Healthier breakfasts options.
Photo: John Walsh/Consumer Reports

Fast-food menus are crowded with hefty breakfast sandwiches and sugary donuts—making it no easy feat to navigate past them all to find a healthier choice. “Ideally, your breakfast should have some whole grains, fruit, or vegetables—or all three,” says Amy Keating, RD, a nutritionist at CR. That means scanning for simpler egg dishes, sandwiches on whole-grain breads, or oatmeal and yogurt options with fresh fruit toppings. “Aiming for 500 calories or less is a good goal for most diets, too,” Keating says.

Of course, it’s hard to compare nutrition counts and ingredients when you’re in a hurry, so CR reviewed three popular chain menus to find tasty choices that help you start your a.m. in a healthier way.

(For more info on eating healthier at restaurants, check out CR’s ratings of 17 chains.)

Dunkin’
Veggie Egg White Omelette on a Multigrain Thin (shown)
  • Calories 290
  • Saturated fat 5 g
  • Fiber 5 g
  • Added sugars 3 g
  • Protein 17 g
  • Sodium 550 mg
WHY WE LIKE IT
Egg whites are good for you, and though the thin is not all whole-grain, it gives a hit of fiber.
Avocado Toast*
  • Calories 240
  • Saturated fat 1.5 g
  • Fiber 6 g
  • Added sugars 0 g
  • Protein 6 g
  • Sodium 530 mg
WHY WE LIKE IT
The toast is made with some whole grains, and the avocado has healthy fats.
Multigrain Bagel With Cream Cheese
  • Calories 500
  • Saturated fat 9 g
  • Fiber 8 g
  • Added sugars 7 g
  • Protein 17 g
  • Sodium 750 mg
WHY WE LIKE IT
Made with some whole grains and seeds, this bagel offers protein and fiber. Cream cheese is lower in calories and saturated fat than butter is.
Panera Bread
Steel Cut Oatmeal With Strawberries, Pecans & Cinnamon Crunch Topping (shown)
  • Calories 360
  • Saturated fat 2 g
  • Fiber 9 g
  • Added sugars 13 g
  • Protein 8 g
  • Sodium 150 mg
WHY WE LIKE IT
Oatmeal, a whole grain, is a great source of cholesterol-lowering soluble fiber.
Avocado, Egg White & Spinach Sandwich
  • Calories 350
  • Saturated fat 5 g
  • Fiber 5 g
  • Added sugars 2 g
  • Protein 19 g
  • Sodium 690 mg
WHY WE LIKE IT
This bagel flat is made partly with whole grains and sneaks in vegetables, too.
Greek Yogurt With Mixed Berries Parfait
  • Calories 240
  • Saturated fat 4.5 g
  • Fiber 2 g
  • Added sugars 8 g
  • Protein 15 g
  • Sodium 80 mg
WHY WE LIKE IT
The fresh fruit and the protein and fat in the whole-milk yogurt will help keep you full.
Starbucks
Kale & Portabella Mushroom Sous Vide Egg Bites + Banana (shown)
  • Calories 340
  • Saturated fat 9 g
  • Fiber 5 g
  • Added sugars 0 g
  • Protein 17 g
  • Sodium 340 mg
WHY WE LIKE IT
Eggs and veggies are a filling choice. Add a banana to up the fiber and potassium.
Petite Vanilla Bean Scone + Siggi’s Nonfat Vanilla Yogurt
  • Calories 230
  • Saturated fat 2 g
  • Fiber 0 g
  • Added sugars 12 g**
  • Protein 18 g
  • Sodium 150 mg
WHY WE LIKE IT
This two-bite scone satisfies a sweet tooth. The yogurt adds filling protein.
Eggs & Cheddar Protein Box
  • Calories 470
  • Saturated fat 7 g
  • Fiber 5 g
  • Added sugars 3 g
  • Protein 23 g
  • Sodium 460 mg
WHY WE LIKE IT
It’s well-balanced, with hard-boiled eggs, multi­grain bread, nut butter, cheese, and fruit.
*This menu item isn’t always available; grab it when you can.
**Estimated; the manufacturer did not provide info.

Editor’s Note: This article also appeared in the December 2021 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.