five Guys makes sure you get your money's worth of french fries. Ordering even the smallest size results in a bag full of fries, as evident by the oily bottom of your paper bag. Just note that if you have a peanut allergy, you will have to steer clear of Five Guys, as everything is cooked in peanut oil.

Whataburger

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If you live in Texas or have found yourself traveling through the Lone Star State, you have likely passed by a Whataburger more than a few times. Though it is highly concentrated in Texas, the popular regional chain has expanded over the years, currently appearing in 15 states, following the opening of its new Las Vegas location this past February.This rapid growth is music to the ears of Whataburger fans, who will be quick to tell you how great the food is, no matter what you order.

The menu goes beyond hamburgers, which includes the aptly named signature Whataburger. Sandwiches range from the classic Patty Melt and Honey BBQ Chicken Strip Sandwich to salads and onion rings. It also includes daily breakfast, with unique items like the Breakfast Burger as well as Breakfast Bowls. And for beverages, Whataburger periodically brings back its popular Dr. Pepper Shake.

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In-N-Out Burger

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Dining at In-N-Out Burger is practically a rite of passage when you find yourself on the West Coast. With its recognizable criss-cross palm trees beckoning hungry customers, the California-based burger chain is known for its simple menu, fresh ingredients, and fan-favorite customizations like Animal Style fries.

Starting with its burgers, In-N-Out boasts its use of never-frozen patties made in its own facilities, ensuring total control of its product up and down the supply chain. Its french fries are also made fresh, with the potatoes individually cut in the restaurants. To round it all out, its milkshakes are used with 100% real ice cream.

While its menu is small, it is backed up by a not-so-secret menu filled with all kinds of unique ways to enjoy your meal, from a Protein Style burger to a Neapolitan milkshake. The secret menu is perhaps more popular with regular customers than the advertised menu.

While In-N-Out has never been further east than Texas, the burger chain has its sights set on expanding east to garner even more regular customers. In-N-Out is seeking to open new locations around Nashville, Tenn., in the coming years, a rare move that will grow the chain's footprint and perhaps begin a slow but perhaps assured takeover of the East Coast.

Shake Shack

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New York-based Shake Shack is not a burger chain you visit when you are looking for the lowest prices. Rather, customers keep returning to Shake Shack for its quality ingredients that include its custom 100% Angus beef blend used in every burger. And as the name implies, Shake Shack is known for more than just a juicy burger. The chain's milkshakes are a central component of any meal, made with its house-made frozen custard. Customers can also find chicken sandwiches, hot dogs, and french fries made from high-quality ingredients.

Tasty food aside, Shake Shack continually seeks to expand and improve customer experience. With over 300 existing restaurants across 33 U.S. states and Washington, D.C., Shake Shack is planning to open about 80 new locationsin 2024.

Also ever-expanding: its menu. New items are always launching at Shake Shack, like the Korean Style Fried Chicken Sandwich that came out this past January and the Spicy Shackmeister Burger that debuted last fall.

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The Habit Burger Grill

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California-based Habit Burger Grill makes its commitment to quality known, highlighting that its signature Charburgers are made with fresh, natural ingredients and 100% pure ground beef free of additives, preservatives, and fillers. These are then cooked over an open flame.

Customers can choose between tried-and-true options like the Charburger with Cheese. Or, opt for something a bit more creative like the Teriyaki Char with Cheese, which features a freshly chargrilled beef patty topped with grilled pineapple, teriyaki sauce, caramelized onions, lettuce, tomato, pickles, mayo, and cheese on a toasted bun.

Aside from burgers, the fast-casual chain offers sandwiches with various proteins. Choose from grilled or fried chicken or a line-caught, sushi-grade ahi tuna filet. The menu also includes a selection of salads and frozen treats.

Elevation Burger

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Founded with the goal of producing a "better burger," this Maryland-founded fast-casual chain is also committed to using high-quality ingredients. With over 36 locations in six states, Elevation Burger boasts an array of 100% organic, grass-fed, free-range beef burgers that are free of antibiotics. Additionally, its chicken is cage-free, while its french fries are cooked in olive oil, unlike other chains that will use peanut or vegetable oil.

