The burger as we know it today — a ground beef patty and other ingredients encased within a bun — took shape in the U.S. during the latter part of the 19th century. Nevertheless, the emergence of the country's first hamburger joint, White Castle, elevated the fast-food meal to a whole new level. White Castle revolutionized how Americans enjoyed burgers with its square-shaped sliders that weren't just tasty but also budget-friendly. This marked the birth of a nationwide love affair with this savory culinary creation. Today, Americans indulge in 50 billion burgers annually, equating to a staggering three per week per person (via HuffPost).
It's probably fair to say that the enduring popularity of burgers can be attributed to their versatility. And while burgers can be adapted to suit various dietary requirements and personal preferences, they have traditionally been served with beef. However, not all burger patties are created equal. The quality and cut of beef used in burgers can greatly influence their overall taste. Whether you opt for a classic burger or an exotic creation with gourmet ingredients, a responsibly sourced beef patty can mean the difference between a satisfying meal or a disappointment that leaves you craving more and questioning your ecological footprint.
Ready to take the guesswork out of your next outing? Here's our list of 11 fast food chains that use the highest quality beef in their burgers.
Read more: Fast Food Hamburgers Ranked Worst To Best
From the Ultimate Bacon Cheeseburger to the Breakfast All Day Burger, beef is the shining jewel of BurgerFi's menu. As such, it's little surprise that the chain takes its protein seriously. According to the BurgerFi website, the chain only serves the top 1% of all beef produced in the States.
In line with its "Never Ever Program," BurgerFi makes its patties from all-natural Angus Beef that's antibiotic, hormone, chemical, and steroid-free. Furthermore, BurgerFi guarantees that the farms supplying its meat raise their cattle on pastures, providing them with the freedom to feast on grass, grains, hay, and legumes. The cattle are then fed corn to enhance the beef's flavor and achieve optimal marbling.
BurgerFi's commitment to serving antibiotic-free beef has earned the chain recognition in the annual Chain Reaction Reports. Perhaps BurgerFi's Chief Culinary Officer, Paul Griffin, sums up the restaurant's beef policy best, saying, "From day one, BurgerFi's commitment to providing the ultimate better-burger experience has always started and ended with fresh, quality ingredients, premium options, and delicious possibilities. Our certified, all-American Angus Beef is sourced from the best ranches in the U.S. We will always go the extra mile for our guests and to guarantee the company's 'Never-Ever' protocols — no steroids, antibiotics, growth hormones or additives and never frozen" (via BurgerFi).
Rather than following the trend of round patties, Wendy's patties are actually square to hang over the bun, giving customers a glimpse of what they are about to eat. Since opening its doors in 1969, the chain has been serving fresh, never-frozen, 100% real beef without additives or fillers. The meat is sourced from local Beef Quality Assurance-certified farmers and transported to restaurant locations in refrigerated trucks.
Wendy's is the first chain restaurant to collaborate with the Progressive Beef program, a sustainability and animal welfare initiative that focuses on promoting the best standards within the industry and third-party verification. The program aims to provide a humane environment for cattle, ensure the responsible use of antibiotics, as well as support local communities by providing training and certification.
Unlike many other international chain burger joints, Wendy's is completely transparent about the tangible steps it's taking toward serving antibiotic-free meat. Starting in 2020, Wendy's has only been sourcing its beef from producers who have committed to reducing the use of antibiotics in their cattle by at least 20%. Additionally, the popular franchise has the noble goal of switching to 100% antibiotic-free meat at all of its U.S. and Canada outlets by 2030.
From basic cheeseburgers with lettuce and tomato to more elaborate options such as the Avocado Bacon Burger and the Spicy ShackMeister, Shake Shack uses only 100% Angus beef patties in its burgers. Better still, the chain's beef is never frozen and contains no hormones or antibiotics. Shake Shack only sources its beef from farmers who uphold the most rigorous animal care and welfare standards.
To make their patties stand out from the pack, Shake Shack uses a distinctive smash-and-scrape technique where patty balls are pressed into the grill and scraped with a tool that looks a little like a paint scraper prior to flipping. Nick Kindelsperger from The Chicago Tribune says that this unique technique resulted in the beefiest patty he had tasted the entire month, adding, "The meat is placed on the softest bun around — a Martin's potato roll — which is just one step away from the texture of a marshmallow."
