When you think of fast-food breakfast, English muffin sandwiches, loaded biscuits, and crispy hash browns are probably among what comes to mind. But there's another popular item that has also carved out an important niche for itself in the fast-food breakfast market: breakfast burritos.
Typically consisting of egg, cheese, meat, and sometimes additional accouterments wrapped inside a flour tortilla, these handheld breakfasts are practically tailor-made for eating on the go during busy mornings. And when they're done right, they can also be pretty darn tasty.
McDonald's and Burger King, America's first- and third-largest burger chains, respectively, both serve their own versions of the popular fast-food breakfast (Wendy's, the second largest burger chain, doesn't currently offer burritos). So, in light of the longstanding competition between the two rival burger brands, I recently decided to find out once and for all which one serves the superior breakfast burrito by tasting every option they have on the menu.
McDonald's only breakfast burrito offering at the moment is a Sausage Burrito, while Burger King currently sells two varieties: a bacon-laden Egg-Normous Burrito and a Breakfast Burrito Jr. with sausage. I picked up all three options one recent morning and sampled them to determine which chain does breakfast burritos better overall.
I don't eat breakfast burritos often, but when I do, there are a few key qualities I look for. I want the tortillas to be very soft, fresh, and not too thick. I want the egg to have a pleasant texture (aka not too gooey or rubbery). I want the cheese to be perfectly melted. And I want whatever breakfast meat featured in the burrito, whether it's bacon, sausage, or something else, to add a savory, salty kick. While neither McDonald's or Burger King's burritos met all of these criteria, one chain's offerings were a little closer to what I wanted than the other's.
Read on for my thoughts on each burrito, followed by my verdict on which chain wins this tasting showdown!
McDonald's Sausage Burrito features scrambled eggs, pork sausage, cheese, green chilies, and onion wrapped inside a tortilla. One burrito cost me $1.70.
The look: Quite small, which does make sense considering that I paid less than $2 for this item. The tortilla looked a little dry and stiff in comparison to the Burger King burritos. When I cut the burrito in half, I also noticed that the portion of sausage was very skimpy. The filling was mostly scrambled egg surrounded by a too thick layer of tortilla.
The taste: Very lackluster. The egg, tortilla, and cheese were all pretty bland, and there was far from enough sausage to add the punch of flavor I wanted. I did taste a hint of the green chilies and onions in the egg scramble, but neither flavor was strong enough to save the burrito. Overall, I can only describe this option as "fine."
Burger King's larger Egg-Normous Burrito features bacon, eggs, shredded cheddar cheese, hash browns, and a creamy spicy sauce wrapped inside a soft flour tortilla. The smaller Breakfast Burrito Jr. features sausage, eggs, American cheese, hash browns, and a creamy spicy sauce wrapped inside a flour tortilla. The Egg-Normous Burrito cost me $6.49, while the Breakfast Burrito Jr. cost me $1.89.
The look: Both Burger King burritos were much more visually appealing than McDonald's version. The tortillas look fresher and softer than their Golden Arches counterpart. While somewhat small, the Breakfast Burrito Jr. had a much bigger portion of sausage inside. The Egg-Normous Burrito, almost comically large in comparison to the two other burritos, also had a pretty good balance of egg, cheese, bacon, and hash browns on the inside.
The taste: I started the Burger King portion of my taste test with the Breakfast Burrito Jr. I didn't taste or see the hash browns or the creamy spicy sauce that should have been included, but it was still miles better than what I tried from McDonald's. The sausage was salty and savory, the egg had a decent texture, the cheese was perfectly melty, and the tortilla was soft and not too thick.
I wasn't quite as impressed with the Egg-Normous Burrito. The bacon had a nice smoky, salty flavor, but it was very thin and floppy. The hash browns were pretty bland and not crispy in the slightest, so they didn't add any flavor or texture. My local Burger King did remember to add the creamy spicy sauce on this burrito, but I would have preferred if they forgot it again. It did have a decent kick, but mostly tasted like an overly sweet, sort of metallic ketchup. The Egg-Normous Burrito would have been much improved without the mushy hash browns and unpleasant sauce.
I was far from blown away by any of the burritos I tried, but there's still no doubt in my mind that Burger King serves the better breakfast burrito. The Sausage Burrito was one of the most forgettable menu items I've ever tried from McDonald's, between the dry tortilla, meager helping of sausage, and the overload of bland scrambled egg. Both Burger King options had softer, thinner tortillas, meltier cheese, and better flavor overall. Despite my criticisms, the Egg-Normous Burrito has the potential to be pretty tasty if customized to leave out the hash browns and creamy spicy sauce. However, the Breakfast Burrito Jr. was the undeniable star of the whole taste test. It was simple, tasty, well executed, and remarkably affordable at just $1.89.