Here Are the Winners of the Second-Annual Fasties, Thrillist's Fast Food Awards

Who makes the best chicken nuggets? Or bacon cheeseburger? We just settled the debates.

The best bacon cheeseburger has been crowned. The most outstanding onion rings have been chosen. The longtime debate over which fast casual chain serves the best burger is finally over. 

Thrillist's second-annual fast food awards, The Fasties, are here to honor the best foods from your favorite chains. Hosts David So and Tim Chantarangsu of Send Foodz are back to take us on a wild, cross country road trip to find the winner of the night's top prize, Chain of the Year—with fast food tastings, tequila-fueled trivia, and even pit stops with celebrity guests like Big Freedia along the way. They'll also present the awards in several exciting Fasties categories like Best Breakfast, Best Chicken Nuggets, Best Plant-Based Meat Menu Item, Best Value Menu, and Lifetime Achievement Award, among other super-sized honors.

Additional 2021 Fasties categories touch on almost every corner of fast food menus, including Best Onion Rings, Best Soft-Serve Ice Cream, Best Fish Sandwich, Best Bacon Cheeseburger, and even Best New Menu Item. Two special categories—Best Value Menu and Best First Responder Deal—reflect how fast food chains responded to the pandemic. Meanwhile, the Most Valuable Pickle (MVP) award honors the best and briniest cucumbers in the game, and the Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes one chain's historic contributions to not just fast food, but food in general. But for some reason (we're not sure ourselves), we didn't stop there.

For the first time, fast casual restaurants—you know, places like Five Guys, Shake Shack, and Steak 'n Shake—are finally getting a taste of the Fasties heat lamp light. All-new fast casual categories include Best Cheeseburger, Best Fried Chicken Sandwich, and Best Fries

We acknowledge that handing out awards to corporate food chains is ridiculous, but, hey, that's kind of the point. We take fast food seriously, but we don't take ourselves too seriously. These awards are the perfect embodiment of our unmatched—potentially concerning—focus on all things served out of drive-thru windows. And, ultimately, it's just about having fun.

Now, order up your favorite bacon cheeseburger, join us for the 2021 Fasties ceremony (shown above), and check out the full list of this year's winners (shown below). 

Best Breakfast

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


Best Chicken Nuggets

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


Best Onion Rings

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


Best Fish Sandwich

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


Best Bacon Cheeseburger

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


Best Plant-Based Meat Item

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


Best Soft Serve Ice Cream

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


Best Value Menu

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


Best New Menu Item

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

Regional Chain of the Year

  • Whataburger (WINNER)
  • Bojangles
  • Culver’s

Chain of the Year

  • Wendy’s (WINNER) 
  • Popeyes
  • KFC
  • Taco Bell

Best First Responder Deal

  • McDonald’s: Thank You Meals (WINNER)

MVP (Most Valuable Pickle)

  • Church’s Chicken: Chicken Sandwich (WINNER)

Lifetime Achievement Award

  • White Castle (WINNER)
Illustration by Maitane Romagosa for Thrillist

And now, the winners in the three new fast casual categories:

Best Cheeseburger (Fast Casual)

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


Best Fried Chicken Sandwich (Fast Casual)

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


Best Fries (Fast Casual) 

  • Five Guys: Five Guys Style Fries (WINNER)
  • Shake Shack: Crinkle Cut Fries
  • Freddy's Frozen Custard & Steakburgers: Freddy’s Shoestring Fries
  • Zaxby’s: Crinkle Fries
  • Smashburger: Smashfries


click to play video

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


Editor: Tony Merevick
Writers: Kyler Alvord, Lee Breslouer, Danielle Dorsey, Tim Ebner, Rona Gindin, Steven Lindsey, Tony Merevick, Dustin Nelson, Lia Picard, and Megan Schaltegger
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Hosts: Tim Chantarangsu and David So
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