Which Fast Food Chain Makes The Best Sausage, Egg, And Cheese Biscuit?

A taste test of this breakfast menu staple at McDonald's, Wendy's, Popeyes, and more.

It started with rotten sausage. From the moment I unwrapped my breakfast from a popular Southern chain, I knew I was in for a bad time. The unpleasant smell was followed by an inedible bite. I was heartbroken, disappointed, and disgusted as both my biscuit and my morning went into the trash.

I'm a regional breakfast junkie. Whenever I move somewhere new, I devote considerable time and calories to tracking down a memorable pre-dawn meal. In New Mexico, it was the green chile burrito. On the Illinois border, it was Casey's outstanding breakfast pizza. And in the backwoods of Tennessee, at a small gas station just up the road from a power plant, I fell in love with the simple, salty, and oh-so-satisfying combination of sausage, egg, and cheese on a buttermilk biscuit. I still think about those parchment paper-wrapped delights, with "SEC" scrawled in Sharpie across the top.

So, when I made the move to North Carolina, imagine my disappointment when a locally hyped favorite failed to deliver on its promise. This experience got me to thinking: What really constitutes a quality sausage, egg, and cheese biscuit, and what are the best options available not just in the South, but nationally? After several months' worth of tasting, ranking, and re-ranking these deceptively simple sandwiches, I believe I'm come away with the answers.

Let's get to the biscuit bracket.

6. McDonald’s

From the very first bite—hell, from the very first whiff—you know what you're getting with a McDonald's sausage, egg, and cheese biscuit. It has that signature "Golden Arches" scent: grease, salt, and manufactured flavor. And while consistency is key for a company serving millions of customers per day, it can lower the common denominator of the products.

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On the positive side, McDonald's offers a lot of breakfast for your buck. That huge pile of folded egg dominates the flavor profile, overpowering a wafer-thin sausage patty. The egg itself isn't all that great, but it's hard to beat up on this sandwich too much because, come on, it's McDonald's. Even if it isn't mind-blowing, it's accessible, familiar, and cheap. I have no beef with this biscuit, despite its bottom-tier ranking.

5. Popeyes

Look, it's 5 in the morning. I'm writing this from a dirty table in the airport, and maybe I'm not giving Popeyes a fair shake. But this is the third time I've tried the SEC biscuit from my favorite chicken spot, and I continue to be unimpressed.

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The sausage patty is small and mildly flavored. The biscuit itself is incredibly doughy, forcing you to take small bites of an already diminutive meal. It's not that the flavor is bad (and Lord knows I'll take what I can get in the airport), but it's hard to believe that this biscuit came from the same Louisiana Kitchen as the industry's best spicy chicken sandwich. This SEC biscuit finishes above McDonald's on the strength of its potential, but Popeyes is very much a "baseline biscuit" for me.

4. Bojangles

Bojangles has moved up and down this list a few times. Until recently, it was in contention for the top spot. However, while the Southern staple makes an SEC with good flavor, the execution is inconsistent. Two out of three times (by percentage), I was served up a wonderful experience: a thick and well-browned sausage patty, distinctly flavorful cheese, and a not-too-greasy biscuit, all combining to form a savory delight. When Bojangles is on its game, it's hard to beat.

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Yet on other occasions, I've received what amounts to a very average sandwich. The latest example (not pictured here) featured a thin and dry sausage slab, and the biscuit itself had seen better mornings. The eggs avoid the artificial flavor of other entries in this list, but they tend to be a bit overdone.

3. Burger King

Behold, my biscuit, shining like the sun. Burger King makes arguably the most aesthetically pleasing entry on this list, with a tall, deeply crusted biscuit and a healthy ratio of fillings.

The flavors, like its colors, are purely savory. The egg is fluffy, with a wonderful texture and saltiness; the sausage comes out swinging; the cheese is a ray of melted sunshine; and the overall effect is of a breakfast better than the sum of its parts.

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So, where does this one stumble? The failings lie in the fat. All that flavor mentioned above has to come from somewhere, and this biscuit definitely leaves the most grease on my fingers, making for a messy proposition when eating in the car or at one's desk. But while Burger King's entry may not be the highest in the rankings, it's arguably the one I crave most often.

2. Wendy’s

As with most such lists, this biscuit ranking is includes some measure of gut reaction. One sausage is only so different from another, and the combinations of butter, flour, and salt are only unique in their ratios. But Wendy's has one clear win over the competition: This biscuit is topped with the best egg in the business.

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Most fast food breakfasts come with the popular pale-yellow scramble. By contrast, Wendy's egg shows a clear difference between its yolk and white. I'm also a fan of the brand's square sausage patty, which bears a solid sear. The biscuit itself tends to be just a hair underdone, especially when compared to the crispy exterior offered by Burger King. But don't sleep on the Wendy's breakfast experience, which is one of the underappreciated fast food greats.

1. Hardee’s/Carl’s Jr.

Hardee's sausage, egg, and cheese biscuit is probably the smallest of the bunch. It's also a bit more expensive (about $1 more than the rest), and you might have a harder time finding one of these co-branded locations. But if it happens to be near sunrise, and you see the smiling star hovering over the roadside, pull in for the best sausage, egg, and cheese biscuit ever to fly through a drive-thru.

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Unlike Wendy's offering, the egg here is draped rather thin. The American cheese is prominent, and the biscuit has a soft, floury chew. But in the end, this is a Sausage biscuit with a capital S. Even slightly cool (as I experienced with one of three visits), the Hardee's version of this breakfast classic packs the best balance of flavor. It feels the closest to homemade, and the portion size is just enough to leave you sated, without the over-greased feeling that can accompany a Burger King or McDonald's meal. Hardee's/Carl's Jr. may not be the only entrant to make its biscuits in-house, but the company's 40-plus years of "Made from Scratch" experience shines through.

Ultimately, there are no losers here. Sausage, egg, and cheese biscuits are something of an unsung classic of American cuisine, and most of these entries would be a welcome start to any morning. Like a good cheese pizza or an all-beef hot dog, it's hard to go wrong with a simple thing done very, very right.

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