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I spent my day eating White Castle's entire breakfast menu for $20, and the best thing was a total surprise

INSIDER logoINSIDER 1/16/2021 insider@insider.com (Lucien Formichella)
a sandwich on a plate: White Castle offers an array of breakfast sandwiches. Lucien Formichella for Insider © Provided by INSIDER White Castle offers an array of breakfast sandwiches. Lucien Formichella for Insider

White Castle is known for its signature burger sliders, but the fast-food chain also has a full breakfast menu that's available all day. 

In order to shed some light on this lesser-known side of the chain's offerings, I decided to eat every available breakfast item in one sitting and rank them from worst to best.

For only about $20, I loaded up on egg sandwiches, hash browns, and doughnuts to determine which are actually worth the "crave."

Here's a breakdown of my breakfast journey:

I begin the morning at a 24-hour White Castle - that's inexplicably closed

a building with a store on the side of a road: Even though it said it was open 24 hours, I had to wait until 10 a.m. Lucien Formichella for Insider © Lucien Formichella for Insider Even though it said it was open 24 hours, I had to wait until 10 a.m. Lucien Formichella for Insider

I reach White Castle at 9:30 a.m., and after trying the door, learn that it's closed until 10 a.m. I silently curse Google's lies and lean against the siding to consider my attack on the breakfast menu. 

The pictures all look so good on my phone, and I don't want to be let down.

Right away, I'm cautious of the chicken-and-waffle slider because there's no way White Castle gets the gravy right. But if they do, or even get in the general vicinity, I'll be at The Castle every day for the rest of my life - which would probably be very short.

As I stand next to the "Open 24 hours" sign, two different people ask if they're cracking eggs and toasting buns yet. I say no.

Both leave, yet I can't.

With all this time for more consideration, I decide the breakfast toast sandwich seems most interesting. I also stare longingly at the hash brown Nibblers.

I wait until 10:10 a.m. - not wanting to bust down the door right away - and walk in.

The ordering process goes as smoothly as possible

a hot dog sitting on a table: A few items were discontinued, but I order everything they have. Lucien Formichella for Insider © Lucien Formichella for Insider A few items were discontinued, but I order everything they have. Lucien Formichella for Insider

The man at the register doesn't know what to think when I tell him I want one of everything on the breakfast menu. I don't think he can grasp why anyone would want that.

After being informed that the toast I'd been looking forward to trying has, unfortunately, been discontinued, I order each item individually.

He gives me a look like, "That's a lot of food," and rings it up. The total comes to about $20.

Awkward moments pass as they prepare the food. Finally, the man hands me a heavy bag through an opening in the plexiglass, and I suddenly feel the need to run. 

After a short bus ride, I reach home at 11:15 a.m. Luckily, the food is still warm as I lay it out on the table. 

After assessing my order, I begin with the delicious breakfast slider with bacon

a half eaten sandwich on a plate: White Castle's breakfast slider with bacon. Lucien Formichella for Insider © Lucien Formichella for Insider White Castle's breakfast slider with bacon. Lucien Formichella for Insider

The breakfast slider feels like an excellent place to start, so I take a big bite.

It's delicious.

I quickly devour the whole thing, mouth awash with fluffy bun, melty cheese, and fast-food style bacon (hard but not crispy). Interestingly, the egg tastes a little runny. I didn't expect that but enjoy it nonetheless.

It feels like a sign of good things to come.

This is probably one of the worst ways to begin a day, nutritionally, but I couldn't be happier. 

Next up are the sausage breakfast slider and the original slider with egg and cheese

a plate of food on a table: White Castle's breakfast slider with sausage. Lucien Formichella for Insider © Lucien Formichella for Insider White Castle's breakfast slider with sausage. Lucien Formichella for Insider

The bun of the sausage slider is a little soggy in my hand, but I don't think about that - only of the feast and that delicious plastic-y cheese.

There's something magical about this bun. It's so fluffy, like the pillow they'll bury me with after I potentially go into cardiac arrest from eating so much fast food at once. 

The sausage is even better than the bacon because it's juicy and easy to bite into. I think it might even have even some red-pepper flakes in it.

I chew with purpose and swallow, knowing I need to keep a brisk pace or else I won't be able to finish.

The original slider with egg and cheese intrigues me. It's classic, almost like a steak sandwich, but I can't tell if the onions and beef patty are going to be genius or dumb. 

One bite tells me it doesn't quite work. The slider patty tastes weird in comparison to the delicious, juicy sausage.

Maybe it's the fact that I'm eating in the daytime. At midnight, I like meat flattened into obscurity by a spatula, all the juices pressed out. At 11 a.m., it just feels wrong.

The egg didn't work either - it's the last thing you'd expect to see on a White Castle burger. I also don't think the onions were sauteed in butter, which might be too much to ask, but is still a mistake. They overpowered everything.


