These 15 Fast Foods Taste Even Better Than Mom Makes

The heart wants what it wants. And sometimes, the heart wants the very specific flavor of certain fast foods. Sure, you can make healthier versions at home. But some fast food items just have that something that makes them better than all other iterations.

Instead of trying to recreate perfection, order these fast foods whenever you get a craving. Don’t even try to make a better version of our top pick (page 15). The experts know best.

15. Panda Express generously shared this recipe

Panda Express kung pao chicken

The kung pao chicken is a classic. | Panda Express via Facebook

Panda Express serves up its American Chinese classics at malls and airports across America. Its Kung Pao Chicken holds a special place in our hearts with its slightly spicy, slightly sweet flavor. And if you want to try to replicate it, Panda Express has also released its signature recipe. Your version likely won’t taste the same, and it’ll definitely cost more. Even though you can make it, you should leave this one to the pros.

Next: We love the sight of that “fresh donuts” sign at the following spot.

14. The Krispy Kreme glazed earned its cult status

Krispy Kreme Doughnuts face shareholder lawsuits alleging it misled investors

The classic glazed donuts have been around for a while. | Joe Raedle/Getty Images

We know Krispy Kreme serves flavors other than the classic glazed, but why should we care? Krispy Kreme has made their Original Glazed Doughnuts since 1945. The recipe also hasn’t changed since then, and we thank them for that. Better donuts do exist, but nobody can replicate the feather-light, melt-in-your-mouth feel of a Krispy Kreme.

Next: We bet you’ve had one of the following fast foods in the past year.

13. The Burger King serves a Whopper of a sandwich

Burger King Opens First European WHOPPER Bar

Inspiration can come from the craziest of places. | Miguel Villagran/Getty Images

Burger King advertises the Whopper as “America’s Favorite Burger.” And, well, they have a point. More than 11 million customers order Burger King each day, and a lot of them also grab a Whopper. The secret lies in the sauce and that perfectly thin patty. You can make a burger at home or order one any number of spots, but only one Whopper exists.

Next: You can find the following fast foods on just about every corner.

12. Starbucks Frappuccino lives in a league of its own

Frappuccino flavors

It’s the perfect summer drink. | Starbucks

Whether you love a classic Mocha chip or go in for the zany seasonal flavors, Starbucks has the market cornered on coffee drinks. The popular Frappuccino iced coffee has its very own creamy, chilly, slightly slushy texture that no other drink replicates. If you’ve ever blended up ice and coffee in an attempt at replicating it, you probably also made a Starbucks run shortly thereafter.

Next: If you love orange juice, you probably also go for the following.

11. Orange you glad you can get a Julius?

Orange Julius

You can also get yours at Dairy Queen. | Terence Ong/Wikimedia Commons

The longtime mall food court standby Orange Julius outranks both smoothies and straight orange juice. But if you try to make it at home, you’ll regret it. The chain got its start after a man named Julius wanted to drink orange juice. In order to reduce the acidity of the citrus, he added sugar, milk, egg whites, and vanilla to the juice. Fast food sippers have never tasted the same.

Next: Speaking of sippers, you probably already love the following soda.

10. McDonald’s Coca-Cola just tastes better

New York City Board Of Health Approves Bloomberg's Over Sized Sugary Drink Ban

There’s just something about it. | Mario Tama/Getty Images

What makes McDonald’s Coca-cola taste so much better than anywhere else? Two things: temperature and serving. “The water and Coca-Cola syrup are pre-chilled before entering our fountain dispensers with the ratio of syrup set up to allow for ice to melt,” McDonald’s revealed. “We also keep our fountain beverage system cold so your drink can always be at the peak of refreshing.”

It also uses wider straws than many other fast foods establishments. McDonald’s swears that means the drink “hits all of your taste buds.” However, it probably has more to do with maximizing carbonation. Either way, if you don’t order a Coke at McDonald’s, you’re doing it wrong.

Next: Never try to recreate the following if you don’t like disappointment.

9. Wendy’s frosty with fries hits all the right notes

Three Wendy's Frosties

It’s in its own category. | John Shearer/Getty Images

If you’ve never dipped your fries in a chocolate Frosty, have you ever had Wendy’s? We’ve tried, and we can’t find the icy, slightly slushy texture of the iconic Frosty anywhere else. Dipping a hot, crispy fry into that cold chocolate creates an addictive salty-sweet treat. Even the Frosty alone just doesn’t have a peer. You want it right now — admit it.