At Elevation Burger, guests can build their own burger or opt for one of the signature options, such as the Guacamole Ranch Burger. This includes two beef patties layered with guacamole, two slices of Swiss cheese, lettuce, tomato, and ranch dressing on a potato bun.

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Red Robin

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For a wide variety of creative burger options, head to Red Robin, the popular casual-dining chain with over 500 locations across the U.S. and Canada. Craving something with sweeter flavors? Why not try the Banzai? This consists of a teriyaki-glazed patty, grilled fresh pineapple, cheddar, lettuce, tomato, and mayo. In the mood for something spicy? Red Robin's Scorpion burger features pepper jack cheese, crispy jalapeños, Scorpion Pepper Sauce, pickles, hot rings, lettuce, tomato, and roasted garlic aioli.

The gourmet burger chain notes on its website that its burgers are made with all-natural, domestic, 100% USDA-inspected beef that's free of preservatives, as well as artificial and added ingredients.

Freddy's Frozen Custard & Steakburgers

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If you prefer a thinner, crispier burger patty, Freddy's is for you. The Kansas-based burger chain sets itself apart from many other fast-food joints by offering burgers that are pressed thin and finished with the chain's Famous Steakburger and Fry Seasoning. As a bonus, each steakburger is cooked to order to ensure freshness by the time the customer sinks their teeth into it.

Freddy's operates 500 restaurants across 36 states and opened 62 restaurants last year. Going forward, the chain plans to ramp up growth, recently announcing plans to add around 65 more locations.

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Burgerville

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If you find yourself craving a burger in the Pacific Northwest, you'll want to swing by Burgerville, which has 39 locations across the region. As highlighted on its website, this burger chain prioritizes the use of high-quality ingredients, noting that its antibiotic-free beef is sourced from cattle raised on a cooperative of family ranches in the Pacific Northwest. Additionally, the chain notes that it sources from local providers "whenever possible," adding that 72% of the chain's food comes from within 400 miles of its hometown of Vancouver, Wash.

At Burgerville, customers can choose from a selection of burgers, sandwiches, and salads. Or, they can satisfy their sweet tooth with a milkshake or ice cream, with the chain's dairy items being free of rBST and sourced from regional farms.

Schoop's Hamburgers

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Though this midwestern chain is small, it's certainly mighty, earning a spot on USA Today's list of the best regional fast-food chains in 2023. Since opening in Hammond, Ind., in 1948, Schoop's has expanded to 14 locations across Indiana and Illinois.

The 1950s-style chain serves crispy, smash-style burgers made with fresh, never frozen beef. These burgers come with all sorts of toppings, which can vary across locations. Aside from its standard french fries, Schoop's also offers some more creative side options like Schoop's Loops, which are deep-fried potato curls, as well as Irish Nachos. These are French fries topped with melted cheddar cheese, bacon bits, scallions, and ranch dressing.

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Culvers

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Time and time again, Culver's ranks high among burger chains when it comes to quality ingredients, customer satisfaction, and a strong menu. It all centers around its signature ButterBurger, which uses never-frozen beef that are made into patties on-site daily. Those ButterBurgers are not cooked until the customer orders one, so you know that the food you are being served is as fresh as it gets. Beyond its burgers, Culver's is also beloved among its fans for its fresh frozen custard, also made in its restaurants throughout the day.

Culver's has previously been recognized by customers as a top-rated burger chain in the country, thanks to near-perfect scores across multiple criteria. When it comes to value, taste, and efficiency, Culver's reigns supreme in the minds of many who have one in their neighborhood. It's even the burger chain of choice for celebrity chef Andrew Zimmern.

The fast-growing Midwest chain is rapidly approaching 1,000 locations nationwide, with plans for 51 new restaurants opening in 2024 alone.

Smashburger

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If you want to know what Smashburger offers that many of its competitors do not, simply look at its name. It takes certified Angus beef patties and hand-smashes them onto its grill, using its own customized metal smasher. The result is a perfectly juicy burger with flavorfully caramelized, crusty edges.

Out of five popular chains that prepare burgers this way, Smashburger came out on top during a recent Eat This, Not That! taste test.