Gallery: Underrated items to order at chain restaurants (Cheapism)

I tackle the waffle dishes next, though I'm instantly dubious 

a box filled with different types of food on a table: There are three different waffle sandwiches on the menu. Lucien Formichella for Insider © Lucien Formichella for Insider There are three different waffle sandwiches on the menu. Lucien Formichella for Insider

I was excited about these waffles before ordering them, but they look kind of weird in the light. I pick up the Belgian-waffle slider with sausage because it's the best-looking one.

These are getting cold, so I need to hurry.

I had been contemplating putting syrup on this waffle, but it's too good. It blows the bun right out of the water.

It's sweet - like they lined the waffle maker with syrup instead of oil - and I'd call it a nearly perfect sweet-and-savory meal.

My taste buds are infatuated. Gordon Ramsay would be speechless. 

I move on to the bacon version. I'm getting full, but the waffle has given me the jolt I need to move on. 

It's amazing what changing one ingredient can do. The bacon is fatty to the point where it takes away from the deliciousness of the waffle, and I barely taste the cheese. It's just not the same.

To conserve energy, I don't finish it all. This is the beginning of the end. I'm at mile 15 of the marathon, and the carb-loading isn't working. 

I have a lot of doubts about the chicken-and-waffle slider, and rightfully so

a person holding a plate of food: My chicken-and-waffle sandwich didn't come with all the toppings. Lucien Formichella for Insider © Lucien Formichella for Insider My chicken-and-waffle sandwich didn't come with all the toppings. Lucien Formichella for Insider

I knew from the start this chicken-and-waffle slider would disappoint, but not this much.

It's supposed to come with gravy and bacon crumbles, and unless they're hidden in the breading, I'm going to be very disappointed. 

The chicken is fine - classic fast-food style. It isn't super crispy, but it's good enough and goes really well with the waffles.

It just feels like this sandwich is lacking something, which it is: gravy and bacon crumbles. 

I could walk to the grocery store and make a better version of this (though probably not as cheap).

The Belgian waffles shine on their own

I also got two plain mini Belgian waffles to try. I already know they're delightful, but it's essential to try them with some nectar from that sweet, portly siren known as Mrs. Butterworth.

This isn't my favorite syrup, and honestly, the waffles are better plain.

That maple-syrup goodness is already baked in, adding more on top takes away any of the nuances in flavor.

I was looking forward to the hash brown Nibblers, but they're cold by the time I get to them

a box of food: Even a little cold, these hash browns are good. Lucien Formichella for Insider © Lucien Formichella for Insider Even a little cold, these hash browns are good. Lucien Formichella for Insider

The end draws nearer, and I can't believe I've forgotten about the hash browns for this long.

There's no ketchup, and they've gotten a little soggy. Still, my first impression was spot on, these are fantastic.

They have a perfect amount of salt, and I get that oily crunch biting into them. I eat half the carton before realizing I'm full. 

After nearly gagging on the first doughnut, I struggle to find the will to open the second

text: I refuse to finish these sad doughnuts. Lucien Formichella for Insider © Lucien Formichella for Insider I refuse to finish these sad doughnuts. Lucien Formichella for Insider

The doughnuts stare me down, and my body is begging for water.

The powdered sugar spores release from the first doughnut as soon as I open the package. Dust gets everywhere. 

At first, I thought it was banana-flavored, then I thought it was white chocolate. Finally, I stop caring and decide that I just don't like it.

I probably should've remembered that no worthwhile doughnut costs $0.59.

The texture is airy but heavy - like breathing in smog. I don't know how to describe it any better. The powdered sugar either saved it or pushed it over the edge, and I can't even think about finishing it.

Opening the next doughnut becomes a test of will. I sniff hesitantly and shudder, it smells the same.

Yet, this one is somehow better than the last one. Maybe the powdered sugar actually was the culprit.

It just tastes like a regular, flavorless doughnut. I read the ingredients: cellulose gum and palm oil. I couldn't pick those flavors out of a lineup, and yet that's definitely what it tastes like.

Still, not as bad as the powdered-sugar variety. 

The war is over, and I begin my ranking

a piece of cake on a plate: The sausage waffle slider is by far my top choice. Lucien Formichella for Insider © Lucien Formichella for Insider The sausage waffle slider is by far my top choice. Lucien Formichella for Insider

I need to lie on the couch and unbutton my pants, but first, it's time to compile an official ranking.

This feels relatively clear cut. Even flavors that were close, in my opinion, still had a distinct order. 

From worst to best, my ranking goes:

8. Both doughnuts 

7. Original slider with egg and cheese

6. Chicken-and-waffle slider 

5. Bacon breakfast slider 

4. Hash browns

3. Bacon waffle slider 

2. Sausage breakfast slider 

1. Sausage waffle slider

In the end, I'd eat most of these dishes again - except for the doughnuts and probably the original slider.

I usually think the best part of any White Castle meal is the fluffy and slightly sweet bun, but the waffles made me forget all about it.

You could sandwich a giant piece of tree bark between those Belgian waffles and douse the whole thing in lighter fluid, and I'd still consider eating them.

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