Best Sandwich Options At (Almost) Every Fast Food Chain

You've gotta appreciate the history of the sandwich. Legend has it that one John Montagu couldn't be bothered to stop gambling long enough to eat. Instead, he gets around the need for such niceties as forks and knives, and even plates, by having his cook slap together a couple of pieces of bread with a hunk of meat in the middle so he could hold it with one hand. Voilà! The sandwich is born. It even carries his name or, rather, his title, as Montagu was known as the Earl of Sandwich. This town in England definitely gives the bread-and-meat concoction a better name than what it could have been saddled with, given that Montagu was such a prolific gambler.

Much has happened since the mid-1700s when Montagu popularized the first sandwich. Who would have thought that whole restaurants would spring up all over the world centered on sandwiches? There is also a spirited debate going on about what exactly constitutes a sandwich? Is a hamburger a sandwich? How about a hot dog on a bun? And given that Montagu slid slices of meat between the bread, would vegetable sandwiches also qualify in his book? Or must they be given a different moniker to keep things on the up and up? While we don't profess to have the answers to those questions, what we do have is a list of the best sandwiches you can get at almost every fast food restaurant you could ever find.

Starbucks: Chicken, Maple Butter, & Egg

Where you grew up often determines what you think of as breakfast foods. Here in the U.S., food items like eggs, pancakes, and bacon land on the list of morning favorites. On the other hand, had you grown up in Japan, for example, you'd feel disappointed if you didn't see seaweed, grilled fish, and miso soup on your breakfast table. We mention what may seem obvious because it pertains to why we recommend the sandwich here: the chicken, maple butter, and egg sandwich courtesy of Starbucks. 

For many of us, eating a fried chicken patty for breakfast may not fit our expected norms, but as we already mentioned, what you choose to eat depends largely on where you grew up. However, knowing that others around the world eat very different foods for breakfast encourages us to try new food combinations that, quite frankly, are probably freakin' delicious once we try them. We think this sandwich qualifies, particularly given the fact that it's made up entirely of comfort foods, like fried chicken, scrambled egg, and maple butter served on an oat biscuit roll. Aside from that, it's also the kind of sandwich ideal for brunch since it has both breakfast and lunch foods on it. It comes in at 450 calories and 17 grams of protein.

Subway: Veggie Delite

The world is becoming more and more vegetarian- and vegan-friendly, but that doesn't mean it's always easy to find suitable food if you opt out of the meats on the regular. That's why Subway's Veggie Delite makes our list. The other thing is, the sheer availability of Subway makes it easier to go meatless in a pinch. Subway sandwich shops might not be as ubiquitous as other fast food restaurants like McDonald's or Taco Bell, but still, you'd be hard-pressed not to find at least one of the more than 20,000 locations, even if you're rolling through a town you've never been to on a road trip. 

The Veggie Delite also appeals because Subway offers customization options, from its various types of bread to the range of vegetables and sauces the chain carries. It's tough to beat nutritionally, too. The 6-inch version of the sub comes in at 210 calories and 3 grams of fat. It also contains a surprising 10 grams of protein, putting the kibosh on the worry that vegetarians don't get enough protein in their diet. 

Chick-Fil-A: Chick-fil-A Chicken Sandwich

Chick-Fil-A is the third-largest fast food chain overall based on total U.S. sales, according to QSR's latest annual rankings, and the largest fast food chicken restaurant. Aside from popping out some of the cutest Christmastime marketing campaigns, like its short film "The Whoopsery," it just so happens to make a very mean chicken sandwich that has fans crying in their cars as they pass by on Sundays because the chain takes that day off each week. Even in New York City, the city that doesn't sleep, Chick-Fil-A sleeps on Sundays.

The appeal all comes down to its old-fashioned recipe that starts with a chicken patty dipped in an egg and milk mixture. We know it's breaded in some amazing spices and fixings — the exact makeup is kept secret — although that hasn't stopped some copycat home chefs from trying to replicate the recipe, probably to get around that pesky one-day-off thing. Because of the utter devotion this popular chicken sandwich inspires in people — along with its simplicity — it gets a spot on our best sandwich list.

Domino's: Philly Cheese Steak Sandwich

According to Bake magazine, a full 98% of people in the U.S. eat pizza, presumably on the regular, which, by extension, means that 2% of the population from sea to shining sea don't touch America's favorite spicy pie. So, what's a pizza-hating person to do when an invite comes from friends to truck on over for a night of pizza and football? Why, order a sandwich, of course.

And if it's Domino's from whence the pizza for the party will come, the pizza-avoider has plenty of options, including some hot subs, like a nice Philly cheese steak sandwich. It measures 8 inches and sets you back about $6, though prices may vary by location. Its grilled toppings, like green peppers, mushrooms, and onions, plus a bubbling combo of Provolone and American cheese, are paired with thin slices of steak and sit inside some artisan bread, just waiting for your taste buds to welcome it into your tummy. 

