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The Most Expensive Item at Every Fast Food Chain

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Dollars Menu

We think of fast food as cheap as well as fast, but chain prices have risen over the years with everything else. Some items now top $10, steep for something that may not be exactly healthy. We looked at national fast-food chains to find the most expensive item at each — excluding items designed to serve multiple people such as orders of 40 chicken nuggets, combo meals, and limited-time offers — with results that may surprise you (or may just make you hungry). 


Prices and availability change often and are often up to individual store owners, so they may vary in your area.


Related: The Most Over-the-Top Fast Food of the Past 10 Years

Popeye's Classic Fried Chicken Sandwich
Popeye's Classic Fried Chicken Sandwich by Thomas Hawk (CC BY-NC)

Popeyes Classic Chicken Sandwich

$4

Popeyes puts all its chicken and fried seafood into combo meals, with sides and a drink. That leaves its famous chicken sandwiches, for which there was absolute mayhem when released in 2019, the most expensive single item. It's available in classic or spicy versions for the same price, and for around the same 700 calories.


Related: 19 Best Fried Chicken Sandwiches in America

KFC Pot Pie
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KFC Pot Pie

$5.79

Since the fried chicken at KFC is served in combos like Popeyes or by the piece, the pot pie is the single item that comes out on top as most expensive. Most people are happy to pay for this beloved item with its creamy filling and buttery crust, but look for a chance to buy as part of a $5 Fill-Up: You'll save almost a dollar and get a drink and cookie with it.


Related: The Best Value Meal Deals at 28 Chains Across the Country

The Monster is loose
The Monster is loose by Jerry Huddleston (CC BY)

Hardee's Bacon Cheese Thickburger or Hand-Breaded Chicken Tenders

$5.89

Hardee's is known for its gluttonous burger options, but many are limited-time offers. The always-available third-pound bacon cheese Thickburger will still set you back almost $6, and for $2.75 you can go for a meat sweat and add another patty. A five-piece portion of chicken tenders will cost the same amount.


Related: These 17 Gut-Busting Cheeseburgers Have More Than 1,000 Calories

Dairy Queen Crispy Chicken Strips Salad
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Dairy Queen Crispy Chicken Strips Salad

$6

Though some of the large Blizzard prices come close, the most expensive item at Dairy Queen is the crispy chicken strips salad, with chopped chicken strips on top of lettuce, cabbage, carrots, tomatoes, bacon, cheddar, and choice of dressing.


Related: 20 Fast Food Restaurants Then and Now


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Taco Bell Power Menu Bowl
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Taco Bell Power Menu Bowl

$6.19

Most individual items at Taco Bell are relatively small, and people order a few to make a meal. But there is still a single meal-in-a-bowl item on the menu, and it's full of fresh ingredients — and is the most expensive option. It's got only 470 calories, while some taco or burrito items have upward of 700.


Related: 20 Spicy Secrets Behind Taco Bell's Success

Sonic SuperSONIC Bacon Double Cheeseburger
Ominous X./Yelp

Sonic SuperSONIC Bacon Double Cheeseburger

$6.39

Sonic's heftier version of the standard cheeseburger comes topped simply with lettuce, tomato, and mayo. Even without fancy toppings, it comes in at 1,030 calories, almost twice as many as the quarter-pound double cheeseburger.


Related: Taste Testing The Best Fast-Food Cheeseburger

royale steakburger
royale steakburger by Rusty Gillespie (CC BY-NC)

Steak 'n Shake Royale Steakburger

$6.49

Steak 'n Shake is known for what it calls Steakburgers, and their king is the royale, which comes with two beef patties, cheese, bacon, a fried egg, lettuce, tomato, and mayo. Unlike any of the other items on this list, this one comes with something: fries, because all entrees at Steak 'n Shake come with them automatically. That makes this a somewhat better deal than the others.


Related: Chain Restaurants That Are Closing Locations — and Which Ones Could Be Next

Arby's Half-Pound Beef 'N Cheddar
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Del Taco Burritos
Nina N./Yelp

Del Taco Epic Cali Bacon Burrito or Epic Fresh Avocado Burrito

$6.69

The Epic Cali bacon burrito is filled with carne asada or Beyond meat, fries, bacon, cheese, and two sauces; the Epic Fresh Avocado Burrito has carne asada or Beyond meat, rice, beans, avocado, and two salsas. Whichever you choose, you're going to be full.


Related: What's the Most Popular Fast Food in Your State?

Jack in the Box Grilled Chicken Salad
Jack in the Box Grilled Chicken Salad by theimpulsivebuy (CC BY-SA)

Jack in the Box Grilled Chicken Salad

$7

This is one of the healthiest full meal items at Jack in the Box, with grilled chicken, veggies, croutons, and low-fat balsamic dressing on mixed greens. According to the restaurant's nutrition info, the entire salad has less than 350 calories, making it great if you're watching what you eat, though they're maybe not the cheapest calories possible.


Related: The 20 Least Unhealthy Junk Foods

McDonald's Double Bacon Quarter Pounder with Cheese
Emil C./Yelp

McDonald's Double Bacon Quarter Pounder with Cheese

$7.59

Plain old cheeseburgers at McDonald's are cheap because they're pretty small and don't come with fancy toppings. A double Quarter Pounder, however, is a half-pound behemoth of beef. Add bacon, a premium extra, and that brings the total up even more. If you want to make your sandwich a combo meal, that'll cost around $10.


