The untold truth of Burger King's breakfast

Today, we take it for granted that fast food chains are going to open early to feed hordes of hungry customers in the morning. But it wasn't until the 1970s that McDonald's decided to lead the way in capturing the loyalty of the breakfast crowd. Burger King was a bit behind the times. 

They're trying to make up for that, though, and their breakfast is pretty delicious. Where else are you going to get a Croissan'wich piled high with sausage, bacon, and fluffy eggs? You can get pancakes, too, if that's more your style — but no matter what you pick, you can walk away with a decent cup of coffee to go along with it. 

If you haven't been there in a long time, it's worth switching up your morning routine to give it a shot. You might be surprised — and you might also be surprised by these things that you probably never knew about Burger King's breakfast.

Inventing Burger King's breakfast menu was a huge problem

In 1971, McDonald's gave one of their franchisees the go-ahead to sell morning offerings like donuts and sweet rolls. The following year, another McDonald's franchisee showed mogul Ray Croc his idea for a breakfast sandwich, and the fast food landscape was changed forever. That sandwich was the Egg McMuffin, and it led to billions in revenue for McDonald's. It's not surprising that other chains wanted to capture their own piece of the morning market, but according to The Balance Small Business, Burger King faced some unique challenges. 

Even though they started trying to develop a breakfast menu in 1979, it would be another four years before breakfast debuted at Burger King. That's because McDonald's had a surprising advantage — the grills they used for their burgers could be easily adapted to breakfast items. In order to set themselves apart from other fast food chains, Burger King had built their image on their flame-grilling methods. The flame broilers weren't nearly as adaptable, and it took a long time to come up with an efficient and delicious set of menu items Burger King restaurants could cook with existing their equipment.

Burger King's breakfast isn't as popular as you might think

Burger King was years behind their biggest competitor — McDonald's — when it came to establishing themselves as a go-to breakfast chain. That's continued to be a huge problem for them, and it's pretty shocking when you start looking at the numbers. 

According to Restaurant Business, a single McDonald's location averages around $2.8 million in revenue. Burger King's locations typically only earn about half that, averaging less than $1.4 million. And breakfast? That's even more lopsided. 

McDonald's earns an average of around $800,000 of their revenue at breakfast, while a Burger King location can expect to make only about $205,000. That means most locations only make about 15 percent of their annual revenue at breakfast, and that's a massive missed opportunity. Closing that gap is key to Burger King's continued success, and that means you can expect to see a number of new innovations being rolled out as they continue to try to capture their own section of loyal breakfast customers.

Burgers for breakfast at Burger King — yay or nay?

In 2014, Burger King made a breakfast announcement that, at first glance, seemed strange. Corporate had given the green light to franchisees who wanted to make Whoppers, Double Whoppers, the Whopper Jr., and fries — along with other select lunch and dinner items — available for breakfast at some locations. 

Business Insider says the move came in response to McDonald's shift into making breakfast items available all day, which at a glance, makes sense. Craving an Egg McMuffin for lunch isn't weird, but a Whopper for breakfast? That's strange... although it's also worth noting that the "Burgers for Breakfast" move may have been most well-received by anyone working an overnight shift, who finally had the opportunity to get something a little heartier than breakfast as they finish their work day. 

Forbes was doubtful from the beginning, though, saying it was risky to encourage people to associate Burger King breakfast with their burgers rather than, well, their breakfast. There was another possible pitfall, too, and that's the alienation of anyone who's trying to eat healthier. There's nothing that says gluttony like a Whopper and fries half an hour after you stagger out of bed, so it was a very, very risky move.

It's up to the franchisees whether not they want to offer Whoppers in the morning, and not many locations are still trying it today.

Here's the healthiest way to get a Burger King breakfast

Just because you're trying to eat healthy, that doesn't mean you have to deprive yourself. If you're craving something a little more substantial than yogurt for breakfast, you can definitely head to Burger King and pick something up without feeling super guilty... if, that is, you choose wisely. 

Nutritionist Bonnie Taub-Dix says (via Women's Health) that the Egg and Cheese Croissan'wich is a good choice. It comes with only 300 calories and 15 grams of fat, but you're also getting 11 grams of protein, and that's important. 

Get the Ham, Egg, & Cheese Croissan'wich, and you're still making a decent choice. You'll add 40 calories and a single gram of fat, but you'll also be getting 5 more grams of protein. That will help set you up right for the day, but there is one word of caution: this one comes with 1,000 mg of sodium, which is a lot. But, you could do much, much worse.

