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Biggest McDonald’s Competitors

mcdonald's biggest competitors

Do you love fast food? It’s no secret that McDonald’s is one of the most popular and recognizable fast-food chains in the world. There are more than 39,000 locations in over a hundred different countries.

The Golden Arches are instantly recognizable and attract global travelers and road warriors. While McDonald’s is famous for its tasty menu items, many popular items have risen in price recently.

So, let’s take a look at the biggest McDonald’s competitors and find out what they have to offer.

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Burger King 

Burger King 

This American fast food company is home to the Whopper and also offers a range of other burgers. Of all Macdonald’s major competitors, the Burger King menu is perhaps the closest. Burger King puts an emphasis on fresh ingredients and the fact that burger patties are flame grilled.

Burger King was founded in 1953 and boasts more than 18,000 locations in over a hundred countries. The chain is constantly expanding and offering new menu items. This includes the hand-breaded fried chicken sandwich, which was launched in 2021. Another recent popular addition to the menu is the Plant Based Whopper, which is suitable for vegetarians.

The two companies are in direct competition with each other and often share many of the same locations. You will often see restaurants side by side at airports and in shopping malls. Aside from burgers, other shared menu items include French fries, soft drinks, coffee, and desserts.


With its clever branding and logo, KFC has risen to become one of the most popular fast-food chains globally. KFC was founded in the state of Kentucky in 1953 and boasts more than 22,000 locations in 150 countries. The popularity of the chain is constantly growing, and new locations are opened regularly.


Although fried chicken is the most popular menu item, diners can also enjoy burgers, fries, coffee, and soft drinks. New menu items are regularly introduced, such as tacos and wraps. A new chicken sandwich was introduced in 2021 in all 4,000 locations across the United States.


This fast-food chain was founded in 1969 with the slogan Quality is our Recipe. While Wendy’s specializes in fast food, the chain does things a bit differently. Diners can enjoy made-to-order square hamburgers as well as freshly-prepared salads.

Today, there are more than seven thousand Wendy’s locations around the world. The fast food chain boasts a very distinctive logo and is known for its provocative social media presence. While classic fast food items like French fries are available, customers can also enjoy chili, baked potatoes, and delicious desserts. 

For more information, check out our comprehensive comparison of McDonalds vs Wendys.



This fast food chain specializes in sandwiches served on different types of freshly baked bread. Customers can also enjoy a range of salads, Paninis, cookies, soft drinks, and snacks. All sandwiches are made to order in front of customers using items from the salad bar.

Subway was founded in 1965 in the city of Milford, Connecticut. There are more than 37,500 locations in over a hundred countries. In 2021 alone, the company’s revenue exceeded $10 billion in the United States alone. 


In recent years, Subway has started offering classic breakfast menu items like hash browns and muffins. This has helped the company grab the attention of the breakfast crowd. New subs are also showcased regularly, and there are daily deals to take advantage of. The Eat Fresh® Refresh campaign has also earned loyalty among health-conscious customers.

Find out more about the company in our in-depth Subway Mission and Vision Statement Analysis.

Taco Bell 

This popular fast-food chain offers Mexican-inspired menu items like tacos, burritos, and nachos. Taco Bell was founded in the city of Irvine in California in 1962 and a Yum! Brands subsidiary. The fast food chain boasts over 7,300 locations and serves two billion customers each year.

While the majority of locations can be found in the United States and Canada, there is a significant global presence. The recently relaunched breakfast menu is quickly proving to be very popular. Although Taco Bell boasts diverse menu items, the chain has a significant presence.

Taco Bell 

Chipotle Mexican Grill

Although this fast-casual restaurant chain was created as a spin-off from McDonald’s, it is now a direct competitor. Chipotle Mexican Grill was founded in 1993, and the company now owns and operates all its locations. There are just under 3,000 locations in the United States, Canada, The United Kingdom, Germany, and France.

Chipotle Mexican Grill is rapidly expanding and reported a revenue of $7.5 billion in 2021. The most popular menu items include burritos, burrito bowls, tacos, and salads. The restaurant chain caters to fast-food lovers who are also health-conscious. 

