The winner is worth every penny.
If there’s one thing every fast-food eatery—walk-in, drive-in, or drive-thru—should be able to execute, it’s a passable cheeseburger. Nothing fancy, just a beef patty with a melted slice (or two) of American between two buns, condiments and garnish optional (and hopefully minimal). Just meat, cheese, and bread—no place to hide shortcuts, mistakes, or imperfections.
Despite these strict confines, it’s amazing how restaurants can subtly and substantially differentiate their sandwiches, whether by flame-grilling the burger, adding mustard instead of ketchup, or just topping the bun with something as tiny as sesame seeds.
But before we get to ranking some of these different takes on this national icon, let’s go over the ground rules. First, this list is by no means comprehensive. As we said, everyone makes a cheeseburger, and we couldn’t try them all. We just hit up our local favorites. You won’t find any “deluxe” models on this list—we wanted the sandwich to be as bare-bones as possible. (We left the bacon for the other list) The idea was to be able to go up to the register, ask for a “cheeseburger” with cash in hand, grab the greasy bag, and go.
So, with all that in mind, here are the six cheeseburgers we tried—including the one we’d get again.
The Best Fast Food Cheeseburger
6th Place: White Castle, Cheese Slider
I’ll admit, I was a little nervous pulling up to the White Castle drive-thru. I’ve eaten here dozens of times in my life (usually late at night or early in the a.m.). But until this moment, I didn’t even know it was possible to order fewer than five cheese sliders.
But White Castle isn’t just about quantity, it’s also about the quality of one key ingredient. Grilled. Onions. These little diced bits of heaven permeate the bag with an aroma and flavor that only accentuates the steam-grilled beef and cheese of the bite-sized gem. And with any luck, that scent will linger in your car for several salivating days thereafter.
5th Place: Wendy’s, Dave's Single
If you must have a condiment-and-accouterment-loaded cheeseburger, this is the one to order.
Dave’s Single is a perfectly balanced quarter pound of fresh (square) beef and American cheese with just the right mix of ketchup and mayo (hint: a little MORE mayo to offset the ketchup’s sugary tanginess) to go with juicy tomato, crunchy pickles, and a nice crispy leaf of lettuce.
4th Place: Burger King, Single Quarter Pound King
Even the most basic BK burger is automatically a step above most of the competition because of that distinctive flame-grilled smokiness in the beef. It makes you feel like you’re at a cookout, standing over the grill with family and friends around you.
Add some melted American cheese, sliced onions, pickles, ketchup, and mustard (why don’t more places use mustard!?) on a toasted sesame seed bun, and you’ve got one solid cheeseburger.
3rd Place: McDonald’s, Quarter Pounder with Cheese
A minimalist masterpiece. Like pretty much every other burger on this list, this sandwich has the basic fixins': pickle, slivered onion, ketchup, and mustard. The bun is soft, toasted, and topped with sesame seeds.
But unlike the rest, here the stars are front and center. First the cheese, two slices of perfectly melted American. Then the beef, juicy, slightly seasoned with salt and pepper. Cheese and burger. Enough said. Mickey D's Quarter Pounder with Cheese is a classic for a reason.
2nd Place: Five Guys, Cheeseburger
If you want a burger that actually looks and tastes like a burger you’d make at home, this is it. The patties at Five Guys are all hand-formed which means they don’t resemble round, extracted hockey pucks like many of the others on this list. Even if you think you don’t care about that, you do. That’s because hand-shaped patties cook up with nice, crispy edges, which you don’t get with cookie-cutter burgers.
My cheeseburger tasted fresh and had big, beefy flavor. I liked the sesame-seed bun, which was soft and substantial, but didn’t love that it seemed to deteriorate over the course of eating it. Maybe it was user error, but I also blame the burger which, while delicious, was a bit on the greasy side. Bottom line, I’d order it again, but eat it faster.
1st Place: Shake Shack, ShackBurger
To get the best experience with crispy, flavorful edges on a burger, head to Shake Shack. The secret to their success is their proprietary beef combined with the perfect cooking technique. ShackBurgers are seasoned with salt and pepper, then smashed and cooked on a griddle. This creates a delicious crispy outside while keeping the inside perfectly juicy.
My cheeseburger lived up to the hype and tasted as good as it looked. It was seasoned well, had big beef flavor, and was cooked just how I like it, juicy on the inside with crispy edges on the outside. The soft potato bun held up to the toppings and the American cheese on top was perfectly melted.
This burger was by far my favorite. It costs a bit more than others on the list, but I’ll pay a few extra dollars for a higher-quality food experience. I’m already saving my money for my next trip. And also saving room for a milkshake.
Read the original article on All Recipes.