50 Largest Restaurant Chains in America — Eat This Not That (2022)

Some of the most popular restaurant chains in the country aren't the most successful.While customers may report how much they like (or dislike) a restaurant on surveys, the true way to tell whether a restaurant is popular or not is to look at where those customers put their money—not where they put their mouth.

That's why we consulted Nation's Restaurant News' 2020 Top 200 report on the top 50 chains with the highest systemwide total sales to determine the largest popular restaurant chains in America. Every year, NRN compiles the data for this report to reveal an "in-depth look at the health of the industry and the performance of its biggest players."

Our list—ranked from lowest to highest in sales—is made up of popular restaurant chains with many locations nationwide (like Chick-fil-A, Burger King, and McDonald's) as well as regional restaurant chains (like Culver's, Zaxby's, and Wawa).

Read on to see if the results meet your expectations, and then discover what the 100 Most Popular Fast Food Items are at these nationwide chains.

50 Largest Restaurant Chains in America — Eat This Not That (1)

Total sales: $1.6 billion

Despite having just 200 locations, BJ's found a spot on the same list as fast-food giants like McDonald's and Subway, with the California-based restaurant and brewery pulling in $1.6 billion in sales last year.

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50 Largest Restaurant Chains in America — Eat This Not That (2)

Total sales: $1.33 billion

Although Dave & Buster's—an arcade that doubles as a restaurant—landed among the top 50 restaurants with the highest total sales, that doesn't mean the restaurant chain is as successful as you may think. After the coronavirus hit, the restaurant had to close all 137 locations and may have to declare bankruptcy—just like these6 Beloved Restaurants That Have Filed for Bankruptcy.

50 Largest Restaurant Chains in America — Eat This Not That (3)

Total sales: $1.33 billion

Bojangles' famous chicken and biscuits are a staple in the southeast.

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50 Largest Restaurant Chains in America — Eat This Not That (4)

Total sales: $1.34 billion

Despite its name, you can find Jersey Mike's locations all across the country.

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Total sales: $1.46 billion

Wingstop expanded from one small Texas restaurant in 1994 to a chain of 1,436 locations globally.

And if you love the chicken chain, here are The Best and Worst Menu Items at Wingstop.

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Total sales: $1.47 billion

This chicken fingers chain earned the top spot on the list of10 Fastest-Growing Restaurant Chains in America You Need to Try.

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Total sales: $1.47 billion

People love Carl's Jr.'s charbroiled burgers enough to spend $1.4 billion of their hard-earned cash at the burger chain.

Here are The Best and Worst Foods on the Carl's Jr. Menu.

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Total sales: $1.50 billion

After a solid year of over a billion dollars in sales, this beloved burger chain could be shutting its doors for good.

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Total sales: $1.66 billion

Burgers, fries, and shakes are a recipe for success. Here are the 10 Best and Worst Things About Five Guys.

50 Largest Restaurant Chains in America — Eat This Not That (10)

Total sales: $1.73 billion

With steak prices upwards of $30, it's no wonder Longhorn pulls in $1.7 billion a year.

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Total sales: $1.75 billion

Golden Corral pulled in over a billion in sales last year, but will the buffet chain be able to keep the pace after coronavirus?

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Total sales: $1.80 billion

You may have never heard of Culver's, but it's the second most popular burger chain in the country.

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Total sales: $1.94 billion

People are obsessed with this Southern chain's chicken and dipping sauces.

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Total sales: $2.03 billion

Hardee's consciously uncoupled from its sister brand, Carl's Jr. in 2018, and that wasn't a bad decision, based on the burger chain's sales.

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Total sales: $2.11 billion

Subs are a lunch staple, and Jimmy John's impressive sales prove it.

Here are The Best and Worst Sandwiches at Jimmy John's.

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Total sales: $2.16 billion

We would have expected to see The Cheesecake Factory rank higher on this list based on the fact that they have more than 10 times the number of menu items as many restaurants on this list.

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Total sales: $2.22 billion

Lobster is expensive, and people love to order it at this seafood chain.

