Rethinking The Egg McMuffin

February 1, 2011   36 Comments

The McDonald's Egg McMuffin is on Snack Girl's radar. After reviewing, McDonald's Oatmeal she got a bunch of questions on the iconic McMuffin.

What is in a McDonalds Egg McMuffin?

So, once again, I trekked out to McDonald's for breakfast and purchased 2 Egg McMuffins for $3.

Ummm, look, before I go any further, I know many of you eat this for breakfast. My own mother, when she was an executive, used to pick up an Egg McMuffin on her way to work. Now she is retired and (hopefully) making her own breakfast.

This is a typical "grab and go" meal and it is cheap and fast. But, it just tastes terrible. I know I am going to get flamed for this, but I found this breakfast sandwich completely inedible (and I will eat just about anything).

There was a chemical taste that I found bitter and the CHEESE wasn't real cheese. It is processed cheese and it was the consistency of glue.

You know what really shocks me? It is 820 mg of sodium in one sandwich. That s 34% of your daily value of sodium. But, I didn't buy ONE did I? So, I would have eaten 1640 mg of sodium - 68% of my daily value at breakfast.

Here are the nutritional facts for one Egg McMuffin:

300 calories, 12 g fat, 30 g carbohydrates, 18 g protein, 2 g fiber, 820 mg sodium, 8 PointPlus

But, you are probably going to eat two of them.

I wonder how McDonald's can mess up this simple sandwich.

The ingredients should be simple. The Egg McMuffin is basically a breakfast sandwich including an English muffin, fried egg, cheese, and ham (AKA Canadian style bacon).

If you eat these regularly, I want you to try something. Buy some whole grain English muffins, cheddar cheese, thinly sliced deli ham, eggs, and olive oil.

Toast your English muffin, fry your egg in a little olive oil, and add the cheese and the ham. Taste it. Now, you know what an Egg McMuffin SHOULD taste like.

Sometimes, I think we would not eat fast food if we had a good look at the ingredients before we purchase it. Here is the list from McDonald's website of the McMuffin's ingredients:

English Muffin:
Enriched flour (bleached wheat flour, malted barley flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), water, yeast, high fructose corn syrup, sugar, wheat gluten, soybean oil and/or canola oil, contains 2% or less of the following: salt, calcium sulfate, calcium carbonate, citric acid, calcium citrate, yellow corn flour, corn meal, rice flour, barley malt, artificial flavors, natural flavors (botanical source), dough conditioners (ascorbic acid, azodicarbonamide, datem, tricalcium phosphate, monocalcium phosphate, enzymes, calcium peroxide), calcium propionate and potassium sorbate (preservatives), soy lecithin. Prepared with Liquid Margarine.

USDA Grade A eggs, soy lecithin (release agent). Prepared with Liquid Margarine.

Pasteurized Process American Cheese:
Milk, water, milkfat, cheese culture, sodium citrate, salt, citric acid, sorbic acid (preservative), sodium phosphate, artificial color, lactic acid, acetic acid, enzymes, soy lecithin (added for slice separation).

Canadian Style Bacon:
Pork, water, sugar, salt, sodium lactate, sodium phosphate, natural flavor (vegetable), sodium diacetate and sodium nitrite (preservatives).

Liquid Margarine:
Liquid soybean oil, water, partially hydrogenated soybean oil, salt, hydrogenated cottonseed oil, soy lecithin, mono-and diglycerides, sodium benzoate and potassium sorbate (preservatives), artificial flavor, citric acid, vitamin A palmitate, beta carotene (color).

This list is over 50 ingredients long!

When I read a list like this, I just wonder if I want all these additives in my food. I realized the FDA has approved these chemicals, but I don't think they taste good and I think you can do better.

My suggestion is to try to limit the number of McMuffins you eat and try to motivate yourself to make breakfast. Here are four fast and healthy egg recipes here on Snack Girl:

What is your take on the Egg McMuffin?

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Hi, have you tried the vitalicious new egg sandwiches yet? I bought them at my Target. They are made by the vitalicious vita-top people. Vita tops are sold at Whole Foods so the assumption that I am making is that they are natural . Let me know what you think. They are not as good as your recipe above but are edible and high in fiber low in fat.



Or you could head over to your local Dunkin Donuts. Here's its video for Smart Swaps ... ... from its head chef. Yep, DD has a chef.

This could have been a SNL skit, but it's not.

Another thing folks can do if they insist on eating this chemical nightmare is get the sandwich with just the egg and cheese, take the top off, and just eat it like an open-faced sandwich. This will eliminate a decent number of calories, and the bacon is a huge part of the salt.

