The Best Tasting Order Under $3 At 14 Fast Food Chains

Shit is expensive. Gas prices may be trending down right now but inflation has our dollars stretched pretty thin. Right now, finding ways to save money is vital, unless, you know, you’re fine with spending your last days of summer at home instead of luxuriating on some beach or at a dope music festival. We don’t want that for you — you deserve better!

In an effort to help you save some money, we’re shouting out the best food under $3 from all the big fast food chains. This was harder than anticipated. When we were first putting together this article we had it aimed squarely at the best dollar menu buys and then we realized, fast food restaurants don’t really have dollar menus anymore. McDonald’s has a menu they literally call the $1, $2, $3 Dollar Menu, and it doesn’t have anything under $2! So we bumped up the price to $3 and still couldn’t include all of our favorite chains (we’re looking at you Shake Shack!). ‘

Our goal was to put together a list of affordable bites that still delivered on big flavors — eating bad-tasting food that’s cheap is easy. So if you want to find the best way to stretch your dollar at all your favorite fast food restaurants, see our list below and add your suggestions to the comments. Let’s eat!

Arby’s — Jalapeño Roast Beef Slider

Best Food Under 3

Price: $2.19

Arby’s Jalapeño Roast Beef Slider is one of those rare budget buys that doesn’t feel like it’s cutting any corners or making any compromises. You get layers of the same zesty, sweet roast beef Arby’s is known for, just less, with a slice of nutty Swiss, and fresh grilled jalapeños, providing a gentle kick of heat against the sweet beefy and smokey flavors.

It’s way better than you’d expect it to be. Of course, it isn’t as satisfying as getting a full-sized Arby’s Roast Beef sandwich but still definitely gets the job done.

The Bottom Line:

A three to four-bite slider that offers big flavors despite its small size.

Find your nearest Arby’s here.

Burger King — French Toast Sticks

Best Food Under $3
Burger King

Price: $1.99

Last week I tried Wendy’s new French Toast sticks and was incredibly disappointed. Then a lot of people started telling me that Burger King had the best French Toast Sticks. If you’ve followed our fast food rankings you’ll know that I hate Burger King, I think the brand is pretty awful at everything they do, so I was intrigued to try these.

And you know what? They’re pretty damn good.

They’re crispy on the outside and perfectly soft and spongey on the inside. The flavor combines maple notes with butter and cinnamon and is served alongside a dippable side of maple-esque corn syrup. It’s better than it should be.

The Bottom Line:

Burger King’s French Toast Sticks are probably the best fast food iteration of French Toast.

Find your nearest Burger King here.

Carl’s Jr. — Natural-Cut French Fries

Best Food Under $3

Price: $2.99

If this feels like a lazy choice, trust us, we tried to pick something else. The only other thing on Carl’s Jr.’s menu under $3 is a cinnamon roll, so I tried it, and I can’t in good conscience recommend the cinnamon roll — even if it would probably make for a more satisfying meal than a boring order of French fries. And Carl’s Jr’s French fries are really f*cking boring. They’re a salty soggy mess that pales in comparison to the Criss-Cut fries, which will, unfortunately, cost you nearly $5.

The Bottom Line:

Maybe don’t eat at Carl’s Jr if you want to save money, everything is pretty pricey here, even those weird Chicken Stars.

Find your nearest Carl’s Jr. here.

Chick-fil-A — Breakfast Filet

Best Food Under $3

Price: $2.10

I was ready to write Chick-fil-A off as too expensive for this particular article, but it turns out you can buy a Chick-fil-A breakfast filet for just $2.10, which leaves you a bit of money left over to add cheese or egg and make it a more substantial meal. You can also ask for a side of lettuce and they won’t even charge you for it!

Chick-fil-A’s breast filets are significantly smaller than what you’d find in one of their sandwiches (we give it about three-to-four bites) but still has that same pickle-brine peanut oil fried flavor that Chick-fil-A is known for, though I taste a tinge of sweetness in there that I don’t get from the bigger filet. Maybe that’s just the sensation of eating the chicken without any bread.

You can order this filet grilled or fried, unfortunately, Chick-fil-A doesn’t make a spicy breakfast filet, but they do have hot sauce.

The Bottom Line:

A small but satisfying tiny breast filet of chicken that is cheap enough to add extras to while still falling under that $3 price tag.

Find your nearest Chick-fil-A here.

Chipotle — $3 Single Taco

Price: $3.10

All credit for this one goes to TikTok user Wyaleen Ahmed, who first posted this hack on how to come away from Chipotle with a whole lot of food for just $3 toTikTok last month. Technically, it’s just over $3 so it should be disqualified from our list, but we think we can look the other way for a few cents (you can probably find the spare change under the seat in your car or in a pair of pants you haven’t worn in awhile).

