Starting your morning sitting down to a hot cup of joe and a fresh, homemade breakfast sandwich sounds pretty darn good, doesn’t it? But, come on, we’re all realists here, and we know the odds of this happening (especially on a weekday) are, well…. Let’s just say it doesn’t look so good.
So sink your teeth into this tasty little morsel of knowledge: Some of the most popular prepared breakfast sandwiches can be surprisingly wholesome! Others are nutritionally questionable and processed to such a degree that they’ve practically reached “fake food” status. So how do you know when to say “yes, please” or “no way, José”? No need to fret: We did the homework for you!
So if you plan to steer your car to the nearest quick-service restaurant or push a cart to the frozen aisle at your local market, we’re giving you a cheat sheet of the best and the worst breakfast sandwiches (and wraps and burritos too). For our criteria, we scrutinized every ingredient list and pored over key nutritional information, including overall calories, “bad” fats, protein and sodium. The result? Our 15 best and works picks!
What’s In (or Not In) the Best Breakfast Sandwiches?
The healthiest prepared breakfast-sandwich bets have ingredient lists that read like recipes, not pseudoscience experiments! The best of the best won’t be ultraprocessed and will never, ever, ever contain artificial colors or flavors or scary amounts of preservatives! They’ll provide nutrient-rich ingredients like eggs and veggies and, ideally, at least some whole grains to kick-start your day in a “real” way.
Per serving, calories can range widely from 150 to 400 calories. When on the lower end of the calorie spectrum, the sandwich can be served as an entrée with a side, like yogurt or berries (or both). If it’s on the higher end, it can count as a meal.
The healthiest choices will provide a minimum of eight grams of protein (preferably more!) — since your body needs protein 24-7. Plus, they’ll provide less than eight grams of saturated fat, less than 800 milligrams of sodium, and absolutely zero grams of trans fats, so your heart will still respect you the next morning.
(P.S.: If you’re a culinary wiz and prefer preparing your own morning ’wich, simply use this same criteria.)
If you’re cutting calories like crazy, this 150-calorie breakfast flatbread sandwich will surely fit into most weight-loss plans — and lacto-ovo vegetarian diets in general. But this slim sandwich has lots more to brag about.
It’s carb-friendly (with just 19 grams of total carbs) and features an egg white patty made with cage-free, certified humane eggs. The natural additions of kale, tomato and goat cheese kick up the tastiness and trendiness. But do enjoy a side dish with it, even if you’re painstakingly counting every calorie. A 150-calorie food, even when it’s got swagger, only counts as a snack or small entrée for a “normal” human being!
Per Serving: 150 calories, 2 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 10 grams of protein, 400 milligrams of sodium
Want a punch of gut-friendly probiotics in the morning? Sure, have a plain ol’ yogurt. Or you can grab this hipster-friendly, GMO-free vegan burrito — with a potential 1 billion probiotic cultures. That’ll get you goin’!
Its eight grams of fiber will sure help too. And if all that’s not reason enough, enjoy it because it’s delish. The vitamin A-rich, veggie-packed filling is Korean-inspired, featuring cabbage, fermented red pepper, edamame, ginger, spinach and seasoned organic tofu. A total win-win!
Per Serving: 260 calories, 0.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 12 grams of protein, 550 milligrams of sodium
Chorizo is not a health food! Or is it? If it’s handmade from antibiotic-free chicken thigh, seasonings and no chemical preservatives, it can absolutely be part of a nourishing breakfast. You’re in luck, because that’s exactly what you’ll find in this morning omelet wrap.
It contains cage-free egg whites, antibiotic-free “real” cheese, potatoes, black beans and whole veggies, including scallions, red and green peppers and salsa. Its Cajun spices will wake up your taste buds too.
Per Serving: 360 calories, 3.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 17 grams of protein, 580 milligrams of sodium
Panera Bread has a “clean” food policy which means you’ll get high-quality ingredients without artificial trans fat and artificial additives. Your biggest worry will probably be how much food to order. One item you’ll definitely want to try at breakfast time is this all-natural vegetarian sandwich.
You’ll get egg whites, fresh avocado, baby spinach, tomato and a luscious slice of Vermont white cheddar, all served on a freshly baked sprouted-grain bagel flat. Sounds pretty good, huh? Oh, and by the way, it’s got more than half of the iron you’ll need in an entire day. Now that’s real power!