Of course the best thing to do is avoid this altogether and eat an apple or two and a baggie filled with nuts - just as easy as going through a drivethru and about a billion times healthier! Probably more filling too....

I love that you've suggested people build their own egg mcmuffin and compare that to the taste of the McDonald's version. I used to LOVE fast food. Thought it was great and delicious. That was until I started making my own meals with REAL food (although not necessarily the healthy version of real food, i.e. I use real butter, full fat cheese) and I've found that now on the off chance that I "treat myself" with fast food I don't even enjoy the experience. There really is very little flavor once you know what real flavor tastes like and knowing how much sodium and extra additives are in the food really ruins what little flavor is there in the first place. Even though I don't use the low-fat, low-calorie, low-sodium version of the foods that I do eat I still end up getting fewer of everything in the process.

This is a very informative post! Thank you! And if you don't mind me adding, making your own can be quick for work too! I take a small tupperware dish and an egg, then microwave it for about 30 sec. Cooks great! Put muffin in toaster. Then assemble! Can easily be done in your work breakroom if you have the equipment. :)

Since I have been eating healthy for years now, I haven't eaten at a fast food joint for a looooooong time. I probably haven't eaten one of these egg mcmuffins for over 6 years, but WOW! I didn't know there was that much sodium in one sandwich. All of the chemicals do not totally surprise me though. Ick!

Makes me feel better about making our own breakfast sandwiches at home from small New England farm fresh eggs, Whole Food's english muffins, small farm cheese, and humanely raised meats. nomnomnom!

I loath McD's not only because their food tastes nasty, but because theyre part of the monsanto global farming of corn, soy, etc...

Anyway - I am SO making the muffin frittatas. I make large ones and if our family doesn't eat it that day, it ends up in the garbage. I suppose I could freeze these too (will try) and it is a great grab and eat breakfast.

Thanks for the post!

Normally I always make my own breakfast. However, if I partied at a friends house and slept there, then on the way to work I'd pick one up because I wasn't at home to make my own breakfast and it was quick and easy... After reading these ingredients, I think that I'll plan ahead and pack a breakfast next time!

i got an amazing rice cooker for christmas, and i now use it's wonderful timer to have my steel cut oats piping hot and ready to eat shortly after i wake up. i add flax seeds and bran to the oats along with cinnamon, and it makes for a great bfast. i also sometimes throw raisins and almonds on top, along with a little milk or soy milk. i often cook much more than one serving, store the leftovers in the fridge and am set for several days, with the help of my microwave. i buy most of the ingredients in bulk, so this bfast is also cheap.

Have you seen those toasters that also cook eggs and can warm pre-cooked meat? They're PERFECT for this kind of thing. Nice perfectly round egg and everything. I love mine. :) (Great for hard-boiled eggs too....)

WOW! I had no idea how bad those were and they are supposed to be the good ones. Now, interestingly enough, this used to be my breakfast of choice (especially when pregnant, don't judge). They really do taste like cardboard though, so I decided to make my own. I use essentially the recipe above but I use canadian bacon. I will try it with the ham. Thanks for this one!!

In my old job my boss used to buy these as a treat for everyone. My stomach used to turn but I'd eat some of it so he wouldn't feel bad.

I much prefer the pb/banana quesidilla snack for breakfast.

We make our own version of "Egg Mcmuffins" at home I serve them open faced with a scrambled egg, fresh herbs, canadian bacon, cheese and roasted red pepper. Hmm...I'm hungry.

Panera has a "Breakfast Power" sandwich which is a freshly cracked and cooked egg, whole grain bread, cheddar cheese and one slice of thinly sliced ham. It is delicious. I won't eat any other "fast food" breakfast sandwich after trying Panera's. The only thing better is the kind we make at home.

What's your opinion on Starbucks' breakfast sandwiches? Or Panera's, as the previous person commented on?

I so appreciate your honestly. The truth is make it at home and not only will ingredients be ok they can be great (omega 3 eggs, no nitrite bacon, whole grain muffin). We posted today on healthier fast food options, come by Foodtrainers blog and let me know what you think.

We have homemade breakfast egg sandwiches about once a week. I cook the eggs in the oven in silicon muffin cups - one egg in each cup, scrambled for the kids who prefer them that way and yokes unbroken for the rest of us. About 20 minutes at 350. They just dump right out of the cups without any oil and are the perfect size for a thomas' 100% whole wheat english muffin. It's a super easy way to make a fast and easy breakfast for 10 people at once.

