We Tried All of Wendy's Breakfast Items & This Is the Best
There's something about the unique bonds of fraternity formed from working in food service that make it "the best of times … [and] the worst of times," to paraphrase Dickens. Because of that, I have what might be considered inordinately fond memories of working at Wendy's as a teenager. I remember making my endlessly accommodating mother get up unreasonably early on the weekends I was scheduled to open, after making her pick me up at midnight the night before. Although the brand was lunch onwards only at the time, we still needed to be there at 7 or 8 AM to prep for 10:30 service, chopping lettuce and slicing tomatoes for the day's sandwiches, assembling salads, filling prep pans, and so on.
It was a short straw shift, especially after working late-night drive through the evening before, but those of us doing back-to-backs found a way to make it better: We added breakfast to Wendy's menu.
Someone would bring in a carton of eggs and warm up the flat-top grill with over-easies while someone else would throw a sleeve of bacon in the deep fryer instead of the warming drawer it's normally crisped in. We'd make bacon, egg, and cheese sandwiches on toasted junior sandwich buns, using the first slices of American of the day, and season with tiny packets of black pepper. Next thing you knew, we were whistling while we worked.
Apparently, we were light years ahead of our time, because the chain now has its own breakfast menu, and it's far more comprehensive than anything we'd ever jimmy-rigged. With croissants, biscuits, sausage, home fries-style potatoes, cold brew, and even a baked bar, Wendy's has burst into breakfast in a big way. But I've long wondered… is it good? So with nervousness for the brand born out of nostalgic loyalty, I set off to find out the best-tasting item on Wendy's breakfast menu.
Plus, if you're looking for lunch, here are the 8 Worst Fast-Food Burgers to Stay Away From Right Now.
Sausage Gravy & Biscuit
The only fork-and-knifer on the menu (unless you count the cut fruit, which I didn't), woe be it to you if you order this and they forget said fork and knife (which they did). But also, woe be it to you if you order it, period, because this was one of the only things I tried that was objectively not good. The soft split biscuit swam in a shallow pool of thick, white gravy that was creamy in texture but not in taste. It was oxymoronically distinct in a flavorlessness so strong that it actively diluted the taste of the biscuit. The cornstarch in the obviously instant mix was clearer than any seasoning, and because it was simply poured over a smattering of cut-up sausage patty pieces and not crumbles cooked into the gravy, this meat wasn't even a hint in the sauce.
Bacon, Egg & Cheese Biscuit
While the sausage and gravy biscuit limped in with less personality than a wet noodle, the bacon, egg, and cheese biscuit brought us back to neutral. It was kind of boring, with a cooked-firm egg that faded away in the face of the salty butteriness of a mild American single. But it at least allowed for the flavor of the light, fluffy buttermilk biscuit to shine through like the pale sunbeam it so resembles. If you want to taste Wendy's Popeyes-style biscuit, this is the way, since it's the most predominant flavor. There wasn't enough bacon in it to do anything more than accent the biscuit, making it more closely resemble a bacon, egg, and cheese-flavored biscuit more so than a sandwich.
Hot Honey Chicken Biscuit
The brand-new hot honey chicken biscuit is a feisty retort to the Hardee's/Carl's Jr.'s sammie of the same name, and another challenger for the Chicken Sandwich Wars: The Spicy Years. They start with several brilliant advantages: using real honey as the first ingredient, eliminating objectionable saccharine artificiality, and using smoky habanero as the heat source. That pepper's ashy element automatically adds an unexpected complexity to the hot honey craze and comes through on this sandwich, even before you get to the spurt of heat that pops out halfway through the bite. Where it failed was in the overbalance of citric-type acids that took it too far in a sour direction. And because the sticky syrup glued the pliant biscuit together on both sides, you're literally stuck with what they give you.
