Quick meals chains aren’t precisely identified for the best high quality meals, however some companies are attempting to vary that. In actual fact, many chains nowadays use top-tier elements that units them aside from the Burger King of the world.

So what does “top quality” meals imply? In accordance with the Harvard College of Public Well being, “Excessive-quality meals embrace unrefined, minimally processed meals reminiscent of greens and fruits, complete grains, wholesome fat and wholesome sources of protein — the advisable meals in a wholesome meals plate.”

Some quick meals chains pleasure themselves on easy elements—no synthetic preservatives, colours, or flavors. And in contrast to the sketchy leftover burger patties at Wendy’s Chili, there aren’t any secret elements right here.

As well as, quick meals chains that advocate for easy elements are clear about it on their web sites and ordering methods in order that prospects know precisely what they’re consuming.

Learn on to search out out which chains use the best high quality elements, and subsequent, take a look at 12 fast-food chains that use the bottom high quality beef.

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Given Panera’s mission—”a Panera for a more healthy and happier world”—it is no shock that the chain serves high quality meals. In 2015, Panera printed its “No No Checklist,” which bans the usage of synthetic elements. “We do not assume we’d like these elements to make great-tasting meals,” stated Sarah Burnett, head of Panera Meals Beliefs and Sustainability. Eat This, Not That! particularly. Even because the meals chain expanded their mac and cheese menu choices, they stored all elements 100% clear.

Burnett defined that there is much more behind the scenes to ensure clear menu objects. For instance, Panera needed to discover new methods to maintain the colours of its fan-favorite, hand-decorated shortbread cookies vibrant all day. Her Spring Tulip Cookie makes use of vegetable glycerin, crimson beet focus, and annatto to get that vibrant pink hue. Different chains nonetheless use the elements on Panera’s “No No Checklist” for coloring of their bakery desserts, such because the Purple Velvet Loaf at Starbucks, which comprises the Panera-banned ingredient maltodextrin. Burnett defined, “The best elements typically style higher … it lies in holding the best-tasting meals on the plate.”

“You Decide Two” eating places additionally discovered new methods to protect their proteins that do not comprise binding brokers and synthetic preservatives, Burnett added, turning to celery salt, rosemary extract and freezing. It ought to come as no shock that they acquired a Grade A- within the 2021 Chain Response VI report for antibiotic use, properly above a number of chains.

Panera adjustments its menu seasonally to keep away from the usage of synthetic elements, focusing as an alternative on what’s recent. “That is why, to the dismay of some, we deliberately promote Strawberry Poppy Salad in the summertime. We use strawberries in the summertime once we know they are going to be wonderful. We make our menu 5 instances a 12 months. So we’re utilizing the perfect elements of the season,” Burnett stated.

And, if not already apparent, Panera is clear about what’s of their meals. They’re truly the primary nationwide restaurant firm to function the entire grain content material of breads on their menus.


Of Chipotle’s whole menu, the chain makes use of solely 53 actual elements to arrange all of its meals. “That is in distinction to most different fast-food chains, the place a single menu merchandise can comprise 40 or extra elements—a lot of that are added flavorings, colours, preservatives, and different industrial components,” Chipotle defined on its web site. And the fast-food Mexican joint is tremendous clear about it, making it a useful resource for patrons to see every ingredient and the way it’s used of their menu objects.

In actual fact, in 2017, Chipotle introduced a brand new tortilla recipe that solely included two to 5 elements. Flour tortillas now solely comprise flour, water, canola oil, salt, and yeast. Chipotle Grade A, additionally ranked prime in decreasing antibiotic use in meat, in keeping with the 2021 Chain Response VI report.

The corporate was actually about “being actual” as the primary nationwide restaurant model that used no added colours, flavors or preservatives in meals. And like Panera, Chipotle credit its choices, partly, for creating the best-tasting dishes: “Since we put together our recent meals utilizing basic cooking strategies, we often keep on with quick meals. Fused avoids utilizing industrial components – however most significantly, that strategy is why our meals is so scrumptious,” stated Mark Krumpacker, former chief advertising and growth officer at Chipotle, on his web site.

