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Wendy’s has only been back in the fast-food breakfast wars for a couple of years now, but it’s already bringing home the bacon, so to speak. The burger chain raked in its highest breakfast sales volumes of all time last quarter with some help from a $3 breakfast deal it launched back in March. And very recently, Wendy’s made another big play to attract even more hungry customers to its increasingly popular morning menu.
On Aug. 22, Wendy’s launched two new English muffin breakfast sandwiches—available with either breakfast sausage or bacon—at restaurants nationwide. Not only did this give Wendy’s customers two new morning items to choose from, but it put Wendy’s in direct competition with other fast-food chains that have already been serving English muffin breakfast sandwiches for quite some time.
But are Wendy’s new sandwiches good enough for loyal customers to abandon the fast-food English muffins they already know and love? I recently set out to answer that question by trying all of the English muffin breakfast sandwiches at Wendy’s and two other major fast-food chains that serve them: McDonald’s and Starbucks.
English muffin egg sandwiches can be one of the most sneakily delicious breakfasts when everything is done right and in perfect balance. Think golden and crispy English muffins, melty cheese, seasoned eggs, and the flavorful breakfast meat of your choice.
This level of perfection is often strived for but rarely achieved. Still, I hoped that McDonald’s, Wendy’s, and Starbucks would bring some of those tantalizing attributes to the table.
There ended up being things I liked and disliked about everything I tried, but one chain stood out for serving a superior English muffin sandwich. Read on to find out which chain has the best fast-food English muffin breakfast sandwiches, starting with my least favorite and ending with my absolute favorite.
Sausage McMuffin With Egg: 480 cal, 31 g fat (12 g saturated fat), 830 mg sodium, 30 g carbs (2 g fiber, 2 g sugar), 20 g protein
McDonald’s currently boasts the biggest selection of English muffin sandwiches out of the three major chains, offering three options: sausage, bacon, and Canadian bacon. The Sausage McMuffin with Egg features a savory sausage patty, American cheese, and a freshly-cracked egg all sandwiched inside a toasted English muffin. The Egg McMuffin with Canadian bacon and Bacon McMuffin with Egg (not pictured) are the exact same, aside from the breakfast meats. I paid $4.47 for the Sausage McMuffin, $0 for the Bacon McMuffin thanks to a buy-one-get-one-free breakfast sandwich deal, and $3.61 for the Egg McMuffin.
The look: Tidy and made with care, which is always nice to see. The cheese looked warm and melty and the edges of the English muffins were a toasty golden brown. On the downside, the helping of bacon was a bit skimpy and the eggs looked like it was cooked a little too firm for my preferences.
The taste: McDonald’s McMuffins are probably the most famous out of these three chains, but at least in my opinion, they’re at the bottom of the pile. On the positive side, I liked the breakfast meats on two of the sandwiches. The sausage patty was very savory and flavorful, while the bacon added some great smoky, salty flavors. On the negative side, I thought the English muffins needed to be much toastier, the Canadian bacon sandwich was pretty bland, and the egg rounds were super rubbery.
Overall, I thought that the taste and texture of McDonald’s sandwiches just weren’t quite at the level as Starbucks’ and Wendy’s sandwiches. But for the price and convenience, these are tasty enough that I can understand why they’re such a classic.
Sausage, Egg & Cheese English Muffin: 550 cal, 37 g fat (13 g saturated fat), 1,030 mg sodium, 34 g carbs (1 g fiber, 5 g sugar), 21 g protein
Wendy’s Sausage, Egg & Cheese English Muffin features a fresh-cracked Grade A egg, grilled sausage, and American cheese on a toasted English muffin with a buttery spread that has a hint of brown sugar sweetness. On Wendy’s Bacon, Egg & Cheese English Muffin (not pictured), Applewood smoked bacon is the star instead of sausage. I paid $3.99 apiece for the sandwiches.
The look: Big, melty, and hearty. I wasn’t sure what to expect with Wendy’s brand-new sandwiches, but these looked pretty impressive. The sausage patty, which came in Wendy’s signature square shape, and those freshly cracked eggs fit the thick English muffins perfectly. The bacon also looked pretty thick for something I got from a fast-food joint, but the serving size was a little sparser than I would have liked.
The taste: These sandwiches would be a dream for anyone who wakes up craving something super filling, savory, and comforting in the morning. The sausage patty was juicy and full of flavor, while Wendy’s always-good bacon worked great in a breakfast format. Wendy’s egg texture and taste was also miles above the rubbery pucks McDonald’s uses. I even detected that slight hint of brown sugar in the buttery spread the chains uses on these sandwiches, and I’m a sucker for any foods that are both sweet and savory. My biggest complaints about this sandwich was that they’re very heavy and the English muffins were way too soft. A toasty, golden brown English muffin would have added some much needed texture to this sandwich.
Sausage, Cheddar & Egg Sandwich: 480 cal, 29 g fat (10 g saturated fat), 890 mg sodium, 34 g carbs (1 g fiber, 2 g sugar), 18 g protein
Unlike the other chains, Starbucks only has one English muffin sandwich available right now. The Sausage, Cheddar, & Egg Sandwich comes with a savory sausage patty, cage-free eggs, and aged cheddar cheese on a toasted English muffin. The sandwich cost me $4.53.
The look: My first look at this option wasn’t super promising. The whole thing had been assembled lopsided, with the egg sticking far out to one side (I reconfigured the sandwich before snapping my photo so I could get an easier bite). The outside did look well toasted, but the cheese looked like it had got a little too hard and crusty during the heating process.
The taste: A really savory and satisfying bite that, miraculously, wasn’t too heavy. The sausage patty was flavorful and tasty, with just the right level of salt and a pleasing hint of herbal flavors. The outer edges of the English muffin were satisfyingly crispy and I much preferred Starbucks’ use of cheddar instead of American. The egg itself was sort of bland and forgettable, but the sausage and cheese were flavorful enough on their own that it didn’t really matter.
Don’t get me wrong—this sandwich wasn’t completely perfect. I felt that the English muffin was still too soft and needed more time in the toaster. And even though I loved the cheddar flavor, I wished the cheese was creamier and meltier. But overall, this was hands-down my favorite sandwich I tried throughout the whole taste test. Starbucks will forever be my first choice if I ever need to grab a quick fast-food breakfast in the future.