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The Top 10 Most Profitable Fast Food Franchises (Ranked By Profit Per Calorie)

Most Profitable Fast Food Franchises

This post on the most profitable fast food franchises by calorie, was written by Rola Elkhatib.

(This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy).

Fast food franchises are constantly opening in every neighborhood and corner of the United States. On road trips, no matter the state or city, it’s common to see dozens of fast-food franchises along the highway. The reason so many locations of these fast food giants are open is because of franchising.

At the same time, getting someone to open one of your fast food restaurants and locally manage them while following the guidelines and trademarks of the company helps to not only increase your sales, but brings about more brand recognition for the fast food franchise industry around the globe.

To see just how profitable most of these food franchises are, the team at Postmates has researched how much profit each chain actually makes per individual calorie. Check out their profit per calorie findings below.

What follows are the top 10 fast food franchisesranked by profit per calorie.


McDonald’s: The Top Fast Food Franchise Brand

best fast food franchise restaurants

The standardized global marketing and branding of McDonald’s has made it a household name across the world. With around 325 menu items averaging 283 calories each, the amount McDonald’s generates per calorie tops the six-figure mark; as they make $231,496 for each calorie they sell.

For example, large fries run at 490 calories. To put that into perspective using the average sales per calorie sold, that would mean the fries are earning McDonald’s $113,433,040.

When you step foot into franchise restaurants like a McDonald’s, you know exactly what quality and taste you’re going to get. This regularity is what people crave. An it’s a common theme in the fast food industry and in the best fast food franchises.

Basically, those salted, thin french fries you eat at a McDonald’s restaurant 500 miles away taste the same and have the same texture as the McDonald’s in your hometown.

That’s one reason why the “I’m Lovin It” chain requires pretty intense training if you want to open one of these fast food franchise, with over a year of education required to learn the ins and outs of the corporation. The detailed and structured rules that every local McDonald’s has to follow, make it the success it is today and throughout history.

Best Profit Per Calorie Runner Up: Chick-Fil-A Fast Food Franchise Restaurants

chick fil best fast food franchises ranking

Even with Chick-Fil-A being closed on Sundays, they rank at number two for the highest dollar generated per calorie on their menu. The southern-made company has infiltrated the United States and has become best known for not only their chicken sandwich and chicken nuggets, but their kindness as well. With employees at all of their restaurant franchises being taught to respond with “my pleasure” when a customer says thank you, it is the little things that make the fast food establishment differentiate with other food chains.

Notably, with almost 196 options at 277 calories per item, they make six figures with $184,094 earned for each calorie listed on their menu throughout the US. Ordering from Chick-Fil-A is extremely common for Americans and continues to skyrocket, especially as the fast food chicken sandwich craze rages on.

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That said, I have a feeling Chick fil A will continue to grow, be profitable and be known as one of the best franchise restaurants around.

And it may be one of the most profitable food franchises around.


Starbucks: A Different Type of Fast Food Chain

specialty beverages starbucks

Although Starbucks isn’t currently franchising, it has completely changed the way consumers think of fast food. And while the company is known for its drinks rather than food, that doesn’t mean they are lacking in profit per calorie. From kids ordering frappuccinos to adults grabbing their daily cup of joe, the company makes around $16,000 for each calorie on their rich menu. And while they started out only selling coffee beans, their made-in-house drinks are now the foundation of their business and the majority of the profit that they make.

The quick-service (QSR) industry is typically thought to be burgers and fries, and Starbucks isn’t exactly at the top of mind for consumers. However, Starbucks has an efficient and quick way to get pastries, food, and coffee at one stop, which puts it in the same category as other fast-food giants.

Surprisingly, the company actually has one of the highest amounts of calories on its menu, which is the reasoning of why they aren’t as high up on the profit list as people would think. Starbucks is one of the most profitable companies in the United States; it just is slightly more rich in calories.


More Of The Top 10 Best Fast Food Franchises (Ranked by Profit Per Calorie)

most profitable food franchises

The top 10 highest generating and best franchise restaurants are McDonald’s, Chick-Fil-A, Subway, Domino’s, KFC, Wendy’s, Burger King, Taco Bell, Starbucks, and Dunkin’ Donuts.

However, it’s worth noting that Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts aren’t necessarily the least profitable, but due to their high amount of calories, they are at the bottom of the profitable earnings list in the fast food industry.

From a Big Mac to a Caramel Frappuccino, fast-food chains are extremely diverse when it comes to the way they operate their business and the physical food items on their menu. Their increasing success goes hand in hand with the familiarity and integration they have made in society, which has led them to make an immense amount of money in America (and internationally as well).

To be sure, there’s a reason why most of the top restaurants on this list are the most profitable food franchises.

It’s because fast food franchises have systems in place that allows for an increased speed of growth.

And this growth happens because local residents who want more control in their lives decide to go the franchise route. It’s a win-win.

That said, the next time you eat a Big Mac or drink that Cold Brew Coffee with Salted Cream Cold Foam, while it may seem inexpensive at the moment, take a second to consider the reality of the extreme profit to fast food restaurants to help put your meal/beverage into perspective.

(The guest author, Rola Elkhatib, works in Content Marketing and is a senior at the University of Texas. If she’s not in class, you can often find her writing at her favorite coffee shop or ordering delivery from some of the best franchise restaurants around, via Postmates.)

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joel libava

I'm The Franchise King®, Joel Libava. I help prospective franchise owners avoid bank account emptying mistakes.
For 23 years, I’ve been showing people how to make smart, informed decisions on franchises to buy, and I can help you, too!
P.S. I'm not a franchise consultant/broker.

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