Breakfast Sandwiches Chefs Actually Eat From Fast Food Chains

An ever popular grab-and-go option for the nation's busiest early birds, fast-food breakfast sandwiches are a staple across American chains. Believe it or not, some of these seemingly simple, egg-forward ensembles are actually eaten and recommended by a wide range of professional chefs and other food experts. Everyone has their own opinion on the much debated ranking of the country's very best breakfast sandwiches, and chef's are no exception. From published author and chef, Adonis Icalina, to high-profile restaurant owners, a variety of food experts have identified which popular fast food breakfast sandwiches are a cut above the rest.

The standouts include some familiar morning favorites from McDonald's and Dunkin' Donuts, but there are a few unexpected picks that made the list of chefs' favorites. The common thread connecting each of the breakfast sandwich options highlighted seems to be quintessential to the construction formula of the breakfast sandwich itself: that unique balance of convenient portability and memorable flavor.

Dunkin' Bacon, Egg, and Cheese Croissant

The first recommended breakfast sandwich pick is the Dunkin's Bacon, Egg, and Cheese Croissant, originally mentioned in an exclusive Mashed interview with Chef Sunny Anderson. This fast food breakfast sandwich brings together the classics in a new way by using a slice croissant in place of more traditional bun or bagel bread choices.

Dunkin' describes this sandwich as boasting cherrywood smoked bacon in addition to the egg and American cheese fixtures. The flaky croissant can be swapped out for an English muffin, biscuit, or bagel instead for those who aren't looking to steer too far away from the classics.

In her interview with Mashed, Anderson also gave an honorable mention to the bagel bites stuffed with cream cheese, specifically the everything bagel season option. While the bagel bites are not strictly speaking a typical closed sandwich, they are definitely a delicious breakfast option that is another unique spin on the expected breakfast sandwich formula.

McDonald's Sausage, Egg, and Cheese McGriddle

The McDonald's Sausage, Egg, and Cheese McGriddle is the favorite of prominent chef, Justin Khanna, cofounder of the upscale restaurant Voyager's Table. The McGriddle is another pivot from the bun or bagel-oriented realm of breakfast sandwiches, as it employs two lightly toasted, warm griddle cakes to contain the sausage, egg, and cheese.

Khanna spoke to Business Insider about his fast food go-tos, and actually described the McGriddle as being a "Masterpiece," that when paired with a hash brown and hot sauce yielded: "a quintessential American diner-style breakfast that you can eat one-handed on your way to your destination." The bread choice in the McGriddle is critical, as it's the contrast between the sweetness of the griddle cakes and the savory elements of the sandwich's fillings that make it stand out for Khanna.

"It's chewy, sticky, and sweet pancake buns with a salty, crispy, and peppery sausage topped with a fluffy folded egg and gooey cheese," Khanna said.

Another vote for the McGriddle

Seconding the vote for the McDonald's McGriddle as a morning time favorite is Thai Dang, the owner and chef at the Vietnamese restaurant, HaiSous. In an interview with Timeout, Chef Dang stated, "I'm a sucker for McDonald's sausage, egg and cheese McGriddle. It's the most genius breakfast invention of all time in my eyes. That with an OJ and hash browns is my jam."

The McGriddle is one of the few breakfast sandwiches that has gotten two votes among the chefs we could find, quite possibly for the unique sweet and salty balance championed by Dang, and McDonalds describing the McGriddle as pairing the typical savory bacon, egg, and cheese components with "soft, warm griddle cakes with the sweet taste of maple."

Interestingly, achieving this sweet maple flavor was the biggest hurdle in the creation of the McGriddle. It needed to be portable enough to be eaten on the go, while still pacing all the flavor punch of a syrup-covered stack of pancakes. The solution? Maple sugar crystals are incorporated directly into the griddle cakes themselves, to deliver a sweet punch alongside the savory elements without any of the sticky business of pouring maple syrup onto the sandwich while taking it to go.

Popeyes' Biscuit transformed

Chef J. Kenji Lopez-Alt is a celebrity chef who swears by transforming the Popeyes biscuits into breakfast sandwiches at home by adding the usual egg, bacon, and cheese combination. As he revealed to Tasting Table, Kenji Lopez-Alt goes about this by first reheating the biscuits by wrapping them in foil and warming them in the oven. He then opts for a classic breakfast sandwich combination of fried egg and bacon, both of which he ensures are carefully blanketed by a slice of melting American cheese.

This is a clever option for those in love with the fluffy Popeyes biscuit and want to enjoy it outside of the lunch and dinner crispy chicken options because Popeyes' breakfast menu is only available at some locations. Reportedly, regional breakfast dishes like biscuits and gravy or grits have been tested out on the menus of states such as North Carolina since around 2013.

McDonald's Sausage and Egg McMuffin

Beyond the highly commended McGriddle, the McDonald's Sausage and Egg McMuffin is a winner for widely commended British chef, Jeremy Chan. So much so in fact, that he created his own version of the breakfast sandwich for his cookbook "Ikoyi" (named after his Michelin-starred restaurant in London.)

