I ordered a bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich, hash browns or breakfast potatoes, and an iced coffee from Burger King, McDonald's, Wendy's, Carl's Jr., and Chick-fil-A to see which had the best breakfast.
I scored each item on a five-point scale based on taste and value, then calculated a total score.
Burger King was my least favorite meal, and I deemed Chick-fil-A the winner.
Burger King's breakfast cost me $7.24.
This meal instantly put me off.
A good breakfast is supposed to make you feel energized, but the unappetizing grease stains on the bag made me a little queasy.
The chain's breakfast sandwich was greasy.
The grease mainly came from the sandwich. Plus the American cheese had exploded all over the wrapping, adding to the mess.
The top of the biscuit had an oily sheen to it, and the egg came as a thin, floppy rectangle to seemingly match the cheese, which didn't make sense since both ingredients hung out of the round bread.
This sandwich was so greasy that I couldn't make it past two small bites. Even worse, the biscuit tasted like movie-theater butter.
Burger King's hash browns tasted processed.
Thankfully, Burger King's hash browns fared slightly better than the sandwich, but they still had a processed taste that was more noticeable than with the other potato sides.
When I dipped them into ketchup, they tasted OK, but still left grease stains on my fingers.
The iced coffee was the best part of the meal.
The coffee was the only redeeming item I ordered.
Despite it being overly milky, I could detect both subtle notes of cocoa and a smooth coffee flavor.
FIFTH PLACE: Burger King's breakfast was my least favorite.
I am still genuinely surprised that this meal cost me more than $5. It was my least favorite breakfast by far.
Total score: 4/15
This Carl's Jr. breakfast added up to $7.96.
Carl's Jr. is also called Hardee's in other parts of the country. Both share the iconic star logo.
The chain's breakfast sandwich was a strong contender.
Between the plump folded egg, flavorful bacon, melty American cheese, and thick biscuit, this sandwich was hefty and filled me up after a few bites.
This was one of the better breakfast sandwiches I tried since I could taste every individual component. The bacon was super salty, but the egg and cheese still didn't get lost.
The biscuit was quite flavorful compared to some of the others on this list, with a yummy, buttery texture that wasn't too oily or dry.
The hash browns were also pretty impressive.
Like Chick-fil-A and Burger King, Carl's Jr. sells hash browns as bite-sized discs.
Even though they were really tasty and pretty comparable to the chicken chain, I docked some points for packaging since these came in a shallow paper bag the discs spilled out of.
The iced coffee from Carl's Jr. was the worst one I tried.
Carl's Jr. offers vanilla cold brew as their main coffee option.
I'm glad I tried this Carl's Jr. breakfast outside because I spat out the coffee after the first sip.
I wondered if the cup I received was just poorly mixed because it tasted like pure vanilla syrup to me.
Given how many people I know who love this coffee, I was genuinely disappointed.
FOURTH PLACE: The Carl's Jr. iced coffee ruined the value of the meal.
Despite the chain's Candyland-esque brew, Carl's Jr. offered a pretty substantial breakfast for less than $8.
Unfortunately, the fact that I couldn't even stomach the coffee decreased its value.
Total score: 8/15
Wendy's breakfast cost me $7.75.
As a proud Wendy's Twitter follower, I don't know how I missed the memo that the chain started serving breakfast, but I'm glad to be here now.
This was a middle-of-the-road breakfast sandwich.
Compared to the other sandwiches I tried, this one ranked in the middle.
Wendy's absolutely delivered on the bacon, but I expected nothing less from a chain that coined the Baconator. The two thick-cut slices boasted an extra-crispy, salty kick with a bold, smoky flavor.
Wendy's eggs appeared fried rather than scrambled, and the American cheese perfectly melted onto every corner, providing a consistent ratio in each bite.
But the bread was dry and bland, so I had to dip it into ketchup to moisten it. I don't understand why some chains opt for buns when biscuits are an option.
I loved Wendy's take on breakfast potatoes.
Although I enjoy hash browns, I applaud Wendy's for normalizing other potatoes for breakfast.
The chain sells potato wedges in lieu of the standard discs, which were a serious upgrade. They were so well-seasoned and perfectly crispy that I didn't even have to add ketchup.
When paired with the bacon sandwich, the combination was a bit of a salt bomb, but not a particularly greasy one.
I couldn't drink much of Wendy's iced coffee.
