13 Ways To Upgrade Your Breakfast Sandwich

A breakfast sandwich is essentially a sandwich that is eaten for breakfast, but more than that, it's typically a sandwich filled with the kinds of eggs, meat, cheese, condiments, and veggies usually associated with the morning meal. This can be as simple as plain eggs between two pieces of toast or as decadent and drool-worthy as you can dream up. It's said that the idea of a breakfast sandwich started in London in the 1800s when fried eggs, meat, and cheese sandwiched in a roll called a bap were sold to workers to fuel them for a day in the factory. The tradition arrived in the US during the Industrial Revolution, and the popularity of this kind of breakfast really took off when Herb Peterson invented the EggMcMuffin for McDonald's in 1972.

They're now easy to find not only in fast food restaurants but also in delis, diners, restaurants, supermarkets, and convenience stores, and many people make them at home. If you've only gone the fast food route before or you want to improve your homemade sandwich, you may be wondering where to start. As a recipe developer, I've tried to perfect a few different types of breakfast sandwiches myself and have also relied heavily on research from other food authorities to bring you more recommendations. Making an irresistible sandwich with harmonious flavors and interesting textures isn't out of reach. Try these tips to upgrade your breakfast and make something worth getting out of bed for.

Toast your bread

In the world of food, texture can be just as important as flavor, and your favorite breakfast sandwich is no exception. The secret to a satisfying sandwich is to mix up textures so everything isn't the same. It's boring, not to mention physically difficult, to eat one that has only soft components, and the same can be said if everything is crunchy (we think that sounds downright painful). Breakfast sandwiches often have soft ingredients like fluffy eggs, juicy meats, and melted cheese. Toasting the bread is one of the easiest ways to add texture and crunch to the final result.

There's another important reason why it pays to toast your breakfast sandwich bread: it helps prevent your sandwich from getting soggy. Toasted bread is dry, so it can't pick up as much moisture as regular bread. This is especially important if you're making your sandwich ahead of time to eat later, even if the waiting time will be short.

For another safeguard against sogginess, try this trick: butter your bread and then toast it in a frying pan instead of in the toaster. It's like making a grilled cheese sandwich without the cheese. The buttery layer on the bread forms a barrier that will keep the moisture from your sandwich fixings from soaking into the bread.

Condiments are key

Don't forget to use condiments to prevent a bland breakfast sandwich. The word condiment comes from the Latin word condire, which means to season, or as Merriam-Webster puts it, to add "more flavor or zest" to food. Naturally, condiments have the ability to enhance the flavors of your ingredients and pull everything together.

Another benefit of spreading on a condiment is that it adds moisture to your meal. It's really unsatisfying to dig into a dry sandwich that takes forever to chew. A juicy condiment will balance out the drier and crispier ingredients, so it's just right.

You can't go wrong with classics like ketchup and mayonnaise, but if you want to up your condiment game, play with more creative options for additional interest. Instead of plain mayo, try a chipotle mayo or a garlic aioli. If you usually reach for yellow mustard, try Dijon mustard, spicy brown mustard, honey mustard, hot mustard, or specialty varieties like Champagne dill mustard instead. Hollandaise sauce can up your egg game, hot sauce will bring on the heat, pesto adds savory creaminess and Greek yogurt sauces add tang. A classic hummus works well with a sandwich heavy on veggies, and avocado, while not technically a condiment, is almost universally good. Try it with a fried egg sandwich to make it pop.

Get creative with eggs

Eggs are one of the most popular ingredients for breakfast sandwiches, but even if you love eggs, it can get tedious to always eat them the same way. Luckily, there are many ways to jazz up eggs and keep your sandwiches interesting. For a notable flavor boost, star Chef Gordon Ramsay advocates adding a generous spoonful of crème fraîche, salt, pepper, and fresh chives to your scrambled eggs right after you take them off the heat.

Eggs and cheese go together very well, so there's no reason to stop using American cheese in your omelets if you love it. Trying more specialty cheeses, however, may help you add new flavor dimensions to the final result. Experiment with Gruyère, Swiss, gouda, Monterey Jack, or brie. Aged Asiago or Manchego will give a sharper, saltier bite, while something more pungent like Taleggio or blue cheese will get your attention.

Another way to get creative with eggs is to mix up the cooking method. If you usually opt for scrambled, try them fried instead. Make a frittata in a frying pan or bake it in the oven. You can make it plain or fill it with meat and veggies. Just cut it into squares and place it on your bread. Even hard-boiled eggs can have a place in breakfast sandwiches.