Need to know why the company is so successful? Well, check out our Chipotle Mission and Vision Statement Analysis to find out.


Although it doesn’t serve burgers, Starbucks is the largest coffeehouse chain in the world. Coffee provides a significant revenue stream for McD’s, and Starbucks directly competes with MacDonald’s in this area. The menu also boasts several food ideas that can be found on the McDonald’s menu.

Starbucks was founded in the city of Seattle in 1971. Today, there are more than 33,000 locations in eighty countries around the world. In addition to a large coffee menu, the chain is also known for its sandwiches and pastries.

For information on the company, take a look at our Starbucks Mission and Vision Statement Analysis.


This fast-food chain is best known for its fried chicken, Cajun fries, and biscuits. Popeyes was founded in 1972 in the city of Miami, Florida. Today, the American fast food chain boasts a total of 3,451 locations throughout the United States.

In 2021, Popeyes made a bid to grab a competitive advantage by launching a rewards program. This move has helped the company to attract a large number of loyal customers. Menu items that are in direct competition with MacDonald’s include the chicken sandwich, nuggets, and the cinnamon apple pie.


Dunkin’ Donuts

This is another chain that is famous for its fresh coffee. This is particularly popular with commuters, who stop to grab coffee and doughnuts on the way to work. In 2021, Dunkin’ Donuts reported a total annual revenue of $1.4 billion.

Dunkin’ Donuts was founded in 1950 and boasts just under 13,000 locations around the world. The chain has a significant presence in 42 countries. Locations can often be found close to McCafé outlets, putting the two companies in direct competition.

Pizza Hut 

With 18,703 restaurants around the world, Pizza Hut is the largest pizza chain in the world. Pizza is one of the world’s most popular fast food items and vies for burgers for attention. The first Pizza Hut restaurant was opened in 1958 in the state of Texas.

This brand boasts a very distinctive logo, which is instantly recognizable by international fast-food lovers. In addition to a large number of different types of pizza, the chain also offers a range of other menu items. These include Buffalo wings, French fries, salad, and desserts. 

Domino’s Pizza

This is the second-largest pizza chain in the world, and the annual revenue is more than $2.47 billion. Domino’s Pizza was founded in 1960 in the city of Ann Arbor in the state of Michigan. There are more than 14,000 locations in numerous countries around the world. 

This chain regularly launches new menu items to attract new customers and increase relevance. One of the latest types of pizza boasts 34 toppings piled on a single crust. These toppings include mixed seafood, Hokkaido camembert, pepperoni, and basil. Diners can also enjoy menu items like chicken wings, pasta, sandwiches, and desserts.

Domino’s Pizza

Tim Hortons 

Next on my rundown of the Biggest McDonald’s Competitors is Tim Hortons, the largest quick-serve restaurant chain in Canada, which is famous for its excellent coffee and doughnuts. It was founded in 1964 and boasts 4,846 restaurants in fourteen different countries. These restaurants serve a range of different types of burgers, wraps, and other types of sandwiches.

One of the main ways Tim Hortons competes with MacDonald’s is with its breakfast menu. Early birds can enjoy a bacon & egg muffin stack, egg and cheese muffin, and many other tasty treats. Other popular menu items include the Boston Cream and Apple Fritter doughnuts.

Costa Coffee

This British coffeehouse chain is in direct competition with McCafé branches in the United Kingdom. Costa Coffee was founded in 1971 and was acquired by Coca-Cola in 2019. There are currently 2,500 coffeehouses throughout the United Kingdom.

Many franchises can be found in shopping malls, close to McCafé locations, and other fast food outlets. The menu was expanded considerably in 2021 due to a partnership with Marks & Spencer. Coffee lovers can now enjoy freshly made sandwiches, salads, gluten-free baked products, and vegan-friendly dishes in the majority of locations. 

Papa John’s Pizza

This is one of the largest pizza takeout and delivery chains in the United States. Papa John’s Pizza was founded in 1971 in the city of Louisville, Kentucky. There are more than 4,700 branches, including franchised and company-owned restaurants.

The company has been increasing dramatically in recent years and boasted a revenue of 2.1 billion in 2021. The pizza delivery side of the business became so popular that 30,000 additional employees were hired in 2020. In addition to pizza, the company offers a wide range of side dishes.

