Special Report

16 Most Expensive Fast Food Items to Buy This January

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According to The Ohio State University, 23% of people give up on their New Year’s resolutions by the end of the first week. Another 20% ditch those resolutions by the end of the month. It is now mid-January, which means about a quarter of us chucked those resolutions almost two weeks ago. And a whole lot more of us will give them up in the next week or two.

If you are still holding strong on your resolutions to lose weight and save money, then the following list probably is not for you. However, if those resolutions are now in the rearview mirror, here are some fast-food items that can simultaneously bust your diet and drain your bank account. These are currently the most expensive items from 16 popular U.S. fast-food chains. (Here’s a look at the most popular fast-food chains in all 50 states.)

To compile this list, 24/7 Wall St. consulted each restaurant’s online menu. We only focused on single menu items from each franchise. Combo meals were not considered for this list. We also only evaluated standard menu items. Customized or “secret menu” items were not included in our survey.

The prices listed are accurate as of January 2024 but are subject to change. Prices may also vary depending on your location.

16. Starbucks

Starbucks exterior
Source: RonBailey / iStock Unreleased via Getty Images
Starbucks? More like seven bucks.
  • Item: Frappuccino (Venti)
  • Price: $6.45

Millions of Americans make regular pilgrimages to the cathedral of St. Arbucks. However, you’ll probably do more paying than praying while you’re there.

It is difficult to determine the most expensive item at Starbucks since many customers choose to customize their orders. The item with the highest base price (no customization) is a Venti Frappuccino.

For the uninitiated, the beverage sizes at Starbucks are Tall (which, oddly enough, means small), Grande (medium), and Venti (large). There is also a Trenta (extra large) size that is available for some beverages, but it is not listed on the menu. It is also not available for Frappuccinos.

The Frappucino is Starbucks’ wildly popular frozen beverage. There are Frappuccinos available with and without coffee. Flavored syrups are blended with ice and topped with whipped cream and spices. These concoctions are quite tasty…and quite pricey.

The largest of these frozen drinks has a base price of $6.45. However, if you tweak it to your liking, the cost will likely go up. For example, requesting almond milk instead of whole milk will add 70¢ to the cost. Want to add extra shots of espresso or additional pumps of syrup? That, too, will raise the price. This can turn into a $9 drink pretty quickly.

If you want to keep things simple, you can order a Tall cup of medium-roast Pike Place coffee for $2.55. Your grandfather might balk at that price for black coffee, but it’s among the cheapest options on the menu. St. Arbucks is certainly not the patron saint of inexpensive coffee.

15. Taco Bell

Taco Bell
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You can still eat cheap at Taco Bell, but not with this bowl.
  • Item: Power Menu Bowl – Steak
  • Price: $7.59

Historically, Taco Bell was the place to go if you wanted to eat on the cheap. While it is a bit more expensive than it used to be (what isn’t, right?), you can still keep the cost low at the Bell if you want. A cheesy roll-up only costs $1.59. A crunchy taco will set you back $1.89.

However, if you want to splurge on your next Taco Bell run, you can order the Power Menu Bowl with steak. This bowl features lettuce, tomato, cheese, reduced-fat sour cream, guacamole, black beans, seasoned rice, and an avocado ranch sauce. There are additional customizations that could take the bowl over $10.

14. Burger King

Burger King
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Burger King serves up a massive triple-patty burger that is the priciest item on the menu.
  • Item: Triple Whopper
  • Price: $7.89

Is one flame-grilled beef patty enough? Of course not. How about two? Nope. Keep going. Three? Now you’re talking! The Triple Whopper is Burger King’s signature burger x 3.

The Triple Whopper comes with a gust-busting three-quarters of a pound of beef. It is topped with tomatoes, lettuce, mayonnaise, ketchup, pickles, and sliced white onions. The sesame seed bun makes a valiant attempt to hold this mammoth burger together, but it is probably not going to succeed.

The Triple Whopper costs $7.89, which is $2.40 more than the standard one-patty Whopper. It also has 500 more calories but, if you’re ordering the Triple Whopper, you’re probably not terrbily concerned about counting calories.

12. (tie) Arby’s

An Arby's Restaurant In Dawsonville, Georgia
Source: Rick Diamond / Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images
If you need a sandwich with half a pound of roast beef, Arby’s is your kind of place.
  • Item: Half Pound Beef ‘N Cheddar
  • Price: $8.39

Arby’s is far from the most economical place to satisfy your fast-food cravings, but there are a few inexpensive options. The chain offers four different sliders for under two bucks. However, the prices on the menu go up quite sharply from there.

The most expensive single item on the Arby’s menu is the Half Pound Beef ‘N Cheddar sandwich. As its name suggests, the sandwich features half a pound of roast beef. It is topped with red ranch and cheddar cheese sauce and is served on an onion bun.

“We have the meats!” Yes, you do. And it’s all on this one sandwich.

