We've all been there: You're running late, and there's not even enough time to sit down for a bowl of cereal before you need to get to work. When you're hungry and you've got precious seconds before your first meeting of the day, you bite the bullet and decide a fast food breakfast sandwich is your path to feeling full enough until lunch to function like a normal person. But which fast food spot is going to treat your wallet and your stomach right while tasting enough like food that you won't hate yourself immediately after you wolf one down? To find out, I stopped in at some of the most common fast food restaurants in America, sampled their breakfast sandwiches, and ranked them.
After some very cursory googling and mapping out places that were within walking distance to me or near public transportation, I decided on: McDonald's, Burger King, Subway, Dunkin’ Donuts, and Starbucks. Chances are you're close to one or all of these places during your morning commute. However, chances are you will not be like me and subject yourself to trying nine items from these restaurants in under 24 hours. Regardless, let's rank some fast food breakfast sandwiches.
9. Subway Bacon, Egg, and Cheese, $5
It looks a lot like a bodega BEC and, call me disgusting, but I like Subway's bread. It's better than the bread other fast-food places offer and smells pleasant. That's about the best thing I can say about this sandwich. It's weird that all of Subway's cheeses have the same color and consistency. Cheddar is the best cheese to have on a breakfast sandwich, but it's particularly tasteless in this sandwich. The bacon is the overwhelming taste here, and the bacon is Subway bacon: It's been in a little carton behind the glass all morning, is a little crispy, and is overwhelmingly salty. Topping it off, the egg is really bland. I didn't finish this sandwich. At $5 for a six-inch breakfast sandwich, it's one of the worst deals on this list. Stay away.
8. Starbucks Spicy Chorizo, Monterey Jack, and Egg, $4.75
Chorizo is a great breakfast sausage, so I was looking forward to this one, but it left me cold, reader. The bun is allegedly a "stone-baked potato bread" but tastes like and has the consistency of a ciabatta you'd find at an Au Bon Pain or what have you. The egg, cheese, and caramelized onions are barely represented in each bite. You can see that they are on the sandwich and notice that items with the consistency of egg and cheese are there (sorry, but caramelized onions, where you at?) with every bite, but this is primarily a chorizo delivery system that negates every other flavor. The sandwich isn't spicy, per se, but there's some kick, so deduct or add points yourself with that in mind. Also, it's 500 calories, according to the Starbucks site. At that size, that price, and that intake, I can't really recommend this sandwich.
7. McDonald's Egg McMuffin, $3.39
From this point forward, we're dealing with sandwiches that rate from non-offensive to tasty. Of all these sandwiches, the Egg McMuffin is probably the closest to a classic bacon, egg, and cheese—but remember that the bacon here is the McDonald's version of Canadian bacon. The egg is one of the more rigid eggs that we're dealing with today, but it tastes like a real egg and goes well with the melty cheese. The English muffin is toasted enough to give you a slight crunch with each bite. It's a perfectly cromulent eating experience. Plus, it's the least greasy sandwich they have.
6. Dunkin’ Donuts Sausage Wake Up Wrap, Two for $2
The Sausage Wake Up Wrap is small. That's the first thing you'll notice about it. Two of them cost $2, so you're probably going to order two. That said, the tortilla has some crunch to it, the eggs are better than I remember Dunkin' Donuts' eggs being, and the cheese is nicely melted. Still, it's more of a breakfast taco than a breakfast wrap or sandwich, so you'd probably need two to feel "full." However, Dunkin' is the home to some pretty good hashbrowns that you can add for an extra buck, arguably the best coffee of any of the places on this list, and fine doughnuts. Throw in one of Dunkin's interpretations of the cronut and you're spending very little on a fairly tasty and robust breakfast.
