Fast Food Loaded Fries, Ranked

The French fry has come a long way since its humble origins. French fries were first viewed as an exotic incarnation of the potato, and they rose to prominence in the 1940s after being reported from their native Belgium (as per Yahoo!). For many decades, a french fry was one dipped in ketchup, though these salty potato thins now appear almost pitiful in their all-around simplicity. Funny how time fries...

With the rise in popularity, and subsequent ubiquity, of loaded fries, restaurateurs are getting super creative, with each chain seemingly attempting to outdo the next with its new potato concoction, be it slathered in sriracha, baptized in bacon, or raining ranch. Now, a plain fry swirled in ketchup (mustard or mayo if you're feeling adventurous) simply will not suffice. 

As CNBC highlights, loaded fries are reflective of French fries' transition from the side plate to the main course. As marketing officer Brad Haley tells CNBC, since there hasn't been much innovation in the area of french fries, more and more people are beginning to experiment with the dish. 

These fast food chains are innovative, to say the least. But in the battle of the loaded side, who is the small fry, and who is lord of the fries? It's a question that's bound to make you positively ravenous. 

16. Popeyes Loaded Cajun Fries

Popeyes' Cajun Fries have long been a hit: According to Time Out, the recipe follows the company's New Orleans roots. So, the restaurateurs behind the staple side decided to take things up a notch by giving the Cajun Fries a loaded makeover. Subsequently, the Loaded Cajun Fries were born. The dish contains bacon and cheese in addition to the original spicy recipe. Unlike many heaped fries offerings, Popeyes smothers its fries in gravy.  

Unfortunately, it seems that this was a case of ain't broke, don't fix. Brand Eating gives the fries a lackluster review, explaining that despite the crispy bacon, the fries turn to mush really fast. According to the reviewer, these fries are not crispy, although they do have a decent salty and smoky flavor. A user on The Impulsive Buy bemoans that the gravy-soaked fries are soggy and unappealing.

Daym Drops acknowledges that the fries may not look too attractive, but they certainly smell great. That's where the platitudes end, however, as the YouTuber asserts in a scathing review that these fries taste like depression. He notes the rubbery texture of the medley makes it near inedible. The bacon and the cheddar do not complement the fries well at all. Big yikes.

15. Arby's Loaded Curly Fries

Arby's isn't exactly known for its stellar reputation. Famously, "The Simpsons" joked that Arby's food is so unpalatable that it's the last resort for the starving. When it comes to the fast food chain's Loaded Curly Fries, they sound good on paper: A combination of cheese sauce mingling with sour cream and yummy bacon bits (as per Arby's.) 

The chain launched the menu item in 2015 and marketed it as a saucy alternative to its curly fries (via PR Newswire). At the time, Rob Lynch, the company's marketing manager, said that the chain had high hopes that the dish would be a hit, especially during football season. 

Brand Eating praised the value for money of the new menu item but argued that the ranch dressing was an odd choice that didn't quite help the fries reach a palatable cohesion. While this reviewer enjoyed the cheesiness, they did not appreciate the tanginess of the ranch really took over the entire dish. According to HellthyJunkFood, the bacon is the best part of this offering, with its chewy texture perfectly complimenting the potatoes. 

However, it gave the fries a rating of two stars out of five, arguing that the concoction was ruined by the addition of superfluous and excessive ingredients. Subsequently, Arby's venture into loaded fries is a lesson in less is more.

14. Sonic Chili Cheese Fries

"I looooove chili cheese fries," said "The Big Bang Theory's" Penny. It seems Penny isn't the only one. Chili cheese fries are fast becoming a fast food staple, as ubiquitous as ketchup in restaurant chains all over the country. But who reigns supreme in the chili cheese fries wars? Sonic's take on the loaded fries favorite has received mixed reviews. 

On Yelp, some folks complained that Sonic Chili Cheese Fries are too salty, while others said that the mixture, while appetizing to an extent, ends up resembling a soggy mess. One reviewer confessed to feeling nauseated after eating these fries. 

