The Most Successful Fast Food Chains In America

By John Misachi on February 15 2020 in Society

Fast-food is not regarded as a healthy food option but is hugely popular in America.
Fast-food is not regarded as a healthy food option but is hugely popular in America.
  • An average American spends up to 1,200 bucks on fast-food every year
  • McDonald's sales in 2018 were more than double that of Starbucks
  • Subway has the highest number of outlets in the US although its sales is slightly above $10 billion

Even as America seems to be adopting healthier and fresher food, fast foods still top the diet of most people. Fast-food chains in America rack in millions of dollars every year. On average, an American spends up to $1,200 every year on fast food. About 25% of the population of the United States at least three fast foods in a week. In fact, there are fast-food restaurants in every corner of the US. Five of the biggest fast-food chains in America make at least $10 billion in sales annually. Here are the leading fast-food chains in the US by sales.


It is no doubt that McDonald’s is the leading fast-food chain not only in America but also in the world. It is the largest restaurant chain by sales and serves close to 70 million customers daily across its close to 40,000 outlets in 100 countries. According to QSR Magazine, McDonald’s was the largest fast-food chain in the US in 2018, racking in $38.5 billion from the 13,914 outlets in the country. The giant fast-food chain added 122 new restaurants in 2018, an indication that it has no intention of slowing down any soon. The most ordered item from McDonald’s is the delicious French fries. The first food chain served about 9 million customers daily in the US.


Starbucks is the second-largest fast-food chain in the US by both the number of outlets and revenue. The Seattle-based company serves mainly hot and cold drinks, including coffee beverages, tea, and smoothies, as well as sandwiches. Starbucks had 14,825 units across the US, including the additional 895 units in 2018. The company had nearly $20 billion in sales in 2018. Starbucks is popular for creating seasonal menus and offering special deals to its customers.


Sandwich giant Subway is the largest fast-food chain in the US by the number of outlets (24,798). However, this giant fast-food chain is the third-largest in the US by sales. In 2018, Subway generated $10.4 billion in revenue. Although the company’s sales in recent years have been inconsistent, it remains a major player in the fast-food industry. Subway’s marketing strategy has helped it stay at the top. It markets itself as a healthy fast-food chain of choice, attracting a large number of people who are embracing a healthy lifestyle.

Taco Bell

Taco Bell mainly serves Mexican inspired foods such as nachos, tacos, and burritos. The Irvin-based giant fast-food chain generated $10.3 billion in sales in 2018, beating the likes of Wendy’s and Burger King. It also opened 142 new stores in the same year. Taco Bell has consistently maintained its prices below other giant fast-food chains, making it affordable for low-income earners. It is also one of the healthiest fast-food chains in the US.


Even though Chick-Fil-A closes its stores one day in a week (mainly Sundays), it is still one of the largest fast-food chains in the US. The company managed $10 billion in sales in 2018 with some of its individual stores racking in the highest sales in the country. Chick-Fil-A serves an average of 40 million customers every month. Its waffle fries are the people’s favorite.

The Most Successful Fast Food Chains In America

RankFast Food ChainU.S Systemwide Sales (millions)
4Taco Bell$10,300.00
7Burger King$9,950.00
10Panera Bread$5,734.63
11Pizza Hut$5,500.00
13Sonic Drive-In$4,447.10
16Little Caesars$3,800.00
17Dairy Queen$3,650.00
18Jack In The Box$3,466.13
19Panda Express$3,400.00
21Papa Johns$2,720.00
22Jimmy John's$2,200.00
24Five Guys$1,615.84
26Carl's JR.$1,261.03
27Jersey Mike's$1,148.49
28Firehouse Subs$810.95
29Papa Murphy's$795.58
30Church's Chicken$750.00
32Auntie Anne's$558.24

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