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The Worst Restaurant Breakfasts in America

You're better off not starting out your morning with these caloric meals.
FACT CHECKED BY Cheyenne Buckingham

Anyone who's ever offended someone with a compliment that was intended to be genuine knows that sometimes things can go awry, even when you have the best of intentions. And in America, the land of the overfed, there's no better example of this than our breakfast selections.

It's no question that breakfast is a good thing. Studies have shown that people who make time for a morning meal consume fewer calories over the course of the day, have stronger cognitive skills, and are less likely to be overweight or obese.

RELATED: The Worst Breakfast Habits for Your Waistline, Say Dietitians

However, some major restaurant chains paint a heart-busting breakfast as a hearty one, which is simply not the case. Much of what's offered at U.S. restaurants and fast-food joints includes a collection of salty egg scrambles, sugar-loaded muffins, and a too-high stack of pancakes.

In an effort to call out some of the worst restaurant breakfasts chains offer, we compiled a list of just 16 examples of dishes that you may want to reconsider ordering—like ever. And for more foods to steer clear of, don't miss The #1 Worst Menu Option at 75 Popular Restaurants.


Denny's Cinnamon Roll Pancake Breakfast

cinnamon roll pancake breakfast at dennys
Courtesy of Denny's
Per meal with two pancakes with cream cheese icing, two bacon strips, scrambled eggs, and everything hash browns: 1,530 calories, 67 g fat (26.5 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 3,330 mg sodium, 223 g carbs (6 g fiber, 131 g sugar), 38 g protein

Dessert-driven pancakes can be found on many menus, but Denny's Cinnamon Roll Pancake Breakfast out-sweets them all. The restaurant has topped two buttermilk pancakes with a cinnamon crumb topping, whipped cream, and warm cream cheese icing drizzled (maybe doused is more accurate) on top.

The result is a dish with as much sugar as seven servings of Breyers' Natural Vanilla Ice Cream. (Throw in eggs, hash browns, and two bacon strips, and the sodium count soars, too.)


The Cheesecake Factory Bruléed French Toast with Bacon

Cheesecake factory bruleed french toast
Courtesy of The Cheesecake Factory
Per meal: 2,180 calories, 131 g fat (70 g saturated fat, 4 g trans fat), 1,070 mg sodium, 208 g carbs (7 g fiber, 115 g sugar), 45 g protein

Say hello to one of the most caloric items on The Cheesecake Factory's menu—and, yes, that goes for the entire menu, not just for breakfast. (By the way, don't think to swap your bacon for grilled ham, as this substitution will bring up your sodium count to over a whole day's worth at 2,620 milligrams.)

This "rustic" dish will likely rust your arteries, with half a day's worth of sodium, more than a day's worth of calories, over two days worth of added sugar, and three and a half days' worth of saturated fat. To quell your sweet tooth craving (and keep your breakfast under 1,000 calories and free of trans fats), place an order for a strawberry fruit smoothie and the make-your-own breakfast sammie with a side order of eggs and an English muffin.


Friendly's Meat Lovers Breakfast Bowl

friendlys meat lovers breakfast
Courtesy of Friendly's
Per meal: 1,409 calories, 89 g fat (31 g saturated fat, 0.1 g trans fat), 3,035 mg sodium, 103 g carbs (2.7 g fiber, 2 g sugar), 49 g protein

Indulging in this breakfast means you'll set yourself back more sodium than if you ate about 270 Lay's potato chips. Yikes! Consider ordering pancakes with two slices of bacon instead, which only clocks in at 563 calories. Or better yet, stay home and whip up one of these Best Healthy Pancake Recipes for Weight Loss.


Bob Evans Double Meat Farmer's Choice Breakfast

bob evans double meat farmer
Courtesy of Bob Evans
Per meal with hotcakes, two freshly cracked eggs, three sausage links, bacon, and a side of home fries: 1,900 calories, 97 g fat (29 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 3,660 mg sodium, 195 g carbs (5 g fiber, 31 g sugar), 57 g protein

With more than a day's worth of total fat, saturated fat, and well over one day's worth of sodium, this Bob Evans breakfast plate is a real doozy for your heart, waistline, and energy levels. Switch to the Rise and Shine platter for a tasty mix of cooked-to-order eggs, homefries, and breakfast meats. Skip the hickory-smoked ham to keep the sodium content low.