12. (tie) Sonic

Source: Wolterk / iStock Editorial via Getty Images
If you want to keep your bill low, don’t order these double cheeseburgers at Sonic
  • Items: Peanut Butter Bacon SuperSONIC Double Cheeseburger, SuperSONIC Bacon Double Cheeseburger
  • Price: $8.39

Two SuperSONIC burgers tie for the most expensive items on the Sonic menu.

The Peanut Butter Bacon SuperSONIC Double Cheeseburger features two beef patties topped with peanut butter, bacon, grilled onions, and cheese.

The SuperSONIC Bacon Double Cheeseburger features cheese, bacon, mayo, lettuce, and tomatoes.

These hefty burgers each cost $8.39. If you choose to make it a combo meal, you’ll be into it for well over ten bucks.

11. Dairy Queen

Dairy Queen
Source: sanfel / iStock Editorial via Getty Images
You may not feel super “chill” about the price of this item from DQ’s grill.
  • Item: Backyard Bacon Ranch Signature Stackburger (triple)
  • Price: $8.89

Ok, so this burger is technically not the most expensive item available at DQ. That honor goes to the Oreo Blizzard Cake, which costs $28.99. However, if you’re swinging by for a burger (this is a fast-food article, after all), then the most expensive choice is the Backyard Bacon Ranch Signature Stackburer with three patties.

This burger features half a pound of beef and is topped with Hidden Valley Ranch dressing, honey barbecue sauce, onion rings, applewood smoked bacon, and two slices of white cheddar cheese. Be sure to ask for extra napkins if you order this nine-dollar burger.

10. Wendy’s

Source: RiverNorthPhotography / iStock Unreleased via Getty Images
Where’s the beef? It’s all in this burger.
  • Item: Big Bacon Triple Classic
  • Price: $8.99

The Big Bacon Triple Classic is the most expensive item on the Wendy’s menu. It features three hamburger patties, applewood smoked bacon, cheese, pickles, sweet onions, lettuce, tomato, ketchup, mayo, pickles…and a week’s worth of fat and cholesterol.

This behemoth burger costs $8.99. That is more than the cost of six of Wendy’s Jr. Hamburgers. If you’re really going for total meat overload, you can actually receive more beef by ordering those six Jr.’s than one Big Bacon Triple Classic. Either way, though, you may want to consult your cardiologist after lunch.

9. Chick-fil-A

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Want a Chick-fil-A salad? It will cost you.
  • Items: Spicy Southwest Salad, Market Salad
  • Price: $9.75

Chick-fil-A is known for its high-quality food, efficient service, and overly-courteous employees (“My pleasure!”). It is not known to be the cheapest fast-food restaurant, though. The standard chicken sandwich costs over $5, and that’s without those delightful waffle fries and the obligatory sweet tea. However, that sandwich isn’t close to the most expensive item on the menu. That title belongs to a couple of salads.

The Spicy Southwest Salad and the Market Salad both cost $9.75.

The Market Salad features grilled chicken, blue cheese crumbles, harvest nut granola, roasted almonds, and a zesty apple cider vinaigrette dressing.

The Spicy Southwest Salad comes with shredded Monterrey cheddar cheese, seasoned tortilla strips, chili lime pepitas, and a creamy salsa dressing.

Either salad has numerous add-ons that will jack up the price even more. If, for some reason, you wanted to choose every available add-on, these salads would run you over $17 each.

8. McDonald’s

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If you’ve got twelve bucks burning a hole in your pocket, you can score 40 Chicken McNuggets from McDonald’s.
  • Item: 40-piece Chicken McNuggets
  • Price: $11.79

Chicken nuggets were invented in a laboratory at Cornell University in 1963. We’re not sure what it says about a food item that had to be created in a lab, but that is the history of these beloved “nuggies.”

McDonald’s was the first fast-food franchise to add chicken nuggets to its menu. Chicken McNuggets debuted in 1981 in select stores. The product went nationwide two years later, and the fast-food landscape was never the same.

Mickey D’s sells its world-famous McNuggets in quantities of 6, 10, 20, and 40. The 40-piece box of McNuggets is the most expensive item on the McDonald’s menu at $11.79. However, even though this box costs almost twelve bucks, it breaks down to less than 30¢ per nugget. That is the best per-nugget deal available under the Golden Arches.

7. Little Caesars

Little Caesars
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The most expensive Little Caesars pizza is still a pretty good deal…assuming you like Little Caesars pizza.
  • Item: Detroit-Style Deep Dish Ultimate Supreme
  • Price: $14

You can pick up a cheese pizza from Little Caesars for only eight bucks. This chain is one of the cheapest pizza options in the U.S. It’s also one of the most divisive. Some folks love these inexpensive pies, while others revile the Little Caesars brand.

If you’re in the camp of Little Caesars fans and you’re in the mood for something more upscale (well, upscale by Little Casears’ standards, anyway), you can order the priciest pizza on the menu: the Detroit-Style Deep Dish Ultimate Supreme. The name is a mouthful, and so is the pizza.

