7 Meats You Should Be Adding To Your Breakfast Sandwiches

Move beyond bacon and sausage to create the perfect breakfast.

We are truly blessed to live in a world where breakfast sandwiches exist. The combination of crunchy toasted bread and soft, pillowy eggs complements a wide range of salty, melty ingredients to form the most perfect bites any meal can offer. But for all the countless (and beautiful) riffs we've seen on breakfast sandwiches, there's very little innovation happening with the meat inside them.

I come from New Jersey, the land of the single best breakfast meat in the United States: Taylor Ham (or, yes, pork roll), a smoked, spiced, and emulsified gift from the gods. Outside of the Garden State, though, it can be tragically hard to get your hands on. Breakfast sandwiches nationwide tend to stick to the same few carnivorous options: sausage, bacon, ham, or maybe chorizo if you're lucky. Why not branch out beyond the basics?

While there's a lot to love about a classic sausage, egg, and cheese, you are doing yourself a disservice if you don't try a few other meats. Embrace the unconventional—you might realize you've been missing out on something truly great this whole time. Here are seven meats you should try on a breakfast sandwich.

Ground beef

Is ground beef on a breakfast sandwich just a breakfast burger? Yes. Is there anything wrong with that? Absolutely not. A few places (including Whataburger) serve a burger-based breakfast sandwich, but despite this—and despite the fact that eggs on burgers were a staple of the 2010s gastropub landscape—Americans have been surprisingly reluctant to embrace its favorite food as its favorite breakfast. Maybe it's the sheer heftiness of this sandwich that makes it a less popular option, but still, it's hard to deny that the fattiness of browned burger patties is the ideal pairing for eggs.

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If you want to try making a breakfast burger at home, the key is to keep it simple. I'm talking about one thin, smash-burger-style patty and salt, topped with a runny fried egg and the melty cheese of your choice. Keeping the balance of meat and egg keeps this sandwich squarely in breakfast territory, and also stops it from being so heavy it knocks you out for the rest of the day.

Salami

The entire calculus of breakfast sandwiches is this: salt + pork + eggs + bread = amazing. I'll be damned if salami doesn't fulfill the first two parts of the equation as well as any sandwich meat out there. It's got all the fat of bacon, plus a spicy, aged funk that makes it more complex and interesting. Grab some Genoa, hard salami, spicy calabrese, it doesn't really matter—they'll all taste great sliced thin, fried in a skillet, and stacked with some scrambled eggs and melted provolone.

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What really makes salami special is the way it crisps up in the pan, becoming this shatteringly thin and crunchy disk of meaty flavor. Or you can hold back and just fry it for a little bit, which will crisp up the edges while leaving the center pleasantly soft and chewy. Either way, you'll get everything you want from your breakfast sandwich experience.

Pork Belly

Pork belly already has breakfast cred as the cut of meat that bacon comes from, so why not rewind and try an egg sandwich with the fresh stuff? This isn't something you'll be breaking out for a quick breakfast, as getting pork belly nice and crispy can take a half hour to cook, but if you've got leftovers, this is the ideal way to use them.

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Well-cooked pork belly, with its crunchy skin and tender, shreddable meat, has maybe the best textural contrast you'll ever experience, and its powerful richness works great with the mild flavor of eggs.

Hot Italian Sausage

Chorizo is becoming the go-to spicy alternative to breakfast sausage, and it does the job very well, but the fennel and red pepper flavors of hot Italian sausage can pull off the same trick if you want to mix things up. It's available at most any supermarket and can be easily shaped into patties for some morning frying. Hot Italian sausage is usually more mild than the chili-pepper-seasoned chorizo, but it still brings an earthy heat that elevates eggs in its own way. For a real upgrade, combine it with a classic pepper and egg filling—the perfect Italian-American breakfast experience.

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Pastrami

The lack of pastrami breakfast sandwiches really perplexes me, because corned beef hash is such an established breakfast favorite at diners nationwide. I live in Los Angeles, where pastrami is everywhere; you even can get it in your breakfast burrito. Yet stop by your neighborhood breakfast sandwich purveyor and neither corned beef nor pastrami are anywhere to be found.

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It's everyone's loss, because pastrami's smoky, peppery tang feels like it was engineered specifically to make a great breakfast sandwich. It crisps up nicely with a little pan-frying, has plenty of salt and spice to distribute to the eggs, and pairs well with melty cheese. If the temptation to turn it into a hash has you questioning your breakfast decisions, well, some hash browns on a pastrami sandwich sound pretty good to me.

Brisket

Sometimes you just have to listen to Texas. Brisket tacos are already amazing, and brisket breakfast tacos all the more so—but of course that egg-and-brisket combo doesn't need to be wrapped up in a tortilla to be good. Try slapping those leftovers between two slices of bread and you'll have a great time.

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Smoky, tender brisket will inevitably result in a great breakfast sandwich, especially if you've got yourself some crispy burnt ends. Some sandwiches are all about balance, but a brisket and egg sandwich thrives on pure savory, meaty pleasure. Of course some cheese never hurt anyone, but don't succumb to the temptation to slather this concoction with too much sauce. The smoke and the beef should speak for themselves, and they'll be more than enough.

Guanciale

Cut from pig cheek and streaked with thick strips of fat, guanciale is basically a more indulgent version of pancetta or bacon. In fact, guanciale is so rich that it could almost qualify as condiment instead of meat once you render the fat out. That means it isn't going isn't going to fry up into crispy strips as nicely as bacon, but chop it up or slice it into matchsticks and you can cook it down to crunchy, bite-sized bits.

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Rendering guanciale it is half the point, and frying or scrambling your eggs in guanciale's buttery, decadent fat is worth the effort alone. Mix it up with some scrambled eggs and enjoy as is, or better yet, try it with a runny egg and some grated pecorino for a carbonara-inspired sandwich. Guanciale's curing and aging process gives it an even stronger flavor than bacon or pancetta, so you don't need too much to make a great breakfast sandwich.

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