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What's the Best Food Franchise to Join?

The best food franchise concepts combine beloved consumer offerings with a proven business model.

The best food franchises to join in 2021 are those with strong profitability, streamlined operations and established brand names. 

The food service industry — specifically the QSR and fast-casual segments — is synonymous with franchising, and there are hundreds of food franchise opportunities. Still, whether it be full-service burger restaurants, grab-and-go breakfast establishments or self-serve salad concepts, not all franchises are created equal. The best food franchise opportunities have robust (oftentimes legendary) brand strength and consumer loyalty, a proven support system for their franchisees and impressive unit-level economics. 

Here are some of the food franchises that consistently rank highest in all of those categories:


  • Startup costs: $1,300,000–$2,300,000
  • Units: 39,000+

Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen

  • Startup costs: $384,000–$2,600,000
  • Units: 3,377


  • Startup costs: $200,000–$1,700,000
  • Units: 13,125


  • Startup costs: $342,990-$1,982,225
  • Units: 2,605

Taco Bell

  • Startup costs: $525,525 to $2,800,000
  • Units: 7,072

These food franchises have a scalable business model and thousands of profitable stores in operation. Still, the best franchise for any individual franchisee will match their skills and interests, and it’s important to understand how to evaluate which concept is the right fit for you. 

Look closely at each franchise’s financial requirements, evaluate whether they match your investment range, and, if not, look for financing options. Also, make sure to read the FDD carefully and learn all you can about the franchisor, the brand culture and support infrastructure. Last, but certainly not least, remember the franchise also has to have available territories near you — many of these legacy fast food brands are likely sold out in most markets.

The number of franchise opportunities out there can be overwhelming, but if you do your due diligence and weigh the pros and cons, you can find the perfect food franchise opportunity for you.

To help you on your search, here are some of our other favorite food franchise brands to invest in this year:

Best BBQ Franchises To Buy in 2021

Best Breakfast Franchises To Buy in 2021

Best Mexican Restaurant Franchises To Buy in 2021

Best Chicken Franchises To Buy in 2021

Best Restaurant Franchises To Buy in 2021

Best Sandwich Franchises To Buy in 2021

Best Seafood Franchises To Buy in 2021

Best Burger Franchises To Buy in 2021