The Fasties

The 14 Best Fast Food Breakfast Menus, Ranked

Wendy's is a new contender. McDonald's is an old favorite. But who comes out on top?

Illustration by Maggie Rossetti for Thrillist
Welcome to The Fasties, Thrillist’s second-annual fast food awards! The awards feature more than a dozen categories celebrating all the best foods that came out of drive-thru windows over the past year—from Best Chicken Nuggets to Best Bacon Cheeseburgers, and many more. Watch the full awards show and check out the full list of categories and winners.

Maple bacon chicken croissants, hash brown steak burritos, donut bites, mocha iced coffee… okay, we’ll stop before you get too hungry reading about breakfast at fast food chains. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. 

Breakfast is now available at many fast food restaurants, and they’re flooding the market with super-creative takes on the morning meal. We visited more than a dozen major chains to determine the best breakfast in the fast food arena—based on availability, innovation, and their flagship items. The next time you’re craving a breakfast sandwich, we’ll tell you where to go. This is the best breakfast in fast food.

14. Subway

It feels like Lunchables Brunchables were the inspiration for Subway’s breakfast, which is a combo of an egg (or an egg-white omelet), cheese and assorted lunch meat on a flatbread or a wrap. The Bacon, Egg and Cheese Signature Wrap is limp and tasteless, the Sunrise Subway Melt (egg white, turkey, bacon, ham, cheese) is on a flatbread that evokes edible cardboard, while the eggs taste like they were fried up in a factory a couple weeks back. Buy Brunchables instead.

13. Krystal

Breakfast at Krystal is available until 11 am. It’s pretty clear that breakfast isn’t this snack-sized burger chain’s forte, but if you have to go here for breakfast, here’s what you need to know. The signature item is the Sunriser, so stick to that. It’s similar to Krystal’s signature little burgers, only instead of a burger patty you have a choice of sausage or bacon along with egg and cheese. 

Other options include the Original Scrambler Bowl—grits topped with scrambled eggs, cheese, and a sausage patty—though it’s flavorless and not worth ordering. On the other hand, the bacon egg and cheese biscuit is a pleasant surprise. The egg is advertised as “fresh cracked” and actually tastes like it. The biscuit is dense but with enough butter that you’ll forgive it. The fried chicken biscuit is unbearably dry and only salvageable if you add your own sauce.

12. White Castle

Look, you just ate a whole bagful of steaming sliders in the wee hours of the morning, so you’re probably not going to White Castle for breakfast. But if for some reason you choose the petite patty palace over the many other chains serving better breakfast options, there’s one way to make the most of it: order everything. The one good thing about this breakfast menu is the variety of items paired with the chain’s characteristically small portions. That means you can order several things—say, a basic Breakfast Slider with bacon, another Breakfast Slider with sausage, a Belgian Waffle Slider, a Chicken & Waffles Slider, and a heaping sack of Hash Brown Nibblers—and take care of your every breakfast craving, savory or sweet.

11. Burger King

That eternally happy Burger King always has a smile plastered on his face, but he won’t be happy with what we’re about to say. The good news is that the egg and cheese-based Croissan’Wich (with bacon, ham, or sausage) is still as solid of a breakfast item as it was when it debuted in ‘83. Almost everything else is a bit of a mess, including overstuffed and overly salty offerings like the Fully Loaded Buttermilk Biscuit (ham, sausage, bacon, cheese) and the Egg-Normous Burrito (sausage, bacon, eggs, hash browns, cheese). French Toast Sticks—another holdover from the ‘80s—remain a crowdpleaser, but that isn’t enough to stand out in a breakfast landscape rife with innovation.

10. Bojangles

When it comes to breakfast offerings, the menu at Bojangles is unsurprisingly limited to biscuits (it’s just what this regional chain does). That means you’re in luck if you’re into biscuits. The Pimento Cheese Biscuit is hearty and quintessentially southern, while the basic Egg and Cheese Biscuit is only okay. Avoid the ham and chicken biscuits—they’re dry and boring. The standout here is the Bo-Berry Biscuit, a heart-shaped biscuit studded with blueberries and topped with a drizzle of icing. They’re served warm (so be patient) and will satisfy a sweet tooth. One upside to Bojangles’ breakfast menu is that it’s available all day.

9. Carl’s Jr

Breakfast burgers should taste like breakfast. If you can’t taste the breakfast parts of this Breakfast Burger (like eggs and hash browns) because the beef patty overwhelms every other flavor in the sandwich, it ain’t worth ordering. Overall, the breakfast program is limited to a couple sandwiches and burritos, a few biscuits and French Toast Dips for anyone with a sweet tooth. One highlight is the generous portion of folded egg found in the solid Bacon, Egg and Cheese Biscuit, but the real winner is the Big Country Breakfast Burrito. A hot, fresh tortilla wraps up scrambled eggs, cheese, bacon, sausage, ham, and hash browns that are covered in a warm sausage gravy that improves every ingredient it touches. It coats the burrito. It will coat your mouth. You will want more.

