Sean Cate
Sean Cate
April 9, 2024 ·  5 min read

16 Worst Fast Food Chains to Avoid

Fast food has become a staple in many people’s diets because of its convenience and affordability. But not all fast-food chains are created equal, especially when it comes to nutrition and food quality. In fact, some fast food chains are best avoided altogether. With concerns about health and wellness on the rise, it’s important to be aware of what you’re putting into your body, even when you’re on the go. Here are 16 of the worst fast-food chains to go to, as well as some of the reasons why they may not be the best choices for your next meal.

1. McDonald’s: Processed Ingredients and High Calories

Minsk, Belarus - April 6, 2019: McDonald's logo. McDonald's is the world's largest chain of hamburger fast food restaurants
Credit: Shutterstock

Yeah, we all saw this one coming. Despite its popularity, McDonald’s has faced criticism for its extensive use of processed ingredients and high-calorie menu items for years. Lisa Young, a registered dietitian, notes that the majority of their items are fried and processed, which contributes to major health concerns considering their popularity.1

Read More: Senior Citizens Are Replacing Teenagers as Fast-Food Workers

2. Burger King: Excessive Calories and Unhealthy Fats

Huelva, Spain - March 6, 2022: Burger King (BK) is an American multinational chain of hamburger fast food restaurants, founded in 1953
Credit: Shutterstock

Another American fast food chain staple, Burger King, known for its Whoppers and large portions, can be extremely high in calories, cholesterol, and unhealthy fats. All of these are major contributors to weight gain and poor heart health.2

3. Checkers & Rally’s: High Saturated Fats and Sodium

COLUMBUS, GEORGIA/ USA - 06-17-2020 Checkers restaurant in the USA.
Credit: Shutterstock

Checkers & Rally’s offerings are often deep-fried and loaded with unhealthy fats and excessive sodium, which can lead to cardiovascular issues and weight gain.3 Try and aim for a better, healthier fast food chain option if possible.

4. KFC: Fried Foods and High Sodium

KFC is popular fast food chain known as Kentucky Fried Chicken.background of KFC restaurant.selective focus.THAILAND,20 May 2021.
Credit: Shutterstock

KFC’s fried chicken, while popular, is loaded with fat from the deep-frying process and contains excessive amounts of sodium, contributing to serious health risks like heart disease and high blood pressure.

5. Arby’s: Overpriced and Flavorless

Niagara Falls, Canada - September 18, 2019: Arby's sign with blue sky in background in Niagara Falls, Canada. Arby's is an American quick-service fast-food sandwich restaurant chain
Credit: Shutterstock

This fast food chain has a slightly different set of issues. While also not very healthy, Arby’s has been criticized for being overpriced and lacking flavor. Many customers have left feeling unsatisfied with their dining experience.

Read More: Avoid These 5 Foods if You Have Kidney Disease and Diabetes

6. Taco Bell: Disappointing Quality and Health Concerns

Exterior of Taco Bell fast-food restaurant, Fayetteville, North Carolina, USA, January 24, 2023
Credit: Shutterstock

Let’s be honest with ourselves, we haven’t ever gone to Taco Bell to experience fine dining. But even with a low bar, the fast food chain has received negative reviews for its disappointing quality and reports of making customers feel sick or unwell after eating their food.

7. Carl’s Jr.: Declining Quality and Taste

PETALING JAYA, MALAYSIA - OCTOBER 29, 2017: Carl's Jr. Charbroiled Burgers signage and restaurant inside shopping mall. Carl's Jr. Restaurants LLC is a fast food restaurant chain.
Credit: Shutterstock

The reports here are that Carl’s Jr. doesn’t have that same fast food chain quality from years past. The declining quality and taste has led to its making the top ten on our list.

8. Sonic Drive-In: Underwhelming and Greasy

COSTA MESA, CA/USA - OCTOBER 17, 2015: Sonic Drive-In Restaurant exterior. Sonic Corp. is an American drive-in fast-food restaurant chain.
Credit: Shutterstock

Again, not a major surprise here. Sonic Drive-In’s offerings have been described as “underwhelming”, with some customers noting a particular greasiness of their food.

9. Krystal: Terrible Service and Food Quality

Brookhaven, MS, USA - Sep 25, 2019: Krystal is fast food restaurant founded in 1932 that features small, square hamburgers called sliders. It operates in the Southeastern US.
Credit: Shutterstock

You never like hearing about bad service, as this is a problem that can be simply fixed with better staff training. Unfortunately, Krystal has also faced criticism for its terrible food quality, which requires a little more elbow grease to fix.