Chan admits that the recipe may seem like a bit of an unconventional choice, but defends the incorporation of nods to fast food in a "serious kitchen" as being "part of childhood nostalgia" in speaking to Financial Times.

"I think McDonald's breakfast sandwich expresses something honest about what we find delicious," Chan said. He also added that enjoying fast food is common for chefs, "We cook exquisite food that is organic, nutritious and labor-intensive. Then at the end of the week, we binge on McDonald's. It's a release, a contrast, instant gratification. There's an element of team bonding to it, too. Everyone likes junk food. I don't think chefs are any different."

The McMuffin itself appears to be the most widely popular fast-food breakfast sandwich on the market, so it makes sense that even ambitious chefs such as Chan would enjoy starting their day with it.

Church's Texas Chicken Breakfast Biscuit

Another breakfast biscuit recommended by professional chefs is the Breakfast Biscuit by Church's Texas Chicken. This is the favorite of a Charleston chef, Amethyst Ganaway, who picked it out of a three-biscuit head to head taste test featured in Garden & Gun.

"This is the biscuit of my dreams ... and I'm actually going to eat this whole one. We can talk trash about Church's chicken, but the biscuits you can't miss," Ganaway said. Church's Texas Chicken may offer biscuits all day, but their honey butter glazed breakfast biscuit is still a morning-time favorite for Ganaway and other Southern foodies. Ganaway doesn't specify if she enjoys the biscuit in sandwich form or on its own, but putting a piece of fried chicken or sausage between any biscuit only elevates it.

The biscuit seemed to stand out to Ganaway and the other chefs present because of its distinctive honey butter glaze, offering that sweet-salty combination that seems to have won the hearts of the chefs favoring the McDonald's McGriddle. Joy Wilson, another chef at the Garden & Gun taste test, even commented on the distinctive sweetness, stating: "If you wanted to have a cupcake but a biscuit at the same time, this would be it," she said.

Bojangles' Biscuit

Another Southern favorite coming from a chef in a second Charleston restaurant, Shuai Wang, the chef at Jackrabbit Filly, favors the Bojangles' biscuit over other breakfast biscuits. For him, it seems that the defining factor of a good breakfast biscuit is the texture, which he pointed out as being a direct result of the kind of fat used during baking.

In the same biscuit showdown with Amethyst Ganaway, Wang told Garden & Gun, "(The Bojangles' Biscuit) tastes like a lard or Crisco biscuit instead of a buttery biscuit ... I like to make them with Crisco or lard because fat melts better than butter."

Interestingly, this was not an opinion shared by Ganaway. "It's a little bready, little stiff, it's dry. I'm trying not to choke," she said. While it may not please everyone, the many different Bojangles' breakfast biscuit variations (including the blueberry filled "BoBerry" biscuit and the pimento cheese biscuit), have become some of the most popular Bojangles' items on the menu

Chick-fil-A Chicken Biscuit with cheese and egg

Another vote for a breakfast sandwich centered around a biscuit, Holly Jivin selects the Chick-fil-A Chicken Biscuit with added egg and cheese as her favorite fast food item. Jivin is the Chef de Cuisine at Los Angeles' The Bazaar by José Andrés, and she described the place this fast food breakfast sandwich held in her heart during an interview with Thrillist.

"It's close to my Southern heart having grown up in Georgia, and was my morning go-to when I was putting myself through culinary school, bartending till 4 a.m., and heading to morning class at 6 a.m," Jivin said. "My regular order was the Chicken Biscuit with cheese and egg, a cup of sweet tea, and their crispy hash browns."

An Atlanta based chef, Virginia Willis, also agreed with Jivin's fast food go-to for when lunch rolls around. "Their fried chicken sandwich is slightly sweet, topped with a judicious amount of mayonnaise, and served up on a squishy bun. It is so good," Willis said.

McDonald's Bacon, Egg, and Cheese Biscuit

The final vote for a top-tier fast food breakfast sandwich was cast for the Bacon, Egg, and Cheese Biscuit from McDonald's. Jasmine Peterson, a nutritionist and food expert, spoke to Mashed about her favorite.

"My top pick is the Bacon, Egg, and Cheese Biscuit from McDonald's. What sets this sandwich apart is the balance of flavors and textures; the salty crispiness of the bacon, the richness of the American cheese, and the soft yet flaky biscuit come together in a satisfying way that makes the morning feel more indulgent," Peterson said.

In order to achieve the ideal breakfast sandwich, Peterson points to the importance of balanced nutrition — which she believes is done perfectly in this fast-food biscuit.

"A good breakfast sandwich should deliver on several fronts: it must be hearty enough to start the day, balanced in protein, fat, and carbs, and offer a pleasing contrast in textures ... The biscuit is buttery and soft, a perfect foil for the crunchy bacon and the melt-in-your-mouth cheese, while the egg adds protein and a creamy texture," Peterson said.