Life

In Which We Attempt To Determine The Best Breakfast Sandwiches In The Fast Food Universe

Right now the dominating force in the fast food universe is the breakfast menu. It’s like the Death Star or [insert your favorite nerdy MacGuffin here] of the fast food conversation! If you don’t pay as exhaustingly close attention to the scene as we do, you might not realize that just a decade ago few drive-thru restaurants had a breakfast menu that even came close to the size of McDonald’s, if they had one at all. But in 2021, we can’t even say for certain if McDonald’s still has the best breakfast menu in the game.

The competition is just too fierce. With even some mid-level fast food chains bringing the heat.

Just take a look at our old breakfast sandwich ranking published five years ago — it only has six entries! That’s not a fast food universe, it’s Pluto! Since then, breakfast menus at almost every fast food restaurant have ballooned in size. So, in an effort to map the dense breakfast galaxy, we grabbed sandwiches from as many fast food restaurants as we could in a search for the very best (we only included one from each).

Since I’m in California, you’ll notice the absence of some regional favorites — namely White Castle, which I’ve heard has a very beloved breakfast menu. We’re working on it (I see you, Culvers — I’m coming!). Still, we think you’ll find that we made a serious effort to be comprehensive. Let’s jump in!

11. Starbucks — Bacon, Gouda & Egg Sandwich

Starbucks

Calories: 360
Protein: 19g

The Sandwich

Starbucks has easily the worst breakfast menu in all of fast food. Dry muffins, bland scones, and those sandwiches…

You can go through your whole life never eating a Starbucks breakfast sandwich and you WILL have a better life. I’ve unfortunately tried too many Starbucks breakfast sandwiches, and I chose to include the Bacon, Gouda & Egg Sandwich in this ranking. Not because it’s the best, even. Just because it has gouda, which makes it different than most fast food breakfast sandwiches.

A slice of gouda (which, I question, it doesn’t taste like gouda to me) sits atop some fluffy egg and a few bizarrely thin strips of bacon on an “artisan” roll. Artisan coming from the old English phrase to apparently mean “this bread is bland.” The egg… look I’m not even positive this is just egg — it tastes strangely milky. This sandwich doesn’t have a single good element about it, yet Starbucks felt confident in putting it all together and selling it to you.

The Bottom Line

Just order a damn muffin.

Find your nearest Starbucks here.

10. Subway — Bacon, Egg & Cheese

Subway

Calories: 710
Protein: 35g

The Sandwich

I was shocked to find out that Subway has breakfast sandwiches, and even more shocked when I saw the weird folded flatbread this thing is served on. So I tried it, to appease you, the fans. Was it good? No, it was not.

Everything about this sandwich is bad. There is a laughably small amount of bacon on top of a bland fried egg with a slice of Subway’s weird plastic cheese. In a blind taste test, those three elements would be virtually indistinguishable.

Granted, you can add any veggies and sauce to this sandwich, which is a good thing. I’d suggest spinach, and bell peppers to make this more like an omelet sandwich, but at that point, you might as well just order a regular Subway sandwich. Ordering this for the egg and bacon just isn’t worth it.

The Bottom Line

The things that make this a breakfast item — bacon and egg — are two of Subway’s worst ingredients.

Find your nearest Subway here.

9. Sonic — Sausage Breakfast Toaster

Sonic

Calories: 720
Protein: 29g

The Sandwich

Sonic only has two breakfast sandwiches on the menu, the Bacon Sausage Toaster and the Sausage Breakfast Toaster. For this ranking, we’re going with the latter because folded eggs, cheese, and sausage between two thick slices of Texas toast sounds like more fun to me than an egg, cheese, and bacon sandwich. Plus you can — and should — add bacon to your Sausage Breakfast Toaster to make it a more delicious meal.

This sandwich doesn’t taste horrible, but the form factor seems misguided. It’s just too thick and bready to be particularly enjoyable. The bread dominates all the flavor here and the sausage is way too thin (which is why you need to add the bacon).

The Bottom Line

Don’t order a breakfast sandwich from Sonic, the chain has plenty of delicious and imaginative breakfast burritos that are actually worth your time and money.

Find your nearest Sonic here.

8. Burger King — Fully Loaded Croissan’Wich Bacon, Ham, Sausage

Burger King

Calories: 572
Protein: 27g

The Sandwich

The Burger King Fully Loaded Croissan’Wich Bacon, Ham, and Sausage sounds like it should be a winner. You’ve got a flakey buttered croissant bun, followed by layers of bacon, Black Forest ham, cheese, a thick distinctively peppery sausage patty, and egg. Visually, in its marketing material, it looks amazing.