I love homemade "egg mcmuffins"! So fast to make and yummy. Thomas makes a 100 calorie thin english muffin that is good.

I call our homemade breakfast sandwiches the "court mc muffin" we make them a lot. We also do breakfast burritos. It's simple and tastes DELISH!

The Power Breakfast Audrey talks about is not any better than McDonalds. The stats are 330 caloris, 14g fat, 200mg choleserol, 830mg sodium, 31g carbs, 4g fiber and 22g protein. This is compared to the McMuffin which has 300 calories, 12g fat, 260mg cholesterol, 820mg sodium, 30g carbs, 2g fiber, 18g protein.


@Lia - I will go try the Starbuck's breakfast sandwich and see how it is. Thanks!

I agree that the Egg McMuffin shouldn't be a regular part of anyone's breakfast. But when we are traveling and we have to eat out, it is one of the healthiest choices in the fast food game. I eat one without the meat and drink a glass of orange juice and feel like I've had a relatively balanced breakfast.

I love making homemade Egg McMuffins... especially after a workout, because eating one of those fills me up for a while. Although my homemade version omits the ham & I add green pepper, chilies, coriander, and cumin to the eggs. I don't really see Mickey D's trying that anytime soon. :)

i hate mc donalds

You must have gotten a bad one. There is more variation between Egg McMuffins than McDonalds would like to believe. On average they're pretty good in my experience. I used to eat these all the time. These days they're an occasional treat. Remember though the people making them are not master chefs.

Unbelievable... at least in Canada the eggs are poached, not fried. Ewwww.... Thank goodness our food standards for what's acceptable is much higher than the USA's. Geez....

Hi! I started making our 'egg mcmuffins' at home using an egg & muffin maker by Nordic. You beat an egg in the bottom half and microwave it for 45 to 50 seconds. Then I add a sprinkling of shredded 2% cheddar cheese and a piece of canadian bacon and put it back in for 15-20 sec. Sometimes I add a little red orgreen pepper and a bit of onions to the eggs. Then I either get the Thomas muffins full of fiber, or another brand of whole wheat english muffins with lots of fiber. I make these almost every day. You can use 2 egg whites instead. For mornings I know will be extra busy, or when I'm going to be away, I make a couple extras and put in the fridge for family members to warm up at their convenience.

I remember at Burger King at the Seattle Airport, looking up and seeing the nutritional information on the menu....(law in King County!). Soooo I ordered JUST an egg (yes! you can do that!) and it came by itself in a little box. MUCH better than the BK breakfast options!

I have a toaster that poaches the egg and toasts- all in one cute little appliance-for anyone who loves these suckers- do yours at home-no fuss- At least u can make from organic FOOD- used to love mc donalds, but knowing the real deal now I eat nothing that starts with a Mc....

Ever since I got egg shells in my MCmuffin I've made my own. I use Thomas' english muffin, and a slice of low fat 2% cheddar cheese, I cook the egg in a microwave dish I got at wal-mart and it takes 1 minute! I skip the slice of ham. MUCH better and no shell!

"at least in Canada the eggs are poached, not fried"

They're poached in the United States as well. The author misspoke.

Hello. The boss brought some of these in for us at work. After seeing that cheese was on every one (lactose intolerant here) I took one to be polite, but later took it outside to feed the crows. I absolutely cannot tolerate fast food anymore, especially McDonald's food as I find it nasty. Thanks for this article.

I quit eating out at fast food places back in

the 80s. I decide NOT to eat poor quality "food"

with all the CHEMICALS involved. I I did not

want garbage in my body, no margarine or

shortening. Just butter! Instead ate a

a low sugar diet, ate whole foods, try to eat

my diet about 80% RAW and Organic. My goal

was to eat most of my diet Fresh, Uncooked

(RAW), and ORGANIC!! :)

Try it! I'm 60 now and have no signs of

high blood pressure (I'm about 110/70),

no diabetes, no heart disease, no obesity,

etc. I have friends that are 10 years younger

than me (or even younger) who eat at the fast

food places and they have all kinds of medical

problems. Overweight or OBESITY is common

amongst them!! My father obtained the weight

of about 320 LBS for decades in his life,

so I have to be conscious abut my dietary

choices or I can easily gain the fat and be

just like my Dad!! But I'm not. My Dad liked

to get his hamburger-a-day (fast food) or

corn dogs on sale (fast food). He liked

standard milk (carried a carton or jug around

with him because it helped his acid reflux

until he finally in the last 2 years of his

life had to stop because it made the acid

reflux worse). He liked meat, no vegetable,

frozen yogurt, and potatoes (in the form of

french fries or tater tots). And lastly he

liked luncheon meats (processed), pastry,

and chocolate bars. The amazing thing is

that my Dad did not eat a great amount of

food. But he DID drink a LOT of milk...

