Americans are said to consume an estimated 50 billion hamburgers a year — roughly an astonishing 156 per person. The average American is said to eat about three a week — but for every burger-free vegan, there is presumably at least one carnivore who eats a burger every day. (Beware of these 30 popular fast foods that are real calorie bombs.)
There probably isn’t a corner of the universe where burgers aren’t available, but they remain arguably the most famous and enduring American contribution to international gastronomy, and burger-making has developed into an art in this country. Many serious restaurants now offer a version, perhaps made with artisanal cheese and served on a house-baked bun; some chefs go crazy with the concept, adding foie gras or other pricey ingredients.
The definitive burger, though, is the fast-food version — the kind sold in staggering quantities everywhere, every day. McDonald’s, by far the largest fast-food chain, reportedly serves 75 burgers a second worldwide. (Here’s how much a meal at McDonald’s costs around the world.)
To establish a ranking of the best fast-food burgers, 24/7 Tempo consulted reviews and compared listings on a wide range of sites, including Yelp, Mashed, Brand Eating, Time, Thrillist, Reader’s Digest, Eat This Not That, Business Insider, Ranker, Pop Sugar, The Daily Meal, the Chicago Tribune, and Taste of Home to arrive at a consensus. (Ingredients for the burgers were taken from each chain’s official website.)
The burgers that made the list vary in price, size, and accoutrements — though lettuce, tomato, American cheese, ketchup, and mayo appear again and again. The cheapest burger on the list is the iconic (and diminutive) White Castle slider at 72 cents. The most expensive is Red Robin’s “gourmet” bacon cheeseburger at $12.32.
The No. 1 burger might surprise you — or it might not.
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