I compared every item from McDonald's and Wendy's breakfast menus side-by-side, and found the newcomer is better in several ways
Irene Jiang / Business Insider
- Wendy's is rolling out a new breakfast menu in January.
- Wendy's has never had luck with its breakfast menus, and that's somewhat due to McDonald's efforts to counter Wendy's efforts.
- McDonald's breakfast is a fan favorite, but with the chain relying heavily on breakfast to win more visitors, it has a lot to lose if Wendy's snags a significant market share of the breakfast business.
- I compared every single distinct item on both menus in order to see how the two chains' breakfast offerings stack up. I found that this time around, Wendy's breakfast menu has some clear-cut advantages over McDonald's.
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Like the forces of good and evil, fire and ice, and people who put the toilet paper roll backward and people who put it on the right way, McDonald's and Wendy's are forever at odds with each other.McDonald's has long been the emperor of breakfast, but Wendy's is looking to conquer some of the Golden Arches' buttery territory. The pig-tailed would-be usurper is rolling out a breakfast menu nationwide in January 2020.
As these two fast-food titans sharpen their swords for January's reckoning, we decided to pit their breakfast babies against each other in a cheesy, eggy, bacon-y battle.So here you are: McDonald's and Wendy's entire breakfast menus, compared. I left out items I felt were redundant, like plain biscuits or sandwiches with just egg. I also left out items that weren't exclusive to breakfast, such as McDonald's yogurt parfait.
McDonald's has McMuffins, McGriddles, biscuits, and bagel sandwiches. It also sells hotcakes, a homestyle breakfast, a breakfast burrito, and McCafe beverages.
Wendy's breakfast menu includes biscuits, croissants, and breakfast roll sandwiches. There's also a breakfast burrito, cold brew, and two kinds of Frostyccinos.Advertisement
MCDONALD'S — ICED COFFEE, $2.69 — McDonald's iced coffee comes with milk and sugar. It's pleasant and drinkable, but the coffee flavor is underwhelming.
MCDONALD'S — ICED MOCHA, $2.99 — The iced mocha is another story. It's rich, chocolatey, and actually quite beautiful for a three-dollar drink.Advertisement
MCDONALD'S — STRAWBERRY BANANA SMOOTHIE, $3.69 — Unfortunately, the strawberry banana smoothie is just as sweet but no more fruity. All the flavor in this "smoothie" tasted very artificial.
WENDY'S — SMALL CHOCOLATE FROSTYCCINO, $2.49 — Somewhere between McDonald's iced coffee and its mocha, this drink was milky, chocolatey, with a trace of coffee.Advertisement
WENDY'S — SMALL COLD BREW, $2.29 — After the Frostyccino, the cold brew was sour, burnt, and watery.
MCDONALD'S — BACON EGG AND CHEESE BISCUIT, $4.19 — The bacon is flaccid, brown, and skimpy. The egg is fluffy but flavorless.Advertisement
The highlights of this sandwich are the crumbly biscuit and tangy cheese.
WENDY'S — BACON EGG AND CHEESE BISCUIT, $2.89 — Never mind that this sandwich is much cheaper than its McDonald's counterpart. The bacon is still lackluster, but at least it's crispy and visible.Advertisement
The biscuit is a little undercooked, but this sandwich more than makes up for it with a fresh egg and savory cheese.
MCDONALD'S — SAUSAGE BISCUIT WITH EGG, $3.99 — I learned that McDonald's biscuits are inconsistent because this one was a stunner. Crispy, buttery, crumbly, yum.Advertisement
The salty, flavorful sausage contrasted well with the plainer egg. Why didn't this sandwich have cheese, though?
WENDY'S — SAUSAGE EGG AND CHEESE BISCUIT, $2.89 — This was a solid sandwich, with cheese melted over egg, a tasty, spiced sausage, and a buttery, crumbly biscuit.Advertisement
But there was also a hint of lemon that was off-putting. It may have been kitchen cross-contamination, but I'm not sure where it was coming from.