With the motto, "Our beef is higher grade than most steaks," you know you're in for something special when you sink your teeth into a Mooyah burger. The chain uses only Certified Angus Beef, a premium black Angus beef brand that has been helping rural communities since 1978. The Certified Angus Beef brand only selects three in 10 cattle to ensure that its product meets the brand's 10 stringent criteria in relation to size, uniformity, and marbling. Furthermore, only USDA Prime or Choice-designated beef can qualify as Certified Angus Beef.
It's not just the commitment to serving high-quality beef that makes Mooyah burgers special; it's also their commitment to freshness and variety. Mooyah offers a huge variety of burger styles, from classics such as the MDC with two beef patties, lettuce, tomato, and American cheese to more elaborate options that cater to every palate and dietary preference. Choose The Paleo with iceberg lettuce, applewood smoked bacon, avocado, tomato, pickles, and onions, or indulge in the Mushroom Swiss Burger with Swiss cheese, sautéed mushrooms, and fried onion strings. Alternatively, you can build your own burger from the chain's 26 toppings and sauces.
Famous for its ButterBurgers made with never-frozen beef patties and toasted buttered buns, Culver's aims to stay true to its "small-town Wisconsin roots." This means that all of the chain's meat — including beef and chicken — is sourced from local family-operated farms, so you can rest assured that your meal isn't just delicious but also supports the community. Culver's beef patties are made from a blend of top-quality Midwest cuts known for their marbling and juicy flavor, including chuck, sirloin, and plate. Additionally, the patties don't contain any fillers that could compromise the quality of the beef.
Unlike many other chains, Culver's makes burgers to order, meaning they only start cooking after placing your order. Culver's uses a specific cooking method to ensure that each patty is cooked to perfection. The beef patties are cooked on the griddle using the smash technique, where the balls of beef are flattened on the grill to create a wide surface area. This helps to seal in the juices and create the chain's signature crispy sear.
In addition to Culver's classic ButterBurgers, such as the Bacon Deluxe or the Pepper Grinder Pub Burger, the chain also lets its patrons create their own ButterBurgers. The process is simple. All you have to do is select either one or two patties (you may even consider going for three), select American, Cheddar, or Swiss cheese, and choose from a range of toppings such as lettuce, tomatoes, mushrooms, and pickles.
In-N-Out Burger has grown from strength to strength since opening as the first drive-thru burger joint in California in 1948. Decades later, the restaurant chain still prides itself on serving food made the old-fashioned way, without freezing, pre-packaging, or microwaving. In fact, until 1963, when the restaurant opened its specifically designated patty-making facilities, In-N-Out Burger patties were still manually hand-made by the chain founder's wife, Esther.
Today, In-N-Out Burger is still made from entire cuts of 100% USDA beef chuck obtained from premium cattle. The meat is free of nasties such as fillers, additives, and preservatives. To ensure top quality, the franchise across the U.S. takes care of bone removal, meat grinding, and patty preparation. The patties are then transported to restaurant locations around the country. Notably, Carl Van Fleet, the former vice president of development at In-N-Out, once told Business Insider, "Our new restaurant locations are limited by the distance we can travel from our patty-making facilities and distribution centers."
With around 40 locations across six states, Elevation Burger is a small player as far as burger chains are concerned. Founded by a dad who struggled to find healthy fast food meals for his family, Elevation Burger seems to have stuck to its world-friendly philosophy despite being acquired by FAT Brands in 2019.
Despite its modest scale, Elevation Burger doesn't take its produce and sustainability lightly. In fact, according to the chain's website, Elevation Burger's mission is to "change the world one burger at a time" (via Elevation Burger). When Elevation Burger opened at The Yard in New Jersey in 2018, its director of operations, Joe Hafez, summed up the chain's commitment to eco-conscious practices in an interview with The Daily Targum, saying, "Our burgers are 100 percent organic beef, fresh ground in house. Our beef is also sourced from grass-fed cattle, which has less calories and saturated fat than conventional beef. All our meat is organic, free-range, humanely processed, and Halal."
