Not to be dramatic, but a breakfast sandwich can make or break your entire day. A great one has the potential to put a pep in your step, while a bad one is not only a waste of time, money, and calories, but it can also throw your appetite off for the foreseeable future.
A breakfast sandwich works best when all its components — warm buttery bread, melted cheese, smoky bacon, and a tender egg — come together like a symphony. Mess with any of those ingredients and your breakfast can quickly go from hero to zero. Mushy bread, rubbery cheese, stringy bacon, and bland eggs can derail your morning meal.
In the interests of avoiding a bad breakfast moment, we tried seven bacon, egg, and cheese sandwiches and ranked them. Here's how they stacked up, from worst to best.
We chose bacon, egg, and cheese sandwiches from national and regional chains — ones you're just as likely to encounter while running errands in your neck of the woods or while on the road. All sandwiches were priced at under five dollars.
In evaluating the sandwiches, we considered a number of different factors. We wanted to see how they compared: Were made-to-order options tastier? Did their breakfast brethren languishing under heat lamps stand a chance? Did pricey sandwiches mean better-tasting ingredients? Can you secure a great breakfast sandwich for under three dollars?
More specifically, we took the following variables into account:
- Price: How much does it cost?
- Wait: Did you have to stand around and wait for it to be prepared?
- Grease factor: Are you going to need a lot of napkins?
- Bacon quality: Is it chewy, stringy, or floppy? Is it off-putting in any way?
- Egg taste: Are they scrambled or sunny-side up? Seasoned or not?
- Cheese choice: Is it a scraggly slice of American cheese or a robust artisanal cheddar?
- Bread carrier quality: How tasty is the bagel, croissant, or biscuit?
- Could I finish this? Would it give me a tummy ache within 10 minutes of polishing it off?
Taken together, these criteria gave us a complete picture of the entire experience, from procurement to enjoyment.
The Breakfast Sandwich Taste Test
- Price: $3.29
- Wait: One minute while it was made to order.
- Grease factor: Low, which surprised me for some reason.
- Bacon quality: Pathetic. It was so flavorless and sad, I felt sorry for the pig.
- Egg taste: A letdown. It wasn't seasoned and clearly microwaved.
- Cheese choice: Laughable. A too-big single slice of American cheese was unceremoniously slapped on the sandwich.
- Bread carrier quality: Inferior. The biscuit was squishy and tasted like artificial butter.
- Could I finish this? Absolutely not. It was downright yucky. Save your money and skip this as an option.
- Price: $2.69
- Wait: Two minutes while it was made to order.
- Grease factor: Medium.
- Bacon quality: Pitiful. It tasted like a gas grill.
- Egg taste: Blander than a khaki and beige convention, and there was a lot of it.
- Cheese choice: Low-quality, orange-hued American cheese.
- Bread carrier quality: The biscuit was mushy and tasted like margarine.
- Could I finish this? That's a firm no. It literally left a bad taste in my mouth.
- Price: $4.19
- Wait: Almost five minutes, as I had to order at the register and wait for it to be prepared.
- Grease factor: High.
- Bacon quality: Lackluster. Slightly chewy.
- Egg taste: Sad. The yolk in the sunny-side up egg was hardened and tasted overcooked.
- Cheese choice: Also sad. It was a thin sheet of cheddar cheese. It barely registered.
- Bread carrier quality: The bagel was much bigger than the fillings, so several mouthfuls were of nothing but bland bagel. There were grill marks on the outside of the bagel, as if it'd be made in a panini press. That might explain why the sandwich was thin and the bagel was greasy.
- Could I finish this? I'd have to be desperately hungry. Not only was it messy to eat, but since it was so heavy in my stomach, I also felt like I needed a nap afterward.
- Price: $3.69
- Wait: Two minutes, made to order.
- Grease factor: Medium-low.
- Bacon quality: Surprisingly, it wasn't too bad! In fact, the edges were crispy. It was a small portion, but it definitely had a tasty bacon flavor.
- Egg taste: Poor. It was one whole egg, seemingly microwaved. The yolk was hard and the surrounding white area was unappealing.
- Cheese choice: One low-quality orange American cheese slice made it ho-hum.
- Bread carrier quality: The plain bagel was bland and bread-like.
- Could I finish this? Maybe. I'd have to be ravenous and this would have to be piping hot. If you let this sandwich sit around too long and cool down, the cheese seizes up and the bacon goes limp, rendering it nearly inedible.
- Price: $4.45
- Wait: Two minutes for the barista to toast the pre-made sandwich.
- Grease factor: Medium. The croissant bun left my fingers reaching for several napkins.
- Bacon quality: It was just okay! The bacon was smoky and chewy. As one of the most expensive sandwiches on the list, frankly I expected more.
- Egg taste: The yolk of the sunny-side up egg was completely hard. It was unmemorable.
- Cheese choice: The cheddar was rubbery, which was disappointing.
- Bread carrier quality: The croissant bun was squishy and quite buttery.
- Could I finish this? Probably, although it wasn't nearly as delicious as I'd anticipated. It tasted exactly like what it was: a heated, pre-made breakfast sandwich.
- Price: $2.69
- Wait: None, as it was under a heat lamp near the front of the register.
- Grease factor: Moderate. I needed two napkins to wipe the grease off my fingers.
- Bacon quality: Serviceable. It was a little dry.
- Egg taste: The folded egg was springy.
- Cheese choice: A single slice of white American cheese upped the classiness factor.
- Bread carrier quality: Solid. The croissant was flaky, warm, and buttery.
- Could I finish this? Definitely. The croissant was the real star of the show. It elevated the entire sandwich.
- Price: $3.79
- Wait: None, as it was under a heat lamp in the coffee bar area.
- Grease factor: Yes, it was little greasy due to the warm croissant. You'll need a few napkins, for sure.
- Bacon quality: High. The bacon was thick and had good, smoky flavor.
- Egg taste: Delicious. The eggs were seasoned with salt and pepper, which I appreciated.
- Cheese choice: A single slice of white American cheese. Cheddar would've been better, but I appreciated Wegmans' commitment to honoring a more traditional preparation.
- Bread carrier quality: Outstanding. The croissant was buttery, flaky, and exceedingly delicious.
- Could I finish this? Absolutely. Every bite rocketed me to flavor town. I didn't want the sandwich to end.
Our #1 Pick: Wegmans
Of all the sandwiches we tried, this one boasted the highest-quality ingredients. Add a cup of coffee or tea, and you will have a delightful breakfast. Wawa's came in at a close second, but Wegmans' thick, flavorful bacon and dynamite croissant catapulted it to the top spot. Next time we feel the urge to dip into a bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich, we're grabbing one from Wegmans.
The most expensive sandwich definitely wasn't the best one. And while I initially thought to-go sandwiches under heat lamps wouldn't be as delicious as made-to-order ones, I was proven wrong: You can get a wonderful sandwich, even if it's hanging out in a cardboard carton by the register.
Who makes your favorite bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich? Do you have strong feelings about whether a breakfast sandwich is best on a biscuit, bagel, or croissant? Tell us in the comments!