Shake Storefront

Shake Shack is open about its dedication to real and pure elements. Their mission, “Stand for One thing Good” impressed them to think twice and responsibly about what goes into their meals and the place it comes from.

Their frozen custards solely use actual sugar, in contrast to many different chains like Chick-fil-A, which embrace excessive fructose corn syrup of their shakes. And whereas some chains like McDonald’s are working towards an antibiotic-free coverage, Shake Shack already excludes hormones and antibiotics from beef, rooster, pork, and scorching canines.

The Crinkle-Minimize Fry Connoisseur additionally makes use of cage-free eggs, milk from dairy farmers who pledge to not use synthetic development hormones, and a non-GMO potato bun. The chain just lately expanded its vegetarian choices as properly, utilizing solely premium, real elements. All of their easy, non-artificial ingredient efforts are summarized of their “Stand for One thing Good 2020” deck.


In accordance with their mission assertion, SweetGreen is all about “constructing wholesome communities by connecting individuals to actual meals”. The corporate was truly funded by school college students searching for wholesome meals that they may seize and go.

“We actually targeted on making a farm-to-table expertise and educating prospects that their meals is regionally sourced,” Sweetgreen explains of their story YouTube video. Sweetgreen’s menu emphasizes recent, plant-friendly, earth-friendly meals that makes use of the only elements to whip up scorching bowls and salads.

Like Chipotle, Sweetgreen’s menu has restricted elements, in contrast to the lengthy record of elements discovered at different meals chains. The one added sugars in choose menu objects are maple syrup, palm sugar and honey, however you will not discover excessive fructose syrup or any synthetic flavors. All of SweetGreen’s elements are lined up for straightforward viewing by prospects.


BurgerFi is an rising burger chain that’s altering the sport by way of high quality within the quick meals trade. In accordance with their web site, “Burgerfie was based by gourmand cooks who have been dedicated to serving the best high quality recent meals in an eco-friendly surroundings.”

In accordance with a survey, and for good purpose, BurgerFi was just lately named “America’s Favourite Quick-Informal Burger Chain”: High quality. The collection makes use of 100% pure American Angus beef with no steroids, antibiotics or synthetic development hormones. They’ve Wagyu beef, cage-free rooster, and plant-based improvements—the VegeFi® Burger and Past Meat Burger—utilizing easy, actual, and recent elements.

Added chemical compounds or synthetic components aren’t a part of Burgerfi’s philosophy, which is why their beef was as soon as once more rated Grade A within the annual Chain Response Report.

Noodles & Co.
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With a restricted elements record since 2015, Noodles & Co. has lengthy been dedicated to top quality meals. The fast-food noodles joint doesn’t use any synthetic colours, flavors, sweeteners or preservatives in its primary menu.

Noodles & Co. is dedicated to scrub elements, working with 14 recent greens ready each day. In addition they use cage-free eggs, antibiotic-free and hormone-free bacon, and natural milk and tea.

Whereas some quick meals firms are all about “secret” elements, like In N Out’s secret sauce, Noodles & Co claims: “Our secret ingredient? No secret.” Transparency is essential—they preserve their content material easy, real, and available for patrons to view.

Working in the direction of a very clear menu by 2023, QDOBA is dedicated to top quality meals. “We need to feed our friends the identical method we feed our households; with high-quality elements, we really feel good,” stated Chef Katy, QDOBA’s company government chef. Eat This, Not That! particularly.

The collection already has an ongoing record of elements they vow to keep away from. All the flavour combos on its menu are freed from dyes from synthetic sources, excessive fructose corn syrup, added MSG, partially hydrogenated oils and lard. “The elements we keep away from are all the time supplied to our suppliers earlier than growing new merchandise to make sure the elements are clear,” stated Chef Katy.

QDOBA is all about serving recent, well-prepared meals, and so they work onerous behind the scenes to ensure top-quality delicacies: “To serve top quality meals with the care it takes to arrange it.” From chopping up recent produce, to creating hand-crafted guacamole, to flame-grilling antibiotic-free rooster, numerous our preparation is completed in our restaurant kitchens to make sure we ship the perfect style and high quality. are providing,” stated Chef Katy.

A earlier model of this text was initially printed on Might 1, 2022.

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