50 Largest Restaurant Chains in America — Eat This Not That (18)

Total sales: $2.33 billion

Wawa might be the most regional chain on this list, having locations in only seven states, but the gas station and convenience store combo is one of the most profitable restaurant chains in the country. And if you've ever ordered a hoagie there, you'd know why.

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50 Largest Restaurant Chains in America — Eat This Not That (19)

Total sales: $2.56 billion

Texans love their Whataburgers so much that the chain's 800 locations sell more than $2.5 billion in burgers each year.

50 Largest Restaurant Chains in America — Eat This Not That (20)

Total sales: $2.63 billion

Unsurprisingly, selling food at gas stations where almost everyone has to stop is a great strategy. If you're stopping by the convenience store, here are 17 Foods to Buy at 7-Eleven.

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Total sales: $2.64 billion

How much of those billions of dollars do you think can be attributed to the Bloomin' Onion?

50 Largest Restaurant Chains in America — Eat This Not That (22)

Total sales: $2.66 billion

Using "better ingredients" helps Papa John's make better money.

50 Largest Restaurant Chains in America — Eat This Not That (23)

Total sales: $2.78 billion

Despite their pancakes regularly appearing on our The 20 Worst Restaurant Breakfasts in America, customers still flock to Denny's for breakfast.

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Total sales: $3.02 billion

Honey cinnamon butter on fluffy rolls plus an early dining menu? It's no wonder Texas Roadhouse pulls in billions a year.

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Total sales: $3.07 billion

Cracker Barrel is no doubt one of the most beloved restaurant chains in the country, and customers love to spend their dough at the Old Country Store. Just be sure to steer clear of The Absolute Worst Dishes at Cracker Barrel.

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Total sales: $3.10 billion

With nightly drink specials, customers love to hang out and eat at their local Chili's.

50 Largest Restaurant Chains in America — Eat This Not That (27)

Total sales: $3.30 billion

The beloved breakfast chain may have pulled in an impressive $3.3 billion last year, but many IHOP locations have had to shut down after coronavirus hit, landing the 24-hour restaurant a spot on our list of 7 Popular Restaurant Chains Struggling to Survive.

50 Largest Restaurant Chains in America — Eat This Not That (28)

Total sales: $3.50 billion

Something tells us Jack in the Box's famous curly fries have something to do with their stellar sales.

50 Largest Restaurant Chains in America — Eat This Not That (29)

Total sales: $3.67 billion

We wonder how many wings customers had to eat for Buffalo Wild Wings to make over $3 billion in a year.

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Total sales: $3.75 billion

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Dairy Queen's Blizzards are a fan-favorite, but this iconic menu item is no match for the Frosty and McFlurry.

Here are The Best and Worst Foods at Dairy Queen.

50 Largest Restaurant Chains in America — Eat This Not That (31)

Total sales: $3.76 billion

Little Caesars is the third-largest pizza chain in the country, and also ranks third in total sales.

50 Largest Restaurant Chains in America — Eat This Not That (32)

Total sales: $3.81 billion

After the chain's fried chicken sandwich went viral, Popeyes' sales went through the roof.

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Total sales: $3.88 billion

Arby's has the meats, and sales show that customers want the meats.

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Total sales: $3.95 billion

Panda Express has just over 2,000 locations, which makes it even more impressive that the Chinese chain can hang with the fast-food chains that have tens of thousands of locations.

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Total sales: $4.02 billion

We're sure that this pasta chain does well year-round, but we have to wonder if Olive Garden's Endless Pasta Pass is a big contributor to the chain's billions in total sales.

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Total sales: $4.09 billion

The neighborhood bar and grill's rib and chicken finger offerings satisfy customers across the country.

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Total sales: $4.55 billion

One of the oldest fast-food restaurants, established in 1930, KFC is still as successful as ever.

50 Largest Restaurant Chains in America — Eat This Not That (38)

Total sales: $4.69 billion

This total sales number is pre-COVID, and we'd bet on the fact that it'll soar over the next year as drive-in restaurants were in the best position to keep sales thriving when dining rooms had to close.

