Ranked: Largest Fast Food Restaurant Chains in the World

Fast food restaurants offer a fixed menu of items that are quick to prepare and serve. Fast food is typically less nutritious than other foods, but it can be very convenient for people with a busy lifestyle. 

Fast food was developed to provide a quick meal for people in a hurry (for example, employees, travelers, businessmen, etc.). By prioritizing speedy service, the restaurant ensured that customers with limited time would not be inconvenienced by waiting for their food to be cooked on the spot. Fast food has become a multibillion-dollar industry for those with no time to spare.

Largest Fast Food Restaurant Chains in the World

1. Subway

Facade of SUBWAY restaurant

In 1965, aged 17, Subway founder Fred DeLuca set out to fulfill his dream of becoming a medical doctor by getting into college. Unfortunately, he didn’t have enough money. He teamed up with family friend Dr. Peter Buck who loaned him $1,000 to start ‘Pete’s Super Submarines’ in Bridgeport, Connecticut. The restaurant was an immediate success, and within the first year, DeLuca opened a second store, and the rest is history!

Incredibly, Subway has over 41,500 restaurants in over 100 countries, making it the largest fast-food chain in the world!

2. McDonald’s


McDonald’s is the largest fast-food restaurant chain in the world. The Big Mac inventor has more than 37,900 locations worldwide and serves 68 million customers daily. [1]

Founded in 1940 by Richard and Maurice McDonald, the company operates under a franchise model, with more than 80% of its restaurants run by independent franchisees. Its most famous franchisee is Ray Kroc, who bought the company from the McDonald brothers in 1961.

The original McDonald’s was first located in San Bernardino, California, and later moved to Downey in 1953. The company’s headquarters are now located in Oak Brook, Illinois but are scheduled to move to Chicago by 2018.

A McDonald’s restaurant might be owned by a franchisee, an affiliate, or the corporation itself. The corporation’s revenues come from the rent, royalties, and fees paid by the franchisees, as well as sales in company-operated restaurants.

3. Starbucks Coffee Company

Starbucks coffee shop

Starbucks Coffee Company is well-known by everyone in the world. The company, which is one of the largest chains of coffee shops in the world, has more than 32,000 stores in over 80 countries. It was founded in 1971 in Seattle, Washington, by Jerry Baldwin and Gordon Bowker. [2]

The company roasts, markets, and sells specialty coffee worldwide. In addition to its own brand, the company also markets its products under the following brands: Teavana, Tazo, Seattle’s Best Coffee, and Torrefazione Italia Coffee.

4. KFC

KFC store, Calgary

This is a chain that has built its brand on chicken. KFC was founded by Colonel Harland Sanders in 1930 and has since grown to be the fourth-largest fast-food restaurant chain in the world, with 25,000 locations in 145 countries around the world. [3]

KFC is known for its fried chicken and has expanded its menu to include other variations of chicken, such as grilled or roasted chicken, sandwiches, salads, burgers, and wraps. The company was originally started with a product called “pressure fried chicken pieces,” which was made with Secret Recipe spices.

5. Pizza Hut

Pizza Hut

Pizza Hut has over 18,000 restaurants in more than 100 countries, making it the largest pizza restaurant chain in the world. Dan and Frank Carney (brothers) founded the company in 1958. It all started with a $600 loan from their mother to open a small pizzeria located in Wichita, Kansas. Today, Pizza Hut is now considered one of the largest pizza chains around the globe, with over 18,000 stores located worldwide. [4]

The chain operates under Yum! Brands Inc., along with other famous brands like KFC and Taco Bell. The first international store was opened in Canada back in 1968. 

