30 Burger Franchises

Do you love burgers? If so, then you’re in luck, because there are tons of burger franchises out there. In fact, there are so many that it can be tough to choose the right one.

That’s why we’ve put together a list of the 30 best fast food hamburger franchises out there.

Whether you’re looking for a casual hamburger joint or something a bit more upscale, we’ve got you covered. Let’s get started!

What is a Burger Franchise?

A burger franchise operates under a business model where the franchisee owns and runs a burger restaurant using the branding, products, and operational systems of an established franchisor.

This arrangement allows the franchisee to benefit from the brand recognition, marketing strategies, and proven business processes of the franchisor. In return, the franchisee pays a fee to the franchisor and adheres to their guidelines and standards.

Today’s burger franchises often diversify their menu to cater to a wider audience, offering items like turkey burgers, chicken burgers, and even vegetarian options alongside traditional beef burgers, reflecting the evolving tastes and dietary preferences of consumers.

burger franchises

The Burger Industry Today

As of last year, the burger industry has reached an impressive market value of $131 billion and is showing no signs of slowing down.

The success of this sector can be attributed to its ability to adapt to consumer preferences by offering a variety of burger options, including alternatives like chicken sandwiches and veggie burgers. The industry has shown resilience and adaptability, catering to both traditional burger lovers and those seeking healthier or alternative options.

The fast-food sector, more broadly, is projected to grow at an average annual rate of 2.4%, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4.6% anticipated from 2020 to 2027.

This growth trajectory highlights the robustness of the burger franchise model and its appeal to entrepreneurs looking to invest in a dynamic and ever-evolving industry.

Why You Should Consider Becoming a Burger Franchise Owner

In America, burger chains are some of the most popular and profitable businesses around. Here are five reasons why you should consider becoming an owner of a burger franchise:

  • Always in demand. People love burgers, and they’re always looking for new burger places with quality food to try. This means that there’s a constant demand for franchises, which can help you to be successful.
  • Usually very affordable. When you compare the cost of starting a burger franchise to other types of businesses, you’ll find that a burger franchise is usually much more affordable.
  • Resources and support. When you become an owner of a burger franchise, you’ll have access to all of the resources and support that you need to be successful. This includes things like marketing materials, training programs, and ongoing support from the franchisor.
  • Easy to operate. Unlike some other types of businesses, burger franchises are relatively easy to operate. This means that you won’t have to put in a lot of extra effort to be successful.
  • High ROI. One of the best things about burger franchises is that they tend to have a high return on investment. This means that you can make a significant profit if you do things right.

burger franchises

Our Methodology: How We Chose the Best Burger Franchises

In guiding our readers through the selection of burger franchise opportunities, we utilize a set of specific criteria. These are crucial in determining the viability and potential profitability of the franchise. Each criterion is rated on a scale from 1 to 5, where 1 represents the least importance and 5 the highest importance in our review process:

  1. Market Popularity and Consumer Demand
    • Importance: 5
    • We assess the current market popularity of the burger franchise and the demand for its products. A strong, established customer base is indicative of a potentially successful franchise.
  2. Initial Investment and Ongoing Costs
    • Importance: 4
    • The cost of starting the franchise, including fees, construction, and equipment, as well as ongoing operational costs, are key factors. We look for franchises with reasonable startup costs and sustainable overhead.
  3. Brand Strength and Recognition
    • Importance: 5
    • The strength and recognition of the franchise brand play a significant role. Well-known brands with a loyal customer base usually offer a higher chance of success.
  4. Menu Diversity and Quality
    • Importance: 4
    • The variety and quality of the menu offerings are important for attracting and retaining customers. We consider how the franchise stands out in terms of its culinary offerings.
  5. Franchisee Support and Training
    • Importance: 4
    • The level and quality of support and training provided to franchisees are crucial. This includes assistance with marketing, operations, and staff training.
  6. Location and Site Selection
    • Importance: 4
    • The location strategy of the franchise and the support in site selection can greatly impact the business’s success. Prime locations typically lead to higher foot traffic and sales.
  7. Compliance with Health and Safety Regulations
    • Importance: 3
    • Adherence to health and safety standards is essential. We evaluate the franchisor’s commitment to maintaining these standards across all locations.
  8. Growth Potential and Scalability
    • Importance: 3
    • The potential for growth and scalability of the franchise, including the possibility of opening multiple locations, is an important consideration for long-term success.

