16 Ways To Take Your Breakfast Sandwich To The Next Level

Croissant breakfast sandwich
Croissant breakfast sandwich - Lauripatterson/Getty Images

For many of us, breakfast is integral to getting our day started. Unfortunately, few of us have the time to whip up a complicated meal, like the French toast or vegetable frittata you might have found me serving at the bed and breakfast I ran for almost 18 years. Something quick and easy is a far more likely candidate for getting many of us out of bed, like one of these clever iterations of the humble breakfast sandwich.

This simple yet hearty breakfast staple, typically featuring a combo of meat, eggs, and cheese, likely evolved as a creative way of repurposing leftovers. Breakfast sandwiches became popularized during the Industrial Revolution, when hungry laborers began working long hours outside the home and needed a simple and portable fuel source. In England, meaty and greasy baps became the favorite breakfast du jour. In America, the Denver sandwich, an omelet-like variation with a Chinese twist, was preferred by the many workers tasked with building the railroad system.

Today, breakfast sandwiches have become commonplace. They can be found virtually everywhere in the world, from fine dining establishments to fast food restaurants to gas stations. The basic bacon, egg, and cheese iteration has morphed, adopting flavors and culinary traditions from cultures across the globe. This globalization of the breakfast sandwich has helped inform us of the multitude of ways we can take this staple to the next level. Read on for some serious breakfast sandwich taste-spiration based on my expertise as a chef and background in food anthropology.

Read more: 14 Liquids To Add To Scrambled Eggs (And What They Do)

Use French Toast Instead Of Plain Bread

French toast with butter
French toast with butter - gowithstock/Shutterstock

The foundation of a good breakfast sandwich is the bread. This component simultaneously acts as a transportation vessel for the sandwich fillings while helping to absorb moisture and providing much-needed carbohydrates. An English muffin or bagel is good but can get boring after a while. To take your breakfast sandwich from mundane to marvelous, give it a little French toast makeover.

The crispy, custard-like texture and nutty, slightly sweet flavor of perfectly browned slices of French toast impart a richness to a classic bacon, egg, and cheese breakfast sandwich that is sophisticated and mouthwatering. Don't be afraid to lean into the sweet elements of French toast. The juxtaposition of salty meat and cheese with egg batter seasoned with cinnamon and vanilla can create a lovely party in your mouth.

For the best-quality French toast, try using challah or brioche. These are examples of enriched bread doughs transformed by adding eggs, butter, milk, and sugar, creating a more tender crumb and an impossibly fluffy texture capable of soaking up more of the egg custard.

Choose The Right Cheese

Melted cheese sandwich
Melted cheese sandwich - Max Zafiro/Shutterstock

A breakfast sandwich is essentially grilled cheese on steroids, and the key to any good grilled cheese is using the right cheese. A quality cheese for a breakfast sandwich is one that has maximum meltability and stretch. While American cheese is most commonly associated with fast food breakfast sandwiches, and it does melt well, it lacks some of the flavor and complexity of other, more sophisticated fromage. The best choices for maximum meltability are young cheeses high in fat, rife with moisture, and low in acidity. Some outstanding choices include butterkäse, Colby, Comté, Gouda, pepper Jack, and mozzarella.

Once you select your ideal melting cheese, you will want to consider the placement of said fromage on your breakfast sandwich. Though opinions vary, in my professional assessment, placing the cheese on top of the hot meat or eggs before covering it with toasted bread allows the cheese to begin to melt and envelop all the other ingredients like a gooey, delicious blanket.

Use A Panini Press

Panini press sandwiches
Panini press sandwiches - camfine/Shutterstock

There are several ways to toast bread when assembling a breakfast sandwich. You can place it into a toaster, oven, or air fryer or heat it in the same pan you used to fry your eggs. All of these will yield crisp bread, but they may not heat the sandwich through, enabling all the flavors of the ingredients to meld and become one in harmonious culinary matrimony. Enter the panini press. Among the potential uses for a panini press, a breakfast sandwich can only be made better by subjecting it to heat and pressure.