From classic burgers with American cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, red onions, and pickles to more elaborate get-ups like the Double Truffle Mushroom Swiss Burger, Smashburger caters to all dietary preferences and appetites. The chain even makes a keto-friendly burger served on a bed of lettuce rather than inside a bun. And when it comes to the chain's beef, Smashburger only settles for Certified Angus Beef, without ever freezing or microwaving its meat. Certified Angus Beef is a brand committed to animal welfare and sustainable sourcing practices.
Just like the chain's name suggests, Smashburgers are made using custom-made metal smashers. Each beef patty is smashed on a buttered and seasoned griddle. This technique caramelizes the meat, resulting in incredibly rich and juicy patties. Hollis Johnson, who reviewed Smashburgers' patties for Business Insider, says that the meat was savory and perfectly cooked. "There's no uneasy, greasy texture to the burger, unlike at many other chains. It's a lean meat that stands out among the flavors instead of suffocating beneath them," they added.
When it comes to B.GOOD, the name says it all. The popular restaurant chain is all about providing "good" food that isn't just delicious but is also good for you and the planet. Founded by two friends with a penchant for wholesome food made from local ingredients, B.GOOD sources its beef from Walden Local Meat Co. This company procures 100% grass-fed beef from more than 70 environmentally-responsible Northeast farms.
The CEO of B.GOOD, Chris Freeman, explained the reasoning behind the chain's decision to partner with Walden in 2023. "We were initially drawn to Walden Local because of its loyal ties to local farmers and focus on sustainable foods, both of which are incredibly important to B.GOOD," he said (via Cision). One of B.GOOD's Co-Founders, Jon Olinto, also elaborated on the ethos behind the chain in an interview with QSR Magazine, saying, "When we started, we thought if we would grind the beef and hand-cut the potatoes, that would make it real food. As we got into it, we became more passionate about what real food should be. Now it means getting meat from family farms that never use antibiotics or hormones and being transparent about the source of all our ingredients."
The Habit Burger Grill
With the tagline, "There's No Substitute for Quality," The Habit Burger Grill has given itself a lot to live up to. Luckily, with over five decades under its belt, the chain has had considerable time to perfect its craft. The Habit Burger Grill burgers start with never-frozen USDA Choice tri-tip steak that's ground to create fresh and flavorful patties. Furthermore, the patties are free of fillers, additives, and preservatives. The chain's cooking process involves an open flame to sear in the juices and give the patties a slightly crispy exterior.
Founded in 1969 in Santa Barbara, California, over the years, The Habit Burger Grill has grown from a single store to more than 350 restaurants across 14 states. The chain also has outlets in China and Cambodia, although it's unclear whether those follow the same stringent policies regarding sourcing beef. In 2020, The Habit Burger Grill was acquired by Yum! Brands, a conglomerate that also owns KFC, Taco Bell, and Pizza Hut, for approximately $375 million. Let's hope that Yum! Brands honor The Habit Burger Grill's commitment to sourcing high-quality ingredients that are good for both consumers and the planet.
Hopdoddy Burger Bar
The Hopdoddy Burger Bar is a small-scale burger chain that's big on regenerative farming. The 50-location franchise has partnered up with Force of Nature, a brand that brings together farmers and ranchers committed to creating a better world through sustainable practices. This ensures that Hopdoddy Burger Bar's patties are sourced from 100% grass-fed cattle raised in a regenerative and responsible manner. It also aligns with Hopdoddy Burger Bar's mission to provide customers with a delicious and guilt-free dining experience.
Hopdoddy Burger Bar's high standards are reflected in the quality of its food and its transparency. For instance, the chain's Mother Nature Burger doesn't just come with Force of Nature 100% grass-fed regenerative beef patty and features Vital Farms pasture-raised eggs, Raw Farm cheddar cheese, and Brother's Bond Bourbon onion jam. Some of the chain's other burger options include the Goodnight/Good Cause with cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato, caramelized onions, jalapeños, and caffeinated BBQ sauce, and the Magic Shroom with goat cheese, field mushrooms, lettuce, tomato, and onion.
Read the original article on Mashed.