Burger joints are not the best place for vegans. But some of them at least offer a vegan burger. And some even let you swap the vegan patty into any burger or sandwich on the menu. Luckily, Carl’s Jr. is one such place!
Vegan options at Carl’s Jr.:
- Beyond Famous Star Burger (No Cheese or Mayo)
- Beyond BBQ Burger (No Cheese or Onion Rings)
- CrissCut Fries
- Natural-Cut French Fries
- Hash Rounds
- Side Salad (No Cheese or Croutons)
- Beyond Sausage Burrito (No Egg or Cheese)
- Crunchy or Soft Taco (No Meat or Cheese)
- Chips and Guacamole
- Sauces and Dressings
Below, I’ll share tips on how to order these options vegan. I’ll also share which items on the menu are surprisingly NOT vegan. And I’ll answer common questions about the buns and onion rings, too.
I’ll end with a whole-food plant-based (WFPB) guide to Carl’s Jr., too—for vegans who want to avoid processed oil and sugar, too.
Carl’s Jr. Vegan Menu
The following vegan menu was compiled mostly by looking through the Carl’s Jr. menu, allergen info, and nutritional facts on their website—along with other resources online.
Menu items at restaurants change frequently and vary by location. Always check with staff at your location if you have questions or concerns.
1. Beyond Burgers
Yes! Carl’s Jr. has actual vegan burger patties! One day, all burger joints will hopefully have vegan patties. Until then, at least we have places like Carl’s Jr.
You can substitute a Beyond Burger patty into any Carl’s Jr. burger, including the chicken sandwiches. Here are a couple of the common choices:
- Beyond Famous Star: To make this vegan, you need to order without cheese and mayo. Comes with lettuce, tomato, sliced onions, dill pickles, and Special Sauce on a seeded bun. (Yes, the Special Sauce and bun are vegan.)
- Beyond BBQ Cheeseburger: To make this vegan, you need to order without cheese and onion rings (the onion rings have milk). After those removals, it just comes with tangy BBQ sauce and seeded buns. You can also get the Spicy Beyond BBQ Burger version.
- See below for more ideas using the Beyond Sausage.
As with many restaurants, Carl’s Jr. is hesitant to proclaim anything to be 100% vegan. Here is their disclaimer about the shared cooking surfaces used for their Beyond Burgers.
“The Beyond Burger® patties are 100% plant-based, but as they are prepared in a shared kitchen, on shared cooking surfaces with meat products, the offerings at Carl’s Jr. are not 100% vegan or Certified Vegan.
The Beyond Famous Star® with Cheese is served with mayonnaise and American cheese which are not vegan. For a plant-based friendly build, guests can request no mayo or cheese.” (source)
2. French Fries
French fries are the classic vegan go-to option at burger joints. Carl’s Jr does not disappoint in this regard. They have two different vegan french fry options:
- Crisscut Fries
- Natural-Cut French Fries
Personally, my opinion is that, from these two, you basically have to choose the Crisscut Fries. (They’re like waffle fries.) I mean, why on Earth would you choose a simple, normal french fry cut when you have the option of Crisscut?
Note: Both of these french fry options are cooked in vegetable oil, not lard. However, they are cooked in shared fryers with the chicken and other animal products. So if that bothers you, beware!
3. Hash Rounds
These miniature hash brown patties make an appearance on the breakfast menu. They are boasted as being “crisp and poppable.” Strange description… but they’re delicious.
The same disclaimer applies as for the french fries: These are cooked in vegetable oil but are cooked in shared fryers with the chicken and other animal products.
4. Side Salad (No Cheese or Croutons)
Thank goodness we can get some greens in. The Side Salad is not really a full salad entree or anything. But it’s something. Just ask to get it without cheese or croutons.
For vegan salad dressings, this is probably going to be your only option:
- Low Fat Balsamic Vinaigrette
5. Beyond Sausage Burrito (No Egg or Cheese)
This is a breakfast burrito made with Beyond Meat’s vegan sausage, Hash Rounds, tomatoes, and fresh salsa, served in a soft wheat tortilla. Make sure to ask to get it without scrambled egg or cheese.
There’s also a Beyond Sausage Egg and Cheese Biscuit you can potentially veganize. But you’d have to remove the egg, the cheese, and the biscuits… leaving only the vegan sausage patty!
So I’d just stick with the Beyond Sausage Burrito if you want some Beyond Sausage action!
6. Crunchy or Soft Taco (No Meat or Cheese)
There is no real vegan taco at Carl’s Jr., but there are ways to custom order one from the Green Burrito part of the menu at most locations.
Start with a Crunchy Beef Taco or Soft Chicken Taco—but ask them to make it without meat or cheese. Then ask them to add guacamole and extra veggies to fill it out.
Most locations should also have rice you could add to your taco. Or you can get creative and have them add Fries or Hash Rounds instead.
I had a difficult time trying to figure out if their beans are vegan or if they contain lard or animal fat. But if you can get an answer about that, you could potentially add beans, too.
7. Chips and Guacamole
Another interesting option you can get from the Green Burrito part of the menu. Simple enough, chips and guac. You should also be able to get chips and salsa if you prefer.
Some locations may also have a rice, beans, and chips platter. If they do, you can probably get it vegan by asking for it without cheese. But I didn’t see this on Carl’s Jr. website, so I’m not sure how many of their locations still offer it.