By exerting heat from both sides and squeezing the ingredients as the bread is toasted, the mixture begins to warm and is coaxed together. The result is equally delicious and attractive, with those distinct grill marks punctuating the bread. As a bonus, panini presses typically have nonstick surfaces, requiring little to no fat to brown the bread. This results in a less greasy, lighter breakfast sandwich.

Swap Your Bread With Pancakes

Stack of pancakes
Stack of pancakes - zefirchik06/Shutterstock

Pancakes are arguably one of the more popular breakfast options for a special occasion. Many enjoy busting out the griddle pan on a Sunday morning and whipping up a batch of flapjacks. That said, maple syrup is so yesterday when it comes to the ways you could top a pancake. Why not elevate the pancake and the breakfast sandwich by using your flapjacks as the bread component in your sammie?

This mash-up is seriously delicious, with the delicate sweetness of the pancakes contrasting the salty meat, umami-rich eggs, and gooey cheese perfectly. The light, fluffy texture of the hotcakes will also absorb the juices from your breakfast sandwich, giving them a luscious texture and flavor that cannot be beaten. Though you can make batter, don't be shy about using store-bought pancake mix. There are plenty of ways to elevate store-bought pancake mix and convert it into something extraordinary, like using malted milk powder or adding lemon-lime soda to the batter.

Stuff It With Fried Chicken

Chicken and waffles
Chicken and waffles - Lauripatterson/Getty Images

Chicken and waffles are a brunch classic frequently associated with the American South, so the leap from this delicacy to swapping your bacon or ham with fried chicken in a breakfast sandwich isn't far-fetched. What makes chicken and waffles so dynamic is the capacity of the waffles to absorb the juices from the perfectly crisp fried chicken, a feature easily achieved using toasted bread of any kind. The key to the perfect fried chicken is to brine it or soak it in a buttermilk bath, which helps to tenderize the meat.

Once you have battered and fried your chicken, drain it well on paper towels before resting it gently atop your bread of choice and garnishing it with a fried egg and cheese. You can also jazz things up by using waffles instead of bread for this breakfast sandwich. Drizzle the whole thing with a hint of maple syrup for a sweet and savory delight that will knock your socks off.

Go Sweet And Savory

Monte Cristo sandwich
Monte Cristo sandwich - a katz/Shutterstock

When thinking of some of the best sandwich combinations of all time, mash-ups like peanut butter and jelly or a Monte Cristo might come to mind. These all have one key element: the combination of sweet and savory ingredients. The efficacy of this combination hinges on some simple science relating to the human body's basic needs to survive. We require carbohydrates and salt to stay alive, so we crave them simultaneously. When both are delivered, this can lead to heightened satiety.

What better time of day to give our bodies what they need to perform at their peak than breakfast? Infusing sweet elements into your breakfast sandwich is as easy as layering bread with spreads like jams, jellies, and preserves. You can also swap your regular melting cheese with creamy ricotta or goat cheese drizzled with honey before adding your meat and eggs. Lastly, lean into the old pork chops and applesauce concept by adding apple butter or slices to your ham and cheese breakfast sandwich.

Add Dill Pickles

Dill pickle slices
Dill pickle slices - Brent Hofacker/Shutterstock

Sweet and savory is not the only flavor combination that can turn your breakfast sandwich from average to aspirational. The acidity, tang, and crisp texture of pickles can add complexity to your breakfast sandwich and act as a palate refresher, cutting through the richness of the meat, eggs, and cheese.

Pickles come in several varieties, like dill, full or half sour, sweet, and bread and butter. Some, like full or half sour pickles, undergo a fermentation process that confers a distinctive, funky flavor profile, highly favored by those who enjoy bold, umami-rich tastes. Others may prefer the more subtle tang of a vinegar-brined dill pickle, which is especially well suited to counterbalancing greasier meats like bacon or sausage. If using intense, spicy flavor components in your breakfast sandwich, like hot sauce or a kicked-up chipotle mayonnaise, opt for the sweet and sour goodness of a bread and butter pickle. Regardless of your pickle, I recommend placing the slices atop your sandwich so they do not become soggy underneath all the other hefty ingredients.

