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9 Fast-Food Restaurants That Don't Use Real Whole Eggs

If you're looking for the freshest breakfast, these spots aren't it.

Eggs seem simple, right? Egg sandwiches too. Crack one open, fry it up, and add it to your favorite toasted breakfast bread with bacon or sausage. But you might be surprised to learn that a lot of fast-food restaurants do not make their egg sandwiches from whole eggs, even if they tout that they are made from "real eggs" or "cage-free eggs."

According to Today, fast-food restaurants use egg products instead of freshly cracked eggs to extend their shelf life and maintain quality control. Many fast-food spots, therefore, use pasteurized products like bagged eggs or pre-frozen patties which can be kept longer and cooked uniformly every time. The problem is many of these bagged or pre-formed products have fillers or preservatives that you will not find in a real egg, but they can still be called eggs in menu items.

Back in 2018, Panera petitioned the government to change the definition of what constitutes an egg product. It called out other chains for using these blended mixtures and highlighted its own fresh eggs. It doesn't look like that happened because egg products are still defined by the FDA as "whole eggs, whites, yolks, and various blends—with or without non-egg ingredients—that are processed and pasteurized."

Want to know if a chain uses a whole egg, check out the ingredients. The McDonald's Egg McMuffin lists only one ingredient: egg. This is a good sign.

You know who else is cracking fresh eggs daily? Wendy's. And they shout it out. As with many fast-food items, if the chain isn't shouting from the rooftops that it's using something that's more expensive and more labor intensive, you can bet they're cutting corners.

Many fast-food restaurants have made the switch to cage-free eggs, which is a step in the right direction. But many of those same chains scramble those cage-free eggs from a bag, which isn't bad, it just isn't a whole fresh egg. Here are the nine fast-food restaurants that aren't telling you the 'whole' story when it comes to their eggs.

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


mcdonalds egg mcmuffin and hash brown on tray
Moab Republic/Shutterstock

Hey didn't you just say McDonald's was good? Well, yes, but just because their McMuffins are made with whole eggs doesn't mean that's true for other items. McD's folded egg has a few more ingredients than just egg. The folded egg ingredients include eggs, nonfat milk, modified food starch, salt, and citric Acid.

According to McDonald's, "Our folded eggs, like the ones on a Bacon, Egg & Cheese Biscuit, are made with liquid eggs that are pre-cooked and folded before being flash frozen by our suppliers. Once in our kitchens, they're prepared on the grill with real butter." The Sausage Burrito eggs are also premade: Our suppliers pre-cook liquid eggs with ingredients that include sausage, tomatoes, green chilies, onions, and seasonings before flash-freezing them to help maintain their flavor.

If you're looking for a fresh-cracked egg, stick to the Egg McMuffin.


Dunkin Donuts sausage egg cheese croissant
Courtesy of Dunkin' Donuts

Dunkin's eggs are more of a feat of science than the work of chickens. Any sandwich that comes with a fried egg in the world of Dunkin' is made with the chain's signature "egg patty," which is a pre-made combo of egg whites, egg yolks, and some water, oil, and stabilizers.

A few years ago a TikToker reportedly showed the frozen egg patty, and it was a perfect yellow circle surrounded by white that was hard as a rock. Well, it certainly keeps things consistent. Thankfully in 2016, the chain added more actual eggs to its egg patty. What was it before? A lot more water.


panera bread chipotle chicken egg avocado wrap
Courtesy of Panera Bread

When Panera called out other chains in 2018, saying that they shouldn't be able to call their egg-substitute products "egg sandwiches," it only used 100% freshly cracked eggs.

That doesn't seem to be true anymore. Some of the breakfast items use a pasteurized egg—which may come out of a shell in the restaurant—and some liquid whole eggs. The scrambled egg sandwiches appear to use liquid eggs.


starbucks chicken maple butter and egg sandwich
Courtesy of Starbucks

There are no flat tops in Starbucks so it shouldn't be a surprise your eggs are not made in-house. Also, as we've seen with Dunkin', something is called a "patty" it's probably a bit modified.

Most of Starbucks egg dishes are made with a "frittata egg patty" that contains soybean oil and water, as well as unmodified corn starch, xanthan gum, citric acid, and powdered cellulose. The scrambled egg items are made with eggs that come pre-mixed with modified food starch, salt, liquid pepper extract, xanthan gum, citric acid, skim milk, soybean oil, and corn starch. The sous vide egg bites are made with just eggs, citric Acid, and water—for the egg portion, that is. Ahhh, just like grandma used to make.

Burger King


Burger king croissanwich bacon egg cheese
Burger King's eggs, according to Today, are a " liquid egg-pasteurized mixture," and they contain "whole eggs, water, xanthan gum, citric acid, medium chain triglycerides, and more." Currently, Burger King does not publish its full ingredient info, the link in the Today article leads to a broken link.

Taco Bell

taco bell breakfast crunchwrap with sausage
Courtesy of Taco Bell

Tasty? Yes. From cracked eggs? No. Taco Bell is on the cage-free bandwagon, but the eggs are not cracked for each order. The egg mixture for most items contains those cage-free eggs plus soybean oil, salt, citric acid, pepper, flavor (sunflower oil, flavors), xanthan gum, and guar gum.



Subway breakfast flatbread
Courtesy of Subway

Subway is using cage-free eggs, but the workers aren't cracking eggs in-house. You probably already suspected this because no one is griddling eggs on the line. Subway's eggs come in the form of egg patties just like at Dunkin'. The ingredients show separate egg yolks and egg whites with water and soybean oil, plus a bunch of other flavor enhancers and stabilizers. Eat Fresh?

Del Taco

del taco egg scrambler
Courtesy of Del Taco

Del Taco? Nope, it uses liquid eggs as well for all of its breakfast tacos, wraps, and burritos. The ingredients for its liquid eggs include whole eggs, 19% water, and extra egg whites, among other things.


Chick-fil-A's Hash Brown Scramble Burrito with Sausage

Chick-fil-A grills its chicken in-house in some locations, which almost no fast-food restaurant does, but it's not cracking eggs. Any of the breakfast items that contain egg are made from whole eggs, water, and a few other ingredients including natural butter-type flavor, xanthan gum, citric acid, and annatto.

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