8. Sauces and Dressings
Here are some of the vegan dipping sauces, condiments, and dressings:
- Spicy Buffalo Dipping Sauce
- Sweet and Bold Barbecue Dipping Sauce
- Low Fat Balsamic Vinaigrette
There are plenty of vegan drinks to choose from:
- 100% Arabica Coffee
- Decaf Coffee
- Regular Cold Brew
- Minute Maid Orange Juice
- Dasani Bottled Water
- Diet Coke
- Cherry Coke
- Coke Zero
- Dr Pepper
- Diet Dr Pepper
- Barq’s Root Beer
- Powerade Mountain Blast
But What About…
Here are some of the menu items at Carl’s Jr. that you would hope might be vegan—but they’re not:
- The Fried Zucchini is not vegan, as it contains milk.
- The Monster Biscuits are not vegan, as they contain milk and eggs.
- The Biscuit and Gravy is not vegan, as it contains milk.
- The French Toast Dips are not vegan, as they contain milk.
- The Jalapeno Poppers are not vegan, as they contain eggs and milk.
Now let’s answer some common questions about vegan and vegetarian options at Carl’s Jr.
Are Carl’s Jr. Onion Rings Vegan?
Carl’s Jr. Onion Rings are not vegan, as they contain milk in the breading. This also means you need to remove the onion rings from the Beyond BBQ Cheeseburger to make it vegan.
Is Carl’s Jr. Beyond Burger Vegan?
Carl’s Jr. Beyond Burgers are not vegan right off the menu—but you can custom order them vegan. For the Beyond Famous Star Burger, you must request no cheese and no mayo. For the Beyond BBQ Cheeseburger, you must request no cheese and no onion rings.
Are Carl’s Jr. Buns vegan?
Carl’s Jr. buns are vegan. Although I struggled to find full ingredients lists for their buns, Carl’s Jr. has mentioned that vegans can eat their Beyond Burgers if they simply remove the cheese, mayo, or other non-vegan toppings. The buns are fine.
Do All Carl’s Jr. Locations Have Beyond Burgers?
All Carl’s Jr. locations have Beyond Burgers. CKE Restaurants, the company that owns Carl’s Jr., started off by first offering Beyond Burgers at Carl’s Jr. Since then, they have also added Beyond Sausage patties and expanded these offerings to Hardee’s locations, as well.
Is Carl’s Jr. Real Meat?
Carl’s Jr. offers real meat and plant-based meat options. Any meat item on their menu can be replaced with Beyond Meat if you ask.
Are Carl’s Jr. Fries Vegan?
Carl’s Jr. Fries are confirmed vegan. This includes both the CrissCut Fries and the Natural-Cut French Fries. They are fried in vegetable oil, not animal fat. However, they are cooked in a shared fryer along with animal products.
Here are the ingredients for Carl’s Jr. CrissCut Fries:
INGREDIENTS: “Potatoes, Vegetable Oil (Contains one or more of the following: Canola Oil, Palm Oil, Soybean Oil, Sunflower Oil), Enriched Wheat Flour (Wheat Flour, Niacin, Iron, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Salt, Modified Food Starch, Spices, Corn Meal, Garlic Powder, Onion Powder, Leavening (Disodium Dihydrogen Pyrophosphate, Sodium Bicarbonate), Dried Yeast, Natural Flavor, Oleoresin Paprika. FRIED IN: Vegetable Shortening (Soybean Oil, Hydrogenated Soybean Oil with TBHQ and Citric Acid to protect flavor, Dimethylpolysiloxane (as an antifoaming agent)).” (source)
Here are the ingredients for Carl’s Jr. Natural-Cut French Fries:
INGREDIENTS: “Potatoes, Vegetable Oil (may contain one or more of the following: Canola Oil, Sunflower Oil, Palm Oil,Soybean Oil), Modified Food Starch (Potato, Corn, Tapioca), Rice Flour, Dextrin, Salt, Leavening (Disodium Dihydrogen Pyrophosphate, Sodium Bicarbonate), Dextrose, Xanthan Gum. FRIED IN: Vegetable Oil (Soybean Oil, Hydrogenated Soybean Oil with TBHQ and Citric Acid to protect flavor, Dimethylpolysiloxane (as an antifoaming agent). Salt.” (source)
Whole-Food Plant-Based Options
What if you’re not just vegan but also trying to avoid processed foods? More and more people are adopting a whole-food plant-based (WFPB) diet—and for good reason. It’s the healthiest kind of vegan diet there is.
Can you even eat a WFPB meal at Carl’s Jr.? Honestly, the only WFPB option I see on the menu is the Side Salad (without cheese or croutons).
That’s not much…. Just some lettuce and carrot shreds, basically. Is that really the only WFPB option?
Well, Beyond Burgers are mostly made of pea protein and processed oils (canola oil and coconut oil). So those are not whole foods. Neither are the buns—those are made from processed white flour.
The French Fries and Hash Rounds are fried in oil, so those are not whole foods, either. The tortillas seem to be made from processed white flour, and the tortilla chips are almost certainly fried in oil, too.
So, Carl’s Jr. is pretty good for general vegans… but not good at all for WFPB folks. If you’re eating WFPB, I recommend going to someplace like Wendy’s instead. They have baked potatoes at least. (See my Wendy’s vegan menu.)
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