5. Dunkin’ Donuts Big N' Toasted, $4.39
I was surprised by this one. I had one of these when they originally became available, in 2011, and hated it. I don't know what changed, but they've done something to rejigger the formula. Or my palate has devolved, who's to say. The Texas toast is more like French toast, but not sweet. It's thick, buttery, and just crunchy enough, while not that greasy. That said, it feels like a lot of sandwich in your hands. The cheese is extremely melty, which is something I look for in a breakfast sandwich. The bacon has some snap to it, but it's really, really salty. It might be too big, but if that's what you need in the morning, have at it. Couple it with decent coffee and this isn't a bad option at all. Dunkin' Donuts, you surprised me.
4. Burger King Fully Loaded Croissan'wich, $4.69
The Croissan'wich is advertised as being made with 100 percent butter, which is reassuring. Inside, you've got your standard fast-food breakfast sausage and bacon as well as ham, eggs, and American cheese. There is a lot going on here. The croissant is extremely croissanty, which, coupled with the grease—and there's a lot of grease—leads to a crumbly sandwich. That said, it tastes pretty good. That 100 percent butter gives the croissant a really nice taste, probably the second-best bun on this list. The ham and bacon, though, are redundant, and not evenly placed on the sandwich. However, the sausage is balanced, which leads to an alternating to soft-soft and soft-crunchy mouthfeel (I'm so sorry for saying mouthfeel, everyone!) to go with gooey cheese and perfectly adequate eggs. However, this sandwich is a lot to deal with. Given that it's 570 calories, I'd suggest going with a regular Croissan'wich if you're hitting Burger King in the morning.
3. McDonald's Bacon, Egg, and Cheese Biscuit, $3.59
This is a pretty ideal breakfast sandwich. The biscuit is a little salty and a little buttery, but not flaky. The egg is fluffy (note: All Day Breakfast options at McDonald's are made to order; I saw a guy get eggs out of the fridge and everything!) and the bacon crispy, but moist-ish, while not being remarkably salty. The biscuit is probably still the best part of the sandwich: It's not that greasy and tastes enough like a biscuit you'd get from Popeye's that you'll be pleasantly surprised and sufficiently full when the biscuit's all gone. The only drawback is the biscuit is pretty small and there could always be more cheese. That's why you get the bronze, BEC Biscuit.
2. Burger King Egg-Normous Burrito, $3.99
The Egg-Normous Burrito has, drumroll, please: eggs, queso, bacon, sausage, and hashbrowns, drizzled (maybe?) with some sort of spicy sauce, wrapped in a flour tortilla. That's a lot of the things you want in a breakfast sandwich. Biting into it, you get salty, salty bacon, but luckily, the sausage is the majority meat in this one. The sausage itself tastes like fast-food sausage patty sausage, so you know what you're getting there. The hashbrowns are not nearly crunchy enough to merit inclusion in such a sandwich though, which is disappointing, but they aren't that noticeable. You'll notice some flaky mushiness when you encounter some hash brown, but I would prefer something crunchier. The spicy sauce isn't apparent in every bite, but isn't overpowering when you do find some, giving you a tiny surprise in a altogether surprising breakfast option. I never thought I'd live to see the day where Burger King makes a perfectly fine breakfast burrito that costs less than breakfast burritos I've seen at carts and Mexican restaurants, both fast-casual and "authentic." Not bad, Burger King.
1. McDonald's McGriddle, $3.69
For some reason, I find the McGriddle absolutely delightful. I probably eat one every month, just to have one. It's the best thing at McDonald's other than the McFlurry. If you've never had one, it's essentially an entire breakfast platter you can eat with one hand. The McGriddle buns(?) have the right combination of pancake and regular bun to create a manageable fluffy-but-not-too-fluffy thing to bite into. And that schmidgen of syrup gives it a bit of sweet taste, but it's not overwhelming. The sausage is blander than the bacon used in their breakfast sandwiches, but the overall taste of egg, cheese, sausage, and pancake somehow makes it all work. The McGriddle is that rare type of frankenfood that could only be thought up in a corporate—or a stoner's—test kitchen. It's an insane invention but undeniably tasty.