11 Fastest US Fast-Food Drive-Thru Joints

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Does it really matter to you whether you get that drive-thru fast food you crave in less than three minutes? Less than four?

It might matter, but probably not a lot. It does matter, though, to the fast-food chains (known in the trade as quick service restaurants, or QSRs) that depend on speedy service in order to please customers, to keep traffic moving and to keep the cash rolling in.

This is particularly important for restaurants with drive-thru lanes. After all, customers are in a hurry or they would have parked their cars and gone inside. A long wait in the drive-thru line lowers the chances of a repeat visit.

Fast-food industry magazine QSR recently made 2,011 visits to 15 different fast-food drive-thru stores at different times of the day in order to find the fastest fast-food in the country. You can see the full report at the QSR website or take the fast-lane by reviewing our list.

  1. Raising Cane’s
    Average time: 168.23 seconds
    The fastest (chicken) fingers around. The stores’ limited menu helps here, but Raising Cane’s is also the most accurate at filling a customer’s order.
  2. Dunkin’ Donuts
    Average time: 173.85 seconds
    About 60% of Dunkin’s business comes in the morning and there are not a lot of patient, coffee-less customers at those hours.
  3. Wendy’s
    Average time: 180.05 seconds
    Wendy’s slowed down by 10 seconds compared with the prior year’s results when it topped QSR’s list.
  4. Burger King
    Average time: 189.48 seconds
    Sales growth topped 5% for the burger chain last year compared with growth of less than 2% growth in the prior year. Speed pays off.
  5. Tim Horton’s
    Average time: 202.66 seconds
    Stronger in Canada than in the United States, but the stores are investing in technology to boost U.S. sales.
  6. Taco Bell
    Average time: 212.71 seconds
    A company executive told QSR that one of the keys to Taco Bell’s success is to foster “a culture around speed.” Seems to be working.
  7. Zaxby’s
    Average time: 212.85 seconds
    Like Raising Cane’s, Zaxby’s features chicken fingers. For people in a hurry, chicken fingers are a lot easier to deal with than a sandwich or burger.
  8. KFC
    Average time: 230.98 seconds
    The company’s long relationship with the baby boom generation has engendered loyalty that is particularly evident at KFC’s drive-thru windows.
  9. McDonald’s
    Average time: 239.03 seconds
    The Golden Arches is adding more digital-only drive-thru lanes to “improve speed and capacity and enable more orders,” according one company executive.
  10. Arby’s
    Average time: 244.37 seconds
    QSR says the chain is a “perennial leader” in drive-thru service which a company exec said is about the “total experience” including “respectfully urgent speed.”
  11. Chick-fil-A
    Average time: 251.04 seconds
    With customer service ratings that are tops in categories like “Saying Please,” smiling, and “Saying Thank you,” Chick-fil-A’s service speed may be less important.
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