The 10 most craveable chain fries
Burgers and fries are an American tradition, but it’s not just burger chains that serve America’s most craveable chain french fries, shows new Technomic research on Americans' most-loved fries. Only half of the chains in this roundup are burger-focused. And what’s more, this roundup reveals that when diners visit a burger chain to satisfy a craving, sometimes it’s not the burger they’re after—it’s the fries.
Whether they’re hand-cut wedges, seasoned or loaded with toppings, limited-service restaurants have apparently mastered the fry, as only one full-service chain appears in the following roundup.
Click through to find the 10 chains that recent customers say offer the most craveable fries out of any of the leading chains surveyed for Technomic’s Consumer Brand Metrics. The chains are ranked from tenth to first in order of the percentage of recent diners who say the fries are crave-worthy and one-of-a-kind.
More than a sixth of recent customers crave the fries at Fuddruckers. Customers point to each of the fast-casual burger joint’s fry options—wedge-cut fries ($2.99), sweet potato fries ($3.49) and chili cheese fries ($3.99)—as craveable, but the signature wedge fries garner the majority of survey mentions from respondents.
Fuddruckers also serves its wedge fries with onion rings in a $3.49 Fudds Fries N’ Rings side, an option many consumers also point to as crave-worthy.
9. Red Robin Gourmet Burgers and Brews
About a fifth of recent customers say Red Robin offers a french fry fix that they can’t get anywhere else. The sole casual-dining chain on the top 10 list, Red Robin offers steak fries and sweet potato fries, each $2.99 or, if substituted for something else, $1.49.
Many consumers specifically point to Red Robin’s Bottomless Steak Fries—the all-you-can-eat fries promotion available with a burger purchase—as craveable. The restaurant even serves its fries in a small, metal, bottomless cup to underscore this aspect.
About one in five recent customers find the fries crave-worthy at Arby’s. The quick serve’s curly fries—which come in snack, small, medium and large sizes—are the biggest standout in consumer survey responses, though some customers also note the chain’s loaded curly fries as crave-worthy.
Launched in late December 2015, the loaded side was the first new take on Arby’s curly fries since their debut in 1988. Per Rob Lynch, Arby’s brand president and chief marketing officer, the addition came about “after years of requests from guests in restaurants and on social media to take our famous curly fries to the next level.” The item features Arby’s standard curly fries topped with cheddar sauce, chopped bacon, shredded cheddar and ranch.
Fries at McDonald’s are a craveable item that more than a fifth of recent consumers say they can only get there. The chain has tested many variations of its fries in select markets in recent years, including do-it-yourself seasoned versions, sweet potato fries and most recently garlic fries.
But it’s McDonald’s classic french fries that are the biggest hit among survey respondents, with claims like, “They are the best fries from any fast food place,” “My favorite” and “The best-tasting fries.” Fries are the second most-craveable item offered at the chain, topped only by burgers.
More than a fifth of recent consumers say the fries at Chick-fil-A are a craveable item they can find nowhere else. The sole quick-service chicken chain in this top 10 list, Chick-fil-A serves waffle fries cooked in canola oil. The chain promotes the fact that it uses real potatoes for its fries on its website by polling customers about their preferences of skin vs. no-skin fries.
For a brief time in 2011, Chick-fil-A tested sweet potato waffle fries in select markets, but they were ultimately discontinued.
5. Charleys Philly Steaks
More than a quarter of recent consumers crave the fries at Charleys Philly Steaks, the only quick-service sandwich joint besides Arby's found in the top 10. Fries are the most-craved item at this restaurant chain, which offers a few varieties on the menu under the umbrella label “Gourmet Fries.”
Many recent customers point to Charleys’ Cheese Fries as a craveable variety they can’t get anywhere else, though a few others also mention the chain’s Cheese & Bacon Fries and Ultimate Fries, topped with cheddar cheese sauce, bacon and ranch dressing.
More than a third of recent customers crave Smashburger’s french fries and say they can’t get them anywhere else. That’s pretty close to the percentage of consumers who say they crave the fast-casual chain’s burgers (38.5%). Customers point to Smashburger’s Smash Fries—seasoned with olive oil, rosemary and garlic—as one of the most craveable options on the menu, while many others mention the chain’s sweet potato fries.
Smashburger also offers Spicy Buffalo Fries (dry seasoned with Frank’s RedHot and served with a side of ranch dressing) and Veggie Frites (flash-fried fresh green beans and carrot strips), each of which get a few nods for craveability from recent customers.
3. In-N-Out Burger
Almost two-fifths of recent customers rate In-N-Out’s fries as crave-worthy, compared to about half of recent customers who say the same of the chain’s burgers. The fries are hand-cut potatoes fried in 100% vegetable oil, and they are available “Animal-style” on the cult favorite’s not-so-secret menu. Animal-style fries are loaded with melted cheese, grilled onions and the chain’s signature sauce.
In-N-Out also lets customers choose how they’d like their fries cooked.
2. Five Guys Burgers and Fries
More Five Guys customers say they crave the fries at the chain than those who say they crave the burgers (44.2%). The fast-casual burger chain cooks its fresh-cut potatoes in cholesterol-free, 100% peanut oil. Some recent customers cite the use of peanut oil as part of what makes these fries crave-worthy. Its Five Guys Style fries are cooked twice upon order, described by the chain as “firm on the outside and mashed-potato on the inside.”
Five Guys also offers a Cajun-seasoned version of its signature fries that many recent customers call out as craveable.
1. Checkers Drive-In Restaurants
The majority of recent Checkers customers say that the chain serves up fries that they jones for and can’t get anywhere else, elevating the chain to the No. 1 spot in the top 10 list. Fries are twice as craveable as burgers at this quick-service burger chain, with a quarter of consumers listing the Checkers burger as craveable. The chain knows it, and refers to its Famous Seasoned Fries as the menu item that “put Checkers on the map.”
Indeed, many recent customers call out Checkers’ Famous Seasoned Fries, which contain a signature, secret seasoning, as craveable. Several other customers refer to the chain’s Fully Loaded Fries as one-of-a-kind and crave-worthy; these feature the Famous Seasoned Fries topped with cheese, ranch dressing and bacon. Checkers also serves up Cheese Chili Cheese Fries, putting the chain near the top of the list for fry variety in this roundup.