21 Biggest Fast Food Chains in the World

In this article, we will be discussing the 21 biggest fast-food chains in the world. If you want to skip our detailed analysis of the fast-food industry, go directly to the 5 Biggest Fast Food Chains in the World

Fast food has been around since the dawn of the Industrial Age in the early 19th century when people had to work 12 and 14-hour shifts every single day. There was hardly any time left in the day to prepare a meal that would satisfy that hunger pangs of a full working day. As the name suggests, “fast food” can be classified as quick meals that can be obtained outside the home. 

Historically, fast food was created to cater to the people who lived in the suburbs, when America’s love affair with automobiles began. Fast food reflected every possible pillar of Americanization including efficiency and high speed. Fast forward to 2022, fast food is a global phenomenon, with fast food chains reaching all the corners of the world. 

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, there was a considerable decline in visits to fast food chains. In a report published by TOP agency, there was a 26% decline in visits to fast food chains in the United States in 2020. To tackle the obstacles of the pandemic, fast food chains have had to amp up their drive-thru and takeaway services to maintain customer loyalty. While many restaurants faced closures, others adapted and invested in alternative channels, strengthening their platforms for online ordering for greater efficiency, keeping in mind health and safety. As 2022 dawns, restaurants are becoming increasingly innovative. However, as vaccination numbers increased in the United States, fast food chains are back in black, with a 33% increase in the number of visits nationwide in 2021. 

21 Biggest Fast Food Chains in the World in 2021

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Our Methodology 

We have compiled a list of the 21 biggest fast-food chains in the world, ranked according to their revenue, keeping in mind the number of locations they have across the globe in the year 2021. We have conducted extensive research for these figures using sources like Statista, Forbes, Franchise Times and company quarterly reports. Keeping this context in mind, we will now proceed with our rankings of the 21 biggest fast-food chains in the world, starting with the 21st. 

With this context and industry outlook in mind, let’s now discuss our list of the 21 biggest fast-food chains in the world in 2022.

21 Biggest Fast Food Chains in the World

21. Hardee’s 

Revenue: $2 billion 

During the pandemic, CKE Restaurant Holdings, Inc. (NYSE:CKR) Hardee’s was able to gain some momentum, with 2020 figures looking incredibly promising. In 2020, 75% of Hardee’s business was conducted through off-channels and by the end of the year, this figure grew to 90%. Hardee’s currently has 4000 restaurants and aims to increase that number to 6000 in 2021. The company is also dedicated to creating reliable online ordering platforms that will play a significant role in improving customer experience. 

20.  Baskin Robbins 

Revenue: $2.1 billion

Founded by Burt Baskin and Irv Robbins, Baskin Robbins has 7,900 restaurants internationally and 2,500 in the United States. As of 2021, the company has a total of 80,000 employees. The restaurant has a total of 1300 ice cream flavors introduced in over 50 countries worldwide. 

19. Panda Express 

Revenue: $3.5 billion 

Panda Restaurant Group, Inc. owns and operates restaurants including Panda Express and Subway. Panda Express prepares American Chinese food, its signature dish being the Orange Chicken. The chain has over 4000 employees with over 2000 locations, mainly in North America and Asia. Some primary locations include the United States, Canada, United Arab Emirates, and Mexico. This year Panda Express also opened its second restaurant in the Philippines. 

18. Jack in the Box 

Revenue: $3.7 billion 

Jack in the Box is an American fast food chain which has 2200 locations primarily on the West Coast. The chain is known for its diverse assortment of food choices including tacos, breakfast, brunch, teriyaki bowls, chicken nuggets, burgers, shakes, fries, and much more. The chain has been in business for 70 years and offers experienced multi-unit operators of casual dining brands profitable franchise opportunities for growth through acquisition and development. 

17.  Papa John’s Pizza 

Revenue: $4.2 billion 

Papa John’s International, Inc. (NASDAQ: PZZA) reported an 11.8% increase in revenue in the second quarter of the year 2021. There was also a 21.2% increase in sales in international restaurants. As of June 2021, there are 5,523 Papa John’s restaurants operating in 49 countries. Papa John’s International, Inc. (NASDAQ: PZZA) has announced plans to open more than 220 restaurants by expanding its partnership with Drake Food Service International (DFSI). 

16. Little Caesars 

Revenue: $4.7 billion 

Little Caesars was able to improve its performance greatly in 2020 when it launched a channel through its website and app, using the services of DoorDash drivers. The chain quadrupled its growth during the pandemic after making its debut at the Super Bowl. In August 2020, Little Caesars opened up new restaurants in Colombia, Spain, India, and Barbados. 