MCDONALD'S — MCCHICKEN BISCUIT, $3.19 — If you've ever wondered, "what would a McChicken patty taste like in a biscuit," this sandwich was made for you. It's literally a McChicken patty in a biscuit.Advertisement
I found it dry, boring, and low-effort. But if a McChicken patty in a biscuit sounds good to you, it'll probably taste good, too.
WENDY'S — HONEY BUTTER CHICKEN BISCUIT, $2.59 — For less than the cost of a McChicken biscuit, you can get a real slab of fried chicken sandwiched between two buttered biscuit halves.Advertisement
Yes, the chicken is crunchy, juicy, and real. But the real highlight here is the decadent maple butter, which brings biscuit and chicken together better than couple's therapy could.
MCDONALD'S — SAUSAGE EGG MCMUFFIN, $3.99 — Oh, McMuffin, how can I sing the praises of thine many virtues? Chewy, soft, crispy, toasted, with a dusting of lovely corn grit.Advertisement
Here, the delectable sausage finds its home between a melted slice of American cheese and a round, fresh egg with a golden yolk.
WENDY'S — SAUSAGE EGG AND CHEESE SANDWICH, $3.49 — As far as I can tell, Wendy's classic sandwiches are sort of like McMuffins. The bun is soft, chewy, and finely dusted with corn grit. If only it was toasted.Advertisement
This sandwich is tasty and balanced. The fried egg and melted cheese were a star duo, while the spicy sausage brought out the best in both.
MCDONALD'S — EGG MCMUFFIN, $3.99 — The Egg McMuffin is the sandwich that changed fast-food breakfast forever: an eggs Benedict to-go, the flavors of the Egg McMuffin have been beloved for nearly half a century.Advertisement
But even with practice, sometimes we make mistakes. In this one, the ham was tough and the bread burnt, even though the egg was perfect.
WENDY'S — BACON EGG AND CHEESE SANDWICH, $3.49 — This is the closest thing Wendy's has to an Egg McMuffin. It has bacon instead of ham, but it has a fresh egg, melted cheese, and a soft, chewy bun.Advertisement
The bacon has more of a chance to stand out here as the only crispy element of a chewy sandwich. But I can't say I prefer this to a McMuffin.
MCDONALD'S — SAUSAGE BURRITO, $1.99 — For some reason, McDonald's has a breakfast burrito on its menu. It has sausage, egg, and cheese. I ordered it with hot sauce, but that came on the side.Advertisement
As a result, I had some egg, cheese, and a bite of sausage wrapped up in a tortilla. Not terrible, but not terribly exciting either.
WENDY'S — SAUSAGE EGG AND CHEESE BURRITO, $1.39 — Wendy also has a sausage, egg, and cheese breakfast burrito, for some reason. And somehow, it's even worse than McDonald's.Advertisement
Where's the meat? Only God and Wendy know what happened to the sausage in this burrito. And the flavor. And moisture. Just avoid. Avoid!
MCDONALD'S — BACON EGG AND CHEESE MCGRIDDLE, $4.19 — McGriddles are sweet, syrupy, and soft to the point of being mushy. They'd be great snack cakes. As sandwich buns, they're hit or miss.Advertisement
The jello-like egg is kind of disconcerting between two sweet buns. The bacon didn't do much. This sandwich was mostly just confusing.
WENDY'S — BACON EGG AND CHEESE CROISSANT, $3.59 — Wendy's croissant bun is perfectly acceptable. It's flaky and soft, with a hint of sweetness.Advertisement
You can definitely taste the bacon in this one, and it's a fairly well-balanced sandwich overall.
MCDONALD'S — SAUSAGE EGG AND CHEESE MCGRIDDLE, $4.29 — Everything in this sandwich is very, very soft and requires little to no chewing effort.Advertisement
It's also surprisingly delicious. The salty sausage holds its weight against the sweet McGriddles. The egg is mostly filler.