Try unique bread choices

No matter what kind of breakfast sandwich you make, the one common denominator is some kind of bread. From the classic bun to more unconventional choices, there's no shortage of options to sandwich your filling. An English muffin is a popular choice for a sausage, egg, and cheese sandwich, while plain white bread makes a simple and delicious grilled cheese. Thick slices of sourdough will form a substantial sandwich with a more noticeable flavor. Reach for a croissant right out of the oven for a warm, flaky alternative to bread. Choose ham and cheese for a savory filling, or try brie with honey and figs for a sweet treat.

Get inspired by the bread used to make regional American breakfast sandwiches across the country. Channel New York City with a bagel sandwich for breakfast. Fill a tortilla with your favorite toppings to make a Southwest breakfast burrito, or make breakfast tacos like they do in Texas. A Southern-style sandwich is just asking to be made with a biscuit.

If you have a special diet, you don't have to miss out. Many gluten-free breads, flatbreads, wraps, and creative options like chickpea socca are now available. If you have a yeast intolerance, try homemade Irish soda bread.

Add extra crunch

We don't want every component of our breakfast sandwich to be crunchy, but adding strategic crispy ingredients will mix up the textures of the sandwich and make each bite more satisfying. Of course, the easiest way to add crunch is to toast the bread. You can use a toaster for a dry crunch or toast the bread in a frying pan with a little butter for a richer result. The fillings can add crunch too. Crispy bacon is often one of the first things that come to mind, but don't forget about other crispy options like chicken, fried potatoes, fried onions (you can even make fried onions in the microwave to save time), and vegetables like radishes, cucumbers, and carrots.

For a unique take, make your breakfast sandwich with hashbrowns. While you may not have thought about hashbrowns as a bread replacement before, they are a decadent way to sandwich fillings like eggs, melty cheese, and sausage or bacon. When made right, they'll crisp up and keep the sandwich sturdy enough to pick up with your hands. To accomplish this, choose frozen hashbrowns and fry them in a generous amount of oil for maximum firmness and crunch.

Keep it simple

If you're feeling creative, there are many ways to make a towering breakfast sandwich piled with beautiful ingredients that's worthy of trending on social media. There's nothing wrong with that, but there's something to be said for a humble oldie but goodie. Simple flavors and good technique will come together for a tasty meal, not to mention you'll save time and end up with a sandwich you can actually fit in your mouth.

Start with quality bread, whether it's sliced bread, a bun, a biscuit, or a muffin. If you can get something from a local artisan bakery, all the better. Take care making your eggs. Since there won't be a big pile of ingredients to distract you, each ingredient should shine. A simple fried egg cooked with the right amount of attention and time can elevate a simple sandwich. Add a meat layer of sausage, ham, or crunchy bacon, or substitute bean spread, tempeh, or tofu if you're plant-based. Melted cheese will finish it off, and though you can try a specialty cheese for a unique flavor, cheddar is always reliable and customary.

Go with grilled cheese

If you've only associated grilled cheese with lunch or dinner, you might enjoy moving it into the breakfast category too. And why not? It's basically pan-toasted bread but with the addition of delicious crispy, buttery, melty cheese goodness. A simple but well-made grilled cheese doesn't need anything but bread, butter, and cheese. To make it, butter both pieces of bread, place one piece butter-side-down in the pan, top it with cheese, and place the other slice butter-side-up on top. Cook it until it's crispy, buttery, and browned, then flip it and cook the other side.

If you want to make a fancier grilled cheese breakfast sandwich, feel free to add some more breakfasty ingredients, but don't sleep on how simple a morning toastie can be. If you happen to have several cheeses in your fridge, consider mixing them to develop diverse flavors without having to fry meat or an egg.

Make them ahead

For some of us, breakfast isn't the most relaxed time of day, especially if we hit the snooze button one too many times. Making a homemade breakfast isn't always in the cards, but if you usually save cooking breakfast for the weekends, there's a way to have homemade meals (and perhaps healthier options) during the week too. One to accomplish this is to make breakfast sandwiches ahead. It also works for prepping breakfast for group events like a weekend brunch.

You have two options depending on what works better for you. You can assemble the sandwiches, refrigerate them overnight, and bake them in the oven in the morning before your meal. Or, if you'd rather make a larger batch all at once so they'll be available when you need them, you can individually wrap and freeze your sandwiches and take one out the night before you want to eat it, popping it in the oven the next morning.

Follow a few tips to make sure they taste fresh after baking. Definitely toast the bread to keep it from getting soggy. Don't overcook the eggs, and consider adding milk or cream (even sour cream) to keep them moister. Make sure the meat is pre-cooked, but place cold cheese on the sandwich. It will melt when you cook it in the morning.

Try an alternative protein

Bacon, sausage, and ham are classic and popular choices for breakfast sandwich meats, and no one's asking you to give them up if you don't want to. With the growing popularity of meatless Mondays and awareness of issues related to animals, health, and the environment, some people may be curious to sub other options once in a while. Of course, one way to do this is to just leave the meat off and enjoy the melted cheese as your protein.