But this sandwich fails to deliver on flavor. The meat is chewy and rubbery, and the flavors never gel together, but the most offensive part is the egg. It’s dry, with a porous texture that will actually ruin your meal if you ponder it too much.

The Bottom Line

A mouthful of salty, weird textures. Skip this one.

Find your nearest Burger King here.

7. Dunkin’ — Sourdough Breakfast Sandwich

Dunkin

Calories: 650
Protein: 31g

The Sandwich

If you need a place you can drive-thru in the morning that has coffee and good food, Dunkin’ is your spot. The entire menu has seriously improved at America’s favorite donut shop over the last few years, but the sandwiches definitely surprised me. The best in my opinion is the Sourdough Breakfast Sandwich, which features two eggs that, get this, actually taste like eggs (you wouldn’t think this would be so hard) and sports five crispy pieces of crunchy bacon topped with melted white cheddar on a nicely toasted crispy sourdough bun.

The eggs have a nice crispy edge to them like they’ve been fried with butter, the generous portion of bacon is appreciated, and hey, who doesn’t love white cheddar? Visually it makes for a more appetizing sandwich than radioactive orange cheddar.

Its only weak point is the bread. Dunkin’ says it’s sourdough, but there is something incredibly bland about it. It’s the only thing holding this sandwich back from being ranked higher.

The Bottom Line

If you haven’t tried breakfast at Dunkin’ because you’re still treating it like a donut shop, you need to take a trip to try this thing. It won’t be your favorite but you’ll damn sure never eat at Starbucks again.

Find your nearest Dunkin’ here.

6. Jack in the Box Loaded Breakfast Sandwich

Jack In The Box

Calories: 707
Protein: 36g

The Sandwich

If you’re going to get a sourdough sandwich from any fast food joint, make it Jack in the Box. For whatever reason, JiB is the only place that can do sourdough. The bread strikes a nice balance between soft and dense, with that familiar subtle sourness that makes sourdough so addictive and is strangely missing from Dunkin’s sandwich.

The sandwich is built with smokey bacon, a thin slice of ham, a freshly cracked and fried egg (yes, you can taste the difference — no weird milky flavor here), two slices of American cheese, and a sausage patty.

Unlike the Burger King sandwich, the meat truly differentiates itself here. You get a smokey flavor from the bacon with a nice hammy hearty chew courtesy of the sliced ham, and a savory sausage finish. It’s a journey of flavors without a single weak link.

The Bottom Line

If you want a sandwich full of meats, Jack in the Box’s Loaded Breakfast Sandwich is the only one able to deliver. Also, a must if you’re a sourdough fan, as JiB has the best in the fast food universe.

Find your nearest Jack in the Box here.

5. Farmer Boys — 2-Egg Breakfast Sandwich with Sausage

Farmer Boys

Calories: 674
Protein: 30g

The Sandwich

Farmer Boys 2-Egg Breakfast Sandwich with Sausage has to be the most boring breakfast sandwich out there. Featuring just two folded eggs with melted American cheese and a sausage patty on a potato bun brushed with whipped spread, I wanted to rank this lower because of how unimaginative it is. But it’s just so damn good.

The spread keeps things from getting too dry, the eggs are probably fast food’s best, they’re buttery and not overcooked with a great non-distracting mouth texture, the potato bun adds some sweetness to the whole thing, and Farmer Boy’s sausage patty is delicious with a savory pepper-forward flavor.

It just works on every level, I’d expect to find this sort of quality in a restaurant but not in a place with a drive-thru. The only sad part is that Farmer Boys also has breakfast burritos, and they’re all better, so there isn’t a reason to order this unless you love breakfast sandwiches.

The Bottom Line

It’s not the most exciting breakfast sandwich out there, but everything about the 2-Egg Breakfast sandwich with Sausage is good, and that can’t be said for a lot of fast food breakfast sandwiches.

Find your nearest Farmer Boys here.

4. Chick-fil-A — Chicken Biscuit

Chick fil A

Calories: 460
Protein: 19g

The Sandwich

I have a lot of mixed feelings about this sandwich, in fact, calling it a “sandwich” feels a little ridiculous. All it is is a smaller cut of Chick-fil-A’s usually breast meat patty between a flakey buttery biscuit. That’s it! It’s so basic that based on build alone it should be ranked much lower. And yet… the flavor is so damn good I’ve actually gone back and forth on whether I should bump it up a couple of slots.

This just tastes great. It’s small and a little unfulfilling, you’re definitely going to want to order fries or tater tots on the side to make it more of a meal, but the chicken is just too good to deny. Chick-fil-A’s chicken breast is cooked in 100% refined peanut oil and marinaded in pickle juice, which gives it a nice juicy and tender bite and a salty addicting flavor, but the real star of the show here is the biscuit.

