20 Favorite Menu Items Hit Hardest by Inflation at 12 Top Fast-Food Chains

Check out which fast-food faves are feeling the squeeze of rising costs.
Updated July 18, 2024
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For many, fast food may seem like a cheap option for dinner out, especially when it’s hard to save money on groceries. But like all industries, fast-food chains have also been affected by inflation.

FinanceBuzz recently examined the cost of popular menu items from the biggest fast-food chains. It revealed that menu prices have increased anywhere from 39% to 100% over the last 10 years, while the inflation rate between 2014 and 2024 was 31%.

We compared the cost of popular menu items from the top fast-food chains between 2014 and 2024 to show which items have increased the most.

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Subway 6-Inch Black Forest Ham Footlong: 50%

Courtesy of Subway black forest ham footlong

Gone are the days of the $5 Footlong at Subway. The price of that staple has increased by 39% since 2014.

Yet the most inflated item on Subway’s menu is a 6-inch Black Forest Ham, which has increased in price by 50%. It used to cost just $3.50, but it’s now $5.25.

Chick-fil-A Grilled Nuggets Kid’s Meal: 62%

Courtesy of Chick-Fil-a grilled nuggets kids meal

The kid’s menu hasn’t been spared from inflation costs either.

The Chick-fil-A Grilled Nuggets Kid’s Meal has increased by 62% from 2014 to 2024, rising to $6.45 from $3.99.

Arby’s Classic Roast Beef Combo: 64%

Courtesy of Arby's classic roast beef combo

Arby’s most classic menu item is the Classic Roast Beef Sandwich, which comes with curly fries and a soft drink.

The price has increased by 64% over the past 10 years, rising to $8.99 from $5.49.

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Chick-fil-A Southwest Salad: 70%

Courtesy of Chick-Fil-A southwest salad

Chick-fil-A servings also increased by 55% on average from 2014 to 2024.

The hardest-hit menu item was the Southwest Salad, which once cost just $5.49. Since then, its price has increased by 70% and now costs $9.69.

Burger King Whopper Meal: 73%

Courtesy of Burger King whopper meal

The chain’s most iconic item, the Whopper, has also been hit hard by inflation.

The Whopper Meal, which includes the Whopper, medium fries, and a medium drink, used to cost only $5.79 in 2014. Ten years saw a 73% increase, and today it costs $9.99.

Arby’s Cherry Turnover: 78%

Courtesy of Arby's cherry turnover

Arby’s entire menu saw an average price increase of 55% over the past decade.

The menu item with the highest inflation rate is the Cherry Turnover, which was just $1.29 in 2014, but now costs $2.29, a 78% increase.

Jimmy John’s Chips: 84%

Courtesy of Jimmy John's fire cracker chips

While Jimmy John’s may not have wavered in its promise for fast delivery, it has in terms of affordability.

All menu items have increased an average of 62% since 2014, though the most inflated item is their simple bag of chips. They cost $0.99 a decade ago, but have since been raised to $1.82, an 84% increase.

Panera Bread Bread Bowl of Soup: 84%

Courtesy of Panera Bread bread bowl of soup

From 2014 to 2024, Panera Bread’s menu increased in price by an average of 54%.

The item on their menu that saw the highest increase is the Bread Bowl of Soup. This cost only $4.99 in 2014, but it now costs $9.19, an 84% increase.

Chipotle Barbacoa Burrito: 87%

Courtesy of Chipotle chipotle barbacoa burrito

Chipotle has increased prices by 75% on average in the past decade.

You could buy a Barbacoa Burrito, Steak Salad, or Barbacoa Tacos for $6.65 in 2014. In 2024, all three now cost $12.45, or an 87% increase.

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Popeye’s 4-Piece Chicken Dinner: 97%

Courtesy of Popeye's 4 piece chicken dinner

The second most impacted item on Popeye’s menu was the four-piece chicken dinner, which increased by 97% in the past 10 years.

It was priced at $6.99, and now it has increased to $13.79.

Starbucks Cake Pop: 97%

Courtesy of Starbucks pink cake pop

Starbucks die-hards will likely be aware that their prices have gone up. On average, prices have risen by 39% in the past decade.

The most increased item isn’t one of their signature drinks, though, but a Cake Pop. It cost $1.50 in 2014, but it has increased by 97% and now costs $2.95.

Taco Bell Cheesy Gordita Crunch: 100%

Courtesy of Taco Bell cheesy gordita crunch

The price of a Cheesy Gordita Crunch has also increased rather significantly.

The flatbread with three types of cheese wrapped around a crunchy taco cost $2.49 in 2014. That price has since increased by 100%, and now totals $4.99.

Burger King Small ICEE: 101%

Courtesy of Adobe Stock small icee

The Burger King menu also had an average price increase of 55%.

Perhaps surprisingly, the restaurant's most price-gouged item is a small ICEE, which cost $1.09 in 2014. Today, the drink costs $2.19, or 101% more.

Taco Bell Chalupa Supreme: 110%

Courtesy of Taco Bell chalupa supreme

Taco Bell’s Chalupa Supreme has also seen a big price hike.

It may seem cheap now, at just $4.59, but it has increased by 110% since 2014, when it cost just $2.19.

Wendy’s Small Frosty: 111%

Courtesy of Wendy's small frosty

On average, Wendy’s menu prices increased by 55% from 2014 to 2024.

While many top menu items fell within a few percentage points of that average, the standout was a simple small Frosty. It has increased by 111% in 10 years, to $2.09 from $0.99.

Taco Bell Beefy 5-Layer Burrito: 122%

Courtesy of Taco Bell beefy 5 layer burrito

Taco Bell had the third highest price increases overall, with an average rate of 81% since 2014.

The Beefy 5-Layer Burrito tops their more expensive menu items. It was just $1.59 10 years ago but has since increased by 122% to $3.69.

Popeye’s Regular Mashed Potatoes and Gravy: 134%

Courtesy of Popeye's regular mashed potatoes and gravy

The chain that saw the second highest price increase was Popeye’s, with the menu up an average of 86%.

The menu item most impacted was their regular Mashed Potatoes and Gravy side. It now costs $4.19, but it only cost $1.79 in 2014 — a 134% increase.

McDonald’s Medium Fries: 138%

Courtesy of McDonalds medium fries

Even the price of a simple order of medium fries from McDonald’s has increased exponentially.

A medium fries cost just $1.59 in 2014, but the same order now costs 138% more, or $3.79. Several other menu items have also been impacted by high inflation rates.

McDonald’s McDouble: 168%

Courtesy of McDonalds mcdouble burger

The price of a classic McDouble has more than doubled over the past decade.

In 2014, the double burger with cheese in the middle cost just $1.19. Now, it costs $3.19, racking up a 168% increase.

McDonald’s McChicken: 199%

Courtesy of McDonalds mc-chicken

On average, McDonald’s increased prices by 100% in the last 10 years, making the largest fast-food chain the highest-inflated fast-food chain.

The most expensive menu item was the McChicken. Although it may seem reasonable now, at $2.99, it cost only $1 in 2014.

Bottom line

ME Image/Adobe waitress giving paper bag

Even so-called “cheap” fast-food options are becoming egregiously expensive, and the numbers only prove how excessive the price-gouging has become.

There are a few ways to save money when dining out. Download the chain’s app and earn loyalty points, coupons, or special offers when you order through the app. Many chains have discounts when you eat there on certain days of the week.

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Author Details

Lucy Clark Lucy Clark has considerable experience writing about real estate, as well as homes and gardens, home value, and more. She is savvy and resourceful, and she aims to ensure others can be, as well.