Sausage, Egg & Cheese Biscuit
Now, this was a fat sandwich in every respect, from its 45-gram of fat to its thick stacking that fills you up fast… and may give you heartburn just as quickly. In fact, this was the only one of the bunch that stained the wrapper and made a napkin swipe with every bite necessary. A combo of melty American cheese, juicy sausage, and buttery biscuit, it was the richest of them all, embracing its identity as the decadent cholesterol bomb it is. But what weighs it down more than its dense heft is its textural homogeny. The sausage's bouncy consistency, while fine and even great in other renditions, melds too much with the squishiness of the pillowy biscuit. This similarity and its height of assemblage made it feel kind of mushed together once in your mouth, like a semi-congealed suet paste—packed with flavor, but too obvious in its unctuousness.
Classic Bacon, Egg & Cheese Sandwich
What I expected was something akin to my teenage memories, with a standard bun as the vehicle. What I got was better: a sandwich with similarities to an iconic New York memory. The "breakfast roll" clearly took its lead from the iconic hard rolls made in New Jersey and Long Island sold in that area's bodegas and delis. Subtly sweet, a tiny bit sour, and with a doughy tight crumb underneath a lightly firm, semolina-dusted crust, I'll bet you anything they had a BEC in mind when they developed this.
A strong start… that then went off the subway tracks. The thin cut, dryness, and general sparsity of the bacon made the whole sandwich taste and feel weak, and the fact that Wendy's doesn't griddle or fry their bacon is more apparent against the structured roll. The egg and cheese is classic but also so neutral that it begs for SPK (#IYKYK) for necessary interest. Finally, although the roll was an exciting discovery, this type of bread can get stale quickly. Therefore, it might be hit or miss if you love it, since we found the bacon egg sandwiches don't impart enough heat to steam it to freshness.
Let's be cliché here for a minute: you can't go to Wendy's and not get a Frosty, and you can't get breakfast without grabbing a coffee. Their fancy menu developers obviously agreed, their solution being a cold brew on ice with a dollop of Frosty mix in the flavor of your choice.
I went with classic chocolate, but you could have fooled me—it was super subtle and definitely not swirled in like the promo pictures. On its own, it felt watery and tasted too light. I'd relegated it to the bottom of the pack… but then I kept sipping as I ate and it began to make sense.
With the heaviness of their breakfast menu items, it ended up being just right—waterlogged enough to feel refreshing and hydrating against all the sodium and addictively coffee enough to keep sipping for the taste. If you go in accepting that it's not bold (nor harsh; this was much smoother than Dunkin's cold brew) and that it's not meant to stand alone like a Starbucks Frappuccino (and less than half the caloric nightmare of that drink), this does more than fine. Factor in its very reasonable cost—under $3 for a generous large—and you'll might start making this your regular eye-opener.
Bacon, Egg & Swiss Croissant
It's hard not to love a croissant. It's also hard not to love when you don't have to choose between pastry or protein for breakfast. Burger King recognized that and the Croissan'wich has been going strong and (mostly) uncontested since 1983.
But Wendy's specialty is watching, waiting … and upgrading. Other than ingredients, it shares a soft, steamed-by-its-ingredients texture (despite toasting) with its predecessor—a departure from true bakery croissants. But while The King's recent marketing boasts 100% real butter, our girl came hot out the gate with it, offering a richness that may not register right away, but builds as you plumb deeper.
Wendy's also uses an obviously whole fresh egg, and this sandwich had plenty of bacon—three half-strips, cut to the right-on-brand square shape of the croissant. They also use a Swiss cheese-influenced sauce instead of an American slice, which is mild and mostly glooped in the middle.
This was the best of the bacon sandwiches, though, thanks to the one more strip of bacon and the more crushable, lighter bread, which made it overall a somewhat unsubstantial sandwich overall, but at least well balanced between ingredients.
Sausage, Egg & Swiss Croissant
Applewood or not, sausage beats bacon every time at Wendy's, solely for the fact that egg isn't flavorful enough to take the main stage and a thicker cut of meat is needed to keep the carb source from bum-rushing your taste buds.