Related: 25 Weird and Wonderful McDonald's International Menu Favorites

03 White Castle Spicy Buffalo Chicken Rings
03 White Castle Spicy Buffalo Chicken Rings by Jason Lam (CC BY-SA)

White Castle 20-piece Chicken Rings

$7.59

At a restaurant famous for little things such as sliders, the most expensive items tend to be premium side dishes. Chicken rings, which are White Castle's version of chicken nuggets, come in three sizes. The largest, with 20 pieces, is plenty for one very hungry person. (A single chicken ring on a bun with cheese would set you back $1.79.)


Related: 30 Things You Didn't Know About White Castle

Culver's Cranberry Bacon Bleu Salad
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Culver's Chicken Cashew Salad, Cranberry Bacon Bleu Salad, or Garden Fresco Salad

$7.69

All three entree-sized salad options come with sliced grilled chicken atop a bed of greens with toppings such as cashews, dried cranberries, and fresh vegetables. If you're looking for the most expensive butterburger, it would be the double bacon deluxe at $5.79, though you can make burgers triple for an extra charge.


Related: Local Burger Chains the Rest of the Country Needs

Wendy's Pretzel Bacon Pub Triple Burger
Alan T./Yelp

Wendy's Pretzel Bacon Pub Triple Burger

$8.09

Wendy's pretzel bacon pub burger is here to stay after being reintroduced last fall. A single comes with a standard quarter-pound beef patty, but you can also get a double or triple. With three-quarters of a pound of beef, the triple will load you up with 1,520 calories.


Related: The Best and Worst Menu Items of 2020

Chick-Fil-A Market Salad
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Chick-Fil-A Market Salad or Spicy Southwest Salad

$8.69

The famous chicken sandwich may set you back only a few bucks, but the chicken-laden salads at Chick-Fil-A are much pricier. The spicy Southwest salad includes a ton of goodies, including corn, black beans, peppers, and chile lime pepitas, while the market salad is a blue cheese, fruit, and almond creation. (The other salad offered, the Cobb, is only about 20 cents cheaper.)


Related: 32 Secrets for Better, Cheaper Meals at Your Favorite Chains

Burger King Triple Whopper with cheese
Wikimedia Commons

Burger King Triple Whopper with Cheese

$8.79

The Whopper is Burger King's signature burger, and it comes with a quarter-pound beef patty. This is the cost if you get a triple version and add cheese — but at least you're getting a ton of beef (and calories). You can make it a combo meal with medium fries and a drink for $12.


Related: 19 Spectacular Fast Food Restaurant Designs Around the World

Jimmy John's The J.J. Gargantuan
Klemens T./Yelp

Jimmy John's The J.J. Gargantuan

$9.59

Many of Jimmy John's subs are around the same price, depending whether you get a favorite, original, or slim sub. But there's one huge item that stands above the rest in size and price: the J.J. Gargantuan, which includes salami, capicola, turkey, roast beef, ham, and provolone — almost every meat available.


Related: Fast Food Favorites of 20 Celebrities

Potbelly Big Turkey Club
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Five Guys Bacon Cheeseburger
Five Guys Bacon Cheeseburger by Aaron Hockley (CC BY-NC-ND)

Five Guys Bacon Cheeseburger

$10.29

Five Guys isn't known as cheap. The bacon cheeseburger, which at Five Guys means a double cheeseburger (singles are called "little") at least includes any and all toppings you want in the price. So load up on things such as extra cheese, grilled mushrooms, and jalapeños.


Related: 18 Secret Menu Items and Hacks from Your Favorite Restaurants

Qdoba Bowl
Jo S./Yelp

Qdoba Chicken Protein Bowl

$10.35

The most expensive item you can order at Qdoba (besides customizing an entree by adding extra meat) is a special diet bowl. The chicken protein bowl includes double chicken and a bunch of high-protein, low-carb ingredients over a bed of lettuce. Unlike at competitor Chipotle, however, you're actually saving about 50 cents by ordering the chicken protein bowl by name as opposed to creating an entree with the same ingredients yourself.


Related: How Fast Food Meals Are Less Healthy Today Than 30 Years Ago

Checkers Wings
Melissa J./Yelp

Checkers/Rally's 10-piece Classic Wings

$10.69

Wings are not cheap at Checkers, as proven by this 10-piece bone-in wing order, which would feed one hungry person. If you'd like ranch or blue cheese to dip them in (who wouldn't?), it'll cost about 40 cents more. There is also a five-piece size for $6, which sounds like a very expensive snack or side.


Related: 15 Popular Restaurant Brands You Can Find in the Freezer Section

Chipotle Whole30 Bowl
Alice H./Yelp

Chipotle Whole30 Bowl or Keto Bowl

$11.80

Chipotle is known for catering to special diets, since its business model allows for so much customization. But there are also bowls you can order by name with set ingredients, and a couple are pretty pricey. The bowls for the Whole30 and keto diets are almost $12 because they include low-carb upgrades such as cauliflower rice and guacamole.


Related: 18 Best Chain Restaurants for Keto and Other Low-Carb Diets

Subway Footlong Turkey and Bacon Guacamole
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Subway Footlong Turkey and Bacon Guacamole

$12

Long gone are the days of the $5 Footlong at Subway. Many of them come in between $8.50 and $10 now, but there's one sandwich that stands above the rest: the Footlong turkey and bacon guacamole. Between two premium ingredients in bacon and guacamole, it'll set you back more money than anything else on the menu. You can double the meat for $3 if you're so inclined to pay even more.


Related: The Best Fast Food Deals to Grab This Month