Brush Your Bread With Mayonnaise

Bowl of mayonnaise
Bowl of mayonnaise - AtlasStudio/Shutterstock

We have already established that a breakfast sandwich is the fancy first cousin of a grilled cheese. One thing that can make both a grilled cheese and a breakfast sandwich so much better is slathering the bread with mayo before cooking it up. Often, butter is used to cook a grilled cheese or toast bread for a breakfast sandwich. Butter is delicious but has a low smoke point, causing it to burn quickly. Mayonnaise, a combination of oil, egg yolks, and vinegar, has a much higher smoke point. This encourages the crust to develop a delightful, crisp golden hue without scorching.

The slightly sweet, tangy taste amplifies umami-rich meat, cheese, and eggs within your breakfast sandwich. When deciding on which mayo to use, regardless of brand (though I am a Hellmann's snob), I always opt for full-fat versus low-fat varieties, which tend to be high in sugar and have a higher moisture content, resulting in lackluster results.

Swap In Egg Salad

Bowl of egg salad
Bowl of egg salad - Bhofack2/Getty Images

Many breakfast sandwiches swap a fried egg with fluffy scrambled or omelet-style ones for a lighter texture that contrasts the crunchy bread, fatty meat, and gooey cheese. An equally fluffy and flavorful alternative that's every bit as successful is elevating a breakfast sandwich by swapping in creamy egg salad.

Egg salad is typically fashioned from minced or shredded hard-boiled eggs combined with mayo, onion, and spices like paprika. But don't stop there. Jazz up your egg salad with add-ins like relish, Dijon mustard, lemon juice, celery, fresh herbs, and other dried spices. Don't add too much liquid to your egg salad -- doing so can make your bread soggy. You may also create a barrier between the bread and your egg salad with some crisp lettuce. And if you are seeking a lighter alternative to mayo in your egg salad, consider substituting it with Greek yogurt, avocado, hummus, or silken tofu.

Use Canned Cinnamon Rolls As A Base

Cinnamon rolls with icing
Cinnamon rolls with icing - P Maxwell Photography/Shutterstock

When considering sweet and savory options for your breakfast sandwich, you likely won't find a more saccharine option than using canned cinnamon rolls as the bread of choice for your sammie. Indeed, this may sound so over the top that it verges on the insane, but it's a sweet treat that's certain to be life- and belly-altering. Bake the cinnamon buns and top them with your favorite meat, cheese, and eggs, though I would reserve the icing for another occasion.

We've already noted how our bodies crave carbohydrates and salt simultaneously to fulfill our dietary needs, but another element contributes to our fondness for sweet and savory flavors in concert: Every human has taste buds distributed sporadically across the tongue, palate, and throat. Among these is a distinct taste receptor that detects sweetness only when salinity is present. The layering of salty meat, cheese, and eggs on a halved cinnamon bun is guaranteed to light up your brain like a Christmas tree.

Give It A Hawaiian Spin With Spam

Spam musubi
Spam musubi - 4kodiak/Getty Images

If you have ever traveled to Hawaii, the popularity of Spam there is hard to ignore. Spam's popularity is a relic of the hardship experienced by the people of Hawaii during and after World War II. It can be found in the most unexpected places, from a filling for fried wontons to the classic Spam musubi. Breakfast items containing Spam aren't very surprising by comparison.

Spam could replace bacon or sausage as the slightly salty meat du jour in a breakfast sandwich. Fry up the Spam until crisp and layer it upon a sweet Hawaiian roll with scrambled eggs, salty cheese, and spicy mayo. If you are missing a hint of acidity, try popping a slice of broiled, grilled, or pan-seared pineapple into the mix for a truly tropical delight capable of transporting you instantaneously across the Pacific Ocean to the sandy beaches of Oahu.

Sprinkle Your Eggs With Truffle Salt

Truffle salt in bowl
Truffle salt in bowl - Miguel Perfectti/Shutterstock

Truffle-flavored everything has become a bit of a fad. It is one that I have a love/hate relationship with thanks to its often indelicate application in various dishes. White and black truffles are undoubtedly a marvel of nature, with an intense flavor unique compared to anything else on the planet. This fungus is musky, earthy, woodsy, and floral, with rich umami notes reminiscent of, yet distinct from, mushrooms. While the real deal is rare, truffle-infused oils and salt are widely available.