Wyaleen’s original video isn’t on her TikTok anymore, but the hack still exists in reposts and is still making the rounds on the app. The idea behind Ahmed’s hack is to order a single taco with a bunch of extra ingredients. You could do that, or you could just try to make a taco that will actually taste good. To do that, you kind of have to ignore Ahmed’s advice.

Order a crunchy taco over the soft shell, trust us, it’s way tastier, get a side of white rice (free of charge), a side order of pinto beans (also free), and load it up with fajitas, cheese, and lettuce. If you think that sounds dry and boring, it’s because you need to order your salsa, sour cream, and roasted chili-corn salsa on the side. That isn’t to get more food, that’s just because you’re dealing with a hard shell and you’re going to want to keep moisture to a minimum so the tortilla doesn’t get soggy and crack.

Now you’ve got a delicious crunchy chicken taco with a side of rice and beans, aka a full meal!

The Bottom Line:

Chipotle is expensive, but you can the single taco order allows for a lot of creativity for out-of-the-box thinkers looking to score a lot of food.

Find your nearest Chipotle here.

Del Taco — Bean & Cheese Burrito

Best Food Under 3
Del Taco

Price: $1.39

Del Taco has a whole menu with 20 items under $2, so if you want to eat on a tight budget, this is your place. We have to give the top spot to the Bean and Cheese Burrito over everything else offered on the menu though. Del Taco slow cooks their beans, and that’s a rarity in fast food. The result is fluffy tender beans full of fragrant earthy flavors like oregano, chili powder, garlic and onion. Combine that with Del Taco’s freshly grated cheese, and you have a perfectly mushy and melty bean and cheese that tastes like the sort of thing you’d make at home, unlike what they sell you at Taco Bell.

When you order this Del Taco will ask if you want Green or Red, for a tomato-forward flavor, do the red, but if you want heat, get the green.

This burrito, aside from being delicious, is also insanely cheap. At $1.39 you could buy two, or pick up something else from the 20 under $2 menu and you’ll have a whole meal’s worth of food.

The Bottom Line:

Affordable and flavorful, it’s the best of both worlds.

Find your nearest Del Taco here.

El Pollo Loco — Original BRC Burrito

Best Under
El Pollo Loco

Price: $2.49

El Pollo Loco’s BRC burrito is way too good for how cheap it is. Every component of this burrito hits, El Pollo Loco’s beans are tender and subtly spicy, the jack cheese nutty, sweet, and creamy, and when combined with the rice has the perfect mouthfeel and texture. With a dab of spicy avocado salsa with every bite, this burrito is both extremely flavorful and filling, coming in at nearly 500 calories.

This is a straight-up meal!

The Bottom Line:

One of the most flavorful items on this entire list for the least amount of money.

Find your nearest El Pollo Loco here.

In-N-Out — Cheeseburger

Best Food Under $3
In N Out

Price: $2.95

In-N-Out gets a lot of credit for making great cheeseburgers, but I don’t think they get enough credit for how cheap they keep prices. This is still one of the cheapest places you can get a really delicious high-quality cheeseburger, and while the single has nothing on the culinary masterpiece that is the Double-Double, it’s still pretty damn good.

In-N-Out has some of the best American cheese in all of fast food, it melts perfectly, and features a salty flavor that pairs well with the scrawny but flavorful meat patty. Add chopped chilies and green onions to your cheeseburger for more flavor, and together with In-N-Out’s thousand island-style sauce and thick juicy tomatoes, you have the best cheeseburger you’re ever going to eat for under $3.

The Bottom Line:

Probably the single best item on this entire list, In-N-Out could charge double for this burger and people would cram into the drive-thru to order it.

Find your nearest In-N-Out here.

Jack in the Box — Two Tacos

Best Food Under $3
Jack in the Box

Price: $1.79

Yeah, Jack in the Box tacos aren’t good, we sometimes aren’t even sure if the tacos are actual human food, but sometimes nothing hits the spot quite like these weird soy-based greasy tacos. The lettuce is almost always wilted and bland, the meat questionable, they put a literal slice of American cheese into the thing, it’s weird, it’s off-putting, but order these while buzzed, drunk, high, or hungover, and tell me this isn’t one of the most satisfyingly salty, crunchy, and greasy tacos you’ve ever had from a drive-thru.

The Bottom Line:

It’s the weirdest taco you’ll ever eat, but it’s only a matter of time before you find yourself strangely addicted to these.

Find your nearest Jack in the Box here.

