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Fast Food Inflation: Here's Where Burgers, Fries and Sandwiches Are Most Expensive

Find out if McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's or Chick-fil-A increased their prices more than the others.

Wendy's Pretzel Bacon Pub Cheeseburger
Most fast-food chains raised menu prices amid 2022's inflation. Others managed to cut the cost of burgers, chicken and fries. 

Fast food isn't the best option when it comes to sticking to your healthy New Year's resolution, and now you have another excuse to visit the drive-through window less often. Fast-food menu prices jumped significantly in 2022 -- about 13%, according to Pricelisto, a website that tracks menu prices for US fast-food chains. That's even more than the cost of groceries, which bounced roughly 12% in 2022. 

Places like McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's and Chick-fil-A typically lure us in with cheap eats, but with these price hikes, you might be better off signing up for a healthy prepared meal delivery service or trying meal kits on for size -- and, as it turns out, they aren't much more expensive than buying the groceries yourself

While one uberpopular fast-food chain did manage to lower prices in 2022, most companies raised the cost of burgers, chicken, fries and soda. One restaurant franchise led the charge with outsized inflation and assumes its position as the new most expensive US fast-food chain.

Wendy's and Chick-fil-A had the biggest menu inflation in 2022 

man holding burger and soda

McDonald's managed to lower menu prices during 2022, according to Pricelisto's findings. 

Oliver Berg/dpa/Corbis

Wendy's and Chick-fil-A saw the highest price hikes per meal last year, with Chick-fil-A ballooning 15.6% from 2021 to an average meal cost of $4.65. Prices at Wendy's, another fast-food fan favorite, shot up almost double that, with 35% inflation from the previous year. 

Wendy's is now the new most expensive fast-food chain

With its big 2022 jump, Wendy's overtakes Burger King as the most expensive fast-food chain with the average meal costing $6.63. Taco Bell was another chain that passed inflation costs onto customers, hiking prices on its budget-friendly "Mexican fare" by 14.6% across the menu. It's worth noting that Pricelisto did not include the higher-end fast-food chains in the data such as Shake Shack. 

But it wasn't all bad news for dollar menu hounds in 2022. Burger King increased menu prices by a mere 2%, according to Pricelisto, while McDonald's actually managed to decrease menu prices by 5% in 2022 compared to the previous year.

Some fast-food menu items shot up while others got cheaper

chicken fries

Burger King's chicken fries saw the biggest price hike of any single menu item tracked by Pricelisto in 2022.

Burger King

Inflation for individual menu items was a bit scattershot. Chicken, particularly breaded chicken, saw a serious shortage in 2021 which might explain why Burger King's chicken fries were the single most inflated menu item in the fast-food world. Chicken fries were followed by Chick-fil-A's grilled chicken sandwich, which shot up 10% in 2022. 

On the flip side, Wendy's popular Baconator burger dropped in price by $2.51 -- a shocker when you consider the high cost of bacon in recent years (although it's since come back down). McDonald's iconic, and perhaps overrated, french fries also dropped by $0.09 over the course of the year.

Fast-food inflation by item

Chain Menu item Price (Sept '21) Price (May '22) Price (Oct '22) Price difference
McDonald's Big Mac 5.30 5.58 5.47 0.17

French Fries 2.34 2.49 2.25 -0.09

Egg McMuffin 4.21 4.46 4.43 0.22

Double Cheeseburger 2.91 3.28 2.88 -0.03

McChicken 1.97 2.33 2.01 0.04

Quarter Pounder 5.44 5.70 5.58 0.14

Burger King Whopper 6.07 4.61 5.80 -0.27

Double Whopper 7.42 5.56 7.03 -0.39

Chicken Fries 3.97 4.09 4.64 0.67

Original Chicken Sandwich 5.89 3.71 5.40 -0.49

Whopper Jr 2.97 2.34 2.81 -0.16

Wendy's Baconator 12.13 12.74 9.62 -2.51

Spicy Chicken Sandwich 6.45 6.71 6.33 -0.12

Dave's Single 5.99 6.35 6.31 0.32

Dave's Double 7.33 7.74 7.69 0.36

Double Stack 3.35 3.66 3.22 -0.13

Chick-fil-A Chicken Sandwich 4.96 5.62 5.47 0.51

Grilled Chicken Sandwich 6.57 7.32 7.23 0.66

Hash Browns 1.63 1.89 1.81 0.18

Chick-N-Minis 5.31 5.65 4.63 -0.68

Egg White Grill 3.65 4.00 4.10 0.45

Source: Pricelisto.com

If you've been trying to eat better in 2023, consider all this fast-food inflation a sign. To help with your new year nutrition goals, we've rounded up the best places to find affordable organic groceries online and the best healthy meal delivery services for 2023.

Ways to save in 2023