If you want to use an alternative to the actual meat, there's no shortage of choices. You can purchase plant-based meats like fakin' bacon or try a more natural alternative. Refried beans and spicy roasted chickpeas are good choices. Take a tip from English breakfasts and spoon a layer of baked beans on your toasted sandwich. You can marinate and pan fry tempeh to boost the flavor – it's smoky and crispy and perfect for stacking on sandwiches. Instead of reaching for egg replacer, make an omelet with chickpea flour. Mix the flour with water, olive oil, and salt, add chopped bell peppers, onions, or your favorite veggies, and cook it in a greased frying pan like an omelet. The savory flavor may surprise you.

Go beyond the classics

While we know that a simple but delicious sandwich can be made by sticking to classic, well-prepared ingredients, sometimes we want to mix it up by incorporating less traditional or specialty foods. Spice up your avocado and fried egg sandwich with spicy harissa paste or roasted red peppers, or use pickled vegetables to add extra moisture to your sandwiches. Take your simple grilled cheese to another level by turning it into a Croque-Monsieur with Gruyére and Parmesan cheeses, ham, and béchamel sauce. To make it more breakfasty, make a Croque-Madame, which adds a fried egg on top.

To boost a plain toasted breakfast sandwich with egg, add ingredients you may not have associated with breakfast before but which go well together on their own. For example, top that egg with goat cheese and honey or Gruyére, figs, and arugula. Instead of the usual sausage or bacon, think out of the box with pulled pork, brisket, or even fried chicken. Finally, for those with a sweet tooth — how about adding blueberries or apples, cinnamon, and sugar to your grilled cheese? Or leave the cheese out altogether and make a grilled Nutella banana sandwich to start your day with a treat.

Get inspired by global cuisine

Trying a new sandwich inspired by world cuisine can be a delicious way to open up new possibilities for your breakfast sandwich. There are countless tasty options. Venezuelan arepas are small, round patties made from corn flour and water. They are cooked in a pan, sliced into, and stuffed with anything from cheese to chicken for a very tasty breakfast. If you like your breakfast meaty, there's a sandwich called pan con chicharrón that's eaten in Peru in the morning. It features fried pork, crispy slices of sweet potato, and onion relish on a bun. Or make a delectable Iberico ham and Spanish goat cheese breakfast sandwich to start your day.

The popular kikliko is often on the menu at breakfast in Georgia. Slices of bread are soaked in egg, milk, and seasonings and toasted til crispy in a pan. They're topped with cheese and paired with spicy sauce and sour cream. In Qatar, plain or cheese-stuffed dosas, similar to thin rolled crepes, are served, usually with a sweet spiced tea called karak tea. If you need to start your day on a sweet note, you'll love hagelslag, a slice of bread covered in chocolate sprinkles. Just smear butter on the bread first to keep the sprinkles in place.

Go for nostalgic

The Egg McMuffin is a popular breakfast sandwich from McDonald's that hasn't lost much steam since it was launched in the early 1970s. But what if you want to enjoy this long-standing classic without dashing to the drive-in in the morning? It's easy to imitate this sandwich at home. As a bonus, if your mornings are typically rushed, you can prep them ahead and reheat them before digging in.

You'll need to toast an English muffin, brown a round slice of Canadian bacon in a pan, cook an egg, and have a slice of American cheese ready before assembling the sandwich. The nice part about making it yourself is you can use better ingredients if you want to give it less of a processed taste and feel. If you're wondering how to get your egg to cook into a perfectly round shape, there's a simple trick to replicate the egg from a McMuffin without a mold. Place both the ring and the lid of a Mason jar upside down in your pan, break an egg into it, and break up the yolk. It will cook in the perfect shape, and using the lid along with the ring will prevent the underside of the egg from browning and keep it white like in the real thing.

Make them with French toast, waffles, or pancakes

We know that mixing up your bread choices is a good way to make a better breakfast sandwich, but for a fun and sweet twist on the theme, go all out by using French toast, waffles, or pancakes in place of the bread. French toast is usually topped with sweet ingredients, but if you move them to the inside, you've got a rich, buttery, sweet sandwich for breakfast instead. Savory versions of French toast are eaten in some countries around the world. Try melting cheese inside the slices or add a little ham too. Just a warning — you may need to eat it with a knife and fork.

Using frozen waffles to make breakfast sandwiches works surprisingly well. Toasting them til browned will make them firm enough to hold, and they won't be greasy from a frying pan. Put your favorite sandwich fixings inside, and you're good to go. Lastly, try filling two pancakes with fruit like bananas, sliced peaches, or blueberries, along with extras like nut butter or shredded coconut. For a truly decadent breakfast, drizzle them with maple syrup or chocolate sauce and add a dollop of whipped cream. Just don't forget the napkins.