Which Fast-Food Restaurant Raised Prices the Least in the Past 10 Years?

Price increases at your favorite fast-food spots could be busting your budget; this list will help you "shop" smarter.

three fast food signs: popeyes, mcdonalds, chipotle
Updated June 6, 2024
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Your wallet could be taking a hit if you visit fast-food restaurants regularly, and you wouldn’t be alone.

After all, fast-food prices have risen 60% in the past decade, much higher than the actual inflation rate in the U.S. during that time. That could make it much harder for families to save money when they go out to eat.

Take a look at these restaurant price increases from the most to the least average price increase based on data collected by FinanceBuzz.

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12. McDonald’s

wolterke/Adobe McDonald's exterior golden arches sign

Average price increase over 10 years: 100%

McDonald’s has seen major price increases in the past decade. In a recent earnings call, the company acknowledged that higher prices have boosted revenue but also scared away lower-income customers.

For example, a Quarter Pounder With Cheese Meal now costs around $11.99, up from $5.39 per meal a decade ago.

You could also go to Chili’s and get its 3 for Me deal with a similar burger, fries, and a drink as well as an appetizer for a dollar less.

11. Popeye’s

jetcityimage/Adobe Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen billboard

Average price increase over 10 years: 86%

Popeye’s is known for its chicken dinners, but that chicken is going to cost you more today than a decade ago.

One of the biggest increases has been for its four-piece chicken dinner with a side, drink, and biscuit. The dinner costs about $14, which is a whopping 97% increase from a decade ago.

10. Taco Bell

jetcityimage/Adobe taco bell retail fast food

Average price increase over 10 years: 81%

Taco Bell is still an affordable option with the average cost of items a little less than $5, but it’s still a big jump from 10 years ago.

A chicken quesadilla, for example, costs an average of $5.19, a 58% jump from $3.29 a decade ago.

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9. Chipotle

dennizn/Adobe chipotle mexican grill signage

Average price increase over 10 years: 75%

Chipotle is known for its fresh ingredients, but the cost of fresh meat went up in the past year and that could have an effect on the restaurant’s prices.

The biggest increases in menu items selected by FinanceBuzz include the barbacoa burrito and steak salad, which both went up 87%.

8. Jimmy John’s

jetcityimage/Adobe jimmy john's gourmet sandwich

Average price increase over 10 years: 62%

Jimmy John’s can be a good sandwich option, but expect to pay at least 50% more for the same sandwich you ordered from the fast-food purveyor a decade ago.

The restaurant’s No. 1 menu item, the eight-inch Pepe, didn’t top the list of price increases, but it was close with a 52% rise in price. Other eight-inch sandwich options that saw bigger increases included the Club Tuna and Italian Night Club.

4. (tied) Wendy’s

JHVEPhoto/Adobe Wendy's restaurant Niagara Falls Ontario Canada

Average price increase over 10 years: 55%

Two of Wendy’s staple items on its menu pushed the restaurant’s prices higher.

A large chili jumped 68% to an average price of $4.19 today from $2.49 a decade ago.

But the biggest increase was the cost of a Frosty, which went up a whopping 111% in the past decade. A small version of the tasty treat costs $2.09 now compared to 99 cents a decade ago.

4. (tied) Arby’s

The Toidi/Adobe Arby's logo

Average price increase over 10 years: 55%

Arby’s may have the meats, but that could be putting pressure on its prices. The cost of beef rose 7.6% year-over-year in March, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Those costs may have been passed on to consumers, who are now paying $8.99 for a classic roast beef combo compared to $5.49 a decade ago.

4. (tied) Chick-Fil-A

Allison/Adobe chick fil a sign

Average price increase over 10 years: 55%

Chick-Fil-A is known for its delicious chicken sandwich and waffle fries, but they’ll cost you more now than a decade ago.

You can expect to pay $8.55 for a Chicken Sandwich Classic Meal — with or without pickles — compared to $5.85 a decade ago.

4. (tied) Burger King

beeboys/Adobe burger king

Average price increase over 10 years: 55%

Burger King has seen a whopper of an increase in prices, but it may not be as bad as its competitors when it comes to an upswing in prices.

Burger King’s Whopper Meal has seen a 73% increase to $9.99 per meal on average, which is less than the 122% jump in a Quarter Pounder with Cheese meal at McDonald’s, according to FinanceBuzz data.

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3. Panera Bread

jetcityimage/Adobe A Panera Bread storefront

Average price increase over 10 years: 54%

Panera Bread may be a good option if you’re picking up food for your family including your kids.

The Kids Grilled Cheese saw the smallest growth of the 10 items at Panera Bread that were reviewed by FinanceBuzz. You can get your kids grilled cheese for an average price of $5.49, which is a 31% increase compared to a decade earlier.

1. (tied) Starbucks

ManuPadilla/Adobe company signboard starbucks coffee

Average price increase over 10 years: 39%

Starbucks is still doing well with its coffee without sending prices sky-high in the past decade.

Two coffee drinks — a Venti Caramel Macchiato and Grande Caffe Mocha — saw less than a 20% increase each.

You can pair them with a Tomato and Mozzarella Sandwich, which only increased 15% in the past decade.

1. (tied) Subway

monticellllo/Adobe subway fast food restaurant sign

Average price increase over 10 years: 39%

All of the 10 menu items at Subway that were reviewed by FinanceBuzz increased at least 20%. However, it tied for the top spot because of the consistency of its lower percentage increases.

The items increased an average of 39% with small increases in sides like cookies and chips balancing out the larger increases in sandwiches.

Bottom line

sutlafk/Adobe asian girl eating fried chicken

Fast-food can be a good option when you’re eating out, but there are better deals on food compared to some of these restaurants.

It’s a good idea to find ways to save money on groceries and eat at home more so you can keep some cash in your wallet.

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Author Details

Jenny Cohen

Jenny Cohen is a freelance writer who has covered a bit of everything, from finance to sports to her favorite TV shows. Her work has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and FoxSports.com.