Next: Many other fast foods purveyors serve the following sandwich, but not the same way.

8. Chik-fil-A chicken sandwich serves up nostalgia

Chick-fil-A sandwich

The sandwiches are next level. | Chick-Fil-A via Instagram

It seems like every restaurant, from fast foods to high-end, has a fried chicken sandwich on the menu. But Chik-fil-A definitely pioneered this one. The deceptively simple sandwich features an eggwash-dipped and fried chicken breast on a buttery, soft roll. That chicken comes out perfectly crispy and the entire sandwich steams slightly in the foil paper sleeve. Imitators might have higher-quality meat or artisan buns, but nowhere hits the nostalgia quite as well as Chik-fil-A.

Next: Even your favorite sports bar can’t pull off the following quite as well.

7. Arby’s mozzarella sticks are a home run

Arby's Mozzarella sticks

The mozzarella sticks are unbeatable. | Arby’s via Facebook

You might think Arby’s seasoned french fries represent the pro move here. And we would never judge you for ordering those excellent curly fries. But the real side star comes in its crunchy, cheesy mozzarella sticks. Fans say they also prefer the mozzarella sticks at Arby’s to any others — even at sports bars, stadiums, and other mozz stick standards.

Next: The following breakfast snack doesn’t taste the same anywhere else.

6. McDonald’s hash browns have no equal

McDonald's breakfast

McDonald’s breakfast is always such a treat. | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

These flat, crispy, greasy potato cakes taste just right with an Egg McMuffin, especially on the go. The shatteringly crisp exterior and slightly mushy interior remind us of a flattened tater tot. That creates a texture you would have a hard time recreating in a home kitchen. Real potatoes also don’t have the same moisture content as the flakes McDonald’s uses for that soft inside. Save yourself the sadness and order these out.

Next: This iconic burger also represents a high standard.

5. Shake Shack’s SmokeShack burger smokes the competition


There’s a reason the line is always so long. | Andrew Burton/Getty Images

Shake Shack’s SmokeShack has every ingredient a good burger needs. The smashed-crisp beef with crispy edges, crunchy bacon, basically liquefied cheese, cherry peppers for zing, all on a pillowy egg roll. Sure, you can buy all of those ingredients and give it a try at home. But the famous Shake Shack smashed meat also rarely tastes the same anywhere else. You’ll have a better burger experience at the Shack; trust us.

Next: The following ice cream also has no good imitators.

4. Dairy Queen Blizzard snows every other sweet treat

Dairy Queen's Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Blizzard

Even Warren Buffett is a fan. | Dairy Queen via Facebook

We all have our favorite flavors, but any single Blizzard represents a gold standard of dessert. Yes, other fast food chains also offer ice cream with mixed-in cookie or candy pieces. But something about the signature Dairy Queen ice milk creates the perfect texture to hold all of those sweet extras. You just can’t make a good Blizzard at home, at least not without some specialized equipment.

Next: This convenience store chain also serves an iconic cold treat.

3. 7-Eleven Slurpee even has its own holiday

7-eleven slurpee

They are unhealthy but so delicious. | 7-Eleven via Facebook

If you’ve ever hit up free slurpee day at 7-Eleven, you already know the majesty of these drinks. These super unhealthy cups of sugar, ice, food dye, and artificial flavors only barely qualify as food. But they also really hit the spot, especially in warm weather. With the consistency falling somewhere between a smoothie and a sno-cone, the Slurpee has many imitators, but no equals.

Next: We bet you will start craving the following right away.

2. Dunkin Donuts Munchkins make the perfect snack

Dunkin Donuts Munchkins

It doesn’t get much better. | Dunkin’ Donuts via Facebook

In order to determine the real popularity of Dunkin Donuts Munchkins, try this experiment. Buy a box of assorted, place them in the middle of your office break room, and see what happens. They go quickly, don’t they? These donut holes provide the ideal serving size, as well as a cute, portable form. Other chains also serve similar confections, but Dunkin’s rank high in popularity.

Next: The following top pick represents fast food perfection.

1. McDonald’s french fries taste like childhood

French fries sit on a table at a McDonald's restaurant

Were you even a kid if you didn’t harass your parents for McDonald’s fries? | Scott Olson/Getty Images

Let’s face it: McDonald’s makes the gold standard of french fries. You can taste them right now, can’t you? These skinny, salty, fatty fries probably represent the first french fries most people ever try. As a result, that signature scent and flavor get burned into your brain for unparalleled craveability. We unconsciously compare every other french fry to these babies. And we bet you do, too.

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