After years of losing ground, the Denver-based chain is now poised to start expanding again under new CEO Denise Nelsen. "[W]e have a real opportunity to strongly position the brand and own the smash," Nelsen recently told QSR Magazine. The Jollibee-owned brand currently includes some 235 company-owned and franchise locations across 34 U.S. states and seven countries.

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Mooyah

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New on the fast-food scene in comparison to its competitors, Mooyah is a small but growing burger chain that first opened its doors in 2007. Since then, it has expanded from Plano, Texas, into two dozen states and four international markets. So, what is it about Mooyah that allowed it to grow so early in its tenure?

It all starts with a great burger. Mooyah uses certified Angus beef in its never-frozen patties. From there, Mooyah bakes its buns in its restaurants each and every day. To go with your burger, you can order french fries that were hand-cut from Idaho potatoes, and to wash it all down, your milkshake was made with 100% real ice cream. Its menu is also full of what Mooyah refers to as its Lifestyle Burgers, which are sandwiches that fit vegan, paleo, keto, low-calorie, and gluten-free diets.

Umami Burger

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If flavor is what you want, then flavor is what you will find at Umami Burger. The full-service restaurant burger chain has a little over two dozen locations in major metropolitan areas like New York and Los Angeles, as well as several locations in Japan. Its name is inspired by the Japanese culinary term umami, which roughly translates to deliciousness. The "fifth taste" has been used to describe a number of Japanese dishes for over a century, though it is a more recent phenomenon in the U.S.

Umami Burger leans into that quality of flavor in its burgers, including its signature Umami Burger as well as tasty options like the Truffle Burger, Bacon Ranch Burger, and Impossible Burger. Its beef burgers are made with American Wagyu beef patties, serving as the foundation for a sandwich, unlike anything you will find elsewhere. Other menu items are also memorable, from french fries to Cheesy Potato Tots. Some Umami Burger locations also feature full-service bars, so you can pair your burger with a signature co*cktail.

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BurgerFi

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If there was ever a burger chain known for its high-quality sandwiches, fries, and shakes, it would be BurgerFi. That commitment to fresh ingredients has paid off big time, with BurgerFi being named America's favorite fast-casual burger chain in 2022. Such praise is thanks to the Angus beef patties found in its burgers, as well as its commitment to using zero artificial ingredients in any of its products. Burgers are, of course, the specialty, but BurgerFi's menu also has some heavy hitters among fans, including hot dogs, hand-cut fries, onion rings, and milkshakes.

BurgerFi also installed self-service kiosks at many of its locations, giving customers the opportunity to browse the menu at their leisure without any pressure from others standing behind them in line. According to Restaurant Business Online, the introduction of the kiosks resulted in an average ticket increase of 18.5% at those BurgerFi locations. The chain is looking at several other technological advancements to improve the customer experience as well.

Cook Out

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With locations primarily concentrated in the Southeast, Cook Out lives up to its motto "Always Fresh, Never Frozen." Cook Out has a robust menu filled with burgers, char-grilled chicken sandwiches, hot dogs, and BBQ plates. In 1999, the chain opened its own meat commissary, ensuring that the entire process from grinding the meat to forming each patty was done in-house.

If there were any menu item to give Cook Out's burgers a run for their money, it would be the milkshakes. The menu is jam-packed with dozens of unique milkshake flavors, including Heath Toffee, Peach Cobbler, Banana Pudding, and Chocolate Chip Cherry. Those tasty burgers and popular milkshakes culminate in a beloved regional chain that has its eyes set on expanding, with several new locations set to open in the coming months.

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Fatburger

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If ever there was a burger chain aptly named after what its customers can expect when ordering, then Fatburger would be close to the top of that list. The burgers are indeed huge–its hand-made patty sizes range from one-third of a pound to a staggering one and a half pounds. No matter what size you order, customers can rest assured that the meat used to make their burgers was never frozen. That promise of never freezing its meat is a practice dating back to when Fatburger first opened in 1947.

Fatburger's menu goes beyond the usual suspects and also includes chicken wings with a dozen different sauces, homemade onion rings, and milkshakes. Its burgers include different varieties like ground turkey and plant-based faux meat to accommodate different diets and lifestyles.

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