I tried cheeseburgers from 4 fast-food chains and there was a clear winner

Taste testing.

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Taste testing.
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Taylor Tobin

  • I tried four different cheeseburgers to determine which was the best.
  • I sampled cheeseburgers from McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, and Five Guys.
  • Five Guys tasted the freshest and I found it was worth its higher price tag.

When it comes to classic foods, cheeseburgers occupy a very special and exalted position, especially to those who grew up eating those fast-food offerings that included a toy. But in terms of flavor, ingredient quality, and overall satisfaction, can any of these quickie burgers really stand up to nostalgic childhood memories?

To determine the best cheeseburger, INSIDER sampled four different ones as part of an ongoing taste test series. Other items we’ve tried range from cinnamon rolls and cookie dough to chicken noodle soup and tacos.

We tested:

Keep scrolling to see how they compared.


The Burger King cheeseburger came with classic fillings.

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It was a very classic looking cheeseburger.
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Taylor Tobin

We’ll start with the fast-food chain so confident in its burgers that they chose to put that food item right in the name. The Burger King cheeseburger, priced at $1.99, includes a “flame-broiled” patty, a slice of American cheese, two dill pickle chips, and a healthy swirl of ketchup.


The patty was great but, in my opinion, the bun overwhelmed the burger.

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They use a sesame bun.
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Taylor Tobin

Having not tried a Burger King burger in over a decade, I was (not-unpleasantly) surprised to discover that the “flame-broiled” patty does, in fact, have some smokiness in the flavor.

The burger’s bun, however, pushed itself to the forefront and took over the entire eating experience. Burger King uses sesame-seed buns, which are a great idea … in theory. In actuality, in my opinion, the somewhat spongy bread made for a challenging mouth feel while also dampening the effect of the other ingredients.


The Wendy’s cheeseburger is the best bargain of the bunch.

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It only set me back $1.49.
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Taylor Tobin

The Wendy’s Jr. cheeseburger can be purchased for just $1.49, making it the cheapest burger I purchased. And for less than a buck-fifty, you could do a lot worse in terms of flavor. I’m a sucker for the classic Wendy’s square-shaped beef patty, and the cheeseburger keeps it simple in terms of toppings; you’ll just get a slice of American cheese, ketchup, dill pickle chips, and a ring of onion.


I found Wendy’s cheese was outshined by the rest of the burger’s well-balanced flavors.

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The ketchup and pickles were a great touch.
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Taylor Tobin

Like the cheese used at Burger King, the cheese at Wendy’s doesn’t boast much flavor of any kind beyond a slightly salty kick, in my opinion. The ketchup on Wendy’s burger brings a pleasant sweetness, and the round onion sliver and the pickles add textural contrast and an acidic brightness.

Overall, this is a crushable burger.


The McDonald’s cheeseburger is a classic for a reason.

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This cheeseburger is particularly nostalgic for me.
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Taylor Tobin

This compact sandwich was my childhood go-to treat, and although I hadn’t sampled one in many years, I imagined that returning to this cheeseburger paradise for this story would make for a lovely trip down memory lane.


The ketchup and onions on McDonald’s cheeseburger make it so good.

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The diced onions made every bite flavorful.
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Taylor Tobin

Even setting nostalgia aside, the McDonald’s cheeseburger is a solid pick. It has the well-done patties, pickle chips, mild cheese, and squishy buns so popular among fast-food burgers, but McDonald’s has two things working majorly in its favor: its ketchup and its onions. McDonald’s ketchup possesses a unique flavor profile and texture that sets it apart from other versions; in my opinion, it’s slightly tangier.

As for its onions, McDonald’s uses diced onions rather than sliced ones, which brings that sharp onion funk to every single bite. This is a massive benefit, giving the McDonald’s burger more personality than its closest competitors.


The Five Guys cheeseburger came at a heftier price than the others.

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The simple cheeseburger set me back $7.15.
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Taylor Tobin

There’s a lot that distinguishes the Five Guys Cheeseburger from the other sandwiches in this taste test. First, Five Guys isn’t really a “fast-food” burger joint. Instead, it straddles the line between fast food and “fast casual.”

Everything’s made fresh, you can customize your burgers with numerous veggies, condiments, and other add-ons, and the price point – my simple single-patty cheeseburger with lettuce, tomato, and pickles set me back $7.15 – puts it in a different category than the under $2 versions at Burger King, Wendy’s, and McDonald’s.


The freshness of its flavors made it stand out amongst its competitors.

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The burger had a strong cheesy flavor.
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Taylor Tobin

The Five Guys cheeseburger has honest, unconditional foodie cred. The freshly-grilled patty packed plenty of umami and a welcome hint of smoke, the cheese had a strong taste, the tomatoes were juicy, the lettuce crunched when we bit into it, and the ketchup and pickles brightened the other flavors rather than overwhelming them.


Five Guys was the clear winner.

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The burger tasted the freshest.
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Taylor Tobin

After trying the four cheeseburgers, I decided Five Guys was the best and worth its higher price tag. It’s a quality burger at a relatively-gentle price, and it’s the one I’d actively seek out for future noshing.

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