Wendy's New Breakfast Sandwich Is No McMuffin

The Wendy's English Muffin Sandwich tries unsuccessfully to seize McDonald's breakfast glory.

Anthony Bourdain once famously described fast food as the enemy, citing Ronald McDonald as the problem personified. Whether or not you agree, one thing's for sure: Other fast food chains certainly share his sentiments, viewing McDonald's as the opposition that must be crushed.

Of course there's a target on Ronald's back. McDonald's has shaped the way we eat and how we think about food, and at no time of day is that more evident than breakfast. The Egg McMuffin, Sausage Biscuit, and Hash Browns served in a sleeve are iconic morning fare, firmly implanted into American breakfast culture. Yet since the introduction of its breakfast menu in 2020, Wendy's has started to make gains—in fact, there are those who feel that Wendy's breakfast now outranks McDonald's. With the introduction of Wendy's new English muffin breakfast sandwiches, the chain aims to close the gap once and for all.

English muffin sandwiches are nothing new, but it is surprising that Wendy's took so long to add such a blatant McDonald's ripoff to its breakfast menu. Chick-fil-A aadded English muffin sandwiches to its own permanent breakfast lineup in 2016, and with Wendy's already announcing that the new items will be permanent, it's safe to assume the brand is calibrating the offering for lasting success. Here's a press release statement from John Li, Global Vice President of Culinary Innovation for Wendy's:

"We tested 60 variations of our English Muffin Sandwiches before we landed on these light and fluffy English Muffins made with a touch of honey and topped with a savory buttery spread, fresh cracked eggs and delicious bacon or sausage for the perfect harmony of breakfast flavors."

McDonald's, meanwhile, has been testing its Egg McMuffin sandwiches on the American public since 1975. The results? People fucking love them. They're a cornerstone of not just the McDonald's menu, but American breakfast as a whole. I challenge anybody to rationally speak ill of a McDonald's Sausage McMuffin with Egg. They're just good. Cheaply made, sure, but a delicious combination of textures and flavors, able to be mass-produced and churned out at lightning speeds for a price most Americans are comfortable paying.

And though McDonald's is synonymous with these squishy breakfast sandwiches, making them available at other major fast food chains could, in theory, sap some of the business away from McD's. Can Wendy's pull it off?

That all depends on execution. It's hard to say whether the McMuffin can even be improved upon—so I tasted both Wendy's and McDonald's English muffin sandwiches side by side to find out.

How do Wendy’s new English Muffin Sandwiches taste?

First, to refresh my memory and provide my palate a baseline, I ordered a classic Sausage McMuffin with Egg from McDonald's, and the sandwich floored me. Here's what it looked like:

I forgot just how wonderful this thing is; the nostalgia totally holds up, and it's incredibly salty and cheesy. Salty makes sense (everything is highly processed), but I completely forgot just how melty this thing is. The American cheese is perfectly gooey, lending decadence to the sandwich.

Advertisement

And the English muffin itself is perfect: thin, toasted, and, importantly, not too bready. Each layered component successfully melds into the next, and every bite is equal parts bread, sausage, egg, and cheese. The toasted muffin has a nice sourdough flavor, nooks and crannies where fat can settle, and a bottom coarse with little morsels of semolina flour for added texture. It's a sandwich that feels good to grip in your hand.

Though these muffins are made exclusively for McDonald's by a company in Brea, they sure do read like a store-bought bag of Thomas' English muffins. That's no knock against them, though, since McDonald's has their preparation down to a science.

This sandwich is just well engineered. It's perfect all on its own, but exactly the type of thing you can take home and plus up (Sandwiches of History reference here) with hot sauce and condiments in your fridge. Egg McMuffins are versatile in this way. They provide strong base flavor; they don't need saving, but they invite plenty of flavor tinkering of your own.

Advertisement

Absolute stunner of a breakfast sandwich. How do you even improve upon this?

Wendy’s English Muffin Sandwich vs. McDonald’s McMuffin

The Wendy's version simply can't stack up against McDonald's.

It seems like Wendy's still has a lot of kinks to work out in the assembly line for its newest offering, because everything about this breakfast sandwich feels soft, pale, and undercooked (see the photo up top). The sausage was limp, gray, and squeaky. The cheese came barely melted, and the muffin itself was thick, soft, and doughy. Though it looked to be briefly toasted, it didn't have those frayed, craggy edges that define the McDonald's McMuffin experience. The bread is too flat and lacks an English muffin's typical nooks and crannies.

Advertisement

This muffin is almost shockingly different from what McDonald's uses. It's pretty thick, which means none of the other elements get a chance to meld seamlessly into one another. This sandwich is heavy on the bread, which would be great if the bread were any good.

I also tried a Wendy's English muffin breakfast sandwich with bacon, and while it had the same inherent problems as the sausage, it's easy to see the potential in the addition of bacon. It adds an extra jolt of salt, which the sandwich sorely needs.

The slightly limp bacon strays too far beyond the muffin's edges, though, and the inherent beauty of an Egg McMuffin is that everything is the same circumference. Even the square piece of American cheese fits snugly in between the tidy circles. Geometry and symmetry are hugely important to English muffin sandwiches.

Advertisement

Wendy's new breakfast muffins prove that while imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, it's also hard to surpass the source material. Maybe with a longer cook time, this sandwich could come up from (far) behind, but even then it seems likely to stay in McDonald's shadow.

Recommended

Advertisement