Per Serving: 400 calories, 6 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 12 grams of protein, 480 milligrams of sodium
When you want a bite along with your morning cup of java or tall tea, here’s a pretty nourishing pick (unless you’re a vegetarian). It’s one way to actually have your bacon and eat it too. That’s because this sandwich includes turkey bacon that doesn’t contain the harmful preservative sodium nitrite!
This breakfast bite also contains cage-free egg whites and reduced-fat white cheddar cheese on an organic wheat English muffin that contains mainly whole-grain wheat. It’s just 230 calories, yet it provides half of the calcium you need in the day.
Per Serving: 230 calories, 2.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 13 grams of protein, 560 milligrams of sodium
OK, we totally cheated! This vegan wrap is not marketed as a breakfast item. But it’s seriously our favorite Amy’s product to eat in the morning. So we slyly snuck it onto this BEST breakfast sandwich list. It’s one the easiest ways ever to get veggies in the morning.
We’re talking about organic potatoes, peas, tomatoes, onions and tofu! It’s got plenty of spice and no GMOs, trans fats or preservatives. You’ll even get turmeric, providing a natural golden hue along with a potent little burst of antioxidants. And we have another confession: We love popping this baby open and topping it with a fried organic egg — sometimes two — to pump it up with high-quality protein.
Per Serving: 250 calories, 1 gram of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 8 grams of protein, 680 milligrams sodium
While taking a spin to the drive-through window is never the only option, sometimes it seems like the most logical option for some. Fortunately, you can find a handful of relatively nutritious fast-food choices these days. The key is that you need to actually order these picks. Wendy’s has got you covered. Don’t even look at the rest of the breakfast sandwiches; just order this one.
It’s made with freshly cracked eggs, natural Asiago cheese and a comforting Hollandaise sauce on a toasted honey-wheat muffin. But the trick is you need to skip the bacon that this comes with! (Or, if you prefer, give the bacon to your frenemy!) Trust us, you wouldn’t want it anyway; it has food additives, including sodium nitrite, a potentially cancer-causing preservative!
Per Serving: 290 calories, 6 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 15 grams of protein, 530 milligrams of sodium
This grease-factory of a burrito contains a beyond-bad-boy nutritional profile, containing more than 1,000 calories, artery-clogging trans fats and an entire day’s worth of saturated fat and sodium! That’s because this burrito is stuffed with not just scrambled eggs and cheese, but also sausage and bacon! Oh, and hash browns.
But the craziest part of this concoction is that you’ll also get these bonus ingredients: BHA, propyl gallate, sodium nitrite, sodium erythorbate, calcium propionate, sodium metabisulfite and more! BHA, for instance, is a preservative that may have a negative impact on enzyme systems in the body. To be perfectly blunt, this burrito has no business being marketed as food!
Per Serving: 1,040 calories, 20 grams of saturated fat, 1 gram of trans fat, 36 grams of protein, 2,130 milligrams of sodium
If you’re looking for a carb “bomb,” you’ve sure found it — 12 long inches of it! Chowing down on every inch of this big ol’ breakfast sub will give you 86 grams of carbohydrates. That’s the equivalent of about six slices of bread! If you’re an athlete and plan to “carb load,” that might be a good thing.
If you have diabetes or are at risk for diabetes, that’s a very bad thing because of the spike in blood sugar this could potentially cause. And, unfortunately, these carbs are packaged with more than a day’s worth of sodium. While this pick does give you plenty of calcium, that’s one of the only true bright spots, nutritionally speaking.
Per Serving: 890 calories, 12 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 49 grams of protein, 2,620 milligrams of sodium
“Highest in degree or quality” — that’s one of Merriam-Webster’s definitions of supreme. Apparently BK doesn’t use the dictionary to name their menu items, because this little delight is the antonym: inferior. But I guess no one would buy something called the “Inferior Breakfast Sandwich!” So what’s in it? It basically has double of everything, including two sausage patties and two slices of pasteurized process American cheese, on an oversize white hoagie roll.