On YouTube, Timmy's Takeout praises the portion size but criticizes the excessive saltiness of the fries and the overpowering tang of the chili. He admits a preference for plain fries and asserts that the chili takes over everything in these fries. 

 Meanwhile, Keith and Becky of The Try Guys note that Sonic's medley doesn't look particularly appealing, having been drenched in chili to all oblivion. While Becky laments that the fries are a tad too salty (as other reviewers have pointed out), she says the overall flavor is pretty rad. Sonic's output is by no means the worst, but its chili cheese hybrid is a tad too divisive to be declared the best loaded fries offering out there. 

13. Carl's Jr. Chili Cheese Fries

Carl's Jr. debuted its Chili Cheese Fries in 2002, but only as a limited edition treat (as per Nation's Restaurant News). In its heyday, the menu option was so sought after that there was even a petition urging the company to bring back the loaded fries. In 2022, after reintroducing and discontinuing them throughout the past couple of decades, Carl's Jr. listened to the spicy pleas of its fans and announced on Facebook that its Chili Cheese Fries would be making a permanent comeback across 30 locations. 

The announcement was warmly received by Facebook users, with one avid fan of all things tangy and creamy commenting that these fries are the best offering on the menu. Another Facebook user notes that the new recipe strays too far from its original glory and that the chili is not as delicious as the older versions. 

Indeed, it seems that the return of Carl's Jr's menu favorite is somewhat of a disappointment. As with Sonic's entry, Jay Rule argues that the Carl's Jr. Chili Cheese Fries are too salty for their own good as it feels like they actually contain extra added salt. He ultimately gave the fries 68 and out 100, praising the merging of ground beef and cheese, but condemning the liberal use of sodium, wondering how anyone could consume something so salty. Ouch.

12. Steak 'n Shake Cheese and Bacon Fries

The CEOs behind Steak 'n Shake certainly know how to add innovation to their joints. In 2018, for instance, they paired fast food and gambling in Las Vegas (via Los Angeles Times). But when it comes to the restaurant's loaded fries, the chefs prefer to keep things simple. Steak 'n Shake's venture into a loaded potato platter comes in the form of good old-fashioned cheesy bacon fries. 

According to Timmy's Takeout, it's the toppings that make Steak 'n Shake's fries delicious. He argues that the fries without the toppings are terrible and that the nacho cheese is truly incredible. However, he adds that the bacon is less than pleasant, tasting rather undercooked and chewy.

Restaurant patrons agree that the nacho cheese is somewhat trashy, though not in a good way. On Tripadvisor, a reviewer complains that the cheese fries were terrible and tasted like they were made of a bad substitute for cheese sauce. 

Steak n' Shake's Cheese and Bacon Fries may not be the best, but a Reddit user has come up with an ingenious hack to make them all the more palatable: Simply order the fries when inebriated and work some drunk magic. The user recommends adding some salt, pepper, and hot sauce for the perfect drunk food. 

11. In-N-Out Animal-Style Fries

The In-N-Out Burger is famed for its "animal" burger, which is grilled and comes with way more toppings than the regular meat patties on offer (via USA Today). The company extended its animal expertise to its loaded fries. Despite the special sauce used in the animal offerings, it seems that the animal-style fries are hit and miss depending on where they're ordered from.

One would assume that the fries' combo of special sauce and cheese ought to make this a tantalizing and tasty experience. However, Business Insider gives the dish a poor review. According to the outlet, even the cheese and the secret sauce are not enough to make these cardboard fries more appealing. Worse yet, not even good old-fashioned ketchup can bestow these apparently bland fries any discernible flavor.

Sodafry has similar criticisms, noting that the fries themselves are incredibly lackluster, but the toppings make up for that to a degree. Subsequently, the site awards them a decent seven out of ten. As The Takeout points out, In-N-Out's fries are notoriously mediocre, and they may be kind of saved by ordering them "animal-style." Still, any fry that is not covered in onions and cheese is disappointing. 