You can easily eat half your day's... everything with Burger King's breakfast

Even if you're not the type to count calories and keep track of exactly what you're eating, there are some things on Burger King's breakfast menu that are so bad for you that you might want to think twice about watching the numbers — especially when it comes to sodium.

The American Heart Association recommends you should be getting no more than 2,300 mg of sodium a day, and ideally, that number should be around 1,500 mg. But take a look at Burger King's nutritional information, and you'll see there are a few options — including the Egg-normous Burrito and the BK Ultimate Breakfast Platter — that clock in well above even the 2,300 mg recommendation. Plenty of others — like the large hash browns, Ham, Egg, & Cheese Biscuit, and Double Croissan'wich with Sausage — are hovering right around the 1,500 mg mark, and that's just one small sandwich for one meal of the day. 

That breakfast platter is by far one of the worst choices you can make first thing in the morning. Not only does it have 1,230 calories, but it's loaded with 70 grams of fat and 33 grams of sugar — more than what the American Heart Association recommends people get in a day.

Burger King's Croissan'wich coupon scam

BOGO coupons for Burger King's Croissan'wich breakfast sandwiches are pretty common, and you've probably used one if you go there very often. But did you know they were sued for inflating the price of their sandwiches for anyone who used a coupon? 

In 2017, Maryland resident Koleta Anderson filed a class action lawsuit against the burger giant after she realized that she was being charged a higher price for using a coupon. Charges varied by location, but in one store, she paid $1 for a single Sausage Croissan'wich. When she used a BOGO coupon, though, she was charged $4.19. Her findings were verified by not only her lawyer and a private investigator, but also by the Miami Herald, Fox reported. 

Burger King denied any wrongdoing, but they still settled. According to Today, they agreed to refund customers either $5 or supply $2 gift cards for anyone who used the coupons and got overcharged between Oct. 1, 2015 and May 19, 2017. Claims ended in 2018, but there's an important lesson to be learned here: check your receipts.

If you hit Burger King for breakfast, you need a subscription

If you start your morning with coffee (and who doesn't!), you need to know about Burger King's pretty awesome subscription program. In early 2019, they announced they were starting a coffee subscription program, and for just $5 a month, participants are entitled to a free small, regular coffee each and every day. Not bad, right?

That works out to about 17 cents per cup, and you can't beat that. Anyone wanting to participate needs to download the BK app and enroll in that, and according to Forbes, it's a genius move. 

It's a way to get customers not only in the door, but using the app and — most likely — picking up more than just a coffee when they stop by. There's a bonus to having customers subscribe through an app, too. How many times have you subscribed to a program like this, then just not used it? That might leave you feeling like it's a waste, but when you're using the app (instead of something like a punch card), Burger King knows if you haven't been in for a while and they can send you a friendly reminder. Everyone wins!

You might want to skip the coffee from Burger King

Coffee is one of the most important parts of breakfast, but when it comes to Burger King's breakfast, they've been found to be a little lacking in the coffee department. According to The Wall Street Journal, Burger King's coffee subscription program had one huge flaw: the quality of that cup o' joe. It was a great deal at face value, sure, but when the coffee you're getting is incredibly bitter and leaves a weird aftertaste... is it still a great deal?

Others have pretty consistently ranked Burger King's coffee on the bottom of the pile when it comes to fast food coffee; they even came in dead last on our own ranking of fast food coffees... under Taco Bell. That says something right there. 

Thrillist also put the major fast food chains' coffees head-to-head, making sure to order them all at the busiest time of the day for coffee — breakfast — to make sure they each got a fair chance. Taco Bell perhaps predictably came last, barely beat by a Burger King cup so bad it left them wondering if it had been made wrong. The Takeout also ranked Burger King's coffee as the worst choice you could make when it comes to getting your morning cup... maybe they thought customers would be too tired to notice?

Here's why you can't order Burger King's breakfast after the cut-off time

There's nothing more frustrating than waiting in line at the drive-thru at Burger King before pulling up to order and being told that sorry, they're no longer serving breakfast. There might just be a Croissan'wich or two left over, if you're lucky, but once they're gone, they're gone — no matter how nicely you ask. 

It's not just employees being difficult, either. There's a very good reason that breakfast stops when it does, and it has to do with temperature. 

According to The Daily Meal, most Burger King locations open at 6 a.m., and immediately start serving breakfast. There's a chance a 24-hour location might start earlier, but when it comes to the end of breakfast hours, it's standard across the board and stops at 10:30 a.m. Come in at 10:35 and you're probably out of luck, but if it helps, they're not trying to ruin your day. 