In addition to a calorie, saturated-fat and sodium overload, it’s got harmful trans fats — and those raise “bad” cholesterol in the blood, leading to an increased risk for cardiovascular disease. What’s more, you’ll get sorbic acid (to preserve the cheese), artificial color (to make the cheese a neon-like orange color), sodium nitrite (to preserve the bacon) and other chemicals. Now that’s some supremely scary-sounding stuff!
Per Serving: 880 calories, 21 grams of saturated fat, 1 gram of trans fat, 41 grams of protein, 2,170 milligrams of sodium
It might take you longer to read the ingredient list for this pick than to actually eat it. And it’ll probably take you longer to understand it than to digest it. It did for us! Though your taste buds might be wowed by this Crunchwrap, your body will be saying “no bueno!”
If you treat your body like a temple, it won’t want the hydrogenated fat, dough conditioners and preservatives from the tortilla. And it definitely won’t want the preservatives from the creamy jalapeño sauce or the corn syrup solids from the sausage patty. Corn syrup solids are added sugars, of which the American diet is already more than full.
Per Serving: 710 calories, 14 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 20 grams of protein, 1,180 milligrams of sodium
Compared to many other fast-food joints, McDonald’s does have some reasonable offerings in terms of calories. No more outrageous “portion distortion” issues! But it still has quite a way to go with other nutritional qualities of their menu — unless you’re a big fan of additives. This McGriddle is one additive-laden breakfast item that should be kicked off the menu board.
In addition to providing about two-thirds of your daily saturated fat and more than half of the maximum sodium allowance, you’ll get to savor some preservatives, artificial flavors and pasteurized process cheese in this sandwich. Plus, the griddle cakes contain caramel color. Caramel coloring was found to be potentially carcinogenic in a mouse study. The bottom line: This sweet idea of a breakfast sandwich between two griddle cakes is very sour news to us!
Per Serving: 570 calories, 13 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 19 grams of protein, 1,270 milligrams of sodium
While we have a Wendy’s item that made our BEST list, we were saddened that they also had a breakfast sandwich that made this WORST list. This morning menu selection is a little tricky because the calories are semi-reasonable and it contains chicken. But we weren’t bamboozled by poultry’s health “halo”: Here the chicken filet is battered, breaded and fried and includes corn syrup solids, preservatives and even an antifoaming agent!
It’s served in a processed “white” flour biscuit. And its paltry two grams of fiber will make your want to hunt down some prunes. Frankly, the honey-butter spread seems to be the most natural part of this breakfast bite. Eating this is no way to start the day!
Per Serving: 510 calories, 11 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 21 grams of protein, 1,400 milligrams of sodium
Jimmy Dean was a country music singer and actor — and founder of this eponymous sausage brand. But if he were still around, he probably wouldn’t be singing the nutritional praises of this frozen croissant sandwich. It has just 410 calories and 580 milligrams sodium — so good, that it’s practically dreamy!
But after that, it’s more like a spooky nightmare in which Dean’s spirit haunts you while rattling off the frightening ingredients in this find: partially hydrogenated oil, high-fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors, artificial color, calcium propionate, potassium sorbate and sorbic acid. Wake up, people!
Per Serving: 410 calories, 11 grams of saturated fat, 0.5 grams of trans fat, 12 grams of protein, 580 milligrams of sodium
Just because a brand is somewhat associated with healthy weight doesn’t give it a “free pass” onto our BEST list. In fact, this frozen breakfast sandwich is so disappointing that it meandered its way all the down to the WORST list. Sure, it only hits you with 200 calories, four grams saturated fat, and no trans fat, but this is a clear-cut case where what seems beautiful on the outside is not so pretty on the inside.
What’s in it? The biggest letdowns here are pasteurized process cheese, including the preservative sorbic acid, as well as bacon, including sodium phosphate, sodium erythorbate, sodium nitrite and artificial smoke flavor. In fact, smoke flavoring may have a potential DNA-damaging effect. Just say no.
Per Serving: 200 calories, 4 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 12 grams of protein, 630 milligrams of sodium.
Would your favorite breakfast sandwich “make the cut” for our BEST list based on our nutrition criteria? How often do you enjoy breakfast sandwiches? Do you prefer a homemade breakfast sandwich, a wrap or a burrito? Please let us know in the comments below!