The Best New Fast Food Value Meals ($4-$7), Ranked From ‘A Waste’ To Most Bang For Your Buck

People haven’t been hitting the fast food drive-thrus like they used to. We don’t have to cite any numbers to confirm that, all we have to do is watch all the big fast food chains scrambling to win us back. And they’re definitely trying to do exactly that — because last month all the big brands dropped a new affordable value meal.

And we don’t mean “affordable” adjusting for inflation. Most of these meals hover around $5. That’s certifiably cheap! Good thing too, because $5 is the amount of money consumers feel is fair for fast food quality. Could the brands have gotten away with an $8 meal? Maybe! But $8 doesn’t really feel like a deal, especially when you consider the typical flagship combo meal will run you around $12 minimum.

Suddenly, fast food brands can offer us value once again! And while it makes us a bit mad that they’ve been happy to rip us off until they actually started losing money — we’ll take it! Eating fast food is about convenience, so we’re going to keep doing it as long as it’s financially convenient.

But that got us thinking: which brand is offering you the best bang for your buck? We found out by picking up each new value meal and ranking them from worst to best tasting. Here is who came out on top.

7. Carl’s Jr. — 2 for $6 Chicken Tender Wraps

Carl's Jr.

 

Price: $6

Thoughts & Tasting Notes:

Carl’s Jr. certainly tried with this one, but we’d hardly call selling two menu items no one asked for or wants for $6 a “deal.”

So this one is ranking dead last for us, and that’s before we even get to what the dish tastes like. If for some reason you’re curious, the Chicken Tender Wraps come in three variations, Ranch, BBQ, or Santa Fe, and consist of a single chicken tender wrapped in a tortilla with lettuce, and topped with cheese, and one of the above sauces.

The chicken tender is fine, the tortilla is terrible and undercooked, the lettuce is flavorless, and the tiny sprinkle of cheese is downright offensive. You’re better off ordering chicken tenders than bothering with this lazy menu remix.

If I must rank the individual tenders, I’m going:

1. Santa Fe.
2. BBQ
3. Ranch

But honestly, just an order of fries will be more enjoyable than this “dish.”

The Bottom Line:

The sort of fast food deal we’re all better off ignoring until they come up with something better.

Find your nearest Carl’s Jr. here.

6. Jack in the Box — 2 for $5 Jumbo Jack

Jack in the Box

Price: $5

Thoughts & Tasting Notes:

Like Carl’s Jr, Jack in the Box didn’t exactly get the message that people aren’t willing to eat fast food if it is too expensive, this deal is fine, but it’s not great. $5 will get you two Jumbo Jacks, a burger that is, at best, mid.

The beef patties in the Jumbo Jack are bland, they’re more texture than they are flavor. Most of the flavor comes from the thick-cut pickles, which give the burger an earthy tang, and the ketchup and mayo, which offers a sweet, bright, and mildly savory finish.

The burger is fine enough, but I rather JiB pair a single burger with fries and a drink rather than a whole other burger.

The Bottom Line:

You’ve certainly had a better burger in fast food, and the deal here isn’t good enough to justify a trip to the JiB drive-thru.

Find your nearest Jack in the Box here.

6. Taco Bell — $7 Luxe Cravings Box

Taco Bell

Price: $7

Thoughts & Tasting Notes:

The price of this one surprises me. Taco Bell is famous for the value of its menu. You can feed a whole party of four for under $20, that’s a rarity in fast food. So I’m a bit puzzled as to why Taco Bell’s value meal is so expensive.

$7 gets you a drink, a Chalupa Supreme, a Beefy 5-Layer Burrito, a Double Stacked Taco, and chips with nacho cheese sauce. Everything in this meal works, the Chalupa Supreme features a thick tortilla loaded up with Taco Bell’s zesty ground beef, lettuce, cheese, and tomato. It’s delicious and it’s satisfying.

The Beefy 5-Layer Burrito is a classic, it consists of a large flour tortilla loaded up with beans, beef, cheese, sour cream, and a layer of nacho cheese sauce. It’s a cheesy beefy masterpiece!

The Double Stacked Taco, I’m less sold on. This is just a crunchy taco, wrapped in a flour tortilla with some nacho cheese sauce binding it together. It’s fine, but honestly, I find the regular crunchy taco superior as the single layer of tortilla allows you to focus on the flavor of the beef.

The Nachos and cheese sauce are a throwaway item, cinnamon twists would’ve been a better option.

The Bottom Line:

Overall this is a decent deal, but you can probably find a better way to spend $7 at Taco Bell.

Find your nearest Taco Bell here.

