The Most Trusted Fast-Food Restaurants in America—and the Least Trusted

You might be surprised to find out which spot consumers trust the least!

Whether it’s hotel chains, antacids, or health and wellness, brands must establish trust with their consumers to succeed in today’s economy. Consumer trust in brands is no different in the food industry. So, when it comes to casual dining, which are the most trusted fast-food restaurants?

Clarify Capital recently surveyed 1,000 Americans about the brands they trust across several industries, as well as consulting the Better Business Bureau. Amazon, across the board, was the most trusted brand in America—no surprise, considering 166 million Americans have Amazon Prime memberships.

What are the most and least trusted restaurants?

But within the fast-food industry, opinions seem more divided. Among restaurants, it’s no surprise that the most trusted fast food restaurants are some of the oldest chains in the country: Pizza Hut, KFC, and McDonald’s.

Meanwhile, Chipotle Mexican Grill is the least trusted restaurant in the United States, followed by Sonic Drive-In and Panera Bread. Chiptole’s spot as the No. 1 least trusted fast-food brand could be due to reported food safety issues in the last few years. Whatever the reason, that distrust of Chipotle was greatest among older Americans. Boomers find Chipotle to be the least trustworthy brand across all industries.

How much does brand trust matter to consumers?

“Building consumer trust can significantly affect a company’s growth and success,” said Clarify Capital. “When consumers trust brands, they’re more likely to buy from them, recommend them to their friends, or leave helpful reviews for other consumers or the company.”

Nearly everyone surveyed (90%) said that trust makes them more likely to purchase from a business. Forty-nine percent of respondents said they’d be more likely to recommend a trusted brand to friends, and 43% would leave positive reviews online. Thirty-seven percent would follow a brand on social media.

When asked what makes a brand trustworthy, those surveyed said the following mattered most:

  • Delivers on promises (36%)
  • Asks for honest reviews and feedback (36%)
  • Pricing transparency (35%)
  • Builds relationships with consumers (34%)
  • Consistent performance (33%)
  • Listens to and acts on feedback (31%)
  • Employee treatment transparency (30%)
  • Provides behind-the-scenes info about processes (29%)
  • Easy to use website (29%)
  • Pays employees well (28%)


Jason Wilson
Jason Wilson is a Senior Writer at Reader’s Digest. He has covered travel, culture, food, and drinks for more than two decades, and is the author of three books on wine and spirits, including Godforsaken Grapes and Boozehound. He’s written for the Washington Post, the New York Times, the New Yorker, Travel + Leisure, and many other publications. He’s had a pizza, a breakfast sandwich, and a dessert named after him in three different countries.