Chick-fil-A’s biscuits are handmade in the restaurant every morning, and they’re f*cking delicious. They’re flakey and buttery, with a gummy mouthfeel that takes a while to chew — which would be a bad thing if they didn’t nail the taste. But they definitely did.

While I generally think Chick-fil-A’s light batter is a weak point in its sandwich, the lack of a bready batter works in the sandwich’s favor.

The Bottom Line

Way too good for what it is. It’s simple, and a little boring in build, but dammit if it doesn’t taste like the best biscuit sandwich in all of fast food. Order it with some sides to make it a more substantial meal.

Find your nearest Chick-fil-A here.

3. Carl’s Jr/Hardee’s — The Breakfast Burger

Carl

Calories: 830
Protein: 42g

The Sandwich

Who says you can’t have a burger for breakfast? Carl’s Jr’s Breakfast Burger is amazing. This is essentially a bacon cheeseburger with a folded egg thrown in the mix, which I have to admit doesn’t do a whole lot to add to the flavor. I don’t usually opt for simple ketchup on my burger, but the ketchup and egg combination is a classic, so it makes sense here.

Leaving the sandwich at that would’ve resulted in a delicious breakfast option, but Carl’s Jr. went the extra mile and added some round mini hash browns to the mix which add a more pronounced textural element than the bacon does. It’s a f*cking mouthful, with a great audible crunch that’ll have you chewing for a long time as you make your way through the meat and eggs.

The charbroiled quality of the hamburger meat adds an interesting flavor that isn’t typical of your usual breakfast and makes the sausage patty used in other breakfast sandwiches seem like an absolute joke by comparison (though a beef and sausage mix would be fire.

The Bottom Line

Charred with notes of smokiness and an appetizing crunch, this sandwich makes the case for hamburger meat as a breakfast staple and is proof that putting your hash browns in your sandwich is the best breakfast hack around.

Find your nearest Carl’s Jr/Hardee’s here.

2. McDonald’s — Sausage McMuffin with Egg & Cheese

McDonald

Calories: 480
Protein: 20g

The Sandwich

I’m not 100% sure I’ve made the right decision by putting this at number two, but we’re going for it. The Sausage McMuffin with Egg & Cheese is McDonald’s best breakfast sandwich, hands down. If you’re one of those McGriddle fans, step off — your tastebuds might be broken.

This breakfast sandwich has the best form factor in all of fast food. It’s small enough to eat with one hand, and it’s not too hearty and won’t make you feel like you’re ready for a nap after you just had six to eight hours of sleep like our number one pick will. The muffin bun is dense and toasty, with that distinct craggy surface that traps the salted butter perfectly. It doesn’t need a sauce, which can’t be said for most breakfast sandwiches.

The sausage patty is savory with a slight spice to it but is nothing mind-blowing, the egg is… unique, and cheese is forgettable. But something about all the flavors coming together just works, it’s like eating full breakfast in a single bite.

If you’re looking for a more substantial breakfast meal, the smartest thing to do is order a hash brown and stick that in the sandwich. Once crispy fried potato is in the mix, it makes this sandwich even more amazing. If it came that way, it’d get the number one spot but until that day comes, it’s at #2.

The Bottom Line

A classic for a reason.

Find your nearest McDonald’s here.

1. Wendy’s — Breakfast Baconator

Wendy

Calories: 730
Protein: 34g

The Sandwich

When I said McDonald’s McMuffin had the best form factor for a fast food breakfast sandwich, the Breakfast Baconator probably has the worst. This thing is huge, impossible to eat without the help of both hands, and it’ll easily take you longer to eat this sandwich than it does to eat most entire meals.

But everything else about it is amazing. The sandwich features a delicious thick grilled sausage patty that has a smoked flavor with a subtle hint of sweetness and a slice of salty American cheese on top of it. Then we’ve got our first layer of bacon. Wendy’s bacon is unparalleled in the fast food space — it’s crunchy and smokier than the competition and is considerably thicker than most. It’s not thicker than restaurant bacon or a strip from a thick-cut market brand, but it has a lot of chew to it, which I appreciate. Then we have a decent fried egg, it’s a little dry but not distractingly so, another slice of American cheese, and another layer of bacon that is smothered in salty and decadent Swiss cheese sauce.

Taken all together, it’s juicy, crunchy, greasy, and explodes with flavor with every bite.

Is it way too heavy for breakfast? Absolutely. But this isn’t a ranking of the most sensible breakfast sandwich, it’s a ranking of the best tasting, and Wendy’s Breakfast Baconator delivers on flavor, even if eating one feels semi-suicidal.

The Bottom Line

Will your stomach hurt after eating it? Yes. But it’s worth it because this is, hands down, the best breakfast sandwich in the fast food universe.

Find your nearest Wendy’s here.

×