Thanks to the many major fast food chains and their higher-end fast casual cousins available today, it’s stupidly easy to get your hands on a good cheeseburger almost whenever and wherever you want one. Getting your hands on a great cheeseburger, on the other hand, is another story. Of course, it’s still easy enough, but it requires a little extra effort—effort we’re more than willing to put in for the greater good.
We’ve already established who makes the best fast food cheeseburger, so now we’re focusing our attention—and hunger—on burgers from fast casual chains like Shake Shack, Five Guys, Steak ‘n Shake, and many more. Everyone has their favorite and these allegiances run deep, so we definitely felt the pressure when setting out on this burger-eating quest. To our surprise, it didn’t take long before the top burgers became clear.
To find the absolute best, we dispatched our fast casual experts from around the country to hit each major chain. To avoid apples-to-oranges comparisons, we stuck with the most basic, single-patty cheeseburger on each chain’s menu whenever possible and avoided special, limited-time-only offerings. Each burger was ordered exactly as the chain intended, though some required build-your-own customizations. And, of course, we steered away from secret menu hacks; we can rank those some other time. All of the burgers were judged based on their ingredients, freshness, aesthetics, and overall deliciousness.
Here’s how they stacked up.