6. Burger King

Burger King's

The 1990s saw a series of less successful advertising campaigns before an overhauled version of The Burger King character began appearing again, along with new characters such as The Subservient Chicken, which began an Internet sensation after its 2004 launch on Burgerking.com and was later adapted for use by numerous other companies

Since 1977, Burger King has run limited-time offers (LTO), which introduce new items or bring back old ones under different names. They have more than 18,000 restaurants in over 100 countries and US Territories. [5]

7. Domino’s Pizza

Dominos pizza' logo

Domino’s Pizza is the second-largest pizza chain in the world. It started in 1960 and has been growing exponentially since then. There are more than 11,000 Domino’s Pizza stores in more than 75 countries. The company has franchises in over 60 countries outside the United States.

It operates through three brands: Domino’s Pizza, Domino’s Pizza International, and Hungry Howie’s Pizza & Subs. There are 13,400 franchised and corporate stores in the United States and 81 international markets.

Domino’s uses a decentralized model for its operations, which means that each country office is responsible for its own advertising, product development, and research and development (R&D).

In 2020, Domino’s had revenue of $4.12 billion, a huge increase from its 2019 revenue of $3.61 billion. The main reason for this rise was sales growth overseas, where it earns approximately 57% of its sales revenue. [6]

Its net income reached an all-time high of $510.5 million in 2022, and it was $277.9 million in 2017, which is up by almost 83.7%. [7]

8. Dunkin’ Donuts

Dunkin Donuts

Based on yearly revenue, Dunkin’ Donuts is the largest coffee and baked goods chain in the world. It has over 16,000 stores worldwide. The company started as an industrial bakery serving restaurants but eventually evolved into a globalized brand that specializes in donuts and coffee.

Dunkin’ Donuts is especially popular in the Northeast United States, where they are a cultural icon. They are commonly known for their wide selection of donuts and other baked goods, along with their affordable prices and flavor variety of coffees.

The company is currently owned by Dunkin’ Brands Inc., which also owns Baskin-Robbins ice cream shops.

9. Baskin-Robbins

Exterior of Baskin Robbins 31 Flavors Ice Cream

Baskin-Robbins is the world’s largest chain of ice cream specialty shops founded by Burt Baskin and Irv Robbins in 1945. The company is based in Canton, Massachusetts.

Baskin-Robbins was the first ice cream chain to give its customers small taste spoons instead of paper cups, which allowed them to sample flavors before making their purchase.

In 1953, Burt and Irv put 31 flavors on a menu designed by first getting suggestions from store managers across the country on their favorite flavors.

10. Hunt Brothers Pizza

Hunt Brothers Pizza

The third-largest pizza franchise in the world is Hunt Brothers Pizza. You may wonder how a quick-service restaurant that mainly operates inside convenience stores can become so popular. Convenience store owners love this program because it provides them with all the ingredients needed to make fresh pizzas on-site, which are then sold at affordable prices. In fact, this fast-food restaurant chain doesn’t even have an executive chef on staff! 

However, Hunt Brothers Pizza isn’t just limited to their famous pizzas; their menu also includes chicken wings, breadsticks, and cinnamon rolls. 


Of course, the definition of “largest” is somewhat subjective. We only considered the total number of restaurants per chain, and we did not account for size or revenue. However, it’s clear that these ten chains are rapidly expanding and encroaching on other industries as well. With that in mind, we predict that there will be significant changes in the restaurant landscape in the coming years.

The biggest takeaway from this list should be that these 10 major players are all American companies headquartered in various cities in the USA. 


  1. https://firstlawcomic.com/how-many-customers-does-mcdonalds-serve-per-day/ 
  2. https://www.starbucks.co.uk/about-us
  3. https://global.kfc.com/our-locations
  4. https://www.yum.com/company/our-brands/pizza-hut
  5. https://www.rbi.com/English/brands/default.aspx
  6. https://www.macrotrends.net/stocks/charts/DPZ/dominos-pizza-inc/revenue
  7. https://finbox.com/NYSE:DPZ/explorer/ni_company 
  8. https://www.statista.com/statistics/469379/number-of-subway-restaurants-worldwide/
  9. https://www.alltopeverything.com/largest-fast-food-restaurant-chains/