IHOP Country Fried Steak & Eggs with Sausage Gravy

ihop country fried steak eggs
Courtesy of iHOP
Per meal with steak, sausage gravy, hash browns, and two buttermilk pancakes (syrup and eggs not included): 1,390 calories, 86 g fat (27 g saturated fat, 2 g trans fat), 3,430 mg sodium, 112 g carbs (7 g fiber, 9 g sugar), 43 g protein

When you see the words "fried" and "steak" next to each other on your breakfast menu, just keep scanning the menu. No matter what the chefs serve it with, and no matter where you place the order, there's a minute chance it will be good for your body.

If something hearty and meaty is what you crave, try IHOP's T-Bone steak with three poached eggs instead. Don't get it twisted, though; this swap is by no means healthy. But it will give you the flavors you're looking for while keeping hundreds of calories, as well as plenty of fat and sodium, off of your plate.


Taco Bell Breakfast Crunchwrap

Taco bell am sausage crunchwrap
Courtesy of Taco Bell
Per Sausage Crunchwrap: 660 calories, 42 g fat (13 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 1,130 mg sodium, 50 g carbs (4 g fiber, 3 g sugar), 19 g protein

Hash browns topped with creamy jalapeño sauce and cheddar cheese—it's no shock that the Crunchwrap is by far the worst breakfast option at Taco Bell. Consuming more than half a day's allowance of sodium and saturated fat at breakfast is not a great way to start your day.


Jamba Juice Island Pitaya Bowl

Jamba juice island pitaya bowl
Courtesy of Jamba Juice
Per bowl: 480 calories, 8 g fat (2.5 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 20 mg sodium, 102 g carbs (11 g fiber, 70 g sugar), 7 g protein

"Energy bowls" might be the biggest trend at juice places, but remember that another word for "energy" is "calories." While some of the sugar comes from fruit, a lot of it comes from pineapple juice, which can boast a lot of added sugars. Instead, pick up a protein-rich bowl of Greek yogurt topped with berries to cut out 80 calories and 28 grams of sugar. For more calorie-saving swaps, check out these easy ways to cut calories.


Panera Bread Vanilla Cinnamon Roll

Panera vanilla cinnamon roll
Courtesy of Panera
Per roll: 620 calories, 18 g fat (8 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 490 mg sodium, 109 g carbs (3 g fiber, 72 g sugar), 8 g protein

This sad excuse for a morning meal has more calories and fat than every single breakfast sandwich Panera offers. Not to mention, just one roll contains over 70 grams of added sugar. The American Heart Association recommends that men consume no more than 36 grams (or 9 teaspoons) of added sugar per day and that women cap consumption at just 25 grams (6 teaspoons).


Au Bon Pain Eggs, Sausage & Cheddar on Asiago Bagel

au bon pain sausage egg cheese
Donnie M./Yelp
Per asiago bagel with two eggs, sausage, and cheddar: 670 calories, 34 g fat (15 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 1,160 mg sodium, 56 g carbs (4 g fiber, 6 g sugar), 36 g protein

Why order a nutrient-void bagel sandwich when you can order a healthier one that's just as flavorful? By moving your egg and sausage over to a smarter carb option such as the skinny wheat bagel, you save 160 calories and an impressive 30 grams of carbohydrates without altering the taste of your breakfast. And speaking of carbs done right, check out these 24 Best Healthy Carbs to Eat for Weight Loss!


Sonic Ultimate Meat and Cheese Breakfast Burrito

sonic breakfast burrito
Courtesy of Sonic
Per burrito: 800 calories, 56 g fat (18 g saturated fat, 1 g trans fat), 2,140 mg sodium, 46 g carbs (2 g fiber, 1 g sugar), 29 g protein

What do bacon, sausage, tater tots, and cheddar all have in common? They're all filled with fat and salt, and they're all part of Sonic's breakfast burrito. Paired with eggs—arguably the only healthy part of the entire concoction—and shoved into a nutrition-void carb blanket, this 800-calorie burrito is better left unordered. Instead, stick with the SuperSonic breakfast burrito to shave 220 calories and 220 milligrams of sodium off your order.


