Recipe Spotlight

The Secret Weapon for Exceptional Breakfast Sandwiches? Butter.

I didn’t know what I was missing until I learned how a local bakery takes their breakfast sandwiches to the next level. 

Published May 19, 2022.

I have eaten a lot of breakfast sandwiches in my life. I make them at home on sourdough bread with pesto and fried eggs; I eat a Taylor Ham, egg, and cheese sandwich almost every time I visit my family in New Jersey; and I worked at Flour Bakery + Cafe for two years, which sells hundreds of delicious egg sandwiches every day. Given my years of experience with breakfast sandwiches, some people might be inclined to call me an expert. 

So you can imagine my surprise (and humility) when I learned about an ingredient my sandwiches had been missing.

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A few weeks ago I spent the day working in one of my favorite New England bakeries, VINAL bakery. VINAL specializes in English muffins and is known for their delicious breakfast sandwiches made with them. Over the course of my day there, I was tasked with making breakfast sandwiches, and I quickly learned that almost every sandwich on the menu had a special ingredient: butter.

This was revelatory to me. Butter! On a breakfast sandwich! I’ve eaten breakfast sandwiches with mustard or a garlicky aioli, and many with an avocado spread, but butter was a new one to me.

Their American Classic has what I normally associate with a classic breakfast sandwich: an over-medium egg, American cheese, and a choice of protein. But it also has salted butter smeared on both sides of the English muffin. Their Miss Maple (my wife’s favorite) is an over-medium egg, cheddar cheese, a choice of protein (she goes for ham), and maple butter. Another favorite, Mr. Mustard, adds salted butter and Dijon mustard.

VINAL bakery's Mr. Mustard sandwich featuring griddled salami, cheddar, an egg, Dijon mustard, and salted butter

Perhaps I’ve never thought about adding butter to my breakfast sandwiches because they are already rather decadent. I was missing out. The plain salted butter provides the sandwich a smooth, buttery richness. And maple butter is a perfect addition of sweetness, balancing the sandwich’s salty ham or bacon. All the butters gently soften the inside of the English muffin while the outside of the bread stays toasted and crisp.

I may have thought I was a breakfast sandwich expert, but it’s always good to be reminded there are more delicious things to learn around every corner. 

Inspired by VINAL, I dug up our recipe for Maple Butter—it’s simple to make and requires only three ingredients. I’ve used this recipe before on roasted vegetables, cornbread, and even pork chops, but I’m thrilled to have yet another reason to use it. Add it to your next breakfast sandwich. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Maple Butter

Makes ¼ cup

This recipe yields enough maple butter for four breakfast sandwiches.

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • ¼ teaspoon table salt

Whisk butter, maple syrup, and salt in bowl until combined. (Maple butter can be covered and refrigerated for up to 1 week.)

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