However, if you do order this one on your next In-N-Out excursion, be warned: The animal fries are quite messy, so only the bravest foodies will attempt to wolf these down without cutlery.

10. Wendy's Baconator Fries

Wendy's may not be as big as its competitors, but its experimental menu items are what foodie dreams are made of: Pretzel Bacon Pub Cheeseburger, anyone? When it comes to loaded fries, Wendy's wins for product name creativity alone. The company's Baconator Fries (an accompaniment to the famous Baconator burger) are described as positively heavenly on the Wendy's official website: Sprinkled with sea salt, these skin-on fries are smothered in a medley of velvety, cheesy sauce, cheddar, and smoky bacon. But do the fries live up to the Wendy's promise?

LotsOfBunnies contends that these would have been best left as cheesy fries sans the bacon. The YouTuber argues that the ultra-crispy bacon adds an unnecessary crunch to an otherwise delicious dish, ultimately giving them a seven out of ten. Conversely, The Impulsive Buy proposes that the fries would have been tastier with more of an emphasis on the bacon as opposed to the cheese. 

Moreover, while this loaded entry may be scrumptious at first, it can end up feeling rather heavy and sickly due to the sheer volume of salt, meat, and cheese on offer. One reviewer writes that while the fries were good initially, the saltiness soon became quite overwhelming and that the queso had a dehydrating effect. Just be sure to pair the Baconator fries with a cooling drink to alleviate the dreaded desert mouth.

9. White Castle Sloppy Fries

White Castle: Refuge of stoner twosome Harold and Kumar and purveyor of "the most influential burger of all time," according to Time. With endorsements and plaudits like that, expectations are high for the company's Sloppy Fries.

In 2022, White Castle re-launched its popular Sloppy Fries (with a spicy twist) as part of the "Joenuary" sloppy joe festivities and teamed up with rapper Fat Joe to promote the launch (as per Thrillist). As the title suggests, this is essentially a sloppy joe in loaded potato form, with heaps of ground beef atop crinkle-cut fries, which is an innovative concoction, to say the least. 

New Jersey gave the fries a positive review, noting that they're more palatable than the Sloppy Joe slider itself. The reviewer from the outlet admitted that the fries were actually their favorite part of the meal.

In his review, Wayne Algenio says that the fries are let down by their absence of spiciness, especially since he couldn't taste the jalapeno at all. However, he argues that the extra cheesiness makes up for it, all in all making this loaded dish good value for money. Unfortunately, the Sloppy Fries are limited edition, but White Castle fans can still find the standard bacon and cheese-loaded fries in most restaurants.

8. Del Taco Chili Cheddar Fries

Since Del Taco specializes in Mexican fast food, one would expect its venture into loaded fries to be brimming with flavor. Del Taco offers consumers Chili Cheddar Fries, which consist of crinkle-cut potatoes topped with beef chili and stringy cheddar cheese, accompanied by a red sauce made with vinegar, chili pepper, onions, and garlic, according to the chain's official website

Though they sound moreish, the fries have received mixed reviews. On Yelp, a reviewer advises that if you're after authentic Mexican food, then this one isn't for you. Del Taco is, after all, a fast food chain, so be prepared for an Americanized version of Mexican cuisine with an emphasis on stretchy cheese and messy comfort food. Nevertheless, the reviewer says that when it comes to fast food-loaded fries, Del Taco's offering is superb. In a positive review, Big J Reviews commends the restaurant for dishing out generous portions at a low price. 

However, according to Business Insider, the Chili Cheddar Fries are one of the least appetizing items on offer at Del Taco; while the toppings are scrumptious, the fries themselves are rather bland. According to the outlet, these fries aren't bad, but they're not very impressive: The toppings are actually better than the fries themselves. 