Arby's: Jalapeño Roast Beef Slider

Sometimes, you just don't need a full-meal deal when you want to get a sandwich. Instead, you're looking to stave off the 3 p.m. peckishness, and ordering a big sammy, slathered with too much mayo and 5 pounds of beef just won't do. Dinner's less than two hours away. You just need a snack, for Pete's sake. Fortunately for you and Pete, Arby's has got you covered. The roast beef chain offers four miniature sandwiches, or sliders, and while any one of them will likely satisfy your hunger, it's the Jalapeño Roast Beef Slider that catches our eye.

Although now Arby's sells all kinds of meats, it lives in many people's memories as the place to go to get a great roast beef sandwich. This sandwich gives a nod to Arby's history. The addition of the peppers to the roast beef sandwich takes the taste up a notch. However, the peppers are not such an out-of-the-ordinary ingredient that would make you afraid to try the sandwich. It also comes in at 177 calories, making it a snack that still leaves room for dinner.

Jersey Mike's: Grilled Portobella Mushroom

In 2022, Jersey Mike's grilled portabella mushroom sub officially earned a spot on the chain's permanent menu: No. 64. The sandwich was first introduced in February 2021, rolling with the mushroom trend that has inspired the food industry in general for the past five years or so. The portabella sub, with fresh ingredients like green bell peppers, onions, and, of course, portabella mushrooms and hot, melted Swiss cheese, came as part of a suite of sandwiches in a similar theme. (The portabella chicken cheese steak sandwich and the portabella cheese steak, Nos. 65 and 66, respectively, finish out the grouping.)

What appeals to us about this is the new take on vegetarian sandwiches. While there's nothing wrong with a good sub laden with a variety of chilled fresh garden vegetables and lettuce, this portabella sub gives non-meat-eaters a hot sandwich option. Portabellas have a slightly meaty taste and texture when cooked, making them a good meat substitute, particularly for those who either embrace a flexitarian diet or are new to vegetarianism. 

Panera Bread: Napa Almond Chicken Salad Sandwich

Go into any convenience store, and you're sure to find a couple of staple sandwiches in the refrigerated section: egg salad, tuna salad, and chicken salad. Those salad sandwiches are so ubiquitous in our society that it's difficult to believe that these odes-to-leftovers didn't always exist. Given the limited space here, we won't discuss all of them -– just the chicken salad sandwich -– which didn't exist until 1863 when Liam Gray slapped together what's believed to be the first chopped chicken sandwich, complete with mayo, grapes, and tarragon. Given how prevalent leftover chicken is, it's a wonder that no one thought of this sandwich before then.

And while Panera Bread didn't invent the classic chicken salad sandwich, it certainly has perfected this staple. Like the original chicken salad sandwich, Panera Bread's chicken salad is filled with chopped chicken and plump red grapes. Celery bits and thinly sliced almonds give the sandwich a bit of crunch, while ripe tomatoes add some tang to the taste. You can further doctor up this upscale sandwich by adding some avocado and white cheddar. Panera Bread also gives you the option to add a free side of chips, apple, or a French baguette. With 640 calories and 27 grams of protein, this sandwich is sure to satisfy you.

Tom & Chee: Bacon Mac and Cheese Grilled Cheese

If you're like a lot of us, you turn to comfort food when life deals you a crushing blow. (Or even bad-traffic-level annoyance — let's be real.) In any event, ranking at the top of many people's comfort food lists are items like grilled cheese sammies and macaroni and cheese. The real pickle comes when you must choose between these two delectables at a time when all you really feel like doing is crying in your soup.

Fortunately, Tom & Chee comes to the rescue by not forcing us to choose between the sammy and the mac. While no complete "best sandwich" list should be without a mean grilled cheese sandwich, this list does you one better. Tom & Chee's bacon mac and cheese grilled cheese sandwich combines your two favorite comfort foods and then throws some bacon in for good measure. It also brings together several kinds of cheese, including cheddar and mozzarella, so you don't have to choose from among your favorite flavors. It's safe to say that you can probably find a tasty grilled cheese sandwich at a number of fast food places, but you're not going to find one quite like this, which is why it lands on our list.

Jimmy John's: The Unwich

When you go keto, or if you happen to be gluten intolerant, you have to avoid certain foods. Cakes. Pasta alfredo. Bread. The absence of any one of those items is enough to give you the mean reds, as Holly Golightly in "Breakfast at Tiffany's" says. You feel a fear born from the fact that you might never taste a yummy sandwich again. Great horrors. What will become of lunch?

Well, if you know Jimmy John's menu, then you know that great things can happen to lunch sans bread. Just order one of Jimmy John's Unwiches. What's an unwich, you ask? Why, it's only your favorite sandwich made without bread. Jimmy John's wraps lettuce around the ingredients of your sandwich, and technically, since you're only replacing the bread, not what's inside the bread, nearly any sandwich at JJ's can become an Unwich. Depending on the sandwich, you'll reduce the calorie count by up to 80% and get rid of all the wheaty carbs that could wreak havoc with your keto diet. Ditto for the carbs that kick up your gluten intolerance. You still get the flavorful meats, seasonings, and condiments that you're used to -– just no more mean reds.