Even though the crushable croissant was softest in this version due to more steam generation from its fillings' better heat retention, it tested very well. In fact, the steam opened the flavor up enough to air out the richness of the butter, and a slight tanginess to the croissant emerged that wasn't detectable with the bacon. This is likely because it leads with sharp pepper versus smoky salt. This also helps the Swiss-like cheese sauce taste more tart in contrast as it cut through the sausage's fattiness.
On the whole, it's just better balanced—not as dense as the biscuit, with a flakiness that helps the textures remain distinct, and despite being decadent, satisfying without leaving you feeling overly weighed down after.
Honey Butter Chicken Biscuit
If you're asking at breakfast if the chicken or egg came first, you're wasting your time, because this bird's big enough that the egg doesn't even need to show up at the party. If you don't care for eggs and want an excuse to scratch that fried chicken itch early in the day, here's your excuse.
Wendy's continues the tradition of real chicken breast fillets that don't waste your time with filler or excessive breading. It's well seasoned, crunchy, meaty, slightly greasy… and as good as you'd expect nestled into a fluffy biscuit at a fried chicken chain. The density and softness of the biscuit works in this sandwich's flavor, forming to the crags of the fillet instead of crumbling into a mess like the harder McDonald's biscuit would.
Also helping to secure the components in place is the delicious sweet butter, which yes, is primarily sweetened with sugar but actually does also contain the honey in its name. To go from good to great, hit this with the hot sauce it needs—a splash of acid will do wonders to brighten up this delightful compact package.
There are a lot of desserts that masquerade as breakfast, and we look the other way politely because—honestly?—we want to. Muffins are essentially unfrosted cakes; pastries are well, pastries; and granola bars are not far removed from being cookies. Disregarding the healthy 4 grams of fiber it sneaks in with chicory, this breakfast bar is so closely related to the latter that I'm not even going to pretend it's not a cookie. You'll love it if you're a fan of oatmeal raisin cookies.
For one, one it's pretty sizeable and competitively priced against any other fast food cookie—larger than palm-sized and just a dollar and change. It's also crispy and toasty on the outer edges and softer in the middle, especially when lightly warmed. Best of all, it's fun to eat since the flavors are distributed in a homemade fashion and come out in surprise pops. Will this bite have an earthiness or doughnut spice that will remind you to take another sip of your Frosty-ccino? Or will it be more muffin-like with the nostalgic taste of those canned tiny blueberries that come in boxed muffin mix? Will your bite have a hint of tartness from dried cranberries, or will it be extra sweet with a swirl of molasses? Who knows! But you'll sure want to find out.
Even when I worked there and made my own, Wendy's fry game has always been hit or miss, so I didn't expect much from the breakfast potatoes. Plus, I've always been a hash browns and tots kind of gal, and pictures made these look like KFC-style wedges, which can be flavorless when too thick-cut. So wow, what a surprise when this skin-on slivered steak fry/seasoned fry hybrid snuck up to knock my socks off!
One bite from the stingily half-filled container made me go from serenely saying, "it's for the best" to visualizing crying emojis over my head that I didn't get my $1.99 worth. Although they cooled quickly, they still stayed very crispy thanks to a subtle batter—a feat that beats most regular fries. And they were incredibly zesty—like Arby's curly lovelies with the consistency or fatter, flatter versions of Rally's/Checker's fries, but less salty and more brown than orange.
They weren't greasy-tasting, either. While you can detect the frying oil, it doesn't linger in your mouth, and the deep pepper and smooth garlic spice blend leads your last impression. I had to put these back in a bag to remind myself I needed stomach space for the sandwiches, and resisting them became one of the more challenging points of this taste test.
When you're the home of The Triple and bacon was one of the foundational differentiators of your brand, you've got to have a pièce de resistance meat tower. This is it. The Breakfast Baconator is the only sandwich Wendy's puts in a paper wrapper, and the only time the brioche-like sweet "premium bun" makes an appearance in the morning. This bun is soft and plump with a bit of a sheen, as expected. But between them is where things get wild.
