America’s relationship with fast food is complicated. On the one hand, we know that the food quality is questionable. It’s also generally unhealthy, bad for the environment, and overall more expensive than picking up the same ingredients at the market. But god damn if it’s not tasty, convenient, and cheap.
The temptation is real. Especially during tough times when we’re all looking for any port in a storm.
For all of its bad, fast food has also given us taco shells made out of Doritos, chicken sandwiches worth lining up around the block for, tricked-out secret items, and, most delicious of all, breakfast menus. If there is one thing we can all agree on in this broken and divided country, it’s that fast-food breakfast menus are, for lack of a better phrase, f*cking awesome. We aren’t living in a world where the fast-food breakfast game is dominated by just one drive-thru (McDonald’s) anymore, either.
While fast-food sales, in general, are on the decline as American’s opt for healthier dining choices, breakfast options are exploding. To help you sort the gluttonous wheat from the chaff, we’ve ranked all the best breakfast items across the fast-food universe. Let us be clear, this isn’t a ranking of every fast food breakfast item ever… we (and hopefully you) don’t have the time for that. Instead, what you’ll find here is only the best of the best, ensuring that no matter what you order from this list, it’ll be well worth the detour on your way to work.
Strap in and let’s blast off, or you know, wait patiently in a 10-minute drive thru-line with all the other breakfast fanatics!
Burger King was the first fast-food chain to offer a Croissanwich and the second fast-food chain to offer a breakfast menu. And while the BK breakfast menu doesn’t compare to its biggest competition, McDonald’s, their Double Sausage, Egg, and Cheese Croissanwich is still pretty damn good.
This item is heavy and decadent with two sausage patties topped with American cheese and a thick patty of egg sandwiched between two extra buttery croissant buns. It just might be the best item on BK’s entire menu.
With the exception of our number 1 pick (spoilers) we tried to keep this list to one breakfast item per chain. So when it came down to choosing between Carl’s Jr’s Breakfast Burger and their Monster Biscuit, things got tough. Carl’s Jr fresh bakes their breakfast biscuits, so their biscuit sandwiches are some of the best, but the Breakfast Burger is one of the most unique breakfast items in the entire fast-food universe.
Today, we’re giving uniqueness the edge.
Featuring a charbroiled beef patty, crispy bacon, egg, melted American cheese, and mini hash browns, the Breakfast Burger is an absolute flavor bomb. It’s got superb texture thanks to the bacon and hash browns, a mouthwatering melange of savory ingredients, and it’s one of the only fast-food burgers you can get with an egg on it.
That counts for something!
Jack in the Box’s Bacon, Egg, and Cheese biscuit is built as basic as a breakfast item can be. Hell, it’s such a boring combination that you’ll probably need two just to feel satisfied. Luckily eating two is easy because these things are delicious!
They begin with a freshly cracked egg, top it with a simple slice of American cheese — which melts quickly thanks to the heat of the egg — throw on a few slices of bacon (never enough), and sandwich the elements between a buttermilk biscuit. That’s it, no sausage patty, no chicken, nothing!
But that’s what makes it work.
Without a thicker portion of meat, the egg to cheese to bread ratio is altered, resulting in each bite being crispy buttery perfection that melts in your mouth the way a good breakfast should.
The Baconator is one of the greatest fast-food cheeseburgers ever, so why shouldn’t it work as a breakfast burger? It definitely does, but if you’re looking for something quite as good as the OG Baconator you might be left disappointed.
Don’t get us wrong, the Breakfast Baconator is delicious, you’ve got Wendy’s morning premium bun, tasty applewood smoked bacon, freshly cracked egg (always an improvement over more instant options) a double portion of American cheese, and a delectable Swiss cheese sauce to pull it all together.
It’s tasty, it’s just not quite as good as a stock Baconator. And since Wendy’s serves their entire menu all day long, why wouldn’t you just opt for the original?
