The world of fast-food burgers is far removed from the sophisticated palettes of professional chefs. However, you’d be surprised to learn that even culinary masters appreciate a well-crafted fast-food burger. That’s right; when the apron comes off, many chefs don’t mind indulging in a quick, tasty burger from a fast-food joint. So, we contacted chefs from various culinary backgrounds to help compile the ultimate list of the best fast-food burgers. Grab a napkin—you’re about to drool.
12 Best Fast-Food Burgers, According to Chefs
We used a set of criteria ranging from the meat’s flavor profile to the quality of the buns, all the way to the perfect sauce-to-meat ratio. After all, who better than chefs to understand the subtleties that go into making a perfect burger? Here’s what they had to say.
Wendy’s Junior Bacon Cheeseburger
Wendy’s Junior Bacon Cheeseburger hits all the right notes when it comes to a good balance of meat, cheese, and bacon. “The Junior Bacon Cheeseburger offers everything you want in a small package, making it not just tasty but also convenient,” said Chef Danielle, a Michelin-starred chef from San Francisco.
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Shake Shack’s Smoke Shack Burger
Featuring applewood-smoked bacon, chopped cherry pepper, and ShackSauce, the Smoke Shack Burger from Shake Shack is an actual flavor bomb. Chef Martin from Boston swears by it, stating, “This burger offers complex flavors, unlike anything I’ve had from other fast-food chains. It’s a masterpiece!”
In-N-Out’s Double Animal Style
For those who like messy and flavor-packed burgers, chefs recommend In-N-Out’s Double Animal Style. This option includes two mustard-cooked beef patties, extra spread, and grilled onions. “This is my go-to post-service meal,” said Chef Lisa, who runs her restaurant in Los Angeles.
Whataburger with Cheese, Bacon, and Jalapeños
Everything is bigger in Texas, and Whataburger ensures its burgers are no exception. “The blend of bacon, cheese, and jalapeños adds a spicy kick that makes this burger stand out,” commented Chef Miguel from Austin.
Tasty Burger’s Cheeseburger
If you are in the Northeast, take advantage of Tasty Burger’s Cheeseburger. “This one brings me back to the classic American diners of my youth,” Chef Sarah from New York raves about this choice.
Shake Shack’s Stackburger
Another entry from Shake Shack, the Stackburger, is a meat-lover dream, stacking a beef patty and a ‘Shroom patty. “It’s indulgence at its finest,” praised Chef Oliver from Chicago.
Culver’s Butter Burger
The light buttering of the bun in Culver’s Butter Burger makes all the difference, according to chefs. “The buttered bun takes what would be a regular burger and elevates it to a culinary delight,” Chef Aiden from Milwaukee told us.
Less is more with In-N-Out’s classic Double Double. Two beef patties with two cheese slices bring a perfect harmony of flavors. “It’s all about the simplicity and quality,” said Chef Nina, who has been cooking for over 20 years.
In-N-Out’s Animal Style Double-Double Cheeseburger
Yes, In-N-Out deserves another spot on this list. The Animal Style Double-Double is for those who love their burgers with a tangy kick. “The pickle relish in the sauce adds a delightful tang,” Chef Rick from San Diego observed.
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Burger King’s Whopper
Burger King’s Whopper is a classic for a reason. Its flame-grilled patty offers a smoky flavor profile that chefs adore. “That flame-grilled taste is nostalgic and unique,” commented Chef Victor from Miami.
White Castle’s Sliders
Sometimes, good things come in small packages, and White Castle’s Sliders prove just that. “It’s the perfect snackable burger, especially for late-night cravings,” said Chef Emily from New York.
Five Guys’ Little Bacon Cheeseburger
The appeal of Five Guys’ Little Bacon Cheeseburger lies in its customizability and quality ingredients. “The fact that I can tailor it to my liking with an array of fresh toppings sets this one apart,” said Chef Aaron from Atlanta.
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In the eyes of these culinary experts, a fast-food burger can be just as rewarding as a gourmet meal if done right. These fast-food joints offer something for every taste bud from coast to coast, and they all come chef-recommended. So the next time you crave a fast-food burger, take a culinary shortcut and savor one of these chef-approved delights. Trust us; you won’t be disappointed.