Chick-Fil-A Hash Brown Sausage Scramble Burrito

chickfila sausage burrito
Courtesy of Chick-Fil-A
Per burrito: 720 calories, 47 g fat (16 g saturated fat, 0.5 g trans fat), 1,450 mg sodium, 46 g carbs (3 g fiber, 1 g sugar), 28 g protein

This burrito has absolutely no business containing 700+ calories. Instead, go for the Scramble Bowl with Sausage and no hash browns for 320 calories and only 11 grams of saturated fat.


Carl's Jr. The Breakfast Burger

carls jr breakfast burger

Per burger: 830 calories, 44 g fat (16 g saturated fat, 1 g trans fat), 1,590 mg sodium, 67 g carbs (4 g fiber, 13 g sugar), 42 g protein

Smash a plate of eggs, bacon, and hash browns between two buns, and you get a breakfast sandwich that's nearly three times the calories of an Egg McMuffin. It's safe to say that some dishes, such as burgers—are better off when they're left unaltered.


Hardee's Breakfast Platter

hardees breakfast
Courtesy of Hardee's
Per platter with biscuit and gravy, two eggs, two strips of bacon, and Hash Rounds: 1,050 calories, 68 g fat (21 g saturated fat, 2 g trans fat), 2,420 mg sodium, 76 g carbs (12 g fiber, 5 g sugar), 31 g protein

Hardee's offers several caloric burgers, so the fact that they also offer up breakfast options as unhealthy as this one doesn't come as much of a surprise. The breakfast platter lives up to the chain's reputation, packing in over one day's worth of sodium into one little meal.


Smoothie King 'The Hulk' Strawberry Smoothie

Smoothie king hulk strawberry smoothie - unhealthiest, worst smoothies
Courtesy of Smoothie King
Per 40 oz smoothie: 1,770 calories, 64 g fat (32 g saturated fat), 780 mg sodium, 295 g carbs (14 g fiber, 256 g sugar), 49 g protein

You'll see that there are 256 grams of sugar in this smoothie, and 183 of those grams are "added sugar." The USDA recommends that we eat no more than 50 grams of added sugar a day, so this smoothie breaks through that barrier three times! Plus, liquid calories are absorbed more quickly than solid calories, because the digestion process is quicker. That's a sugar rush that will send you flying! For even more ways to cut back on the sweet stuff, check out these ways to cut back on sugar


Jack in the Box Grande Sausage Breakfast Burrito

Jack in the box sausage grande burrito
Courtesy of Jack in the Box
Per burrito: 1,070 calories, 72 g fat (21 g saturated fat, 0.5 g trans fat), 2,210 mg sodium, 70 g carbs (5 g fiber, 5 g sugar), 36 g protein

Opt for our Eat This! suggestion, the Meat Lovers' Breakfast Burrito, to save over 200 calories. Listen, it's still not great for you, but it's definitely an improvement if you're in desperate need of a breakfast burrito.

Don't miss The Secret Trick to Making the Perfect Breakfast Burrito!


McDonald's Big Breakfast with Hotcakes

mcdonalds breakfast
Courtesy of McDonald's
Per meal with three hotcakes, butter, one biscuit, two scrambled eggs, one sausage patty, and hash browns: 1,340 calories, 63 g fat (25 g saturated fat, 0.5 g trans fat), 2,070 mg sodium, 158 g carbs (5 g fiber, 48 g sugar), 36 g protein

Buttermilk biscuits, savory hot sausage, scrambled eggs, hash browns, and hotcakes join together to create a meal that might just make it hard for your heart to pump. To learn more about the best and worst options at the Golden Arches, check out our official report on McDonald's menu ranked. Then, if you're interested in fun facts, don't miss McDonald's Rare Original Golden Arch Can Only Be Found In These States.

Dana Leigh Smith
Dana has written for Women's Health, Prevention, Reader's Digest, and countless other publications. Read more