Unfortunately, many of these are made from synthetic truffle flavoring that can quickly overwhelm other ingredients in a dish. Search for truffle salt or oil made with tiny pieces of the real deal rather than the synthetic variety. If you can obtain it, sprinkling quality truffle salt atop the cooked eggs in your breakfast sandwich before serving it can be a game-changer. Just make sure to use a measured hand. A little goes a long way, and the taste can linger.

Don't Forget The Hot Sauce

Bowl of gochujang
Bowl of gochujang - Nungning20/Shutterstock

Hot sauce on eggs is hardly a novel idea. I often add Tabasco or Cholula to scrambled eggs. That said, there are many ways to infuse heat from hot sauces into a breakfast sandwich beyond using it as a condiment. In many cultures, hot sauce is incorporated during various stages of the cooking process to help layer flavors and build complexity.

Add a hint of harissa or gochujang to your eggs before you scramble or cook them omelet-style. You can also combine mayo with sriracha or peri-peri sauce for a spicy spread to slather across your toasted bread. If you are using pickled or sautéed vegetables of any kind on your sandwich, add a hint of XO sauce for a distinctive, umami-rich punch of flavor. Lastly, you can turn any of these into a glaze for bacon by mixing it with brown sugar or honey and brushing it over each strip before baking it in the oven until crisp.

Add Fermented Funk With Kimchi

Bowl of kimchi
Bowl of kimchi - Ollo/Getty Images

Few dishes don't benefit from the addition of kimchi. From fried rice to mac and cheese to pizza, the fermented funk of kimchi helps provide crunchy texture and bold flavor to practically anything. Among the foods that are most well suited to the infusion of kimchi are eggs, grilled cheese sandwiches, and burgers, all of which are adjacent to a traditional breakfast sandwich.

What makes this Korean delicacy so spectacular is how it is made. Vegetables, like napa cabbage, undergo a multi-phase process, during which they are salted and marinated in garlic, ginger, scallions, fish sauce, and spicy gochugaru before they are fermented. This complex process confers complexity in flavor and texture, with elements that are tangy, spicy, and umami-rich. The condiment is simultaneously savory and refreshing, a quality that is hard to match. As a bonus, it is loaded with healthy probiotics that can help get your gut going in the morning when added to a breakfast sandwich.

Don't Forget To Eat Your Vegetables

Sandwich with lettuce
Sandwich with lettuce - Julia's GraphicLand/Shutterstock

One issue with sandwiches, breakfast or otherwise, is that they can be messy. Combining juicy ingredients like eggs, gooey cheese, and greasy sausage tastes amazing, but they can quickly permeate the nooks and crannies of the bread encasing them, yielding a soggy combination that can fall apart readily. Enter lettuce to the rescue. Lettuce imparts a crunchy texture while creating a barrier between the juicy ingredients and the bread, helping to keep those juices in your sandwich and away from your lap.

Lettuce and other greens or vegetables are also a great way to up the nutritional value of your breakfast sandwich. They can impart fiber, antioxidants, and various nutrients that we all know we should eat more of. Tucking them between your meat, eggs, and cheese is a surefire way to encourage your pickiest eaters to gobble them down, starting them off on the right foot in the morning.

Swap The Meat With Fish

Bagel with lox
Bagel with lox - DronG/Shutterstock

A breakfast sandwich with fish in it is hardly revolutionary. One need not look beyond a classic bagel with lox and cream cheese to know that fish is perfect on a breakfast sandwich. However, you need not stop at lox or smoked salmon when adorning your favorite breakfast sammie du jour. There are many other options to make your breakfast into a seafood lover's dream come true.

One such combination is swapping your bacon or sausage with lobster or shrimp. Succulent, buttery lobster or shrimp offsets the rich, creamy eggs beautifully while being a lighter option to greasy meat in the morning. Another good alternative would be lump crab meat, a common addition to a classic eggs Benedict. And while it may sound rather mundane, there is nothing wrong with converting your breakfast sandwich into a play on a tuna melt.

Cheese may be overpowering for your breakfast sandwich, depending on the fish or shellfish you use. This is the time to consider obtaining flavor and creamy texture from alternatives like avocado, pesto, or hummus.

Read the original article on Daily Meal.