I have a real problem with Dunkin’. Personally, I hate that a large donut corporation is single-handedly killing mom and pop donut shops across America, especially considering Dunkin’ makes pretty shitty donuts. Having said that though, just about everything else Dunkin’ does is delicious.
Their coffee, their bagels, and especially their sandwiches.
Dunkin’s best sandwich hands down is the sausage, egg, and cheese croissant. Each element on its own is decent-to-good at best, but when this smoked sausage patty, fluffy egg, and American cheese come together between a croissant bun, it veers toward breakfast perfection.
Question: How is it that Dunkin’ makes a delicious croissandwich but can’t for the life of them make a solid donut?
The Breakfast Crunch Wrap, sometimes referred to as the AM Crunch Wrap, is the type of dish that makes your stomach hurt just by looking at it. The look, the smell, each sodium-rich bite — it’s a recipe for a storm in your stomach. But goddam are these things good.
Trust us, the AM Crunch Wrap is worth the pain.
The winning combination of bacon, cheese, egg, hash browns, and creamy Jalapeño sauce is wrapped up in a giant warm tortilla. That’s Mexican-inspired breakfast bliss, right there. Eat it when it’s still piping hot.
Chick-fil-A has a pretty robust breakfast menu, including both a bacon and sausage egg and cheese biscuit, but at the end of the day, it’s chicken that the brand does best. We hate that these are ranked so high because they seem so basic, they’re just Chick-fil-A’s nuggets between lightly buttered yeast rolls, but if you’ve ever had an order of Chick-n-Minis you know that these are almost bafflingly delicious.
Choose your favorite Chick-fil-A sauce and get to dipping! You might even find yourself ordering these off-hours.
We named McDonald’s Sausage McMuffin with Egg the chain’s best breakfast sandwich in our McDonald’s Breakfast Sandwich ranking, so it shouldn’t surprise anyone to find it on this list. This thing is built perfectly, the egg, sausage and cheese meld together in perfect harmony with each bite, and the toasted English muffin produces the right type of contrasting texture to pull it all together.
Serve a Sausage McMuffin with Egg on any other bread — a buttery biscuit, a crispy piece of toast, etc — and it just doesn’t work the same way.
The fast-food universe has a serious lack of breakfast burritos. We get it, breakfast sandwiches rule, but have you ever had a breakfast burrito? They’re fucking amazing! The only reason breakfast burritos aren’t more popular in fast food is because the good ones actually require time and effort to make, and, let’s face it, time and effort are the enemies of the business model.
But Del Taco’s Huevos Rancheros Epic Burrito is pretty solid. Not “corner taco shop”-level, but very tasty.
Del Taco slow cooks their beans, blowing Taco Bell’s beans out of the water. The scrambled eggs here taste freshly made, you’ve got grated cheddar cheese, no powdery corn starch from the pre-shredded stuff, a mix of salsa, sour cream, and avocado, and mouthwatering chorizo sausage to pull it all together.
How can this possibly get better? With some chunks of freshly cut avocado of course! But if you really want to take it to the next level, have them add hash browns or Del Taco’s crinkle-cut fries into the burrito. Then you’ve got yourself a near-perfect breakfast.
Is it a little bit basic to give the number one spot to a hash brown, which isn’t so much a meal as it is a side dish?
Yes. Yes, it is.
But ask yourself this: if you’ve ever been upset about missing McDonald’s breakfast, what were you the maddest about missing, that McMuffin or the hash browns that come alongside it? We’re willing to bet it was the hash browns. These things are just too good, they’re perfectly crispy on the outside with hot molten potato on the inside, and they’re every bit as greasy as they are delicious.
They’re the type of food you order two of, even though you only ever need one.
After you’ve had one McDonald’s hash brown, you’ll find yourself forever comparing every hash brown patty you ever eat to it. Spoiler: you’ll always come up disappointed. Diners can’t match this. Even home cooks struggle to beat it.
So, is it basic? Sure. But it’s also a testament to the fact that deliciousness wins over complexity every time.