Meal Plans

The battle of the breakfast food chains

Written by Vera KarimovaUpdated on 26 Sep 2022
Meal Plans

The battle of the breakfast food chains

Written by Vera Karimova.Updated at 26 Sep 2022
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day; it jumpstarts your metabolism and gives you the energy to help you feel your best. Constantly being on the go can make it challenging to fit a well-balanced breakfast into our busy schedules. Thankfully, many great breakfast restaurants across the country offer healthy options to provide a sunny start to your day. Eating breakfast can give you a little extra (orange) juice to get you through the day if you go to the right place. For this study, we looked at the most popular breakfast chains in the U.S. and some of their healthier menu items. Read on to learn more about what we found.


To find out which breakfast chains each state loves the most, we turned to online search interest. We began by searching for popular breakfast food chain articles from sources like Restaurant Clicks and Mashed. We gathered 21 search terms from those sources and used search interest from the past five years to determine which breakfast chains each state was searching for the most.
Graphic showing the most popular breakfast spot in every U.S. state.
Western states like Nevada and New Mexico preferred Denny’s as their supplier of (grand) slammin’ breakfast dishes. Dubbed as America’s diner, Denny’s prides itself on being open 24/7 and serving its breakfast menu all day long. The California-founded diner chain is known for its build-your-own Grand Slam breakfast, which allows customers to choose from a variety of menu items like eggs, sausage, bacon, and pancakes. Wherever you’re going, Denny’s is a dependable choice for breakfast, no matter when breakfast is. Of course, no list of America’s best breakfast chains would be complete without the coveted Cracker Barrel. The restaurant chain is known for its down-home southern cooking and authentic homestyle breakfast items. Cracker Barrel was the most sought-after breakfast chain in states like Kentucky, Tennessee, and Indiana. If you’re looking for homestyle cooking on the road, give this beloved breakfast spot a try! Meanwhile, Michiganites preferred to get their morning brew at Tim Horton’s. Tim Horton’s is a Canadian-based coffee and donut chain that’s beginning to make its way into the great U.S. of A. Tim’s is home to Canada’s favorite coffee, but it also serves up a variety of breakfast and fast food items, including pastries, chicken sandwiches, and more.
Graphic showing the most popular breakfast chains in every U.S. region and overall.
The most searched-for breakfast chain across 18 states was none other than the International House of Pancakes! IHOP is widely known for its delicious pancakes and all-day breakfast menu. Another reason we all love the undisputed champion of flapjacks is because they commit buttermilk bribery every year on national pancake day. Once a year, the hotcake powerhouse offers everyone a stack of pancakes to enjoy free of charge. Talk about a great way to butter us up! Perkins came in second as the preferred place for breakfast in the midwest, claiming the most searches in 6 states. The people love Perkins, and it’s easy to see why. In addition to their many decadent menu items like the big country skillet and the brioche french toast platter, the breakfast chain also features a bakery that specializes in sweets like pies, muffins, and more.

Healthy Options at Your Favorite Chains

Pancakes aren’t all these breakfast chains are known for, though. IHOP has an array of healthy options for all sorts of diets. People looking for a protein-packed breakfast without all the fluff would love the egg white and vegetable omelette. Additionally, their lesser-known lunch menu features a lot of calorie-conscious meals like grilled tilapia and their chicken and veggie salad. Not to be completely outshined by the pancake powerhouse, Perkins also offers a good variety of options on the healthier side, like the big BLT and grilled salmon dinner. The breakfast chain’s beloved bakery also has a few options that are surprisingly low on calories. If you’re looking for a sweet to split with the rest of your table, their strawberry and cream cheese crispers are one of the lowest calorie starter options at the restaurant. Fans of Denny’s and Cracker Barrel will be pleased to find that there are a few lighter menu options available. The home of the grand slam’s Fit Fare menu has an array of healthy yet satisfying options for sale, like the Fit Fare Wild Alaskan Salmon and the Fit Fare Loaded Vegetable Omelette. Cracker Barrel and healthy aren’t often thought of as synonymous, but the down-home diner’s Wholesome Fixin’ menu sets out to say otherwise with options like their lightened up pecan crusted catfish.

Closing Thoughts

While it may be tempting to skip the most important meal of the day, you would be missing out on many health benefits. Thankfully, there are many great restaurant chains that serve a well-balanced breakfast across the U.S. No matter where you’re going, you can start your day off right and feel your best. What do you think is the best breakfast restaurant in the U.S.? If you’re interested in learning more about good nutritional habits beyond the breakfast bar, check out Luvly Care for more tips and inspiration for healthy living.