July is the cruelest month. The overbearing heat smothers us in waves of humid discomfort — sticky and nausea-inducing in its unending assault. Fleeting joys slip through our fingers like sand, as the mercury rises and our brows dampen.
Then… out from the wasteland… rises a great beacon of hope. The American Fast Food Dessert Menu. Calorie upon calorie of frozen treats, set to ease summer’s sweaty embrace. The habitat of the fast-food dessert game is a dense one, but like a delusional J. Peterman in Myanmar (always Burma to him), we’ve stumbled our way — sometimes drunkenly — through the creepers and vines of soft-serve and the archipelago of licensed candy bars to bring to you all the fast food dessert menus ranked!
First, as is customary, a few rules: No fast-casual restaurants. It’s not really fast food, and it’s just not fair. Also, In-n-Out will be excluded from this list since they only have shakes and nothing else (and people from around the country hate seeing the Cali-Vada chain on lists like this). The dessert menus will all be scored by variety as well as flavor and, in the event of a tie, the menu with the higher score for flavor will win. Why so complicated? You try writing an article in the midst of a sugar-rush. It’s a race against the clock as the inevitable crash looms and we all slip into a soft-serve induced coma.
10. Kentucky Fried Chicken
No. First of all, chocolate chip cookies? Are you serious? KFC didn’t think to do something with their awesome biscuits?! If you’re wondering if a chocolate chip cookie at KFC is any good, you’re a dumb person with dumb thoughts. It’s not. They also have a chocolate cake called “The Big Finish” which sounds like sexy but isn’t. It’s a bone-dry chocolate cake which will lead you to push away from the table. So… mission accomplished?
Overal Score: 2
The Verdict: Come on, KFC. You have the honey, you have the biscuits, this should be a slam dunk.
Oh, how the mighty have fallen. This is sure to enrage Wendy’s fans everywhere but despite a menu that is full of far-better-than-average burgers and chicken sandwiches, Wendy’s just has a pretty pathetic dessert menu. They have a variety of cookies, all very dry and tasteless. But what about the frosty you ask? Look, let’s be real, the frosty is great but it can’t carry a team.
We all need to stop living in fear that Wendys’ twitter writers’ room will make fun of us and just call this menu like it is: Sub-par.
Overall Score: 3
The Verdict: Parental-style disappointment. We expected so much better.
8. Burger King
Anytime we mention Burger King’s dessert menu in passing people often had the same reaction. ‘Burger King has a dessert menu?’ It seems as if Burger King was aware that it doesn’t conjure up images of tasty frozen treats, so they decided to just go HAM for 2018.
With thirteen different dessert items, Burger King has one of the most extensive menus in the field. Unfortunately, none of what they offer is very good. The Vanilla soft serve is watery and the same could be said about their ‘hand-spun’ shakes. They’ve made an attempt to throw in some candy and whatever else you might expect a pastry chef with no ideas might do.
Overal Score: 5.5
The Verdict: Lacking in originality. It feels as if someone at Burger King said ‘We need a dessert menu!’ without actually putting in any thought as to what makes a dessert menu worthwhile. Use a coupon for a free dessert if you have one, otherwise, you’re better off just going elsewhere.
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McDonald’s took a different route than Burger King, focusing on a few core desserts that they do pretty well. The Oreo Mcflurry is tasty enough, though they use Oreos as a crutch to hide mediocre soft serve (give us malts McD’s! Go back to the old days!). The addition of caramel, fudge, and strawberry sundaes with a little packet of crushed nuts are a decent treat on a hot day. McDonald’s definitely has its fans too, lovers of the chocolate dipped cone (which is just asking to stain anything in sight) and the crispy baked apple pie both bring patrons through the drive-thru on hot days.
Overal Score: 6
The Verdict: Decent. The ice cream is richer than Burger King’s but still fairly watery. McDonald’s offers less and what they do offer they do much better than those who preceded them on this list.
6. Taco Bell
Taco Bell scores extra points because of the variety that they add to the dessert menu space. The Cinnamon twists are incredibly addicting, as we all know (cinnamon and sugar taste good on fried things? Who knew!). They also have a caramel apple empanada, which is very similar to the McDonalds apple pie but tastes superior because of the inclusion of caramel and the empanada’s wider shape. Because this is Taco Bell, they had to go and do something weird-as-shit, in this case by creating the Mountain Dew Baja Blast and Strawberry Skittle Freeze. Both taste just as disgusting as they sound. It’s not even good stoner food, its the type of mutant radioactive ooze that serves more as a dare than something to enjoy. They lose points for this.
