The States and Cities That Pay the Most for Takeout

Takeout is, it seems, an affordable luxury. The average American orders takeout or delivery 4.5 times a month, according to one recent survey. The percentage of those who say they eat takeout for enjoyment (76%) is a little over that of those who do it for convenience (75%).

In truth, there is some overlap between convenience and enjoyment. As one academic puts it, “eat-in has the appeal of the familiar home-related ambiance of socialization and familiarity and does not need extra grooming preparation.” In other words, takeout is the dinner of full-household goblin mode. All pleasure with limited effort.

On the other hand, according to Debrett’s — perhaps the ultimate “arbiter of modern manners” — it is also fine to serve takeout at a dinner party, as long as it is to be “eaten off warmed plates and decanted into suitable china serving dishes.”

Either way, you don’t expect takeout to cost a fortune. But it depends on where you live — for example, Burger King costs 33.96% more in Hawaii than in Maine, while Taco Bell costs 21.81% less than the national average when ordering in Alabama, based on the Grubhub prices analyzed. To give you a clearer idea of where you’re getting the best value and which franchise offers the best value in your city and state, NetCredit found the relative prices for seven of the top takeout joints around the U.S.

What We Did

NetCredit used GrubHub to find the cost of popular menu items from McDonald’s, Pizza Hut, Subway, Burger King, KFC, Popeyes and Taco Bell in the biggest cities in each state. We then calculated the average national price for takeout from these restaurants and the price premium above or below the national average that a local in each state needs to pay for takeout food overall and for each franchise.

Key Findings

  • Anchorage (AK) and Honolulu (HI) both pay over 18% more than the calculated national average for takeout food, the toughest break for any U.S. city.
  • Hattiesburg (MS) gets the best value takeout food of any U.S. city, at -12.14% below the calculated national average.
  • Alaska is the state that pays the biggest premium on takeout food18.17% above the calculated national average.
  • Texas gets the best deal, paying -9.58% less than the calculated national average for takeout.

Hattiesburg, MS, Is the Cheapest Big City for Takeout

The cost of getting takeout can work out cheaper than cooking at home — if you’re single and in the right city. The three most expensive cities — Anchorage, Honolulu and Fairbanks — are from the non-contiguous states, where supply issues push up the cost. Then comes Los Angeles, where the average takeout costs 17.93% more than the calculated national average. Relatively high restaurant taxes and a generally high cost of living contribute to the steep price of a takeaway in Californian cities such as LA and San Diego.

Infographic of cities that pay the most for takeout.

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America’s cheapest big cities for takeout from the brands analyzed are to the south and east of the country. While Texas is the cheapest state overall and has two cities among the ten cheapest, those with the best deal altogether are around 6% cheaper even than their own state average: Hattiesburg (MS) is -12.14% cheaper than the calculated national average, against a Mississippi state average that is -6.60% below the national average. Wheeling (-11.59%) and Parkersburg (-11.52%), both in West Virginia, follow a similar pattern.

Alaska Has the Most Expensive Takeout of Any State

Alaska has the highest markup on the analyzed takeout food by a significant margin. With fewer than a million acres of farmland, food is notoriously expensive in Alaska, contributing to an 18.17% premium on takeout against the calculated national average. Despite this premium, Alaskans in remote areas are willing to pay up and then pay out further (from $10 to $30) for companies such as DoorDash or Uber Eats to literally fly their delivery home.

“There’s literally no roads to connect these people to McDonald’s or to KFC or whatever,” explains Katie Burrows, an airline assistant in southwest Alaska. “Paying an expediter or DoorDashing something to our office and paying $20 is really not that expensive compared to going into town.”

Infographic of states that pay the biggest price premium for takeout.

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The cheapest states tend to be low-cost-of-living areas with strong agricultural or energy sectors, which may contribute to bringing prices down. Restaurants in these states must also factor in competitive pricing since they are represented in high numbers: fifth-cheapest Alabama has the most fast food joints overall, and the cheapest of all, Texas, has the most big-name pizza outlets. States such as these and Tennessee, Mississippi and Utah — the remainder of the five cheapest — lend themselves to the drive-thru experience.

Burger King Costs 1/3 More in Hawaii

Infographic of the price premium for Burger King takeout by state.

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Burger King was established in Florida in 1954. Floridians still get a pretty good deal on their hamburger and fries: a Whopper, French Fries and Bacon Double Cheeseburger in Florida costs precisely -6% less than the calculated national average for these menu items. For reference, McDonald’s is just -2.46% cheaper in Florida than in the rest of the country.

On the far side of the country and over the Eastern Pacific, Hawaii gets the worst deal on Burger King, paying 33.96% over the national average and 14.75% more than second-worst California (19.21%). Even Burger King’s famous ‘$1 taco’ cost $1.39 in the Aloha State when it was available.

Utah – Home of First KFC Franchise – Offers Cheapest Secret Recipe

Infographic of prices for KFC takeout by state.

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The Colonel honors his roots. KFC is cheapest in Utah, where he opened his first Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise in 1952. In fact, Spicy Chicken Sandwich Combo, 8 pc. Chicken Only and Secret Recipe Fries cost -18.22% less than the national average for these menu items and a full -5.43% less than the second-cheapest Texas (-12.79%). The affordability of KFC in mid-century Utah contributed to its fast success: “It was cheap, and the Southern origins of the recipe made it seem simultaneously foreign, authentic and packed with gracious charm,” says Professor Laura Gelfand from Utah State University.

In addition, Kentucky — where Colonel Sanders first served his chicken — pays a full -7.08% less than the national average. Kentuckians must pay 5.96% more than the national average when eating chicken at Popeyes.

