I Tried All of McDonald's Breakfast Sandwiches & the Winner Surprised Me
It may seem like McDonald's has always served breakfast, but the daypart wasn't added to the menu until the late '70s. Today, the morning meal is big business, representing about 25% of McDonald's U.S. sales, meaning it pulls in billions for the chain which made about $13.2 billion in 2022.
McDonald's very first breakfast sandwich was the Egg McMuffin, which it still serves today along with other sandwiches on biscuits, pancake-like McGriddles, and bagels. The Egg McMuffin was developed years before breakfast went national. In 1971, after breakfast sweets like donuts became profitable at a Pittsburgh location, franchisee Herb Peterson created the first McMuffin.
If you've always thought that the Egg McMuffin looks a lot like a popular brunch item with its round egg and Canadian bacon, you aren't wrong. It was first made as a handheld alternative to Eggs Benedict, which features a poached egg, Canadian bacon, and hollandaise sauce. Peterson, however, could not get a packaged hollandaise to taste right so he added a slice of cheese for the creamy texture. The sandwich was a hit.
Buoyed by the success of the Egg McMuffin, McDonald's officially added breakfast nationwide in 1977. In 1986, biscuits were added to the menu and much later, in 2003, the savory sweet McGriddles made their debut. If you add bagel sandwiches to the mix, which are available in some locations, you have many different breakfast sandwiches to choose from at the Golden Arches.
I set out to try all of the nationally available McDonald's breakfast sandwiches, including the McMuffins, McGriddles, and biscuit offerings, to find out which is the best in each category. I left out the bagels because they aren't available in all locations, but here's my pick for the best one, if you're curious.
The Best McMuffin
As mentioned, the Egg McMuffin is the breakfast sandwich that started it all. McDonald's still offers the original plus the option to add bacon or sausage. I tried all three variations with the classic round egg and American cheese.
Here's what I tried:
- Egg McMuffin
- Bacon, Egg & Cheese McMuffin
- Sausage, Egg & Cheese McMuffin
This is the classic with Canadian bacon, a real egg made perfectly circular by the use of a ring mold, and American cheese.
The look: This sandwich looked small. The Canadian bacon was dwarfed by the large egg. There did look to be a lot of gooey cheese, however.
The taste: Let's get this settled right away: American cheese is not a good substitute for hollandaise sauce. Despite this sandwich tasting nothing like Eggs Benedict, it is a decent hand-held breakfast. The muffin could have been more toasted and everything was a little bland, but the round of Canadian bacon added a touch of smoke and salt. The egg was sadly rubbery.
The sandwich tastes as if it came from a past where flavor wasn't the most important aspect of breakfast. It's pleasant but underwhelming. It could be a good quick breakfast bite if you're on the road, but maybe it's not the best when delivered. A little ketchup or hot sauce would help it out too. Maybe McDonald's finally has the technology to make a good hollandaise?
Bacon, Egg & Cheese McMuffin
These days, you can customize your McMuffin experience. In this sandwich, the Canadian bacon is replaced with Applewood smoked bacon.
The look: This was the smallest of the three McMuffins, overall the size of the muffins was inconsistent. However, some bacon peeked out the sides, which was promising.
The taste: This is a very mild sandwich that needed a sauce to perk it up. Everything is soft and mellow tasting. I do like this one more than the traditional egg McMuffin because the bacon had more flavor. This egg has a better texture too. I wish the muffin had a bit of crispness to it. It's good, not great. It's a solid choice that is best eaten on the go in the car.
Winner: Sausage, Egg & Cheese McMuffin
Again, this sandwich swaps the bacon for the sausage and features McDonald's fresh egg.
The look: This is the biggest of all three. The sausage patty gives this one attractive height. It also adds 170 calories.
The taste: This was my favorite of the three McMuffin options. I love McDonald's breakfast sausage and this lets it shine—the flavor of the sausage stands up to the starchy English muffin. While the yolk seems oddly small in this egg and I got a lot of egg white, all the flavors melded together into a satisfying breakfast.
The Best Biscuit
McDonald's biscuits are brushed with butter and made on-site in some of the restaurants. They can be made into breakfast sandwiches with any combination of sausage, egg, bacon, cheese, and chicken.
Here's what I tried:
- Bacon, Egg & Cheese Biscuit
- McChicken Biscuit
- Sausage, Egg & Cheese Biscuit
- Sausage Biscuit
Sausage, Egg & Cheese Biscuit
This was a packed biscuit featuring sausage, a folded egg, and cheese.
