Although it’s debatable whether or not Americans actually created the burger, there’s no denying that we’ve mastered it. Although it may appear simplistic to serve a minced meat patty between two slices of bread, the fact that thousands upon thousands of fast food establishments around the country can consistently provide hot, juicy burgers is possibly our country’s greatest culinary legacy. There may be hundreds of fast food restaurants to choose from, but some have perfected the burger.
The question then becomes, “What makes a good burger?” Putting aside individual taste, there are a few key factors that will determine its success or failure. The major ingredient, meat, must be able to stand on its own in terms of quality and flavor without any help from the accompaniments. Whether they are cooked from frozen in bulk on top of a mound of onions or grilled from scratch when ordered makes a big difference. The bread, whether grilled or not, must be sturdy enough to hold the patty and all its condiments without giving way.
When it comes to the toppings, less is more. The most popular burgers are typically quite simple, with just a few toppings like cheese, bacon, a sauce, and maybe some lettuce and a pickle. We’ll give a burger a lot of credit if it can impress us despite using only a few standard ingredients.
We tried burgers from dozens of the most prominent fast-food companies to come up with this shortlist of the greatest in the United States. The popularity and accessibility of each burger influenced our final decision. We included the tastiest burgers that most, if not all, Americans keep in their fridges. This ranking skips the more specialized regional businesses (which definitely have their own worthy candidates) in favor of the burgers that millions of us fantasize about on a daily basis: the national darlings. We’ll name these burgers Mass Gourmet since they satisfy the insatiable need for familiarity and appeal to the widest potential audience.
1. McDonald’s Double QPC
This timeless staple belongs at the top of the list. The Quarter Pounder, in all its humble but delicious simplicity, has been on the McDonald’s menu since 1971, while the Double wasn’t added until 1992. Its two-quarter-pound patties make for a pretty large burger and one that was supposed to fight with the rising American appetites and growing competition from the likes of Burger King and Wendy’s. McDonald’s must be doing something right because this burger is still available and ranks among the best of its kind in terms of mass production.
Then why do we hold the Double QPC in such high regard? One reason for its superior taste is that it is prepared using fresh meat. The proportions of the bun, beef, cheese, and sauces are just right, for another thing. We are, after all, creatures of habit that seek for and enjoy the known. It’s fantastic that you can have this burger in almost every McDonald’s in the world, and you can pretty much always count on getting it the same way. In a way, the QPC might be seen as an ambassador for American food around the world.
2. Wendy’s Baconator
Bacon in a can! This Wendy’s invention must be America’s younger, hipper Vice if McDonald’s QPC is its cultural ambassador. Maybe the absolute best example of a bacon-adorned cheeseburger, the Baconator contains two iconic quarter-pound beef patties, melty American cheese, and a whopping six pieces of crispy Applewood smoked bacon. The sauces are simple: a mix of ketchup and mayo, which wonderfully ties the whole thing together.
This burger is not just a meat lover’s dream, but also a great example of Wendy’s, a nationwide brand that has succeeded in giving their burgers a touch of class. And while we applaud their innovative seasonal offerings like the Pretzel Bacon Pub and the Bourbon Bacon Cheeseburger, our permanent home for satisfying our meat cravings will remain the Baconator.
3. Hardee’s/Carl’s Jr. Super Star with Cheese
This burger is offered coast to coast by Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr., the two businesses’ respective sibling restaurants, making it a popular choice in every state. Another classic that has stood the test of time, it was popular in the 1970s when people craved larger, higher-quality burgers. And the flavor it delivers—the mix of two delicious, charbroiled beef patties, cheese, and special sauce, finished off with the typical deluxe-style veggies, is something people rave about.
Another factor that works in its favor? Its size! While it certainly isn’t a Monster Burger (and not everyone can handle that monstrosity), the Super Star is a fairly big creation. It feels like an adult burger as opposed to something that comes from the junior menu. The experience of eating a burger can be made or broken by the packaging it comes in, with some people preferring the traditional paper sleeve to the more modern cardboard box.
4. Culver’s Double ButterBurger With Cheese
Culver’s, a business originally based in the Midwest, has expanded significantly since its foundation in 1984. It has spread to other parts of the country and earned a reputation for serving delicious burgers. Or rather several of them, all served on buttered toasted buns—a clever move that gave them their ButterBurger name. We’re going to highlight the most traditional option: the Double ButterBurger with Cheese, which features two fresh beef patties farmed in Wisconsin, two slices of American cheese created in Wisconsin, and the standard condiments. You can taste the pride of the place of its birth in every juicy bite of this burger.
5. Five Guys’ Cheeseburger
Five Guys are one of the chains that sparked the better-burger movement, so it’s essential to any ranking of the finest burgers in America. Its specialty is tailor-made, deliciously addicting burgers that rival those found in the greatest restaurants. However, we 5forget about the peanut oil fries.
Maybe what makes these burgers so good is the fresh beef patties, the extremely soft bun, and the plethora of toppings, which range from the usual suspects like pickles and mayo to more out-there options like grilled mushrooms and A1 sauce. While opinions on which is best vary widely, we’re inclined to grilled onions.
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