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Total sales: $5.51 billion

With recent menu innovations like queso and quesadillas, Chipotle is satisfying customers, and its sales show it.

50 Largest Restaurant Chains in America — Eat This Not That (40)

Total sales: $5.56 billion

Everyone loves pizza, and Pizza Hut's loaded cheesy bites pizza help to pull in even more customers—and sales—than other pizza chains.

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Here are The Best and Worst Menu Items at Pizza Hut.

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Total sales: $5.98 billion

What was originally the St. Louis Bread Company, Panera rakes in cash thanks to their healthy menu options.

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Total sales: $7.04 billion

Domino's regular promotions pay off. Customers end up buying more food when they can get a discounted medium pizza, and that translates to over $7 billion in annual sales.

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Total sales: $9.93 billion

Dunkin'—which recently dropped the "Donuts"—from their name, is a breakfast mainstay nationwide. To find out what is worth ordering at the chain, read up on .

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Total sales: $9.76 billion

Wendy's fresh—never frozen—beef makes this fast-food chain immensely profitable. The brand's quippy Twitter account doesn't hurt, either.

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Total sales: $10.20 billion

This sub shop boasts tens of thousands of locations across the nation, making it the most prolific fast-food chain in the country, but Subway only ranks sixth for total sales.

If you're headed to Subway, here are 8 Diet Expert-Approved Subway Orders.

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Total sales: $10.20 billion

Burger King just edges out Subway with over 10 billion dollars of annual sales. Do you think their Impossible Whopper is what pushed BK over the edge?

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Total sales: $11.29 billion

With options for everyone from omnivores to vegetarians, Taco Bell's versatile menu and late-night hours help the taco chain drive billions of dollars of sales.

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Total sales: $12.67 billion

As one of America's favorite fast-food chains, Chick-Fil-A pulled in more than $12 billion last year—an impressive feat when you consider that the nationwide chicken chain is only open six days a week.

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Total sales: $22.28 billion

The coffee chain may be shuttering 400 locations over the next year and a half, but Starbucks will also be opening hundreds of new stores with a pickup-based model. The company's ability to quickly pivot and adapt to a changing world post-COVID will likely contribute to Starbucks' high total sales moving forward.

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Total sales: $40.41 billion

It's no surprise that one of the oldest, most ubiquitous, and most iconic American restaurants is the largest chain restaurant in the U.S. The Golden Arches has the second-most locations in the states (behind Starbucks), so it makes sense that it should be easiest enough to pull in the most amount of cash.

For more, check out these 108 most popular sodas ranked by how toxic they are.

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FAQs

What is the largest restaurant chain in the United States? ›

The Top 25 Restaurant Chains in America by Sales
  • McDonald's ($36.4 billion)
  • Starbucks Coffee ($17.9 billion)
  • Subway ($11.3 billion)
  • Taco Bell ($9.4 billion)
  • Burger King ($9.3 billion)
  • Wendy's ($9.1 billion)
  • Dunkin' Donuts ($8.2 billion)
  • Chick-fil-A ($7.9 billion)
Jun 29, 2017

What is the #1 chain restaurant in the United States? ›

Unsurprisingly, McDonald's comes in at number one with over $40 billion in sales. Despite a scandal involving its former CEO, McDonald's still managed to significantly outsell its peers—the company made almost double that of the second-largest fast food chain, Starbucks.

What restaurants does US have that Canada doesnt? ›

Keep reading to find out the top 6 US restaurant chains we'd like to see come to Canada asap.
  • CHICK-FIL-A. chickfila. 1.8M followers. View profile. ...
  • IN-N-OUT BURGER. cathygonzaga. In-N-Out Burger. View profile. ...
  • SHAKE SHACK. shakeshack. 817K followers. ...
  • PORTILLO'S. chieats. Portillo's. ...
  • CALIFORNIA PIZZA KITCHEN. cpk. 52.5K followers.