Panera Bread Company

This bakery-café chain also boasts a large number of fast-casual restaurants. Panera Bread Company boasts more than two thousand locations in the United States and Canada. The company was founded in 1981, and the headquarters are in the Missouri city of St. Louis. 

Panera Bread Company is best known for its tasty sandwiches, which are made using freshly baked bread. The chain also serves high-quality chicken and a large selection of other meals and snacks. In 2021, the company’s reported revenue was $2.8 billion.

Want to find out more? Then take a look at our comprehensive Panera Bread Mission and Vision Statement Analysis.

Panera Bread Company

Jack in the Box

This is the fifth-largest burger chain in the United States, and the company boasts a large and diverse menu. Jack in the Box was founded in 1951 in the city of San Diego. Today, there are more than 2,200 locations in 21 states.

Jack in the Box also owns Qdoba, which is a Mexican-inspired fast-casual chain boasting 700 locations. On the West Coast, Jack in the Box is particularly popular among fast food lovers. The company reported a revenue of 1.14 billion in 2021.

Pret a Manger

If you hop across the pond to the United Kingdom, you are sure to see this British sandwich shop chain. There are 324 Pret a Manger locations in London as well as 140 sandwich shops in other countries. The company was founded in 1983 and specializes in high-quality bakery items.

Part of the secret behind the popularity of this company is the emphasis on fresh ingredients and menu items. Customers can order freshly made sandwiches created to their specifications. Other popular menu items include soup, pastries, coffee, and breakfast items.

Hungry Jack’s 

This Australian fast food chain is owned by Competitive Foods Australia, which is a franchise of Burger King Corp. Hungry Jack’s was founded in 1971 and boasts just over four hundred locations. Although this is a relatively small number, the chain is very popular among Australian fast-food lovers.

Hungry Jack’s 

The chain’s logo is very similar to that of Burger King, making it instantly recognizable to international diners. Burger King lovers can also enjoy familiar items like the Whopper, Whopper Jr., and Chicken Royale. Many burgers are given a unique twist with the addition of ham and pineapple, while a vegan burger is also available.


This German fast-food chain is famous for its fresh seafood dishes, fish sandwiches, and other fish-based dishes. Nordsee was founded in 1896 and boasts 370 locations across Europe. Popular dishes include the Backfisch-Baguette and Fisch-Chips. The chain also offers a range of plant-based variations of its most popular menu items.

Interested in a Job at McD?

If so, check out our comprehensive McDonalds Mission and Vision Statement Analysis, as well as our in-depth guide to the McDonalds Application and the most common McDonalds Interview Questions. You may also want to know Does McDonalds Drug Test or Does McDonalds Run Background Checks if you have a criminal record.

Or for more information about the company, find out Does McDonals Sell CakeDoes McDonalds have All Day BreakfastsDoes McDonalds Sell IceWhen Does McDonalds Serve LunchDoes McDonalds Take Apple PayDo McDonald’s Frappes Have Caffeine or Are McDonald’s Fries Vegetarian?

Final Thoughts

The first McDonald’s restaurant was opened in 1948, and the fast food chain has been very popular with people of all ages since then. However, there are plenty of other places to get your fast food fix these days. Burger King is MacDonald’s biggest competitor, and this is a great place to enjoy a juicy hamburger.

Fried chicken is another extremely popular fast food menu item, and KFC is another major MacDonald’s competitor. Other fast food companies that have large followings include Wendy’s, Subway, Taco Bell, and Popeyes. These companies have to work a little harder to attract the attention of diners and often offer great deals.

Enjoy your fast food wherever you choose to eat it!

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About Wendy Young

Wendy runs an employment agency with her husband, Ian, in Rochester, New York.

She loves nothing more than hosting a good dinner party and spends weeks intricately planning her next 'event.' She often uses these to introduce clients to potential employers in a relaxed, informal fashion. The food must be delicious, the cocktails and wine must be a perfect match, and the decor needs to impress without being over the top. With all that going on, it's amazing that she gets any time to write about her thoughts on securing the dream job.

They live on the outskirts of New York with their poodle, Princess.

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