When people talk about all-day fast food items, it’s always, “When will McDonald’s bring back all-day breakfast?” and never “Why can’t I get a burger at 7 a.m.?” Well, if you fall into the latter category of people who want to kick off their day with a big ole burger without an egg or hash brown in sight, I’ve got amazing news: There are more places serving burgers in the morning than you might think.
I discovered this when researching where and when I might be able to try Sonic’s new Big Dill Cheeseburger. The only Sonic in the city is on my way to the office, where I usually roll in around 9 a.m. Maybe, I thought, just maybe I could scoop up this pickle-top burger on my way to work. Turns out my instinct was correct—that particular Sonic opens at 6 a.m. and serves its entire menu all day. Pickle fries for breakfast, anyone?
Why some fast food restaurants don’t serve burgers in the morning
The typical time when menus cross over from breakfast to lunch is 10:30 a.m., and for some places, like McDonald’s, it’s a very strict border. McDonald’s used to do all-day breakfast before eliminating it in 2020 in order to simplify operations during COVID-19, and have since only brought on middling limited offerings like the Glazed Pull-Apart Donut to appease all-day breakfast hounds. But it’s never served Big Macs and fries before 10:30 a.m.
In 2018, a McDonald’s representative told Wall Street Journal that the demand simply wasn’t there, but a former longtime employee tells Reader’s Digest, that’s just not the case—he claims that ever since 1972, when the Egg McMuffin was added to the menu, people have been requesting burgers in the morning.
It’s the lack of access to separate equipment that’s the real barrier: Eggs and burgers require the kitchen flat tops to be different temps to cook properly, so switching between the two in the morning just isn’t efficient. The places like Sonic that don’t have extensive breakfast menu items (if any at all) don’t have to worry about that.
Where you can get a burger (or other lunch foods) for breakfast
We found plenty of places where you can get your morning burger or chicken or taco fix, thanks to several Reddit threads. This includes places that open before 10:30 a.m., when most fast food joints transition to lunch, and not all-day lunch spots like Chipotle that don’t even open until lunching hours. The one uncertainty is Burger King—in 2014 they launched a “Burgers for Breakfast” campaign, and while it seems to have ended in most places (including Chicago), breakfast burger availability may vary by location.
Here’s where you’re guaranteed to find lunch items as soon as the restaurant opens:
- Carl’s Jr./Hardees
- Chick-fil-A (Note that lunch items can be ordered before 10:30 AM, but they give you a heads up that it will take up to 15-20 minutes to prepare)
- Del Taco
- Jack in the Box
- Steak ’n Shake
- Taco Bell
- White Castle
So go ahead, my lunch-loving brethren! Eat your burgers whenever you want.