With a double helping of American singles and (allegedly, since I couldn't taste it) a dollop of Swiss cheese sauce, plus twice as much bacon as any of the other sandwiches and a whole griddled egg on a snarkily square sausage patty, this sandwich is literally and figuratively everything. Every distinct texture was clear; you could fully taste every element. Crunchy, soft, melty, bouncy, peppery, cheesy, salty … all are present and accounted for.
The razor-thin margin by which it slipped in this ranking was for the fact that the bun dries and disintegrates as soon as it gets too cool; the bacon it's named for is actually less assertive than the cheese; and that for some, it might be intimidating and considered too much. Me on the other hand? I'm imagining swapping out the sausage for a beef patty and calling it a big, fat brunch burger.
Classic Sausage, Egg & Cheese Sandwich
Compared to the excess of the Breakfast Baconator, it might come as a surprise to see this simple and classic choice ranked on par. Like the bacon version, it's a mini and unseeded Viennese (or New York!) style Kaiser-like hard roll dusted with crunchy, coarse semolina for interest. The use of heat-retaining sausage melts the cheese down to a perfect gooeyness that clings to the rippled divots in the sausage, in the egg, the crumb of the roll. Where the bun was proportionately too much in the BEC version, overwhelming its fillings, it was perfectly strong enough for the sausage. It soaked up extra sausage grease without any breakdown in structural integrity, countered its flavor by its more proportionate bread-to-ingredient ration, and was softened by the steam of the meat in a way bacon or just a single egg just couldn't match. It was substantial without being over the top, making it a solid sandwich in more than heft, and would probably rock with bacon added.
Maple Bacon Chicken Croissant
For those who want it all, those who suffer from FOMO, or are just plain indecisive, brunch gives you the opening to resolve a number of these hang-ups. So does this brunch-appropriate sandwich, which blends so many good ideas together as to become that synergistic solution corporate types are always talking about.
First, we have a croissant that stays more toasted and drier than its other iterations by virtue of a combination of drier proteins that are less likely to create steam: fried chicken and bacon. Both of these are drained well and had no excessive grease, which contributed to the better texture of the croissant. They were also at their flavor best in this combination, their individual positive traits shining more brightly here than in any other. In no other sandwich was the bacon's hardwood flavor this pronounced, nor its shatter this preserved. Without the moisture of eggs or the liquidity of melted cheese, it retained the crispness well-done bacon ought to have, and became a smoky and lasting final impression.
The chicken was the front note, well-seasoned, crunchy, and thick with juicy meat. None of that was surprising, since the same fillet was used for the rest of the breakfast chickens. As with its biscuit counterpart, the maple honey butter added a lovely sweetness that was layered between the chicken and the bacon before eventually settling into the valleys of the two. This sweetness also brought out a little bit of an acidic note in the croissant; both worked together to keep all the fried items from feeling too heavy while the two applications of rich butter kept it from seeming dry.
Personal warm feelings toward Wendy's aside, this ranking was a tough call, with only one item of the whole menu being categorically bad. America's favorite redhead's breakfast selection is clearly well-considered and thoughtfully created based on extensive market research and comprehensive testing. You can taste the intention as much as the attention. I—and you will, too—appreciate the unmistakability of the use of whole real eggs, cooked but not greasily fried on a flat-top. You'll like the comforting, familiar taste and middle-of-the-board consistency of the sausage and the perfection of how it fits in every bun. From corner to corner, there aren't weird bites where ingredients feel missing. You'll be satisfied by the real-chicken quality of the more-than-decent thickness of the fillets, and pleasantly surprised to note that you can taste the difference real butter, buttermilk, honey, and maple syrup make.
Where they fall short across the board is—ironically—the bacon that set Wendy's apart in the first place. The strips are just too thin to make much of an impact, even when the portion is more substantial than a pair of miserly half-strips. It may sound at odds with bacon's nature, but theirs simply feels too lean to be a star. And obviously, that's more than okay when in the end, it means the entire team becomes the winner.
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