10. Jack in the Box: Declining Reputation

Greenwood - Circa August 2022: Jack In the Box fast food restaurant. Jack-In-The-Box is famous for its two for 99 cent tacos.
Credit: Shutterstock

Much like Carl’s Jr., Jack in the Box has seen its reputation decline over the years, with customers expressing dissatisfaction with its food quality and overall dining experience. They just don’t make fast food chain franchises like they used to, apparently.

Read More: 25 Stomach-Churning Food Moments That Will Kill Your Appetite

11. White Castle: Overwhelmingly Negative Reviews

BLOOMINGTON, MN/USA - JUNE 21, 2014: White Castle restuarant exterior. White Castle is a fast food restaurant chain and generally credited as the first fast food chain in the United States.
Credit: Shutterstock

White Castle, despite its historical significance, has been receiving overwhelmingly negative reviews from customers, impacting its standing as a fast-food favorite. The reviews range from food quality to taste to overall experience. Where are Harold and Kumar when you need them?

12. Pizza Hut: Decline in Quality

March 21, 2021 - Montreal, Canada: popcorn chicken pizza from pizza hut
Credit: Shutterstock

Pizza Hut’s decline in quality over the years has led to disappointment among customers, which is really saying something. When you’re renowned for being the greasiest pizza fast food chain at your peak, then what on earth are you doing to go down from there?

13. Del Taco: Poor Food Quality

Irvine, CA - June 16, 2018: Del Taco Restaurants Inc, a fast food restaurant chain that specializes in American style Mexican cuisine as well as American foods such as burgers, fries, and shakes
Credit: Shutterstock

Get this place some fresh avocado. Del Taco’s poor food quality has earned negative reviews from far too many customers, tarnishing its reputation in the fast-food industry and earning itself a spot on our list.

14. Subway: Declining Standards

BANGKOK, THAILAND - MARCH 17 : Exterior view of Subway Restaurant on March 17, 2015 in Bangkok, Thailand. It is one of the fastest growing franchises in the world, with 43,035 restaurants.
Credit: Shutterstock

Subway, once a popular choice for healthier fast food chains, has seen its standards decline and prices increase, with customers expressing dissatisfaction with its offerings. We’ve gone from the $5 footlong to 6 inches for $6 in less than a decade, and somehow the ingredient quality has also declined. How?

Read More: Studies Show That All Lungs Will Decline After Age 30, But Eating These Foods May Help Slow It Down

15. Long John Silver’s: Quality Concerns

Detroit, MI USA - September 2, 2021: Horizontal, medium shot of "Long John Silvers" fast seafood restaurant's exterior, rooftop, facade brand signage on a bright sunny day.
Credit: Shutterstock

Long John Silver’s, known for its many seafood choices, has faced backlash over quality concerns from customers. Yes, everyone gets bad reviews, but the feeling is shared pretty universally, leading to its designation as one of the worst-rated fast food chains.

16. Panda Express: Limited Nutritional Value

Honolulu, Hawaii - July 10 2014: Panda Express Chinese Takeaway meal with cup of drink
Credit: Shutterstock

This one is a little strange. Panda Express offers quick Chinese cuisine but has been criticized for its limited nutritional value and use of additives. The food quality isn’t terrible but the argument is that it isn’t healthy enough. A bit odd, but it rounds out our fast food chain list all the same.

The Bottom Line

Close-up of home made burgers
Credit: Shutterstock

While fast food may offer convenience, it’s essential to be mindful of its nutritional content and overall quality. The 16 fast-food chains highlighted in this article have received criticism for various reasons, ranging from processed ingredients to poor food quality. By being aware of these concerns, consumers can make more informed choices about where to dine, prioritizing their health and well-being in the process.

Read More: 40 Food Charts That Might Change The Way You See Your Food


  1. 4 Fast-Food Chains Dietitians Avoid at All Costs.” Eat This, Not That!. Samantha Boesch. September 28, 2023
  2. 13 Worst Rated Fast Food Restaurants in America According to Reddit.” Yahoo. Ali Ahmed. February 5, 2024
  3. Best and worst fast-food restaurants in America.” Consumer Reports. July 2014