7. Wienerschnitzel Chili Cheese Fries

Wienerschnitzel is famed for its hot dogs, including its popular Chili Cheese Dog. The company decided to capitalize on this success and add Chili Cheese Fries to the menu. RodrickEats gives the fries a positive review, explaining that they achieve what the best chili cheese fries should: These fries are good, and they work quite well, although he acknowledged that they would have been a tad tastier if they had more of a spicy kick. 

Many in the comments section agreed that the fries are great but do need to be eaten with additional condiments. One user advises adding tabasco sauce, ketchup, soy sauce, and mustard, among other ingredients, for a tantalizing trip for your tastebuds. Brand Eating suggests that Wienerschnitzel needs to use a thicker potato cut for its loaded options since the thin fries struggle to withstand the barrage of heavy toppings.

However, one particularly zealous reviewer on Reddit submits their unpopular opinion, maintaining that Wienerschnitzel's Chili Cheese Fries are the best of all. The user writes that these fries are gourmet and quite superior. Ultimately, these fries are quite popular, although they would need a few vital modifications in order to be considered the best fast food fries available.  

6. Burger King Cheesy Bacon Fries

Burger King may be famous for its Whopper, but the iconic fast food chain is killing it when it comes to sides. In fact, Slate argued that Burger King fries are the best in all of fast food land. But what about its loaded fries? Well, in that department, Burger King isn't quite killing it.

For a time, the burger chain offered patrons Cheesy Bacon Fries, though this option is all but absent on most menus across the U.S. And, it seems, consumers aren't missing out on anything too special. One Redditor likened them to soggy fries that have been clumped together with cheese and readymade bacon. A user in the comments section agreed, claiming that the fries are baked and stored in plastic boxes so that they can be used and sold the next day.  

Conversely, Daym Drops argues that, much like the classic Burger King fries, this cheesy bacon contender is the best a foodie can get. All in all, this one seems to be an acquired taste; if messy comfort food is the big cheese, then these will save your bacon. 

And if you're a fan of the cheesy bacon fries but can't find them in your local restaurant, rejoice! Just get a plane across the Atlantic because this menu item is still available for lucky U.K. patrons (as per Burger King UK).

5. Whataburger Chili Cheese Fries

Whataburger's Chili Cheese Fries went from being a secret item to making a main menu debut in 2022, per Dallas News. The fries have proven to be a huge success, with stans waxing lyrical about their chili, cheesy goodness on TikTok.

In a positive review, the Dallas Observer writes that the Whataburger loaded fries do exactly what fast food should: They may look messy, but they taste mighty good. A little too good, perhaps, since the publication suggests taking an entire day off work just to recuperate from all that cheese and chili. As such, it's advised that hungry patrons don't eat the entire thing unless they're prepared to keep a free schedule for the rest of the day (and if their boss is lenient enough to allow a foodie sicky day).

As satisfying as that may sound, just keep in mind that the amount of chili added to the fries depends entirely on your location, as one disgruntled customer found out. In a video posted on TikTok, a foodie revealed that they were hyped to try out the moreish loaded fries, only to find that there was just a tiny dash of chili in their hefty portion. 

As users in the comments section illustrate, the orders sometimes come with heaps of chili, while others were given a minuscule helping. Ultimately, it all depends on which restaurant you order from, making this one a chili cheese lottery.

4. Culver's Chili Cheddar Fries

Thanks to adorable mascot Scoopie, Culver's has been endearing folks across the Midwest with its wholesome butter burgers. The chain promised to offer the ultimate in comfort food when it launched Chili Cheddar Fries. In an announcement on its official site, Culver's hailed the menu addition as the perfect antidote to chilly Midwestern winters. Unlike many of the other loaded fries in his rundown, Culver's uses crinkle-cut fries, which apparently help the chili and cheddar toppings cling to the potatoes.

In his review, Timmy's Takeout praises Culver's for using fresh ingredients as opposed to processed pre-made toppings (indeed, the company site trumpets its homemade family chili recipe). The reviewer emphasizes that these fries do not taste overly processed or stale: He gave them an impressive 10/10 score for their freshness. 

