Here Are the Nominees for the Fasties, Thrillist's 2nd-Annual Fast Food Awards

The winners will be honored on April 20.

Illustration by Maitane Romagosa for Thrillist
Illustration by Maitane Romagosa for Thrillist

The Fasties, Thrillist's annual fast food awards show, is back for seconds in 2021. After proving you can throw a hilariously over-the-top—yet completely serious—celebration of fast food with the inaugural Fasties ceremony last year, we're back in the drive-thru and hungrier than ever with all-new, freshly fried awards categories, special guests, and a whole grease-stained paper bag full of surprises. So, throw on your cardboard crown, grab your favorite dipping sauce, and come along for the ride. 

The 2021 Fasties, hosted by Tim Chantarangsu and David So of Send Foodz, will premiere on Tuesday, April 20, at noon ET. The show will honor the best things that came out of fast food restaurants over the last year and honor the fast food workers and first responders who served on the frontlines of the pandemic—all in the style of a Hollywood awards ceremony, minus the cheesiness (okay, we'll admit it, there's probably going to be some cheese). Tune in for the winners, and stay for the special guest segments throughout the show. Wait. What? You're only watching for the acceptance speeches from fast food corporate execs? Don't worry; we'll have those too.

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The 2021 Fasties categories touch on almost every corner of fast food menus. Awards include Best Breakfast, Best Chicken Nuggets, Best Soft Serve Ice Cream, and even Best New Menu Item. Additional awards highlight the latest and greatest in the world of plant-based meat offerings and settle the debate over who serves the crispiest, most delicious onion rings. Two all-new categories reflect how fast food chains responded to the pandemic: Best Value Menu and Best First Responder Deal. The show will culminate with the top award, Chain of the Year. Meanwhile, the Most Valuable Pickle (MVP) award honors the best salty cucumber slices in the game, and this year's Lifetime Achievement Award celebrates one chain's unmatched contributions to the fast food world. But we didn't stop there.

Fast casual restaurants—think Shake Shack, Five Guys, Zaxby's, and more—will get a share of the Fasties heat lamp light for the first time, marking a massive expansion of the awards' scope. Fast casual categories include Best Cheeseburger, Best Fried Chicken Sandwich, and Best Fries

We recognize that handing out awards to fast food chains may sound ridiculous, but... that's kind of the point. We take fast food seriously, but we don't take ourselves too seriously. The Fasties are the ultimate embodiment of our borderline-obsessive—yet playful—focus on French fries, fish sandwiches, and everything in between. Most importantly, it's all about having fun. 

The 2021 Fasties winners will be announced via an awards show on Thrillist's YouTube channel, social media platforms, and here on just in time for lunch at 12pm ET on April 20. In the meantime, grab a bacon cheeseburger, check out the nominees (listed below), and vote via Twitter for the People's Choice in a handful of the categories.

Photo by Cole Saladino for Thrillist

Here are the 2021 Fasties categories and nominees:

Best Breakfast

  • McDonald’s
  • Wendy’s
  • Chick-fil-A
  • Taco Bell
  • Jack in the Box

MORE: Vote for your favorite fast food breakfast.

Best Chicken Nuggets

  • Jack in the Box: Chicken Nuggets
  • KFC: Popcorn Nuggets
  • McDonald’s: Chicken McNuggets
  • Chick-fil-A: Nuggets
  • Wendy’s: Crispy Chicken Nuggets

MORE: Vote for your favorite chicken nuggets.

Best Onion Rings

  • Whataburger: Onion Rings
  • Jack in the Box: Onion Rings
  • Culver’s: Onion Rings
  • Dairy Queen: Onion Rings
  • Sonic Drive-In: Hand Made Onion Rings

MORE: Vote for your favorite onion rings.

Best Fish Sandwich

  • Jack in the Box: Fish Sandwich
  • Long John Silver’s: Wild Alaska Pollock Sandwich
  • Whataburger: Whatacatch
  • Popeyes: Cajun Flounder Sandwich
  • Culver’s: North Atlantic Cod Filet Sandwich

MORE:Vote for your favorite fish sandwich.