The look: Everything is nicely stacked on this one in a size that looks manageable.
The taste: Unfortunately, the buttery McDonald's Biscuit steals the show from the sausage. I can barely taste the usually mildly spiced sausage through the fluffy biscuit. Everything tasted salty and thick as the biscuit turned into a heavy paste in my mouth. The egg and cheese do not have enough moisture to save this heavy sandwich.
Bacon, Egg & Cheese Biscuit
On paper, this combo sounded delicious. It featured Applewood smoked bacon, a fluffy egg, and melted American cheese.
The look: The golden brown biscuit was small enough to reveal everything that was inside the sandwich. It's also nice to get a bite of bacon before diving into a sandwich.
The taste: Sadly, the biscuit again overwhelms the inside. Plus, there's an overload of salt. The bacon, egg, and biscuit are all salty. This was begging for something sweet to take the edge off.
The McChicken patty stars in this simple biscuit sandwich.
The look: The biscuit is a good size and it showcases the golden brown chicken which sticks out the sides.
The taste: The good news is the chicken sands up to the biscuit, the bad news is it's just overall too savory and spicy for a proper breakfast sandwich. It feels like McDonald's took its McChicken and just put it on a biscuit without much thought about making it appetizing. I much prefer Wendy's Honey Butter Chicken Biscuit, the touch of sweetness makes all the difference. Still, this wasn't as overwhelming as the other two sandwiches.
Winner: Sausage Biscuit
I doubted the appeal of this simple offering from McDonald's, but I was wrong.
The look: This looked far too simple, with just a sausage patty on a golden brown biscuit.
The taste: I wasn't expecting this one to be my favorite out of the biscuit sandwiches, but the simplicity won me over. The sausage shines through the buttery, salty biscuit where it did not in the Sausage, Egg & Cheese Biscuit. Without the egg and cheese, the biscuit didn't turn into a strange-tasting paste. While this sandwich is still a bit heavy it's not nearly as weighty as the other ones. If I had to choose the best sausage sandwich off the whole McDonald's breakfast menu, this would be the one.
The Best McGriddle
The McGriddles are the most unique of the McDonald's breakfast sandwiches. They feature the chain's signature folded scrambled egg with sausage, bacon, or a chicken patty between pancake-like rounds dotted with pockets of gooey maple syrup.
Here's what I tried:
- Chicken McGriddle
- Sausage, Egg & Cheese McGriddle
- Bacon, Egg & Cheese McGriddle
McDonald's McChicken patty stars in this sweet and savory sandwich.
The look: The nicely brown chicken patty sticks out a bit from the perfect McGriddle rounds. I really hoped the syrup and the chicken worked well together because this looked like a very boring sandwich.
The taste: Coming off just tasting the delicious Honey Chicken from Wendy's I had high hopes for this salty-sweet combo, unfortunately, it did not deliver. This tastes like a McChicken that was put on some lackluster pancakes. The chicken needs to be crispier or the spice needed to be toned down. Something just didn't work. They should use the McCrispy patty for these as the crunch would add that missing element. The McGriddle rounds alone, however, are super tasty. I love the little pockets of syrup and they are so much fluffier than I expected.
Sausage, Egg & Cheese McGriddle
Would sausage, egg, and cheese work on a pancake? I was about to find out.
The look: The pile of folded eggs, sausage, and melted cheese made this one tower over the others. It looked like way too much.
The taste: There are pleasing layers of sweet, salty, and smoky flavors to the Sausage Egg & Cheese McGriddle. The lighter-than-air McGriddle pancakes tone down the heaviness of all of the items. The juicy, slightly spiced sausage adds a nice element but it sort of takes over the sandwich. I wanted a little more sweet with the spice.
Bacon, Egg & Cheese McGriddle
Bacon and syrupy pancakes are a match made in heaven, so I was excited about this combo. I hoped that the egg and cheese didn't overwhelm the thin bacon.
The look: Good, hearty slices of bacon poked out from under the towering egg and some melty bits of cheese clung to the McGriddles.
The taste: The light and fluffy McGriddle cakes were the stars, just as they should be. This sandwich is like a sweet cloud kissed with smoky bacon. While not crisp, the bacon also lends a nice saltiness that elevates the flavor. This is the best McGriddle and the best sandwich of the taste test. If bacon had been crispier, this one would be an unmatched breakfast offering.