By applying these criteria, we aim to guide entrepreneurs toward burger franchise opportunities that are not only profitable but also well-suited to their business goals and market conditions.

burger franchises

Top Burger Franchises

The best burger franchises are ones that have a proven track record of success and are loved by customers. Here are some of the best burger franchises out there:

1. Burger King

To open a Burger King franchise, you’ll need to have a minimum of $500,000 in liquid assets and a $1 million net worth. There’s a franchise fee of $50,000 along with an initial application fee of $5,000. They were one of the first chains to offer meatless burgers, so the brand is able to adjust with current consumer trends.

2. Five Guys Burgers

Five Guys began offering franchising in 2002 and has since become one of the most popular burger chains in the world. It has a strong brand presence, but still plenty of room for growth in in-demand markets. They also currently offer their signature burgers and hot dogs in 1,500 locations across 16 countries.

3. McDonald’s

McDonald’s is one of the most well-known brands in the world that offers franchising opportunities and has been in business selling classic burgers since 1940. The company is also known to provide top-notch support to franchisees. To open a franchise, expect to invest between $1.25 million and $2.3 million.

burger franchises

4. Wendy’s

Wendy’s began offering franchise opportunities in the early 1970s. So they offer proven systems and support to increase franchisee success. You can expect to spend between $2 million to $3.7 million.

5. MOOYAH Burgers

MOOYAH has been offering franchise opportunities since 2007 and it costs between $477,918 and $989,793 to open your own.

6. Elevation Burger

Elevation Burger has been franchising since 2008. They use 100% organic, grass-fed beef in their signature burgers, which aligns with current customer trends and demands. And they’re committed to sustainability. Your minimum investment would be about $400,000.

7. Wayback Burgers

Wayback Burgers is a fast-casual burger chain that has been franchising since 2010. There are plenty of in-demand territories available, along with a strong brand name. Your investment here would be about $350,000 to $450,000.

burger franchises

8. Jack in the Box

Jack in the Box has been franchising since 1951 and it’s one of the leading fast-food hamburger chains in America. Your minimum investment would be $1.5 million minimum.

9. Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers

To open a Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers, you’ll need an initial investment of between $641,000 and $2.1 million.

10. Good Stuff Eatery

Good Stuff Eatery is a casual restaurant chain founded in 2007. If you want to open one of these, expect a total investment of $500,000 – $800,000.

11. Farmer Boys

Farmer Boys was founded in 1981 and can be franchised for between $1 million to $2.5 million.

12. Sonic Drive-in Restaurants

Sonic Drive-In is an American chain of fast-food restaurants that was founded in 1953. It can require an investment of almost $3.5 million, not including the cost of land.

13. Fatburger

Opening a Fatburger American restaurant will run you as much as $770,000, but you’ll need a net worth of at least $1.5 million, with a minimum of $500,000 available in liquid assets.

14. Big Smoke Burger

Big Smoke Burger is a burger restaurant that was founded in 2007. They require franchisees to have a minimum of CAD $200,000 of non-borrowed personal resources.

15. A&W

A&W is a fast-food restaurant chain founded in 1919. You can open one with a top-of-the-range cost of about $1.5 million, excluding real estate costs.


burger franchises

More of the Best Burger Franchises

Here are some more burger chain restaurants that are very popular in our country:

16. Red Robin

Red Robin Gourmet Burgers is a casual dining restaurant chain founded in 1969 with a total initial investment range to open a franchise of $1,865,000 to $4,115,000. ***

17. Culver’s

Culver’s is a restaurant chain founded in 1984 by Craig and Lea Culver. The first restaurant was opened in Sauk City, Wisconsin. To open your own will require an investment of up to $4,652,000.

18. Hardee’s

To open a Hardee’s restaurant chain, your total investment would be about $1.1 million. As with most of these franchises, the investment cost does not include real estate. The brand offers high-traffic locations and plenty of brand recognition across the country.

19. Checkers

Checkers was founded in 1986 and it’ll cost you about $1.3 million to start your own fast-food restaurant either under the Checker or Rally’s brand.

20. Steak ‘N Shake

Steak ‘N Shake has been around since 1934. To open a franchise, you’ll need an estimated initial investment of at least $672,000.

21. Fuddruckers

Fuddruckers was founded in 1980 and has been franchising since 1984. You’ll need a capital investment of $400,000 to get started.

22. Carl’s Jr.

Starting your own Carl’s Jr. fast-food joint will cost you about $1.3 million in total. You’ll need a net worth of over $1 million to get started.

23. BurgerFi

BurgerFi is a fast-casual restaurant chain founded in 2011. Opening your own will cost a minimum of $629,900 with a franchise fee of $45,000.

24. Hamburger Mary’s

Hamburger Mary’s opened in 1972. In general, you’ll need access to at least $250,000 to open your restaurant, but some locations have opened with less, making it one of the more affordable franchise opportunities in this market.