Best Bacon Cheeseburger

  • Checkers: Baconzilla!
  • Whataburger: Bacon & Cheese Whataburger
  • Burger King: Bacon King
  • Wendy’s: Baconator
  • Sonic Drive-In: SuperSONIC Bacon Double Cheeseburger

Best Plant-Based Meat Item

  • Quiznos: Plant-Based Corned Beef
  • Carl’s Jr.: Beyond Fiery Famous Star
  • Carl’s Jr.: Beyond Famous Star with Cheese
  • White Castle: Impossible Slider
  • Del Taco: Beyond Tacos & Burritos

Best Soft Serve Ice Cream

  • Wendy’s: Frosty
  • Dairy Queen: Vanilla Cone
  • Sonic Drive-In: Vanilla Cone
  • Burger King: Soft Serve Cone
  • McDonald’s: Vanilla Cone

Best Value Menu

  • Taco Bell: Cravings Value Menu
  • Sonic Drive-In: Everyday Deals
  • Del Taco: Del's Dollar Deals Menu
  • Taco John's: The Valuest Menu
  • Wendy's: Biggie Deals Menu

Best New Menu Item

  • Chick-fil-A: Kale Crunch Side
  • Church’s Chicken: Chicken Sandwich
  • Culver’s: Harvest Veggie Burger
  • Wendy’s: Maple Bacon Chicken Croissant
  • Taco Bell: Chicken Chipotle Melt

Regional Chain of the Year

  • Culver’s
  • Whataburger
  • Bojangles

Chain of the Year

  • Taco Bell
  • Wendy’s
  • Popeyes
  • KFC

Best First Responder Deal

  • (no nominees)

MVP (Most Valuable Pickle)

  • (no nominees)

Lifetime Achievement Award

  • (no nominees)

And here are the nominees in the three new fast casual categories:

Best Cheeseburger (Fast Casual)

  • Five Guys: Cheeseburger
  • Smashburger: Classic Smash Burger
  • Freddy's Frozen Custard & Steakburgers: Freddy’s Original with Cheese
  • Shake Shack: ShackBurger Single
  • BurgerFi: BurgerFi Cheeseburger

Best Fried Chicken Sandwich (Fast Casual)

  • Shake Shack: Chick’n Shack
  • Fatburger: Crispy Chicken Sandwich
  • Freddy's Frozen Custard & Steakburgers: Crispy Chicken Sandwich
  • Wayback Burgers: Crispy Chicken
  • Zaxby’s: Zaxby’s Signature Sandwich

Best Fries (Fast Casual)

  • Zaxby’s: Crinkle Fries
  • Smashburger: Smashfries
  • Five Guys: Five Guys Style Fries
  • Shake Shack: Crinkle Cut Fries
  • Freddy's Frozen Custard & Steakburgers: Freddy’s Shoestring Fries
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Miss the 2020 Fasties? Here Are Last Year's Categories & Winners.

Thrillist's first-ever Fasties launched on February 19, 2020, honoring fast food stars in 16 original categories, including Best Burger, Best Fried Chicken Sandwich, Best Fries, and many more. While some categories have returned for the 2021 awards program, we decided to keep things interesting with a slate of several new categories. In other words, it's safe to say that many of the winners in 2020 are still the undisputed champions.

Here's the full list of 2020 Fasties award winners:

  • Best Fried Chicken Sandwich: Popeyes - Chicken Sandwich
  • Best Burger: Culver’s - ButterBurger Cheese
  • Best Plant-Based Burger: White Castle - Impossible Slider
  • Best Fries: Arby’s - Curly Fries
  • Best Taco: Del Taco - The Del Taco
  • Best Dessert: Yoshinoya - Cheesecake
  • Best Coffee: Culver's
  • Best Breakfast Sandwich: Chick-fil-A - Chicken Biscuit
  • Best Chicken Tenders: Raising Cane’s - Chicken Fingers
  • Best Sauce: Culver’s - Wisconsin Cheddar Cheese Sauce
  • Best New Menu Item of the Year: Popeyes - Chicken Sandwich
  • Regional Chain of the Year: Culver's
  • Chain of the Year: Popeyes
  • Menu Item of the Decade: Taco Bell - Doritos Locos Taco
  • Lifetime Achievement Award: Ketchup
  • Most Valuable Pickle (MVP): Popeyes - Chicken Sandwich

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