Breakfast items are cooked at a different temperature than lunch items, so once they start cooking Whoppers and cheeseburgers, they have to change the settings on the griddle. The temperature is turned up, and that means those breakfast items just aren't possible. Better set your alarm!

How do the eggs in Burger King's breakfast sandwiches stack up?

When you make a breakfast sandwich at home, you probably crack an egg in the pan, add a dash of seasoning, and that's it. That's not always the case with fast food eggs, though, and some might have more ingredients than you think. Take Dunkin' Donuts, for example. Their "eggs" also contain things like corn starch, soybean oil, and citric acid, says Simplemost. How does Burger King stack up?

Not bad! Their eggs do contain a few more ingredients than you might expect, and they're things like water, salt, xanthan gum, butter flavor, citric acid, and annatto for color. Compared to the laundry list of ingredients that are in some fast food chain eggs, that's not terrible.

There are some employees who aren't entirely convinced Burger King's eggs are appetizing, though. When one Redditor asked a former employee what they shouldn't order, it was the eggs that topped the list. The one-time employee responded, "I'm not very comfortable with how the eggs are made in the morning. They have a piece of equipment that you spray non-stick onto and lay down a metal grid then fill it up evenly with this liquid egg mix and BAM! in about a minute you have 6 eggs. I realize a lot of places probably do that but it's so strange to me." Strange, indeed!

Burger King breakfasts look a little different outside the US

Even if you haven't been there in a while for breakfast, you know what Burger King's menu looks like. Head overseas, though, and you'll find some different items on the menu. 

If you've ever wished you could have a hot dog or two for breakfast, head to Japan and Burger King will make all your crazy hot dog dreams come true. Singapore still has the Croissan'wich on the menu, but they're a little odd: you can choose from turkey sausage, crispy chicken, mushroom and Swiss, and turkey bacon. Not your thing? They've also got a turkey, ham, and cheese omelette. You can pick up a mushroom and Swiss sandwich in Malaysia, too, along with the Smoky Chicken Kingwich (smoked chicken, egg, and cheese sauce) and the Classic Kingwich (mayo, eggs, cheese, and something called Beefacon). 

Burger King in the UK has gone a long way in combining breakfast and lunch, offering the Breakfast King, which is essentially a Whopper patty on a bun with some egg. You can also order a butty (like the one pictured). From there, it's just a short hop, skip, and a jump to Ireland, where you can order up a warm Belgian waffle

Finally, New Zealand. They take breakfast seriously, and Burger King offers not just standards like the Sausage & Egg Muffin, but a Breakfast Bacon Burger and the chance to get a meal that pairs your breakfast sandwich with a chicken sandwich, a burger, or a sausage.

The... interesting Burger King breakfast item you can no longer get

According to Complex, it was just one year — 2005 — when you could have gotten the breakfast sandwich of champions: the Enormous Omelet Sandwich. NBC News called it Burger King's attempt to attract customers by offering something more fat- and calorie-laden than the competition, and this massive sandwich definitely lived up to its name. 

It was essentially an omelet and a breakfast sandwich on a toasted hoagie roll, clocking in at 730 calories and 47 grams of fat. (And yes, that makes it less healthy than a Whopper.) The sandwich — which included a two-egg omelet, three strips of bacon, two slices of American cheese, and a sizable sausage patty — also had a shocking 1,940 mg of sodium, and there's your sodium for the entire day. 

It seems almost impossible to believe, but Burger King said they developed the sandwich in response to customer surveys that said there were many people who wanted a more "filling" breakfast option than what was on the menu already. Wish you could give this bad boy a try? It's still on the menu in Canada.

There are vegan options on Burger King's breakfast menu

Vegetarians and vegans were super excited when Burger King added the Impossible Whopper to their menu, but there's no need to wait until lunch to hit up Burger King for some vegan options. According to Women's Health, they have a few vegan options on their breakfast menu, too.

While you might think of French toast as being almost as much egg as it is toast, their French toast sticks are actually vegan. And, at just 230 calories and 11 grams of fat, they're not super terrible for you. 

Burger King's hash browns are vegan, too, and they're only slightly higher in fat and calories than the French toast sticks. If that doesn't sound like it's going to entirely cut it for breakfast, you should also know that their applesauce, apple pie, and their drinks (except, of course, for the milkshakes) are all vegan, too. Ask nicely and you just might be able to score some of these afternoon treats for breakfast, and apple pie for breakfast? Sign us up.