Here’s the New Most Expensive Fast Food Chain     – CNET

Here’s the New Most Expensive Fast Food Chain – CNET

Fast food has always equalled cheap eats but inflation hit the budget food business in 2022 just like other consumer categories. In fact, fast food inflation rose at an even higher rate last year than groceries which jumped by about 12% from November 2021 to 2022. Fast food restaurants, by comparison, raised menu prices by nearly 13%, according to Pricelisto, a website that tracks menu prices for US fast food chains. But some chains saw bigger price hikes than others and one ultrapopular fast food joint even managed to lower its prices over the course of the year.

Wendy’s and Chick-fil-A had the biggest price hikes 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 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 versus the previous year.

Some fast food items went up in price 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 an average of $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
McDonalds 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


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

David Watsky

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