This Detroit-style pie is topped with pepperoni, Italian sausage, mushrooms, onions, and green peppers. It is almost twice the price of a cheese pizza from Little Caesars. We’ll leave it up to you to decide whether it’s worth it.

6. Chipotle

Chipotle is famous for its guacamole and its high prices.
  • Item: Wholesome Bowl with Carne Asada
  • Price: $14.75

If you haven’t kicked that healthy eating resolution to the curb, then you might want to consider this bowl from Chipotle. It aligns with popular diets such as the Whole30, Paleo, and Keto plans. However, you are not the only one who will slim down if you choose this bowl. Your wallet will, too. This bowl costs nearly fifteen bucks.

The standard Wholesome Bowl with Carne Asada includes a supergreen lettuce blend, fajita veggies, fresh tomato salsa, and Chipotle’s famous guac.

5. Subway

Source: Joe Raedle / Getty Images News via Getty Images
A sixteen-dollar sub? Yep. Subway has it.
  • Item: The Beast (footlong)
  • Price: $15.99

Subway is the largest fast-food franchise in the U.S. with over 20,000 locations. Eating at Subway can cost a pretty penny, depending on what you order. However, nothing on the menu can compare with the hefty price tag attached to “The Beast.”

There has never been a more appropriate name for a sandwich. This beastly sub packs half a pound of meat, including pepperoni, salami, turkey, ham, and roast beef.

The Beast is a carnivore’s dream, but an economist’s nightmare. A footlong sandwich costs $16.

4. Dunkin’

Dunkin' Brands Considers Deal To Go Private And Sell To Private Equity Company
Source: Michael M. Santiago / Getty Images News via Getty Images
Need lots of hot chocolate? Make a Dunkin’ run.
  • Item: Box O’ Joe Hot Chocolate
  • Price: $20.99

Again, it is difficult to identify the most expensive single beverage at a coffee shop because many customers customize their orders. Most flavors of a large frozen coffee at Dunkin’ will cost you $5.69 (no customizations). These frozen drinks typically have the highest base price of any beverage at Dunkin’, though they’re still cheaper than a Starbucks Frappuccino.

The most expensive item on the Dunkin’ menu, though, is the hot chocolate version of the Box O’ Joe. This box contains the equivalent of ten cups of hot chocolate, which is perfect if you’re hosting a group in the middle of winter.

A Box O’ Joe filled with black coffee is $2 cheaper than the hot chocolate version. It’s pretty economical, given how much coffee is inside. If you’re hosting a group (or you just want to help your coworkers stay awake during another boring meeting), the Box O’ Joe is the way to go.

3. Domino’s

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The most expensive thing from Domino’s is not pizza. Not even close.
  • Item: Wings (32 pieces)
  • Price: $33.99

Obviously, Domino’s is most famous for its pizza. The price of a Domino’s pizza is fairly reasonable. The most expensive pizza on the menu is an extra-large specialty pizza. That pie will run you $22.99, without any customization. However, pizza is not the most expensive item on the menu.

The wings at Domino’s will set you back quite a bit, depending on how many you order. The franchise sells wings in quantities of 8, 16, and 32. An order of 32 wings costs $33.99. That is more than the price of two large cheese pizzas.

It is also worth mentioning that Domino’s wings scored among the lowest of any chain in several different reviews we consulted. So, not only are they expensive, but they’re also not very good. Maybe stick with the ‘za when ordering from Domino’s.

2. Kentucky Fried Chicken

It may be “finger lickin’ good,” but KFC has also become wallet drainin’ expensive.
  • Item: Chicken (16 pieces)
  • Price: $39.99

KFC is difficult to categorize in this list because so much of the menu is built around combos and family meals. These meals can approach the $50(!) mark.

The most expensive item for one (VERY hungry) person might be the 36-piece nuggets for $19.99. However, the most expensive single item on the menu is the bucket of 16 pieces of fried chicken for $39.99.

KFC does offer some wraps that only cost three bucks, so it is possible to visit the Colonel without going into debt. For the most part, though, feeding yourself and/or the family at KFC is not cheap.

1. Pizza Hut

Pizza Hut
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Pizza Hut has the most expensive single menu item in our survey.
  • Item: Traditional Wings (36 pieces)
  • Price: $58.99

Like Domino’s, the most expensive item from Pizza Hut is also its chicken wings. The Hut sells traditional bone-in wings in quantities of 6, 12, 18, and 36. An order of 36 wings costs a whopping $58.99. That is almost $1.64 per wing, which is quite a bit higher than the per-wing price at Domino’s.

The wings at Pizza Hut also scored quite low in multiple taste tests. Is it worth almost sixty bucks for mediocre (at best) wings? That’s your call. Maybe “no one out pizzas the Hut,” but there are a ton of places that out wing it.

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