Food & Drink

G&G’s Fast-Food Breakfast Biscuit Taste Test

What’s the best fast-food breakfast biscuit in the country?

photo: Margaret Houston

What’s the best fast-food breakfast biscuit in the country? Ask three different people and you’re likely to get three different answers, depending on where they’re from and what they grew up eating. So we asked five biscuit authorities to join us for a blind taste test in the hopes that we might finally be able to resolve one of the biggest debates in our office.


The Tasters:

Nathalie Dupree, television personality and cookbook author
She literally wrote the book on biscuits: Southern Biscuits.

Travis Grimes, executive chef, Husk Charleston
He oversees the all-local pantry at one of the most influential restaurants in the country.

Lauren Mitterer, owner, WildFlour Pastry
She is a James Beard-nominated pastry chef with a second bakery on the way.

Carrie Morey, owner, Callie’s Charleston Biscuits and Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit
She used her mother’s biscuit recipe to launch a baked-goods empire.

Robert Stehling, owner, Hominy Grill and Chick’s Fry House
His most famous creation: the Charleston Nasty, a chicken biscuit smothered in gravy.

From left: Travis Grimes and Nathalie Dupree; the biscuit lineup; Robert Stehling and Lauren Mitterer.

From left: Travis Grimes and Nathalie Dupree; the biscuit lineup; Robert Stehling and Lauren Mitterer.


The Process:

We went to seven* national fast-food chains with plain biscuits on their breakfast menus: Arby’s, Bojangles’, Burger King, Chick-fil-A, Dunkin’ Donuts, Hardee’s, and McDonald’s.

*North Carolina–based Biscuitville and West Virginia–based Tudor’s Biscuit World are both office favorites, but unfortunately out of reach for us and many of our readers. Wendy’s serves breakfast only in some markets, but not ours. KFC, Popeye’s, and Church’s Chicken don’t open until most commuters are at their desks, so we had to leave those out, too.

We kept the biscuits toasty in insulated bags until they reached the tasting table, where we assigned them random three-digit numbers and asked our panel of tasters to judge them by four criteria: appearance, texture, flavor, and overall ranking. The results were consistent but surprising. (One beloved chicken chain didn’t crack the top three.)


And the best fast-food breakfast biscuits are…

TIED FOR FIRST PLACE

1. McDonald’s
The biggest burger chain in the world isn’t known for its hands-on approach to cooking, but you could have fooled most of our tasters. “This might even be hand-rolled,” Morey wrote. Others agreed that a satisfying balance of salt and fat and a light, crumbly texture helped this biscuit rise to the top of a field dominated by bready, artificial-tasting dough pucks.

1. Hardee’s
Finishing neck-and-neck with the only other biscuit in its class, this one was darker and crunchier than the rest. “There’s a slight burnt popcorn flavor,” Mitterer wrote, but most of the tasters agreed that its toasty exterior and soft, tender crumb made it a winner.

The winners: McDonald’s (left) and Hardee’s biscuits.

The winners: McDonald’s (left) and Hardee’s biscuits.

3. Bojangles’
“Salt is the only flavor,” wrote Nathalie Dupree. More a vehicle for the likes of country ham, sausage, and chicken-fried steak than a satisfying breakfast on its own, this bland but appropriately crumbly biscuit was inoffensive enough to pass muster with the tasting panel.

As for the rest…
Scores dropped dramatically for the remaining biscuits. They were sweet, gummy, bready, or pale—and in one case, tasted “like someone smoked a cigarette and dumped the ashes in the dough.” Ultimately, tasters agreed that no fast-food biscuit holds a candle to homemade. But the next time you need a quick fix, the biscuits above ought to satisfy your hankering.

What is your favorite fast-food breakfast biscuit? Let us know below in the comments.


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