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We Tried McDonald's, Dunkin' & Panera's Bagel Sandwiches & the Winner Is So Tasty

How would McDonald’s stack up against two bakery chains?
FACT CHECKED BY Justine Goodman
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When McDonald's quietly reintroduced its bagel sandwiches this year, people were thrilled that the beloved breakfast items had returned.

Why? I noticed, after looking around at fast-food chains' menus, that the bagel sandwich is somewhat of a rare find. Burger King and Wendy's have croissant and biscuit sandwiches, but of the big three, only McDonald's has a bagel sandwich. Panera and Dunkin'—both spots that regularly carry bagels—naturally had them too. How would McDonald's stack up against these two bakery-coffee chains?

To test the quality of the McDonald's bagel sandwiches, I pitted its Sausage, Egg & Cheese Bagel against the same sandwiches from Dunkin' and Panera. Plus, since people all over rave about McDonald's Steak, Egg, & Cheese–which seems to be a truly unique 'wich—I snuck that one in for comparison, too. Here's which one is worth the stomach space next to your cup of coffee.

Dunkin's Sausage, Egg & Cheese Bagel

Dunkin bagel sandwich sausage
Meaghan Cameron
1 sandwich: 680 calories, 34 g fat (12 g saturated fat), 1,500mg sodium, 68 g carbs (5 g fiber, 8 g sugar), 26 g protein

The look: Dunkin' does bagels so one could reasonably assume it could construct a sausage, egg, and cheese bagel sandwich well too. But of the three bagel sandwiches, Dunkin's came in last. It looked inviting with egg and sausage about the same size and stretching throughout the bagel. But an early warning sign came from the size of the bagel: it just looked oddly compact next to the other ones. Also, when cut, the cheese was almost non-existent.

The taste: The bagel was very firm and slightly chewy, but overall dry. The small amount of cheese didn't help and the sausage was the driest and least spicy of the three sandwiches. One taster did prefer the Dunkin' sandwich over the Panera sandwich, calling it "chewy and delicious" and "firm and sweet." The sausage had a good texture but lacked the spices of the other two.

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Panera's Sausage, Egg & Cheese Bagel

Panera bagel sandwich sausage
Meaghan Cameron
1 sandwich: 790 calories, 48 g fat (18 g saturated fat), 1,230mg sodium, 61 g carbs (2 g fiber, 5 g sugar), 30 g protein

The look: Full disclosure, the Asiago bagel had run out so the Panera sandwich had to be made with a sesame bagel. The egg on the sandwich was a little uneven and the sausage was far too small for the sandwich, resulting in an uneven bite.

The taste: The Panera bagel sandwich suffered from the same thing Panera's hot chocolate suffered from in the hot chocolate taste test: just too much of everything. Honestly, we were lucky that the Asiago bagel was not available because, with the garlic aioli that was spread on it, the fat was already over the top. (The sandwich has 110 calories and about 10 grams of fat more than the others on the list.)

The sandwich tasted good, without a doubt, but it was good for a few bites and then became too greasy. One taster preferred the Panera sandwich over the Dunkin' sandwich because it had spicy sausage, with a "mouth-filling flavor" and very creamy cheese. The sausage was spicier but all agreed that the aioli was just too much.

McDonald's Sauage, Egg & Cheese Bagel

Mcdonalds bagel sandwich sausage
Meaghan Cameron
1 sandwich: 680 calories, 39 g fat (16 g saturated fat), 1,320mg sodium, 53 g carbs (4 g fiber, 7 g sugar), 27 g protein

The look: McDonald's sausage egg and cheese crossection provided a hint at what was to come. The chain sure can build a sandwich. The fluffy egg and sausage both stretched across the sandwich and the creamy cheese on both sides provided the tasty glue. Even when cut in half, the sandwich held steady.

The taste: The bagel had a smooth, soft texture that was easy to bite through, next came the layers of creamy cheese that added moisture to the bagel on both sides. One taster even remarked that the cheese had a subtle sweetness to it. The sausage was spicy but mild—one called it "memorable"—and the fluffy egg had a nice, buttery flavor. Overall, this is the one that all of the tasters would get again.

Bonus: McDonald's Steak, Egg & Cheese Bagel

Mcdonalds bagel sandwich steak
Meaghan Cameron
1 sandwich: 680 calories, 35 g fat (15 g saturated fat), 1,500mg sodium, 57 g carbs (3 g fiber, 7 g sugar), 34 g protein

The look: Fans were overjoyed when this beloved sandwich hit select McDonald's stores again. The bagel sandwich is made with a unique "steak patty," fluffy scrambled egg, and American cheese and doesn't seem to be copied at any other fast food restaurant.

We wanted to try the sandwich to what all the fuss was about. The sandwich is identical to the sausage offering with a steak patty instead of a sausage patty. It has the same double layer of cheese and scrambled egg.

The taste: You might be wondering what separates a steak patty from a hamburger patty, and the answer, in the case of McDonald's steak, is spices. The hamburger patty is pure beef, the steak patty has spices and some flavorings. The texture is also different, a bit looser, and it does work for the bagel sandwich. The loosely packed steak patty made the bagel softer, the cheese cheesier, and the egg fluffier. The sandwich was filling, with a delicious savory flavor. It technically won the taste test up against the other sandwiches.

Meaghan Cameron
Meaghan Cameron is Deputy Editor of Restaurants at Eat This, Not That! Read more about Meaghan