What is the most popular restaurant in America 2022? ›

Yelp's Top 100 US Restaurants 2022
  1. Cocina Madrigal, Phoenix, Arizona. ...
  2. Aracosia–McLean, McLean, Virginia. ...
  3. Fermentation Farm, Costa Mesa, California. ...
  4. Oriole, Chicago, Illinois. ...
  5. Bird Bird Biscuit, Austin, Texas. ...
  6. Jackrabbit Filly, Charleston, South Carolina. ...
  7. Junkyard Bistro, Salmon, Idaho. ...
  8. The Goodwich, Las Vegas, Nevada.

What is the most popular restaurant in the world 2022? ›

Copenhagen's Noma cedes the title of best restaurant in the world to fellow Copenhagen restaurant Geranium. The World's 50 Best Restaurants honorees for 2022 were announced at a ceremony in London today, crowning Denmark's Geranium as this year's top dining establishment in the world.

What is the least popular restaurant? ›

McDonald's

When it comes to brand loyalty, McDonald's is by far the least popular fast food restaurant in America. Only 28 percent of people surveyed said they would eat there because of the brand., meaning people typically visit the Golden Arches out of pure convenience.

What's the best tasting food in the world? ›

The Best Tasting Food In The World According To CNN
  • Massaman curry, Thailand.
  • Neapolitan pizza, Italy.
  • Chocolate, Mexico.
  • Sushi, Japan.
  • Peking Duck, China.
Aug 3, 2011

What is America's favorite restaurant? ›

(WFLA) — For the eighth straight year, the popular fast-food chain Chick-fil-A was ranked as America's favorite restaurant, according to the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI). The index, which ranks customer satisfaction of full-service restaurants on a scale of 0-100, scored the chicken chain at 83.

Does Wendy's use expired meat? ›

It shows no proof that the meat used in the Wendy's is expired. In the comments below, some people claiming to work at Wendy's claimed, “I can confirm this.” “This is why I got food poisoning and never eat there again,” one person wrote.

What is the cleanest fast-food restaurant? ›

Chick-fil-A won a blue ribbon for being the cleanest fast-food restaurant in America. While the chain came neck-in-neck with the second-place restaurant for interior cleanness (at 68.6%), it jumped ahead thanks to higher marks for food prep and kitchen sparkle (66.5%).

What is the most popular fast-food restaurant in 2022? ›

Restaurants 25 2022 Ranking
20222021Name
11Starbucks
22McDonald's
33KFC
45Domino's Pizza
21 more rows

Is Canadian meat better than American? ›

In conclusion, the Canada Prime grade is virtually identical to the U.S.D.A. Prime grade, except that the Canadian grade does not allow dark coloured meat, yellow fat, older animals, or other off-quality characteristics. The Canada AAA grade is virtually identical to the U.S.D.A.

What can you buy in USA but not Canada? ›

Made in the USA: Peanut butter, Pop-Tarts are among products popular primarily in America
  • Mountain Dew. Fans of this caffeinated, citrus-flavored soda might wonder why it's not popular outside America. ...
  • Peanut butter. ...
  • Girl Scout cookies. ...
  • American cheese. ...
  • Southern-style biscuits. ...
  • Cheez-Its. ...
  • Frank's Red Hot. ...
  • Easy Cheese.
Apr 7, 2020

What is the largest restaurant chain? ›

Top 10 Largest Fast Food Chains in the World by Revenue
RankFast Food ChainNumber of Stores
1Starbucks28,218
2McDonald's37,855
3Subway43,600
4Yum China8,484
6 more rows
Jun 22, 2020

What is the largest sit down restaurant chain? ›

Where the biggest sit-down restaurants in the country stack up.
...
The 50 Top-Grossing Full-Service Restaurants in America.
Rank1
ChainOlive Garden
2019 Sales (Millions)4,351
2018 Sales (Millions)4,100
Sales Change (Percent)6.1
46 more columns

Does Chick-fil-A or McDonalds make more money? ›

In fact, the average Chick-fil-A unit made around $4,090,900 in 2017. By contrast, the total sales for a McDonald's ($2,670,320 per unit), Starbucks ($945,270) and Subway ($416,860) is $4,032,450.

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