8. Del Taco

Let’s play a Jeopardy-like game! Here’s the clue: These two meats are rarely/never seen at any other fast food chain. The answer: What are carne asada and chorizo? 

Not only can you find that tasty twosome at this Tex-Mex-style joint, but they’re the best parts of the breakfast menu, which offers a smorgasbord of tortilla-based entrees. Take the overflowing Breakfast Toasted Wrap with carne asada, which smells heavenly and tastes even better, as it’s combined with eggs, hash browns, cheddar, pico, and salsa casera. If you’re looking for a spicy kick to start the day, you can’t go wrong with the Breakfast Burrito with chorizo. Add the ultra sugary (and ultra delicious) iced coffee for a buck along with cinnamon and sugar donut bites, and enjoy a solid ending to the meal.

7. Sonic Drive-In

The drive-in chain doesn’t care if you show up at 11:01am and want breakfast food, even though most fast food joints stopped serving it a half-hour ago. It’ll let you order Texas toast, burritos, and French toast sticks all darn day and night. But don’t order just anything off its breakfast menu. Skip the SuperSONIC Breakfast Burrito, a jumble of ingredients (egg, sausage, jalapeño, onion, tots, tomato, cheddar) that don’t work well enough together to form a cohesive meal. The Bacon BREAKFAST TOASTER (their caps, not ours) fares better, as it’ll remind you of a grilled cheese sandwich with an egg that you’d make in your kitchen if you weren’t so lazy. 

On the sweeter side of things, its Cinnabon Cinnasnacks are sugary dessert egg rolls best dipped into its refrigerated cream cheese frosting. Eat more than one and your dentist will find out and schedule a cavity filling. And if you leave a Sonic without getting an iced coffee over its famed nugget ice, you’re making a huge mistake. It’s a creamy, caffeinated java that’s worth pairing with any breakfast item.

6. Whataburger

It’s a rite of passage for anyone in a Whataburger town to feast on a late-night breakfast of taquitos sometime after 2 am, but even at a more civilized hour, breakfast at Whataburger wows. The variety’s impressive, too. In addition to its signature taquitos with fluffy scrambled eggs, American cheese, and choice of bacon, crumbled sausage, hashbrown sticks, or chorizo when available, you’ll find sandwiches on biscuits (jalapeño-cheddar or regular) with a hard-fried disc of egg, cheese, and choice of meat (including a nice, kinda-spicy sausage patty that tastes way better than the pizza topping crumbles in the taquitos), as well as breakfast sandwiches with the same fillings on burger buns instead. The Honey Butter Chicken Biscuit has become a greatest hit in recent years with a fried chicken tender and a gooey honey butter sauce that only gets better the more you add on. Even the fluffy, crispy-around-the-edges pancakes taste like they’re from a diner instead of a drive-thru. In all honesty, there’s not a single breakfast item here we wouldn’t order on the regular.

Illustration by Maggie Rossetti for Thrillist

5. Jack in the Box

Right off the bat, Jack in the Box earns points for having 18 wildly different breakfast items. Mini pancakes! Gurritos! Biscuits! Croissants!. And you can order ‘em all day and night. Not all of it is worth your money—a mostly generic breakfast sandwich line’s sole highlight is the crisp, hickory-smoked bacon. The stacked Loaded Breakfast Sandwich (eggs, bacon, ham, sausage, cheese) looks perfect for Instagram, but even though copious amounts of egg and bacon look cool, it feels more like a dare than a well thought-out breakfast item. 

Contrast that with the simple Breakfast Jack, and you might be surprised to learn that it’s the best breakfast meal on the menu. It’s not a sexy item, but it’s the tastiest thing they’ve got—a supremely thin fried egg, sliced ham, and American cheese on a bun so pillowy you could sleep on it during a cross-country flight. Order it with a Mocha Iced Coffee that tastes exactly like chocolate milk and you’ve got a great start to your morning. Or night.

Illustration by Maggie Rossetti for Thrillist

4. Taco Bell

The chain that invented Fourthmeal in 2007 somehow does not serve breakfast all day. This feels like a missed opportunity for a chain that prides itself on being innovative, especially at breakfast. The Waffle Taco was the talk of the internet in 2013 when it launched in select cities, before being unleashed nationwide in 2014. The Waffle Taco is no more, but there’s still plenty worth talking about.

It debuted a line of Toasted burritos last year—an amalgam of eggs, cheese, potato, and bacon or sausage. The Cheesy Toasted Breakfast Burrito’s rubbery sausage is a miss, but the Hash Brown Toasted Breakfast Burrito is a lovely eggy, cheesy, potato-filled bundle of breakfast joy that doesn’t even need meat to be satisfying (pro tip: order it vegetarian). Same goes for the Breakfast Crunchwrap, which is required ordering thanks to its warm, inviting Creamy Jalapeño Sauce. Don’t forget a side of buttery Cinnabon Delights. And wash it all down with Mountain Dew’s Kickstart citrus soda with about as much caffeine as a cup of coffee (92mg).

