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I tried the cheapest cheeseburgers at McDonald's, Wendy's, and Burger King and the least expensive was my favorite

Erin McDowell   

I tried the cheapest cheeseburgers at McDonald's, Wendy's, and Burger King and the least expensive was my favorite
Burger King's classic cheeseburger had the most flavorful burger and bun.Erin McDowell/Business Insider; NYC Russ/Shutterstock; Savvapanf Photo/Shutterstock; rafapress/Shutterstock
  • I tried the cheapest cheeseburgers at McDonald's, Burger King, and Wendy's.
  • They all cost around $3, excluding tax.

The price of the fast-food burger has risen over the years.

Average fast-food menu prices have risen between 39% and 100% since 2014, and McDonald's prices have doubled in those 10 years, according to a May report by FinanceBuzz.

Rising fast food prices are due to factors including inflation and increased labor costs, but the classic cheeseburger remains one of the cheapest menu items at most fast-food chains.

I decided to order the cheapest cheeseburgers at the three biggest burger chains — McDonald's, Burger King, and Wendy's — to determine which one is worth your money.

They all came with the same classic ingredients: a single beef patty, one slice of cheese, and ketchup.

However, there was a clear winner in terms of taste and value.

Here are the cheapest cheeseburgers at McDonald's, Wendy's, and Burger King, ranked from worst to best.

My least favorite burger was the classic McDonald's cheeseburger.

My least favorite burger was the classic McDonald
McDonald's cheeseburger.      Erin McDowell/Business Insider

The cheeseburger from McDonald's cost $3.49, excluding tax.

The burger came with a single beef patty, pickles, chopped onions, ketchup, mustard, and a slice of American cheese.

The burger came with a single beef patty, pickles, chopped onions, ketchup, mustard, and a slice of American cheese.
McDonald's cheeseburger.      Erin McDowell/Business Insider

I rarely get a regular cheeseburger from McDonald's; I usually prefer the larger, more elaborate burgers like the Quarter Pounder Deluxe with cheese or the chicken sandwiches.

While I didn't mind the cheeseburger, it wasn't my favorite.

While I didn
McDonald's cheeseburger.      Erin McDowell/Business Insider

I thought the bun was a touch limp and the cheese could have been more melted.

I liked the taste of the pickles and the condiments.

I liked the taste of the pickles and the condiments.
McDonald's cheeseburger.      Erin McDowell/Business Insider

However, the condiments overpowered the taste of the burger patty — this cheeseburger really only tasted of cheese and ketchup to me. I didn't really taste the onions, though I thought the pickles were tart and crunchy.

The junior cheeseburger from Wendy's ranked squarely in the middle.

The junior cheeseburger from Wendy
Wendy's junior cheeseburger.      Erin McDowell/Business Insider

The junior cheeseburger from Wendy's cost $3.74, excluding tax.

The burger had basically the same ingredients as the McDonald's cheeseburger but with a square patty.

The burger had basically the same ingredients as the McDonald
Wendy's junior cheeseburger.      Erin McDowell/Business Insider

It came topped with one slice of American cheese, pickles, onion, ketchup, and mustard on a toasted bun.

The burger seemed smaller than the other burgers I tried, but it had the thickest bun.

The burger seemed smaller than the other burgers I tried, but it had the thickest bun.
Wendy's junior cheeseburger.      Erin McDowell/Business Insider

The cheese was more melted on this burger than on the one from McDonald's.

I found the burger to be flavorful and well-balanced.

I found the burger to be flavorful and well-balanced.
Wendy's junior cheeseburger.      Erin McDowell/Business Insider

All of the ingredients, from the burger patty to the cheese and the thick slice of onion, really amplified the flavor of this palm-sized burger.

The bun held up well, and I thought all the ingredients made this burger worth $3.74, which was the highest price of the three burgers.

However, it still wasn't my favorite, or the most flavorful, cheeseburger.

My favorite cheeseburger was also the least expensive. It came from Burger King.

My favorite cheeseburger was also the least expensive. It came from Burger King.
Burger King cheeseburger.      Erin McDowell/Business Insider

The cheeseburger from Burger King cost $2.59, excluding tax.

The burger came with American cheese, pickles, ketchup, and mustard on a sesame-seed bun.

The burger came with American cheese, pickles, ketchup, and mustard on a sesame-seed bun.
Burger King cheeseburger.      Erin McDowell/Business Insider

This burger appeared to have a more generous serving of toppings compared to the other two cheeseburgers I tried.

This was the only cheeseburger that didn't come with onions.

This was the only cheeseburger that didn
Burger King cheeseburger.      Erin McDowell/Business Insider

I was anxious to see if this would lessen the burger's overall flavor, but it didn't.

The cheese was thick and perfectly melted onto the burger patty, something I didn't experience with the burgers from McDonald's and Wendy's.

The cheese was thick and perfectly melted onto the burger patty, something I didn
Burger King cheeseburger.      Erin McDowell/Business Insider

The sesame-seed bun also added a lot of flavor — something I didn't get from the classic toasted buns at the other two chains.

However, the standout star of this burger was the patty itself.

The flame-grilled burger had a strong, smoky flavor that didn't overpower the other ingredients and was complemented perfectly by the ketchup and mustard.

Not only was this burger the most flavorful, but it was also the best value — at $2.59, it was the cheapest burger I tried.


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