REVIEW: The “Breakfast Burger” from Carl’s Jr.

Once strictly a breakfast item, the chain recently rolled out all-day availability.

Unless you’ve spent the last three days laying drywall in the waiting area of a Los Angeles-area car wash, your muscles aching as the last round of painkillers wear off and you become suddenly conscious of the heat of the midday sun browning the back of your neck to a leathery hide, you probably haven’t had much of an opportunity to eat at a Carl’s Jr.

Though not a new item, Carl’s Jr. this week announced all-day availability of their “Breakfast Burger,” a quiet bit of gut-thunder peeking out between the orange juice, the near-limitless varieties of biscuit-based breakfast sandwich, and the hash brown nuggets, a breakfast item that answers the question no one has been asking since the dawn of time: “How can cheeseburgers be eaten for breakfast?” Via Business Wire:

“While we’ve served burgers all day for a long time, serving breakfast all day is a big thing in the industry right now. So, the Carl’s Jr. way to meet that demand is to offer our classic Breakfast Burger all day long.”

The first thing you notice about the Carl’s Jr. Breakfast Burger is the weight. And for good reason: Tucked heavily in its paper sack, the burger hilariously combines the full load of a beef hamburger, augmented by the additional scrambled egg, bacon, and hashbrowns that look forcibly punched into the bun. Starting the day this way seems questionable; how could one possibly hope to have a productive morning, with this much payload filling your stomach?

After unwrapping the burger, the second thing you notice is that it seems to have been prepared in the lavatory of a discount Spirit Air flight to Orlando. Every element of the burger matches the temperature of the air around you, and the dried-out husk of the burger patty sits uncomfortably dry against the mush of greasy hash brown. The bacon is so thin as to be nearly transparent, and the egg is a lifeless standard-issue fast food scramble packet.

So how does it taste? It tastes primarily like artificial liquid smoke flavoring. There’s also some weird brain trickery going on here, as your conscious mind struggles to grasp the idea that the meat you are eating this early in the day isn’t sausage. The hash browns provide some crunch and certainly a ton of both weight and volume, but tend to vanish into an oily mash at the bottom of the burger.

Look, the whole concept of a “breakfast burger” isn’t necessarily bad. In fact, a quality burger topped with scrambled eggs and bacon almost seems like the next logical step for over-the-top breakfast sandwiches. However, the execution of this concept at Carl’s Jr. is so jaw-droppingly bad, it’s enough to make you wish you’d never thought of the whole thing, or maybe even ever gotten out of bed that morning.

At 800 calories, 43 grams of fat, and 1380 milligrams of sodium, if you’re in a position where extremely limited funds mean you need to absorb as much salt and fat as possible with only a few dollars to spend for the whole day, the Carl’s Jr. Breakfast Burger will have you off to a great start. But maybe you should just call your mom instead. It’s her birthday and we know she’d love to hear from you.

Written by Malcolm Bedell

Malcolm is the author of "Eating in Maine: At Home, On the Town, and On the Road," as well as a frequent contributor to Serious Eats,, Down East Magazine, The L.A. Weekly, The Guardian, The Huffington Post, and more. When not poisoning his body with garbage and then posting sardonic commentary about it on the Internet, he also owns and operates the 'Wich, Please food truck, named's "Hottest Restaurant in Maine" for 2015.


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  1. I’m happy to report the Carls Jr near me now, and the one near me 5 years ago did not serve grey patties or whatever the hell was in those awful pictures.
    I am looking at my own breakfast burger, right this second, and it looks remarkably similar to the advertised burger… I have yet to taste it, but Carls has generally always been a 3/5, so I expect it will stay that way.

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