Illustration by Maggie Rossetti for Thrillist

3. McDonald’s

There’s something to be said for a chain that does the little things right. If you haven’t been to a McDonald’s drive-thru lately, you’re in for a treat. Pre-order your meal via the McD’s mobile app and when you select the option to pick it up in the drive-thru, you’ll get a code to give the employee. That’ll save Erin from getting the mobile order for Aaron. And the bag of food they hand you might also have your drink inside it, thanks to a clever cardboard insert that holds it upright. 

Mickey D’s has been serving eggs and hotcakes since the ‘70s, and despite shelving All-Day Breakfast, there’s still plenty worth waking up early for. Many chains cram sweet and savory in one sandwich, but they end up looking like overstuffed suitcases and tasting like a mid-tier hotel breakfast buffet thrown in a blender. The McGriddle, however, is perfectly engineered—a buttery, meaty, cheesy sandwich you can eat while driving. The Egg McMuffin remains a top fast food breakfast sandwich, with a perfect ratio of egg, cheese and meat on a flawlessly toasted English muffin. And McDonald’s is an old dog with new tricks, as the Hot and Spicy McChicken Biscuit capitalizes on the chicken biscuit craze with a legitimately hot offering. McCafe provides all the lattes, iced coffees, and Frappuccino ripoffs you want at a fraction of the price. It all adds up to a fantastic breakfast.

Illustration by Maggie Rossetti for Thrillist

2. Wendy’s 

Wendy’s breakfast launched at the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020, and because that was the worst possible timing of a new product launch (and generally the worst possible time), it failed miserably. Just kidding. You would have thought, right? Instead, the geniuses at Wendy’s developed an incredible breakfast menu that’s so damn creative and delicious, it’s gaining the chain new customers

The Breakfast Baconator is a burger crossed with brunch crossed with your friend daring you to try to finish a burger at 8 am with sausage, two layers of bacon and cheese, a fried egg, and Swiss cheese sauce. It’s… a lot. But the breakfast chicken lineup is where Wendy’s leaves other chains in the dust. The Maple Bacon Chicken Croissant is an absolute triumph: crispy fried chicken nestled in a croissant and slathered in a maple butter every chain should rip off. The Honey Butter Chicken Biscuit again combines that delicious bird with a buttery biscuit and a hint of sweetness. Wash it down with a genius Chocolate Frosty-ccino (cold brew coffee plus Frosty flavoring) that’s better tasting than 75% of Starbucks’ Frappuccinos. And way cheaper.

Illustration by Maggie Rossetti for Thrillist

1. Chick-fil-A

If you know anything about Chick-fil-A it’s that it’s closed on Sunday, it’s made controversial donations in the past and, oh right, it has some of the best chicken and biscuits in fast food (no slight to Popeyes, which is also excellent… but it’s not open for breakfast). Strangely, Chick-fil-A’s breakfast has not garnered breathless praise like the rest of its menu. You might think that having limited menu options, serving breakfast until 10:30 am, and only being open six days a week would hurt its chances of being No. 1 on our list. But nope. The food is so good, it’s still the best fast food breakfast.

Let’s start with the Hash Brown Scramble Burrito. Scrambled eggs, hash browns, chopped up chicken nuggets and cheese combine for a confusingly delicious start to the day. This burrito doesn’t need eggs at all—you can hardly taste them. But there’s so much satisfying, fried goodness to enjoy that it’s tough to complain. 

The Chicken Biscuit is a special thing. Does it help that every location continually bakes biscuits all morning long, ensuring you get one that emerged hot and fresh from the oven that morning? Yes. The Chick-fil-A Chicken Biscuit is adorned with nothing. It doesn’t have to be when all you need is perfectly fried chicken and a buttery biscuit for a couple bucks. Sometimes a chain doesn’t need a breakfast item with bells and whistles when the breakfast item is one giant bell and whistle.

Because every breakfast needs coffee, Chick-fil-A pours a solid hot java (we think it’s the second best in fast food), and some of the best iced coffee in the game, as well. It’s not quite the quality level of a third wave cup, but it’s certainly competitive with Starbucks cold brew or McDonald’s McCafe. 

Let’s skip over the english muffins and biscuits with bacon/sausage, egg and cheese, the chicken, egg and cheese bagel or the Greek yogurt parfait. They’re all fine and dandy if you’re looking for something simple. But the most standout, unique item in all of fast food breakfast are the Chick-n-Minis. The mini yeast rolls that feature a honey butter spread are airy, sweet morsels that should go in the fast food hall of fame. Tiny, perfect chicken nuggets get placed in each roll, and the result is a breakfast food we didn’t know we needed every morning. Dip those suckers in honey for added sweetness. 

Chick-fil-A’s chicken (and biscuit!) game is unparalleled. And it’s a big reason why it should be your next stop for fast food breakfast.

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