America’s Breakfast Habits: A Nationwide Study

Scrambled or sunny side up? The most important meal of the day isn’t what it seems. So what lies beneath the buttery surface? We’re serving up the highlights of breakfast habits across the US as we explore where we’re eating it, what’s on our plates, and if we’re taking that with a cup of joe on the side. 


  • America’s favorite fast-food breakfast is McDonald’s then Chick-fil-A
  • 55% of Americans skip breakfast regularly
  • Chick-fil-A was most popular in the South with McDonald’s reigning the North and West Coast
  • 10% of Americans eat breakfast on the go, spending between $5 to $10 each time
  • America’s favorite coffee at breakfast is filtered coffee, but losing popularity

National fast food breakfast preferences

The battle for the biscuit has been a tough one as McDonald’s, Burger King, and Wendy’s have long competed for the title of America’s favorite fast food breakfast. Newcomers like Taco Bell and Chick-fil-A have quickly captured the hearts of many with their delectable options, but who takes the cake (err, pan-cake) when it comes to favorites? 

Fast Food Breakfast Ranked US

McDonald’s ranks #1 for the national average, beating the competition by a sheer number of votes. Coming in at a close second is the moo-tastic Chick-fil-A with their breakfast offerings earning them second place for the national average. 

Following shortly behind Chick-fil-A is Wendy’s with a national ranking of #3.1 followed by Burger King at #3.44 and, finally, Taco Bell ranking #3.69 for the title of national best. 

Over half of Americans skip breakfast

The trope of a heaping plate of pancakes, eggs, and bacon with a side of juice as the day-to-day turns out to be way off from reality. Forget the extravagance, the majority of Americans simply aren’t having breakfast at all. But who exactly is opting in and opting out? 

America's Breakfast Food Habits

The states with the highest percentage of “cereal” breakfast skippers include California, Massachusetts, Texas, and Washington state. On the reverse, the die-hard breakfast eaters include Florida, Illinois, New York, Pennsylvania, and Michigan. Where the west coasters might skip breakfast, the northeasterners have decided it’s a meal they can’t do without!

Cup of joe to-go? I don’t think so!

America’s favorite drink is *drum roll* NOT coffee! Much to contrary belief, most Americans don’t start their morning with a cup of coffee. Over half of US residents actually opt for another beverage for their first drink of the day. 

So what are the alternatives if it’s not a caffeinated brew to perk up the morning? 20% are quenching their thirst with water. Almost 15% of folks start their morning with a glass of juice. Milk and tea are left in the dust with only a 7% and 5% makeup of the remainder of the responses. 

Sip, sip, hooray! Which coffee beverage is America’s favorite?

Of the respondents that do opt for coffee with breakfast, they’ve certainly got their favorites. Perhaps not a surprise, a good ole’ cup of filtered coffee takes the cake for first place. Lattes trail behind with a 16% hold with other caffeinated beverages like cappuccinos, and espresso grabbing only a small percentage of the vote. 

Breakfast Drink Preferences in the US

Although filtered coffee dominates, it’s slowly losing its hold as America’s favorite coffee as lattes continue to grow in popularity. When we look at the data from a generational perspective, from Boomers to Gen Z, we see a 27.5% uptick between the generations. There’s an undeniable trend amongst younger generations to shy away from “bean water” and lean towards coffees like lattes. 


We surveyed 10,000 Americans in May 2023 about their breakfast habits. The age range was between 18-70 with all participants residing in the United States. Just over half — 50% — were male, 47% were female, and 3% identified as non-binary or other.

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