Fastest Food: 10 Classic Chain Restaurants, Ranked by Drive-Thru Speed

Not all fast food is actually fast—but these 10 places know how to provide a speedy experience.
For some really fast service, head to Taco Bell.
For some really fast service, head to Taco Bell. / Joe Raedle/GettyImages

If you’re hungry and looking for a quick meal, it’s hard to beat swinging by a chain restaurant’s drive-thru. How long you’ll have to wait before digging into some grub will depend on where you go.

For QSR magazine’s annual drive-thru report, researchers collected data between June and July from 1491 different drive-thru restaurants at various times of the day. According to the annual report, Taco Bell is the cream of the crop when it comes to speed: A drive-thru trip there only takes an average of 278.84 seconds, or just over 4.5 minutes. Carl’s Jr. comes in second at 303.74 seconds, followed by KFC at 303.95 seconds.

It’s also worth mentioning that these average totals were affected by how busy the drive-thrus were. As QSR points out, this helps explain why Chick-fil-A drive-thrus often seeming to underperform, time-wise. “Chick-fil-A simply has a lot more cars stacked than the rest of the industry,” the report notes. In other words, they’re just really popular. If you look at the average wait time compared to the number of cars in line, Chick-fil-A actually beats Taco Bell by 48.32 seconds.

Speed isn’t the only thing that matters when picking up a drive-thru meal. Making sure you get the right food is important, too. Chick-fil-A was the most accurate franchise, with 92 percent of customers receiving the correct order. Burger King came in a close second with 90 percent accuracy, and McDonald’s in third at 88 percent accuracy. Taco Bell—the reigning champ for speed—took the seventh spot, with 85 percent accuracy.

See the 10 restaurants ranked by average total drive-thru speed below, and learn more takeaways from QSR’s comprehensive deep dive here.

  1. Taco Bell: 278.84 seconds
  2. Carl’s Jr.: 303.74 seconds
  3. KFC: 303.95 seconds
  4. Arby’s: 319.64 seconds
  5. Dunkin’: 321.10 seconds
  6. Hardee’s: 336.15 seconds
  7. Wendy’s: 343.07 seconds
  8. Burger King: 351.38 seconds
  9. McDonald’s: 413.06 seconds
  10. Chick-fil-A: 436.09 seconds

A version of this story originally ran in 2019; it has been updated for 2023.