There are two kinds of people in the world – those who order a complete meal at a fast food restaurant (entree + side), and those who order a side and call it their meal. Regardless of which camp you fall into, you’re going to love this list and probably want to print it off and put it on your fridge (does anyone have printers anymore?).
There’s just something about pairing fast food with the perfect side that makes all feel right in the world. Whether your taste buds are craving a burger and fries or a solo order of onion rings, I’ve listed all the best fast food sides to inspire your next drive-through (or Door Dash) order. Trust me, guys, you won’t want to sleep on this.
Burger King Onion Rings
Burger’s Kings is to onion rings as McDonald’s is to French fries. This signature side has been a staple in the fast food industry for decades, and they’re far better than any of the other options you can pair with your burger or nuggets. They’ve got a thick and crispy layer of breading, which is a must when it comes to o rings, and the onions are just the right texture.
Taco Bell Nachos and Cheese
Sometimes, you just need something crunchy to go with your Soft Supreme Taco. And sometimes, chips and liquidy nacho cheese is the only thing that will satisfy your late-night cravings. Whatever the case may be, Taco Bell’s snack-sized Nachos and Cheese is a no-fail option to round out your meal. But fair warning: the portion size is super small (what do you expect for $1?), so you may need to order more than one if you’re hungry.
Wendy’s Loaded Baked Potato
I had to add Wendy’s Loaded Baked Potato on here because it’s really the only fast food chain that comes to mind that sells baked potatoes (correct me in the comments if I’m wrong), which seems absurd because it’s such a bomb side for really any meal. Heck, it can be a meal on its own. Wendy’s has a couple different options when it comes to their taters – the Bacon Cheese Baked Potato and the Chili & Cheese Baked Potato. If you want the “loaded” version, you can ask for a custom potato with all the fixins – butter, cheese, chili, bacon, chives, and sour cream.
Chick-Fil-A Mac and Cheese
Chick-Fil-A Mac and Cheese may be the best thing to happen to the fast food industry in the past decade. Maybe I’m biased because mac & cheese is one of my favorite foods, but they really hit the nail on the head with this side. It’s creamy, cheesy, and super flavorful. Not to mention, there’s a slightly crispy/browned layer of cheese that’s baked on top. It doesn’t get cozier than that. Warning: the side (or small) order of Chick-Fil-A’s Mac and Cheese is actually too small to get the full experience, IMHO, so if you’re hungry, definitely order a medium.
Rally’s French Fries
Admittedly, Rally’s French Fries are my late night snack of choice. You know, the kind I only order if I’m out past midnight and need a little pick-me-up before I sleep for 12 hours. Nevertheless, these *curly* fries are always piping hot – an absolute must when it comes to fast food fries. And they’re heavily seasoned – well, when you put them up against a plain jane fry from BK or McDonald’s. If you want the whole shabang, I’d recommend pairing it with a Rally Burger. Your stomach may hate you, but your taste buds will be singing your praises.
Arby’s Mozzarella Sticks
Arguably the most underrated fast food side is at Arby’s. Their mozzarella sticks slap – I could eat these for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or a snack and not be mad about it. The perfectly-melted mozzarella is enveloped in a crispy, thick layering of breading that never disappoints. Some mozz sticks fall apart as soon as you grab them, some have breading that’s crumbly to the touch, and some flat out don’t have enough cheesey goodness on the inside. You won’t experience any of that trickery with Arby’s mozz sticks. Plain and simple – they are the best (with marinara dipping sauce, of course).
Side or dessert? I don’t know, you choose. But there’s not a trip to Subway that can go by without ordering their cookies. I don’t even care which flavors they have on hand – sometimes it’s chocolate chip or white macadamia nut or some weird raspberry one – but they’re always the perfect amount of gooey and chewy.
Culver’s Cheese Curds
Culver’s Cheese Curds will give you that nostalgic feeling of childhood – when you used to ride the merry go round at your hometown’s state fair and be able to eat deep fried cheese without destroying your stomach lining. I will say, any adverse affects you may have are entirely worth the experience of eating a fat burger with a side of cheese curds. Especially ones this good.
Five Guys Cajun Fries
I hate to put another fry immediately following my beloved Rally’s fries, but Five Guys honestly stacks up to the competition pretty well. They’re also heavily seasoned, which is clearly a preference of mine. But don’t you hate when you bite into a fry and it just takes like a plain ass potato? I can’t name anything worse. (Okay, maybe a few things). I especially like these because of the cajun flavors – a little paprika, garlic, and onion. Yum.
Popeye’s Red Beans and Rice
I’ve got a weak spot for nontraditional things, and Popeye’s Beans and Rice definitely falls into that category. This combo is a classic New Orleans side, but one that most of us probably haven’t had the pleasure of experiencing. They’ve got a smoky, Cajun flavor that’s better than any french fries you’ve ever tasted. Do yourself a favor and try these out.
Coleslaw is a hit or miss kind of side, especially when you order from a fast food joint. But KFC’s is always the perfect combination of creamy, tangy, and crunchy – without those overbearing vinegar and mayo flavors that totally wreck a good bowl of slaw. You can order individual sides of it with your bucket meals or smaller portions that go with entrees and sandwiches.
Fast food guacamole usually tastes store-bought and just plain nasty. But Chipotle’s tastes like it came straight from the kitchen – probably because it does. The Mexican fast food chain makes their guac fresh each day with the following ingredients:
- 2 ripe Hass avocados
- 2 tsp lime juice
- 2 tbsp cilantro (chopped)
- 1/4 cup red onion (diced)
- 1/2 jalapeño including seeds (diced)
- 1/4 tsp kosher salt
Sure, you can order guac on top of your burrito bowl, but I’ve got a life hack you need to remember for next time you visit Chipotle. Order your bowl with a side of chips and guac. Instead of eating them separately, dip your chips in the guac and then use them to scoop up what’s in your bowl. This will forever change the way you eat Chipotle.