Now I understand that milk raises your insulin

levels, which is GREAT to cause the body to

move any sugar from the bloodstream into the

fat cells!

Anyway, I have my Dad's genes and if I start

eating anything like he did, I gain fat around

my waste overnight. So that's why I eat the

fresh raw organic diet folks. I choose to change

my destiny and NOT become obese like my Dad,

his twin sister, and most of their children

(16 of them)...

If this doesn't give you the power to change

your life and eat a diet that will give you

wonderful health, then you better sign up and

buy a life insurance policy to take care of

medical and funeral/burial costs because you

have already taken steps to assure a sickly

life (cancer, heart disease, diabetes, obesity,

etc.) and an earlier death!!! :(

If you want to examine the official McDonald's

ingredient list for each of the items they

sell, here it is:

Remember that when they list something like

"English Muffin" to find that item in the

list also. So you can see the ingredients

in the muffin as well. The cheese they use

is PROCESSED "cheese". Would that be similar

to Velveta? I might be wrong, but why do they

they use word process. Please look at the

ingredient list of a good quality cheese like

Tillamook and then compare that to the

ingredient list of the "cheese" used at


NOTE: This is a continuation of my post above.

Call it "Part 2/2":

Anyway, this is just the tip of the iceberg!

If you eat mainly fast foods, restaurant foods,

packaged foods, canned foods, etc. then your

diet includes a HUGE NUMBER of CHEMICALS. You

are literally eating over 100 DIFFERENT

chemicals daily!!! There are THOUSANDS of

chemicals used in foods. There are no studies

to find out what happens when you eat dozens

of different chemicals daily folks. You might

be surprised what happens when you decide to

stop eating them!!! "Little things" like

headaches just might disappear, your aching

back gets "better" over a few weeks!! Your

diabetes slowly leaves you! Your diverticulitis slowly heals, etc. By the way, I'm describing

what happened when a diabetic friend of mine

started eating most of her foods raw and

organic. MANY of the things that bothered her

(listed above) disappeared along with her long

standing diabetes!! She is about 63 years old

and admits she would have thought she would be

the last person to eat this healthy way. BUT,

when the doctor wanted her on all the diabetic

drugs and also on statin drugs, she got serious

with her health and made the diet changes so she

could live instead of feeling like dying! She is

even juicing organic produce now!!

She can't get over how much better she feels

and she still has 100 LBS to lose yet. Already

lost about 55 LBS. Losing the fat is a slow

process for her because she has Hashimoto's

thyroid condition. (So does most of her


The ball is in your court now!! :) :) :)

You can choose MUCH better health or you

can continue the same-old thing, an unhappy

life because you don't really feel that good

now. Choose the living diet and YOU will

become a healthier and HAPPIER person, just like

my friend has done!!! :)

You're not fair in your comparison here. Where's the calorie and sodium count of your own breakfast sandwich? I looked up the nutrition information for boars head all natural Applewood smoked uncured ham, and have determined that their serving size of 2 ounces (much less than one *actually*uses for a deli sandwich - enough to make me believe that it's probably one medium cut slice) has 440 grams of sodium and 70 calories. The cheese? 1 oz boars head Vermont cheddar has 180 mg sodium, 110 calories.

Grand total for sodium of just the meat and cheese on your homemade sandwich, made with typical boars head stuff people often get from the grocery store is 620 grams...

And that doesn't include the muffin or the egg... Currently (4 years later) McDonald's lists the egg mcmuffin as having 730 mg sodium for the whole sandwich.. Not too far off from the 620 I calculated for *JUST* the ham and cheese. I imagine with the muffin and egg, that amount could go up 110mg, matching the current MvMuffin's sodium.

I only came here looking for folks' take on McMuffins' nutrition, and am leaving because you aren't fair with your reporting. You went into the review already biased, and didn't attempt to put your bias aside. You immediately called it "completely inedible", and hoped that your mother now cooks her own breakfast. McDonalds is really trying hard to change their image, with real substantial nutritional improvements in their menu. If you decided to go off on pretty much any of their other breakfast menu items, I would agree - they're terrible for you. But the McMuffin is actually one of the best things for you that you can get on the breakfast menu. Sure, it may not be as good as a homemade one, but sometimes folks don't have the time to make their own, or are traveling.

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