25. Smashburger

To start a Smashburger you’ll need to invest between $545,500 and $894,500. They currently have locations in 35 U.S. states, D.C., and 2 Canadian provinces.

26. Johnny Rockets

Johnny Rockets is a 1950s diner-style restaurant chain founded in 1986. It can cost up to $1.1 million to open one.

Johnny Rockets

27. BUILT Custom Burgers

BUILT Custom Burgers is a fast-casual restaurant chain that offers counter-custom burgers. They were founded in 2006 and it can run you upwards of $856,500 to open your own.

28. Drifter’s Hamburgers

Drifter’s Hamburgers specializes in cooked-to-order California-style specialty burgers that are made with local beef. Initial start-up costs for a franchisee can range from $151k to over $526k.

29. The Counter

The Counter offers entrepreneurs a gourmet burger franchise opportunity. Restaurants offer a diverse menu with quality ingredients. It can cost almost $2 million to open your own location.

30. BGR The Burger Joint

BGR The Burger Joint is a casual fast food restaurant chain with tons of profit potential. This opportunity requires an investment of almost $600,000 to open.

burger franchises

Burger Franchise Decision-Making Checklist

When considering which burger franchise to invest in, there are several crucial factors to evaluate. This checklist provides a framework for comparing various aspects of burger franchises, aiding you in making a well-informed decision.

Decision FactorDescriptionNotes for Evaluation
Initial InvestmentThe upfront cost required to open the franchise.
Ongoing FeesRoyalties, marketing, and other recurring fees.
Brand RecognitionThe level of consumer awareness and trust in the brand.
Franchisor SupportTraining, marketing, operational support provided by the franchisor.
Business ModelThe operational structure and strategy of the franchise.
Market PresenceThe current reach and growth potential of the franchise.
Product DiversityMenu options beyond traditional burgers, like chicken or veggie burgers.
Target Customer BaseThe primary demographic the franchise appeals to.
Location AvailabilityAvailability of franchise opportunities in desired areas.
Long-term PotentialThe franchise's potential for growth and continued success.

burger franchises

How to Choose the Best Franchise to Set Up Your Burger Business

Selecting the right burger franchise requires careful consideration of several key factors:

  • Consider the Cost of the Franchise: Analyze the financial requirements of different franchises, including both the initial investment and ongoing operational costs. Assess if these costs align with your financial capabilities and future revenue expectations. Ensure that the franchise you choose is within your budget to avoid financial strain down the line.
  • Look at the Franchisor’s Support: Examine the level of support and training the franchisor offers. This can include operational training, marketing assistance, and ongoing business guidance. A franchisor that provides comprehensive support can significantly enhance your ability to establish and grow your business successfully.
  • Evaluate the Business Model: Review the franchisor’s business model to ensure it’s a good fit for your goals and market. Consider factors such as the size of the franchise territory, the brand’s market presence, and the target customer demographic. The franchise should align with your vision and the market demand in your chosen location.
  • Think About the Future: Look for a franchise with strong growth potential and long-term viability. Consider the brand’s adaptability to changing market trends, its track record of innovation, and its overall industry reputation. Choosing a franchise with a forward-looking approach can help ensure sustained success.

burger franchises

How Much Does It Cost to Start a Burger Franchise?

Starting a burger franchise can vary significantly in cost, typically ranging from $100,000 to nearly $5 million. The wide range is due to factors like the brand’s market position, location costs, size of the operation, and the level of support provided by the franchisor.

Higher-end burger franchises with a strong brand presence and larger operational scale tend to require a more substantial investment. When considering a franchise, factor in costs like the franchise fee, real estate, equipment, staffing, and marketing.

Are Burger Franchises Profitable?

Burger franchises can be highly profitable, offering a solid return on investment. The profitability depends on several factors, including the franchise’s brand recognition, location, management efficiency, and market demand for the product.

While they often require less capital to start compared to other business models, it’s crucial to conduct thorough market research and financial planning to ensure profitability.

What Is the Best Burger Franchise?

Identifying the ‘best’ burger franchise can vary based on individual preferences and market conditions. Generally, top hamburger franchises share characteristics like strong brand recognition, effective marketing strategies, good ROI, and extensive support for franchisees.

Evaluating your personal preferences, market needs, and financial capabilities will help determine the best burger franchise for your entrepreneurial venture.


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Kevin Ocasio Kevin Ocasio is a staff writer for Small Business Trends and has been with the team for 2 years. He holds certifications in SEO, digital marketing, and content marketing. Kevin is also certified in Information Technology Technical Support Fundamentals.