Massachusetts Gets a Bad McName For Itself

Infographic of price premium for McDonald's takeout by state.

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Regular McDonald’s dishes cost significantly more than the national average in Alaska, Massachusetts and Vermont. Massachusetts hit the fast food press headlines earlier this year when it was revealed as the home of America’s priciest Big Mac. “The most expensive Big Mac in the U.S. is in a town called Lee in Massachusetts and it costs $7.89 [U.S.],” according to Riley Walz, creator of the Fast Food Index. “But the weird thing is that directly across that rest stop on the other side of the highway, less than a few hundred feet away, there’s another McDonald’s that sells Big Macs for $1.50 cheaper.”

McDonald’s responded to the revelation by telling Business Insider that “prices are ultimately at the discretion of our franchisees and may vary by restaurant.”

Pizza Hut Prices Vary the Most of Any Brand

Infographic of price premium for Pizza Hut takeout by state.

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Pizza Hut has the smallest swing between cheapest and most expensive in the U.S. There is a 25.64% difference between the cost of 14” Meat Lover’s Pizza, Veggie Lover’s Pizza and Pepperoni Lover’s Pizza in Hawaii (12.68% over the national average) and Michigan (-12.96% less than average). Four of the five cheapest states occupy a cross-regional strip in the mid-East, reaching from the Rust Belt to the Sunbelt. America’s eastern states tend to have more pizza places altogether, which may make pricing more competitive.

When in Hawaii, It might be better to go to a more local restaurant since this is where Pizza Hut is the most expensive. Even the ‘Hawaiian’ ham and pineapple pizza is not actually Hawaiian but “sort of Greek-Canadian,” as we mentioned in our recent price comparison analysis between Pizza Hut and Domino’s.

Popeyes Offers National Average Price in Home State of Louisiana

Infographic detailing the price of Popeyes takeout by state.

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Popeyes is named after Gene Hackman’s character in The French Connection, although it was originally called the more vegetarian-sounding Chicken on the Run. It was established under its original name in Arabi, New Orleans, in 1972, and the region that inspired its Southern-style chicken still sets the price nationally: the price of a Spicy Chicken Sandwich Combo, 2 pc. Signature Chicken Combo and 12 pc. nuggets in Louisiana is just 0.28% more than the national average for those foods.

New York Subway Sandwiches Distinctly Cheaper Than National Average

Infographic of price premium for Popeyes takeout by state.

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Like Popeyes, Subway’s base price is evident in its home state — Connecticut — where it is just 0.40% above the national average. Beyond Connecticut, however, prices vary widely. All of Subway’s U.S. restaurants are owned by franchisees, who set prices locally and also have the right to exempt their franchise from accepting coupons.

The brand has weathered serious challenges over recent years and closed over 1,000 branches in 2021. New York alone lost 22% of its Subways in just three years, perhaps explaining its uncharacteristically attractive prices: some -4.67% below the national average.

In New Jersey, Every Day is Taco Tuesday

Infographic of price premium for Taco Bell takeout by state.

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Taco Bell is a Californian company through and through. Californians get a reasonable deal — paying 2.54% above the national average, compared to the 9.44% premium they face for Pizza Hut and 19.21% hike on Burger King. Of course, it helps that there are 1,748 Taco Bells in California — some 11% of its entire fleet — forcing franchisees to price their tacos competitively.

New Jersey taco fans can enjoy an almost perfectly-average priced Crunchwrap, even on a Tuesday. Until recently, New Jersey was the only state where rival firm Taco John’s did not own the rights to the phrase “Taco Tuesday” (it belonged to a different restaurant, Gregory’s). Following a narrowly avoided lawsuit, now anybody can use the slogan. “Taco Bell believes ‘Taco Tuesday’ is critical to everyone’s Tuesday,” according to the company’s legal papers. “To deprive anyone of saying ‘Taco Tuesday’ — be it Taco Bell or anyone who provides tacos to the world — is like depriving the world of sunshine itself.”

National Recipes at Local Prices

Takeout chefs may have hundreds or thousands of hours of experience cooking the same dish again and again – and the recipe itself has often been honed for decades. No wonder takeout food nearly always hits the spot. But there’s one way to make it taste even better: make sure you’re getting it at a good price. To find the franchises that offer the best prices locally to you, please check through our data in the interactive table below.


We analyzed data from to find out which states and cities pay the most for takeout food.

We started by retrieving the menus for different fast food chains in 260 cities that comprised the most populous in each state. We then focused on popular items for each chain, as listed below:

  • McDonald’s: Big Mac, French Fries, 10 pc. Chicken McNuggets, 10 Piece McNuggets.
  • Pizza Hut: 14” Meat Lover’s Pizza, 14” Veggie Lover’s Pizza, 14” Pepperoni Lover’s Pizza.
  • Subway: B.L.T, Meatball Marinara, Tuna.
  • Burger King: Whopper, French Fries, Bacon Double Cheeseburger.
  • KFC: Spicy Chicken Sandwich Combo, 8 pc. Chicken Only, Secret Recipe Fries.
  • Popeyes: Spicy Chicken Sandwich Combo, 2 pc. Signature Chicken Combo, 12 pc. nuggets.
  • Taco Bell: Crunchwrap Supreme, Crunchy Taco Supreme, Burrito Supreme.

We then calculated the average national price for all items overall and for each individual chain.

Comparing the national average prices to prices within each state/city then allowed us to calculate price premiums (%) for takeout across these chains and for each chain separately.

This analysis is correct as of October 2023.
NetCredit is not an affiliate, agent, or sponsor of any of the businesses discussed herein.

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