WENDY'S — SAUSAGE EGG AND CHEESE CROISSANT, $3.59 — This croissant had a slightly less appealing bun. And much like the sausage McGriddle, the sausage egg and cheese croissant was made of mushy things.Advertisement
Those who find it difficult to chew food will find comfort in the existence of two such sandwiches at major chains.
MCDONALD'S — CHICKEN MCGRIDDLE, $3.39 — Ok, remember how the McChicken biscuit was just a McChicken patty in a biscuit? Well, this is the McGriddle equivalent.Advertisement
It's like a discount chicken and waffles, but with much more muted flavors and without any of that dish's iconic crunchy, sticky texture.
WENDY'S — MAPLE BACON CHICKEN CROISSANT, $3.99 — I'm not exaggerating when I say: everything about this sandwich is perfect. The chicken and bacon are crispy, the croissant soft, buttery, and flaky, and the maple butter unifies it all.Advertisement
This is Wendy's star player. McDonald's doesn't have anything that comes close, and neither does any other chain out there.
MCDONALD'S — BIG BREAKFAST WITH HOTCAKES, $5.69 — This morning feast has everything you could want from a McDonald's breakfast except bacon.Advertisement
McDonald's distinguishes itself with hotcakes that are actually pretty decent for pancakes that come in a plastic container.
They're soft, chewy, and absorb a generous amount of syrup.Advertisement
The rest of the breakfast was essentially a deconstructed sausage biscuit with egg.
The most potent weapon in McDonald's breakfast arsenal, in my opinion, is the hash brown.Advertisement
Crispy outside, soft inside, it's the perfect potato companion to any morning meal.
WENDY'S — SEASONED HOMESTYLE POTATOES, $1.29 — Enter Wendy's homestyle potatoes.Advertisement
Golden, crispy, bursting with seasoning and flavor, I have to admit these are even better than my beloved hash browns.
MCDONALD'S — BACON EGG AND CHEESE BAGEL, $4.49 — Three syllables for this sandwich: disgusting.Advertisement
Every sandwich looks the same inside. The dusty-dry and lifeless bagel makes each bite unbearable.
MCDONALD'S — SAUSAGE EGG AND CHEESE BAGEL, $4.39 — McDonald's sausage always packs a bigger flavor punch than its bacon, but oh god...Advertisement
This "bagel" is unforgivable.
WENDY'S — BREAKFAST BACONATOR, $3.99 — This is basically a Wendy's Baconator with two square sausage patties in place of plain beef ones. It's hearty, heavy, and deeply satisfying.Advertisement
The only thing I don't love about it is the burger bun, which feels like a boring choice of breakfast bun.
Savory sausage, crispy bacon, fresh fried egg, and melty cheese: this sandwich is otherwise perfect.Advertisement
McDonald's breakfast has several things going for it. First, its McCafé drinks line offers a wide selection of cheap, pretty decent beverages.
Its biscuits are slightly better than Wendy's biscuits. And McDonald's has some individual flavors down, as well as a solid non-sandwich option.Advertisement
Its hard-hitter remains the McMuffin, which is still one of the most perfect egg-based breakfast sandwiches in the fast-food canon.
However, McDonald's more adventurous items— the McGriddle, the bagel sandwiches — are poorly balanced. And the new McChicken items feel terribly lazy — a McChicken patty slapped on existing breakfast buns.Advertisement
But overall, Wendy's breakfast is cheaper than McDonald's and offers largely the same, sometimes better items.
Wendy's secret weapon come January are its crispy chicken concoctions. The chicken is good, and the accoutrements are better. The flavors are intentional.Advertisement
Wendy's may have failed at breakfast before, but this time, it stands a non-zero chance against the breakfast behemoth that is McDonald's. Winner, winner, chicken ... breakfast?
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