Wendy’s is the most expensive fast-food chain. The cheapest? Taco Bell

So much for dining out on a dime.

Menu prices are up significantly, 12.9%, at fan favorites like Wendy’s (WEN), Chick-fil-A, Taco Bell, Burger King and McDonald’s (MCD).

The most expensive of the five fast food joints? Wendy’s. Over the past year the cost to dine at the Dublin, Ohio-based chain increased by 35%, making it the largest bump across the Big Five this year.

That’s according to new data from Pricelisto.com, which gathered the data from in-store visits, phone interviews and uploaded information from business owners nationally.

This year, Wendy’s overtook Burger King as the most expensive fast-food chain with an average item price of $6.63. In 2021, Burger King cost an average of $5.03.

The higher ticket items driving up the average cost include the Wendy’s “Baconator,” with a suggested retail price of $9.62, although down $2.51 from its price last year. Next up, its double cheeseburger, or what is calls a “Dave’s Double” with a half-pound of beef. That retails for $7.69, up 36 cents from last year.

The outliers: The “Spicy Chicken Sandwich” declined 12 cents to $6.33; the “Double Stack,” or two patty burger, now costs $3.22, down 13 cents from last year.

Chick-fil-A had the second largest price increase over the past 12 months with an average price of $4.65 for its menu options. That’s up 15.6% from 2021.

The grilled option of its beloved chicken sandwich is up 66 cents from 2021, with an average national price of $7.23. The basic breaded option was nearly $2 less, $5.47, but still higher year-over-year by 51 cents.

The “Chick-n-Minis,” its version of chicken nuggets, on average cost $4.63, down 68 cents from last year.

DEDHAM, MA – NOVEMBER 8: A chicken sandwich with waffle fries is pictured at the Chick-Fil-A restaurant in Dedham, MA on Nov. 8, 2017. (Photo by David L. Ryan/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

Taco Bell prices saw the third largest increase, up 14.6% from 2021 with an average price tag of $3.37, lowest of the big five. All the options pointed out in the report are now marked under $5 in 2021.

All of the popular menu items mentioned in the report went down in price, including the chicken quesadilla, $4.56, down $1.26 from its 2022 price, “Nachos BellGrande,” which costs $4.69, down $1.35 from $6.04 in 2021, the “Crunchwrap Supreme,” $4.42, down $1.22 from last year.

Burger King saw an increase of 2% year-over-year with an average price tag of $5.14 for an item.

Its chicken fries saw the biggest jump, 16.9%, from 2021, up 67 cents. Some of the largest ticket items went down in price like the “Double Whopper,” decreased by 39 cents to $7.03 this year, followed by the “Original Chicken Sandwich” (not to be confused with the “Ch’King”) costs $5.40, down nearly 50 cents.

Employees serve customers at a McDonald's fast food restaurant in New York on May 27, 2022. - Fast-food workers protesting in New York city to demand $20 an hour would have been unthinkable prior to the pandemic, but amid worsening US labor shortage more companies are granting huge pay hikes.
But workers at the lower end of the income scale continue to lag behind.
As the world's largest economy reopened amid a wining Covid-19 threat, companies have struggled to fill open positions. (Photo by Angela Weiss / AFP) (Photo by ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images)

Employees serve customers at a McDonald’s fast food restaurant in New York on May 27, 2022. (Photo by Angela Weiss / AFP) (Photo by ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images)

The only fast food chain that saw an overall decrease in price? McDonald’s.

The average price of a Golden Arches product in 2022 is $3.77, down five percent from 2021. French fries may have moved that number lower, down 9 cents from last year, to $2.25, and the double cheeseburger, $2.88 down 3 cents from 2021.

The “Egg McMuffin,” however, was up 22 cents, the iconic “Big Mac,” up 17 cents, “McChicken,” up 4 cents and a “Quarter Pounder,” up 14 cents.

A Pricelisto.com spokesperson told Yahoo Finance that beyond these popular items, there have been price decreases on other items and “possibly some money saving measures taken with staffing or delivery of food” at McDonald’s.

Overall, the key inflation drivers were wages, transportation, energy and shipping costs for ingredients, a Pricelisto.com said.

Still, Americans are apparently still putting up with the higher prices. Said a spokesperson for Pricelisto.com: “With the busy lives we lead, turning to fast-food is the easiest option for many people.”

Peter Saleh, managing director and restaurant analyst at BTIG, agreed. In a recent interview after McDonald’s third quarter earnings results, he emphasized, “consumers are not necessarily pushing back on the higher prices.”

“Bottom line is consumers still have to eat, so you’re either eating at the grocery store or you’re eating at restaurants…grocery store pricing is up more so than restaurant pricing. At this point, restaurants are actually providing a little bit more value than they have historically, “he added.

Brooke DiPalma is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter at @BrookeDiPalma or email her at [email protected].

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