Overall Score: 6
The Verdict: Unique. You’re not going to find the items on this dessert menu anywhere else. Sometimes that’s for the best.
5. Carl’s Jr.
The Hand-Scooped shakes at Carl’s Jr. are what Wendy’s Frosty wishes it could be. Thick and creamy, these shakes come in Strawberry, Chocolate, Vanilla and Oreo and are made with milk and syrups. You can really taste the quality — it blows all other shakes on the market away. Carl’s Jr also offers a strawberry swirl cheesecake (gross) and some dry chocolate cake. They lose major points for the jolly rancher milkshake. Why do fast food joints keep making these Frankenstein-esque concoctions?! Stop, please. GIVE US MALTS INSTEAD.
Overall Score: 6
The Verdict: Hit and Miss. Attention was clearly put into the hand-scooped shakes but the rest of the dessert menu here is lacking in flavor.
4. Jack in the Box
A lot of fast food chains just throw some mars candy in soft serve ice cream and call it a dessert. Jack in the Box goes beyond the competition by offering NY cheesecake, chocolate overload cake, mini churros, and a variety of shakes. The Oreo cookie shake is superior to the McFlurry in every way, and it’s topped with whipped cream and a maraschino cherry. Extra points for presentation!
Clearly, the team at Jack in the Box put some thought into what matched their (*looks it up*)… New York businessman aesthetic. Did you forget that was a thing? Jack in the Box is weird.
Overall Score: 7
The Verdict: Solid. Everyone is bound to have a favorite on this menu, and its unique enough to develop particular cravings for certain items. Sometimes when the heat hits, it’s just a good day for an oreo cookie shake.
It’s no surprise Chick-fil-A ranks high on this list. The chicken chain seems to have a pretty solid handle on everything on their menu and dessert is no exception. Their soft serve is thick and creamy and always the perfect temperature, it also retains its freeze pretty well (chemicals!), preventing it from creating a melty mess on extra hot days. The milkshakes, frosted lemonade, and frosted coffee are all pretty delicious and they even manage to make a good chocolate chip cookie.
For those looking for a healthier dessert option (to each their own!) a fresh fruit yogurt parfait or fruit cup round out the menu, ensuring there’s something for everyone.
Overall Score: 7.5
The Verdict: Pretty damn good. Simply put there just isn’t anything outrageously bad on the menu. We wish they were a bit more creative though, put those biscuits to good use Chick-fil-A — what are you doing with your life?!
Wienerschnitzel’s dessert menu is provided by Tastee Freeze — offering banana splits, candy shakes, root beer floats, various soft-serves and more. The ice cream is thick and creamy and a banana split just about beats almost any dessert menu item. Soft serve cones can be dipped in chocolate or covered in sprinkles and the Tastee Freez candy Freezees are the McDonalds McFlurry kicked up to ten. W
Wienerschnitzel doesn’t get the opportunity to top many lists, but they have one of the best fast food dessert menus of all time, hands down.
Overall Score: 8.5
The Verdict: Delicious! Wienerschnitzel’s dessert menu is consistent and any item can be anyone’s favorite. You’re likely to have days when a hard decision will have to be made between a getting a banana split, a rootbeer float, or a chocolate-candy infused Freezee. Regardless, you’ll leave happy.
1. Dairy Queen
Wasn’t this obvious? It’s the Dairy-freaking-QUEEN. Not only are they packing the biggest dessert menu (more desserts than actual food), the quality of their soft-serve ice cream is higher than everyone else on this list. They offer seven different Sundae flavors, some of which don’t appear across any other menus (pineapple, peanut butter, summer berry) and their Blizzards have a near legendary status.
Chocolate dipped cones, funnel cake, fudge stuffed cookies, motherf*cking ice cream sandwiches! If you’re lucky enough to have a Dairy Queen near you and you want a frozen treat then the choice is obvious.
Overall Score: 9
The Verdict: Blessed art thou cone. Why is Dairy Queen just shy of a perfect score you ask? Well, that brings us to our biggest gripe with fast food dessert menus. Where is all the chocolate? Why is chocolate soft-serve being ignored on this scale? How much better would every dessert option be if you could pick a nice swirl of chocolate and vanilla? We don’t get it. It seems like a major oversight and until it is remedied, the idea of a perfect dessert menu is something we can only dream of.