Wendy's only offers flavored cold brew, which was an immediate red flag to me because I figured it was probably premixed.
I opted for vanilla, but the chain also sells caramel and mocha. I figured it couldn't be bad, but I was wrong.
My brew didn't seem like it used any coffee beans and was more like a liquefied version of a blended frappé. It tasted like 75% sugar, 20% milk, and 5% watered-down coffee flavoring.
Even though it didn't taste that bad paired with the super-salty sandwich, the vanilla flavor was too overpowering on its own. I didn't even make it through a third of the cup before dumping it out.
Although I can't see myself ordering this option before noon — or ever — it may be great for someone who wants a caffeine fix without the taste of coffee since the flavor was still smooth and consistent.
THIRD PLACE: Wendy's breakfast was a great value.
Even though I wasn't jumping for joy over this meal, Wendy's provided one of the best values for the $7.75 price tag.
Between the ample crispy bacon on the sandwich and scrumptious potato wedges, the chain's breakfast was a worthy contender.
Total score: 9/15
I spent $8.49 at McDonald's.
I'm no stranger to McDonald's breakfast, so I knew what to expect, but I needed to try it again to make sure I wasn't imagining it through rose-colored glasses.
McDonald's breakfast sandwich was decent.
McDonald's sandwich included an ultra-thick, folded scrambled-egg patty that had a pillowy, omelet-like mouthfeel.
And although the biscuit had a nice, crumbly texture, this sandwich was otherwise pretty dull. The bacon wasn't especially crispy or flavorful and got buried under the biscuit, egg, and cheese.
Ketchup helped amp up the flavor, but I wasn't sure why I was still eating it at this point.
I've always loved McDonald's hash browns.
A menu staple for upwards of 40 years, McDonald's iconic oval-shaped hash-brown patties are known for their savory flavor and satisfying crunch.
Just as I remembered, these hash browns were scrumptious. The patty was perfectly toasted on the outside, with a soft, salty interior that wasn't mushy or wet.
Plus the handheld design is ideal for eating in the car, at the table, or down a busy street.
The chain's coffee was both smooth and light.
McDonald's has been in the iced-coffee game for a hot minute and it shows. This drink had an ultra-smooth consistency that didn't taste super heavy, even if it was too sweet for my liking to finish.
Vanilla was clearly the dominant flavor, but it was well-mixed and didn't overpower the actual coffee.
Even though there's no espresso in this drink, I'd compare it to a milky beverage, like a latte.
SECOND PLACE: McDonald's serves a decent breakfast.
Even though the food tasted decent, it was pretty pricey for what I actually got. I was able to bundle my breakfast as a meal but was charged $0.89 to upgrade the beverage to iced coffee.
For nearly $9, I should be excited about every component, but that was not the case.
Total score: 12/15
Chick-fil-A's breakfast totaled up to $8.65.
Although the chain is well known for its chicken sandwiches, Chick-fil-A has offered breakfast since the 1980s.
The chain's biscuit was the best of the bunch.
There was a lot that made me smile about this sandwich.
It easily had the best bread of the bunch — a warm and toasty Chick-fil-A biscuit that melted in my mouth.
If this was an egg-and-cheese sandwich ranking, I could easily see this option blowing away the competition since the scramble was delicious and fluffy.
Unfortunately, the bacon was bland and brittle.
Chick-fil-A's hash browns were salty and delicious.
I could actually taste the potato in these hash browns.
Since they're fried in canola oil, they had a much more mild flavor but were still salty enough that I couldn't help but reach for more.
Plus they came as bite-sized discs that fit perfectly into Chick-fil-A's ketchup cups, but these were so scrumptious that they didn't need the dip at all.
This iced coffee would be good with a little less sweetener.
The drink mostly tasted like a cup of vanilla creamer, but once I gave it a good stir I started to notice some coffee with a smooth, almost caramelly flavor.
It wasn't as cloyingly sweet as the Carl's Jr. or Wendy's cold brew since I could still taste a faint hint of the actual coffee.
And it genuinely tasted good paired with the sandwich, so there's definitely potential with less sweetener.
WINNER: Chick-fil-A's breakfast was pretty delicious overall.
Although Chick-fil-A offers impressive hash browns, breakfast sandwiches, and iced coffee, the nearly $9 price tag was pretty difficult to stomach.
It was the most expensive breakfast I tried, but if you have someone who's willing to share the hash browns with you, it might be worth the buy.
Total score: 12/15
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