On Reddit, the consensus seems to be that this offering is particularly good when paired with the Culver's ranch dip. However, many users advise that it's best to request your chili cheddar fries are cooked extra crispy so as to circumvent the sogginess that all too often plagues loaded fries. One user recommends ordering the fries extra crispy and getting the toppings on the side for takeout orders to prevent sogginess. 

3. Jack in the Box Sauced and Loaded Fries

When it comes to fully loaded fries, Jack in the Box's Sauced and Loaded Triple Cheese & Bacon Fries really kick. The triple cheese combo, which consists of a mouth-watering Italian parmesan, a profusion of cheddar, and all-American Monterey Jack, is laced with smoky hickory bacon (as per Thrillist). The coalescence of these disparate ingredients certainly makes for an exciting cocktail of flavors.

In an impassioned review, Elite Daily commends the restaurant for perfecting the cheese, which can often prove the undoing of loaded fries, pointing out that the melted cheese is the literal and figurative glue of the recipe. The outlet writes that the cheese coats the fries wonderfully well. 

Likewise, Joey'sWorldTour argues that Jack in the Box wins when it comes to cheesy fries, with the cheese and bacon ratio being spot on. In contrast to a number of other fast food loaded fries, the potatoes don't break apart once scooped up with a fork, instead resembling a congealed cheesy bacon clump. He ultimately gives them an eight out of ten, adding that Jack in the Box's loaded fries are best served with some hot sauce for a dash of extra flavor.

2. Taco Bell Nacho Fries

Taco Bell has all manner of cheesy treats on its menu, so the Nacho Fries are a welcome addition for cheeseheads. The tangy offering, which is topped with Mexican spices, certainly sounds scrumptious and offers a unique spin on traditional loaded fries (via Taco Bell). 

TheReportOfTheWeek, in a positive review, lauds Taco Bell for perfecting the flavors and the texture of the potatoes. He also noted that unlike many other loaded fries around, these aren't particularly messy, with Taco Bell striking the perfect balance between heaped ingredients and not creating a grubby eating experience. He gives Taco Bell's fries an impressive 9.5 out of 10, adding that these are great for people who like cheesy dishes. 

According to Eater, these are the ideal loaded fries for those who need some comfort food. Thus, the imperfections of this dish, such as the overall messiness, the tackiness of the cheese, and the nacho seasonings, make it great. The reviewer at Eater asserts that these tasted like the fries served at their middle school cafeteria and so brought back nostalgic memories of orange nacho cheese on lunch trays. 

Highbrow foodies, this one's not for you. But junk food fans, this chaotic clump of cartoonish creaminess and processed potatoes is right up your street.

1. Shake Shack Cheese Fries

New York's Shake Shack isn't as old as its well-established competitors, but the restaurant has been wowing fast foodies with its take on loaded fries. Shake Shack's loaded fries are fairly simple in contrast to many of the others on the market: Cheesy fries with a hot sauce. But sometimes, less is more, and the rave reviews are testament to that.

On Tripadvisor, one reviewer declares that the Cheese Fries are the best item on Shake Shack's menu. In his review, Timmy's Takeout positively gushes over the deliciousness of the joint's loaded offering. He compliments the incredible cheese sauce and the ration of the crispy bacon and the sweet cheese sauce with just the right amount of heat so as not to overpower those with sensitive tastebuds. Finally, he concludes that Shake Shack offers the best fries in the world. 

All in all, these appear to be a hit, especially if you're into super creamy, melt-in-the-mouth cheese. And if you're a fan of that velvety sauce, rejoice! You can now make it at home. As Business Insider reports, Shake Shack has released the recipe for its highly popular cheese sauce, which is a combo of classic American cheese and good old-fashioned cheddar. An absence of bad reviews means that Shake Shack reigns as lord of the (loaded) fries.