McDonald's: Filet-O-Fish

Plenty of fast food burger joints sell sandwiches alongside their popular hamburgers. Usually, you'll find some chicken sandwich on the menu -– sometimes more than one -– if the chain sells both a breaded and a grilled chicken version. What you don't see as often is a fish sandwich. And while McDonald's does sell chicken sandwiches, it's the chain's Filet-O-Fish that sets it apart from most other hamburger places.

The idea for the fish sandwich came from Lou Groen, a franchisee of McDonald's. During the 1960s, his business took a big dip on Fridays. Groen lived in a largely Catholic area, and he himself was Catholic. This meant no meat on Fridays. Out of necessity, he pitched the fish sandwich to corporate execs in hopes of keeping his business afloat. They, of course, said yes. The Filet-O-Fish sandwich is still a strong seller today. Like most of the other entrée items on McD's menu, you can order a single sandwich or a meal with the sandwich, fries, and a drink. The breaded fish, plus its serving of American cheese and tartar sauce, is about 390 calories if you order just the sandwich. Adding fries and a soft drink will up the calorie count, but still, it's a tasty option if you want something besides chicken or a burger.

Sonic Drive-In: Chicken Slinger

This one requires a bit of an explanation before we can tell you about the sandwich. When you see the word "slinger" in the sandwich's name, substitute the word "slider," then you completely understand why this itty bitty sammy will set you back less than $2.50 and 400 calories. Sonic Drive-In restaurants are the modern throwback to those days of carhops on roller skates. They still have carhops, some of whom are on roller skates. They also have neon lights and the kind of food that people have been going to drive-ins for since drive-ins became a thing: delish, sometimes, unusual food offerings backed by big servings of fun! As such, Sonic's chicken slinger fits right into the vibe.

Here's what you need to know about this sandwich. Aside from being tiny, the chicken slinger comes on a toasty brioche bun topped with an all-white meat chicken patty and pickles, plus a slathering of mayo for good measure. Sonic also allows guests to add ingredients like bacon, cheese, and more. Like Arby's sliders, this sammy makes an excellent afternoon snack. Or, if you're starving but still want the slinger for lunch, order two. 

Wendy's: Bacon, Egg & Swiss Croissant

It's hard to beat a tasty BLT -– the crispy bacon, the succulent tomatoes, the garden-fresh lettuce. It's also so good. It's the simplicity of the sandwich that ensures its continuing popularity, and while plenty of sandwich shops sell BLTs, it's not something you'd expect to see on the menu for breakfast. That's why you need to think outside the bun and go to Wendy's if you're craving this lunch favorite at breakfast time.

While Wendy's doesn't serve a traditional BLT on its menu, its mobile app allows you to customize its bacon, egg, and Swiss croissant sandwich (or any sandwich, for that matter). And given that Wendy's usually keeps a supply of tomatoes on hand for those hamburger sales later in the day, you just need to add a little tomato to your croissant order to make your morning BLT. It's up to you if you keep the egg or not. It depends on if you want a true BLT or a little somethin' extra, and at only 370 calories a sandwich, it's hard to resist this one, whether you add a little somethin' or not.

Burger King: Original Chicken Sandwich

In spring of 2023, Burger King added three new chicken sandwiches to its lineup: the Italian, Mexican, and American chicken sandwiches. While these sandwiches have been getting some raves online, we'd like to just point out that, occasionally, it's nice just to eat simply, and one of the best ways to do that is to order the chain's original chicken sandwich.

Unlike other chain restaurants' chicken sandwiches, BK's chicken isn't rounded in shape. It's elongated, giving it a bit of a sub vibe. It also features only lettuce and mayo on a sesame seed-topped bun. Absent in this mix is cheese, which you can get on the American version of Burger King's chicken sandwich, or just skip the cheese and savor the rich flavor of the chain's breaded chicken patty on its own. On the bright side, if you still want to try the other chicken sandwich flavors after that, you now have a baseline of BK deliciousness to measure them by.

Firehouse Subs: Pepperoni Pizza Meatball Sub

Pizza? Sub? Pizza? Sub? Some days, it's sooo difficult to choose, and if you're not up for trips to multiple fast food chains to order one of each, you're kind of out of luck –- that is, unless you stop by Firehouse Subs. Then no choice is required. You need only order the sandwich shop's pepperoni pizza sub to satisfy your cravings for both a pizza and a sub sandwich.

This sub features all the things you'd expect from both a great pizza and a great sub. Italian meatballs plunge into a saucy marinara bath while generous slices of pepperoni and Italian seasonings bring in the flavors of our favorite brick-oven pizza recipes. All of this sits on top of a garlic bread roll that's been toasted to pizza-sub perfection. The medium-sized sub comes in at just over 800 calories and will set you back $6 (though prices may vary by location), making it an infinitely cheaper choice than if you'd had both the sub and the pizza separately. That's a bargain if we've ever seen one, and the best mash-up made in heaven that you'll find all week. It's also only available for the summer of 2023, so get it while the getting's hot!