KFC — A La Carte Drum (Original Recipe)

Best Food Under $3

Price: $2.19

At KFC you have two dark meat options for under $3, the thigh, and the drum stick. The thigh is going to get you more meat, but nothing beats the juicy tender bite of the drum. We strongly recommend you opt for KFC’s Original Recipe which is less crunchy than the Extra Crispy, but way more flavorful, combining flavors of garlic, onion, thyme, black pepper, and oregano for a chicken batter with a remarkable depth of flavor. Popeyes might have the crunch and a great spicy option but KFC’s Original Recipe gives Popeyes best a run for its money. If only they made an Original Recipe sandwich!

The Bottom Line:

You’re getting a freshly prepared piece of bone-in-fried chicken for under $3, it doesn’t get better than that! Someone had to drudge this chicken in batter with their actual hands — you’re getting that level of effort for a steal.

Find your nearest KFC here.

McDonald’s — McDouble Cheeseburger

Best Food Under $3

Price: $2.49

No one can really explain why the McDouble Cheeseburger is good, maybe it’s the nostalgia, maybe it’s that undeniable McDonald’s flavor (they sugar the beef), but for whatever reason people swear by this super cheap option from McDonald’s. McDonald’s isn’t generally cheap — the average combo will run you anywhere between $8 and $10 — so it’s actually pretty surprising that they have a whole ass double cheeseburger for this cheap.

This tiny double features two meat patties, two slices of cheese, pickles, onions, ketchup, and mustard. As a cheeseburger, it’s kind of awful and overly salty and sweet, but it has this flavor that just screams “McDonald’s!” and we can’t help but love it for that.

The Bottom Line:

The best tasting bad cheeseburger you’ll ever eat.

Find your nearest McDonald’s here.

Popeyes — Spicy Leg and Biscuit

Best Food Under $3

Price: $2.99

You wouldn’t know it looking at the Popeyes app, but you can order chicken a la carte, and even better, each a la carte order comes with a biscuit. That’s a whole piece of fried chicken and a biscuit for just under $3. If you really wanted to, you could pull chunks of meat off your chicken and sandwich it between your biscuit, drizzle it with honey, and have a spicy hot makeshift sandwich.

Popeyes chicken is tender and always juicy with a crunchy breading that combines pepper, garlic, and onion powder, with a heavy layer of spicy and smokey cayenne on the spicy blend.

The Bottom Line:

Popeyes a la carte chicken is one of their best-kept secrets.

Find your nearest Popeyes here.

Raising Canes — Chicken Finger + Texas toast

Best Under 3
Raising Canes

Price: $1.59 (Tender) + .99¢ (Toast)

This isn’t the most exciting order but it gets the job done and it tastes great. Order your Cane’s tender extra crispy, order that Texas toast BOB style (that’s buttered on both sides), drizzle the Cane’s sauce on your toast, place the tender on top, and you’ve got a delicious half-sandwich that tastes better than Raising Cane’s actual chicken tender sandwich. It’s filling enough to satisfy, but it tastes so delicious you’re going to wish you bit the bullet and ordered a full meal.

The Bottom Line:

A better chicken sandwich than Cane’s actual chicken sandwich, for half the price.

Find your nearest Raising Cane’s here.

Taco Bell — Soft/Crunchy Taco

Best Under 3
Taco Bell Wiki

Price: $1.79

We don’t have a real preference over the soft or crunchy Taco Bell Taco, both have that distinctive Taco Bell salty grease flavor, and both have their benefits. The soft feels more substantial and filling, and the beefy flavor is a bit easier to taste but the crunchy taco has a better mouthfeel and texture. Pick your poison.

The Bottom Line:

Taco Bell’s tacos aren’t great, but they’re cheap, get the job done, and taste twice as good as the burritos.

Find your nearest Taco Bell here.

Wendy’s — Jr. Bacon Cheeseburger

Best Food Under $3

Price: $1.60

Wendy’s makes some of the best cheeseburgers and bacon in fast food, and you’re getting both of those things for under $2, that’s a steal! The Jr. Bacon Cheeseburger isn’t as substantial as the Dave’s Single, the meat is considerably smaller here, about two ounces, but it features that same savory meaty flavor of the thicker patties, while the bacon supplies smokey notes and a crunchy bite. The burger also comes with cheese, tomato, romaine lettuce, and mayo with the option to add everything from crinkle-cut pickles and onions free of charge.

Skip those and add bourbon sauce to ratchet up the savory smokey flavors and you’ll come out at just over $2.

The Bottom Line:

Not as satisfying or decadent as the real thing, but Wendy’s Jr. still offers the same big flavors in a smaller, more affordable package.

Find your nearest Wendy’s here.

About the Author: TigerWebs

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