The fast food industry characterizes serving periods as “dayparts.” These are generally defined as breakfast, lunch, snack, dinner, and late night. Breakfast is the only daypart that has seen overall growth in the past few years. Last year, chains recorded a total of about 7.3 billion breakfast visits, up from just under 6 billion in 2009.
No wonder, then, that purveyors of fast food are introducing, expanding, or refining their breakfast menus.
Almost everybody serves their own versions of what we’ve come to know as the breakfast sandwich — some combination of eggs, cheese, and breakfast meat on a bagel, English muffin, biscuit, croissant, or roll. But many chains are moving beyond the basics, offering specialty meats and cheeses, using flatbreads and tortillas in various ways, even adapting popular lunch specialties to morning use.
Though they don’t come from any of the major chains, these are the best breakfast sandwiches in every state.
24/7 Tempo looked at a range of fast food breakfast menus to find the ones with the widest selection and/or the most interesting or innovative offerings.
Click here for the fast food chains with the best breakfast menus.
It should be noted that some chains, including several included here, offer breakfast only in certain locations. The pretzel purveyor Auntie Anne’s, for instance, serves pretzel-bun breakfast sandwiches at some airport locations, but not in shopping malls (because most shopping malls aren’t open at breakfast time).
Breakfast menu hours vary, too. A common cut-off time is 10.30 a.m., sometimes 11. Some chains, however, offer breakfast all day — among them Dunkin’ Donuts, Jack in the Box, Sonic, and, as of 2015, McDonald’s, which makes most of its morning menu available at all hours. Of course, this includes its emblematic Egg McMuffin, which may well have gotten us all started eating breakfast sandwiches in the first place.
It should also be stressed that the menus here aren’t those with the most healthy (or even comparatively healthy) choices. They’re chosen because they’re full of the kinds of things a lot of us would like to eat if we didn’t have to worry about our weight and overall well-being. They should be indulgences, not daily habits, and it’s important to remember that these breakfast choices are often among the fast food items with the most calories.
To choose the fast food chains with the best breakfast menus, 24/7 Tempo examined the breakfast offerings on the official websites of some 30 major nationwide and regional fast food operations, and consulted reviews of breakfast menus and specific breakfast food items on Thrillist, Mashed, Eat This Not That, Business Insider, The Daily Meal, Spoon University, Ranker, My Recipes, Food Beast, Today, Eating Well, and Delish, as well as several regional websites.