Try the Best Side Dishes at Your Favorite Fast Food Restaurants

Even the most filling fast food burger needs a side dish, and you want to get the most delicious meal you can for your buck. If you happen to swing by any of the following spots, you might want to wear loose-fitting pants. We found the best fast food side dishes money can buy. We dare you to get all the way to the top spot without craving all of these.

The top slot winner probably surprises exactly no one, but it will make you hungry (page 15).

15. Deep-fried cheese curds at Culver’s

culver's burger and cheese curds

Try Culver’s iconic cheese curds. | Culver’s via Facebook

The only way we can think of improving cheese curds? Deep fry them. At Culver’s, they take the squeaky Wisconsin stand-by and improve on it by wrapping the curds in batter before tossing them in hot oil. The result comes out creamy, crispy, and udder-ly delicious.

Next: This side dish choice may sound controversial, but hear us out.

14. Mac and cheese at KFC

KFC

Switch your mashed potato order for some mac and cheese. | Aureliefrance/iStock/Getty Images

OK, we understand that everyone gets mashed potatoes at KFC. They go great with fried chicken, no one can deny that. But have you also tried the thick, creamy, cheesy macaroni and cheese? If not, go do it. Yes, right now. You will not regret it.

Next: The following chain may have singlehandedly reinvigorated this food.

13. Chili cheese tater tots at Sonic

Sonic Drive-In Restaurant exterior

Dress up your tater tots with some chili and cheese. | Wolterk/iStock/Getty Images

At Sonic, you have to order the tater tots. That just goes without saying. But if you really want a true taste sensation, you will also get them with chili and cheese. This one could almost substitute for a meal, but we won’t judge if you order it as a side dish.

Next: When at the following fast food joint, we have a pro move for you.

12 Mashed potatoes and a biscuit at Popeyes 

Popeyes

Get gravy on the side. | Coast-to-Coast/iStock/Getty Images

At Popeyes, order mashed potatoes and a biscuit, but with this key alteration. Get the gravy on the side, for both biscuits and gravy plus chicken and mashed potatoes. Dip that biscuit in the gravy and you have an amazing side dish. Then, dip your chicken in the gravy, and you’ll think you died and went to heaven.

Next: Forget fries at the following burger-centric restaurant.

11. Onion rings at Burger King

Burger King

Choose onion rings over fries. | Lawcain/iStock/Getty Images

Many of us probably think of Burger King as the second fiddle to McDonald’s, but it has some truly delicious options, too. Skip the fries and go for the onion rings with your burger. These crunchy little rings of goodness will really up your meal game.

Next: The fast food version of this snack tastes just as good as the bar kind.

10. Mozzarella sticks at Arby’s 

Arby's restaurant

They have that Arby’s signature seasoning. | Tim Boyle/Staff/Getty Images

You might think the seasoned curly fries represent the pro move at Arby’s. But their mozzarella sticks really take the cake. They even come with a little bit of that signature seasoning, which just levels it up even further. Go with the mozz sticks — you’ll never go back.

Next: If you like cheese, check out the following food.

9. Jalapeño poppers at Carl’s Jr./Hardee’s

Hardee's restaurant exterior and sign

This is for you, spicy food fans. | Wolterk/iStock/Getty Images

Spicy food fans, have we got a side dish for you. Carl’s Jr./Hardee’s fills jalapeños with cheese and covers them in batter, making them the most delicious vegetable ever. The cheese also moderates the spice level, which has us wondering why we don’t eat every veggie that way.

Next: The only better food than macaroni and cheese is this next one.

8. Baked mac and cheese at Church’s

church's chicken

You can’t resist the baked mac and cheese. | Dwight Burdette/Wikimedia Commons

How can you possibly improve on good ol’ mac and cheese? Why, adding a crispy, crunchy layer of baked goodness on top. At Church’s, they do just that and the results have us salivating. If you have a better chicken side than cheesy mac, we need to hear it.

Next: Speaking of baked, don’t sleep on the next side.

7. Baked potato with chili at Wendy’s

Wendys outlet

Load up that baked potato. | Jetcityimage/iStock/Getty Images

If you want to forego the fried food, go for a baked potato at Wendy’s. And to basically negate that healthy choice, add cheese and chili. Rumor has it, Wendy’s makes its chili from discarded, overcooked burger remnants. So you sort of have two burgers, if you think about it. We call that a win.

Next: The following chain also took a classic and made it even better.

6. Chicken rings at White Castle

White Castle

Don’t forget about the chicken rings. | Tim Boyle/Getty Images

Sometimes, you’d rather mix it up at White Castle than order a dozen tiny burgers to stuff down your gullet. If so, enter the chicken ring. Yes, White Castle took the classic chicken nugget and married it with an onion ring. The result also comes in the perfect shape for snacking, or you can order these as their own sliders.

Next: Don’t forget dessert at this next iconic chain.

5. Baked apple pie at McDonald’s

McDonald's apple pie

It’s a worthy dessert. | Scott Olson/Getty Images

A lot of people harbor serious admiration for the McDonald’s apple pie. And that love does not come unfounded. Even though the baked version lacks the  shattering crispiness the fried ones used to have, they still taste pretty great. And yes, an apple pie also makes a great side for savory burger or chicken sandwich. But don’t take our word for it.

Next: You should not leave the following chain without these.

4. Cheesy potato wedges at Jack in the Box

Jack-in-the-box restaurant

They could be their own meal. | Jetcityimage/iStock/Getty Images

Jack in the Box’s bacon cheddar potato wedges could make a meal in and of themselves. But come on, you really want them as a side. These little miracles come with potato wedges, melted cheddar cheese, cheese sauce, and bacon. Yes, you counted two kinds of cheese.

Next: This side almost seems like a healthy choice. Almost.

3. Red beans and rice at Popeyes

Popeyes

It’s an original side. | Joe Raedle/Getty Images

We all know that Popeyes has some seriously solid side options. You really can’t go wrong with any of them, but the red beans and rice earns points for pure originality. The surprisingly authentic Louisiana standard makes a great substitute for fries and will give you a taste of Cajun country. Or at least, a fast food approximation of it.

Next: This side also satisfies a carnal need.

2. Nachos at Taco Bell

Taco Bell restaurant

Get a nice snack of nachos. | Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

When we say nachos, we don’t mean the full meal with all the fixin’s. We mean the little paper packet of chips with a cup of cheese the color of toxic waste. Those Taco Bell chips don’t taste like much on their own, but the cheese more than makes up for it. Go ahead and scoop out the last little bit with your finger. We won’t tell.

Next: The following side represents a perfect fast food, period.

1. McDonald’s french fries

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

You can’t say no to these iconic fries. | Scott Olson/Getty Images

No list of fast food sides would be complete without the iconic McDonald’s french fries. You can taste them right now, can’t you? These perfectly crispy little beauties represent the very best of all fast food side dishes. For that matter, they’ve earned themselves a spot on the best fast food, full stop. If you go to McDonald’s and don’t get fries, you didn’t really go to McDonald’s. Hey, we don’t make the rules.

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