15. Dairy Queen 

Revenue: $4.9 billion 

Dairy Queen is a chain of soft serve ice cream and fast-food restaurants owned by International Dairy Queen, Inc. There are a total of 7000 Dairy Queen locations, with 4,503 restaurants in the United States and 1,864 internationally. Its parent company is Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (BRK.A: NYSE), also in ownership of other fast food brands including Orange Julius. 

14. Popeyes 

Revenue: $5.2 billion 

With over 12,000 employees and 2,675 locations in the United States, Popeyes is a popular chicken service fast food chain. Its food items include spicy chicken, chicken sandwiches, chicken tenders, and other regional items. Its parent company, Restaurant Brands International Inc. (NYSE: QSR), reported an annual revenue of approximately $4 billion from Tim Horton’s, Popeyes and Burger King in 2020. 

13. Tim Hortons 

Revenue: $5.5 billion 

Tim Hortons is a Canadian coffee chain and its parent company, Restaurant Brands International Inc. (NYSE: QSR), reported that there was a 46.7% increase in total revenue by 2020. RBI also reported Tim Hortons now operates 5,065 stores globally. In July 2021, the UK-based private firm Cinven acquired a stake in the Restaurant Brands International Inc. (NYSE: QSR) subsidiary Restaurant Brands Iberia for $1.18 billion, which operates some Tim Hortons stores in Spain.

12. Chipotle Mexican Grill 

Revenue: $8 billion

Chipotle is home to the best Mexican fast food, with 2,622 locations worldwide. Some of these areas include Canada, Germany, and France. The restaurant serves approximately 1 million customers daily. Due to the growing demand for Mexican food, Chipotle is facing rapid expansion, to cater to fast-casual dining specifically. 

11. Dunkin’ Donuts

Revenue: $9.5 billion 

Dunkin’ Donuts was founded in 1950 in Boston, Massachusetts. It has 12,900 locations in 42 countries and is one of the largest coffee and doughnut shop chains in the world. Inspire Brands, which bought Dunkin’ and Baskin Robbins in December 2020, is now working to open new locations of the beloved coffee shop. 10-15 new stores are set to open in the Ohio and Kentucky regions. 

10. The Wendy’s Company (NASDAQ: WEN)

Revenue: $11.3 billion 

Wendy’s is one of the largest burger chains in the world. According to Wendy’s second quarter financial highlights, the increase in revenues was primarily due to higher sales at company-operated restaurants, an increase in franchise royalty revenue, and an increase in advertising funds. The company also employed a new technology fee in 2021, leading to an increase in franchise fees. Wendy’s also made a $10 million incremental investment in breakfast advertising in 2021, taking its total expected incremental investment to $25 million. 

9. Taco Bell 

Revenue: $11.8 billion 

Taco Bell is one of the fast food chains owned by Yum! Brands, along with KFC and Pizza Hut. For the first quarter of 2021, the company reported net income of $391 million, or $1.29 per share. Yum! Brands’ revenue grew 34% from last year to $1.6 billion, surpassing the projected revenue of $1.48 billion. 

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8. Pizza Hut 

Revenue: $11.95 billion 

Founded in 1958, Pizza Hut is also owned by parent company, Yum! Brands. The company has 17,639 restaurants in over 110 countries. 99% of Pizza Hut restaurants are franchised and its momentum continues to grow in 2021. Yum! Brands reported an 8% increase in sales at its Pizza Hut U.S. division. According to Business Insider, this is the best quarterly performance for the brand in 10 years. 

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7. Subway 

Revenue: $13.7 billion 

In August 2021, the net worth of Subway totaled to $15 billion. Subway has locations all over the world, employing over 30,000 employees in its stores. The company is also working to update its app, partnering with DoorDash to allow customers to place their orders directly. 

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6. Chick-fil-A 

Revenue: $14.1 billion 

Chick-fil-A reported comprehensive earnings of $715.9 million in 2020 compared to $647.2 million in 2019, showing an increase of 10.6%. It operated 2,598 franchised and company-operated Chick-fil-A restaurants, increasing by 104 locations from 2019. Of the 1,735 restaurants not located in malls that were open during the pandemic, the average annual sales volume in 2020 was $7,096,393. 

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Disclosure: None. 21 Biggest Fast Food Chains in the World in 2021 is originally published on Insider Monkey.