4. KFC — Taste Of KFC

KFC

Price: $4.99

Thoughts & Tasting Notes:

KFC’s Taste of KFC deal is pretty damn solid. $4.99 gets you two Original Recipe drumsticks, mashed potatoes, and a biscuit.

The Original Recipe chicken is KFC’s best product, the skin isn’t as crispy as you expect from fried chicken but the flavor is a wonderful mix of thyme, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, basil, oregano, floral paprika, and a gentle hint of celery salt.

This dish offers a lot of flavor in a single bite of chicken that is made all the better when you use the drumstick as a spoon for the mashed potatoes and gravy. The only real downside of this dish is you don’t get a drink.

The Bottom Line:

Delicious. A mix of KFC’s best foods for just $5. It hits the spot, but it probably won’t satisfy a big appetite.

Find your nearest KFC here.

3. Burger King — $5 Your Way Meal

Burger King

Price: $5

Thoughts & Tasting Notes:

This is probably the highest Burger King has ever placed in one of our fast food rankings but credit where credit is due, this is a damn good deal.

The best part of this meal is that you have options. For $5 you can choose between a Whopper Jr, a Bacon Cheeseburger, or a Chicken Jr. alongside a four-piece order of nuggets, fries, and a drink. That is straight-up a full meal, so points to BK for that alone.

For this taste test, I went with what I think is the best option — the Whopper Jr. The Whopper Jr. has this addictive charred flavor alongside thick raw onion rings, tomatoes, lettuce, and mayo on a small sesame seed bun. I prefer the Jr. to the full-size Whopper as the meat-to-bread ratio is a little bit better here, allowing you to taste that charred beef in all its glory.

The fries, while not my favorite, are pretty good (they’re fried potatoes, it’s kind of hard to f*ck up this dish), while the nuggets offer a zesty flavor that is easily enhanced by dunking them in some smokey BBQ sauce.

The Bottom Line:

One of the best deals in fast food. It’s like a greatest-hits package of BK’s best menu items.

Find your nearest Burger King here.

2. McDonald’s — $5 Meal Deal

McDonald's

Price: $5

Thoughts & Tasting Notes:

I’m going to call Burger King and McDonald’s essentially a tie. What you lose in variety here (your only sandwich option is a McDouble or McCrispy) you gain in flavor, because McDonald’s is better than Burger King. Marginally better, but still better.

The obvious pick here is the McDouble, and as weird as the McDouble is (there is an uncanny fake quality about this burger, it looks like an alien’s version of Earth food) sometimes that signature McDonald’s flavor is just too addicting to pass up on.

The burger build consists of two pieces of thin beef, two slices of American cheese, chopped lightly grilled onions, pickles, ketchup, and mustard. It’s one of the only burgers I’d describe as “sweet,” which is a weird way to describe a savory cheeseburger but I’m not going to sit here and pretend lightly sugared beef doesn’t taste magical, no matter how uncomfortable the thought makes me.

Paired with this burger is an order of what is perhaps fast food’s best french fries, a four-piece chicken nugget (which is the perfect amount not to overstay its welcome), and a drink of your choice. There is nothing not to like about this meal, if you’re already a McDonald’s fan, this is the ideal combination of foods from its menu.

The Bottom Line:

Reason alone to hit up a McDonald’s drive-thru immediately. That’s what a meal deal should inspire, and this one delivers 100%.

Find your nearest McDonald’s here.

1. Wendy’s — $5 Biggie Bag

Wendy's

Thoughts & Tasting Notes:

Simply put, you’re not going to find this level of quality at any of the other fast food restaurants. It’s the only burger on this list that is made from fresh beef, and for that reason alone, this wins. It also helps that it tastes better than everything else.

The Wendy’s Biggie Bag features your choice of a Crispy Chicken Sandwich or a Junior Bacon Cheeseburger, a four-piece order of nuggets, fries, and a drink. Obviously, the right move is the Junior Bacon Cheeseburger. The burger is juicy, beefy, savory, and topped with the best bacon in all of fast food. This beef + this bacon alone is worth $5.

If however you rather have a chicken sandwich, this is a great one! The chicken is tender and crispy, and you can choose between spicy, which has a strong cayenne kick, or classic. Now, this isn’t a Popeyes or Chick-fil-A-level chicken sandwich, but it comes pretty close. We can’t say that about any of the other brands out there.

To me though the Junior Bacon Cheeseburger is the right choice because you also get a side of chicken nuggets, which will satiate your craving for crispy fried chicken. Wendy’s fries aren’t the best, but they aren’t bad either, so while this meal isn’t a perfect 10/10, it comes closer than any other meal on this list.

The Bottom Line:

Fast food’s best tasting deal. If you only want to spend $5 a week (or day) on fast food, Wendy’s is the best choice.

Find your nearest Wendy’s here.