When you think of juicy burgers and crispy fries, do McDonald’s and Burger King automatically come to mind? If so, you might be missing out on a hugely popular hamburger chain called Carl’s Jr. Ordering vegan at Carl’s Jr. is a little more satisfying and a whole lot less frustrating than the others with not only more options, but also better taste.
On January 2, 2019, Carl’s Jr. became the very first national fast food chain restaurant in the U.S. to offer a vegan burger. For that fact alone, we have to give the company major kudos and a lot of credit for getting the ball rolling in feeding the vegan community. Keep it up, Carl’s Jr.!
Cool Facts About Carl’s Jr.
Did you know that this daring drive-thru chain originally started as a hot dog stand in Los Angeles in 1941? Carl Karcher and his wife Margaret invested their life savings ($15!) and took out a loan against their car to start up their new venture. Even though they had many children and a son named Carl, the “Jr.” in the restaurant’s name actually refers to the smaller or “mini” express version of the first, larger location.
Because their burger business was successfully thriving, Carl’s Jr. acquired Hardee’s in 1997 and merged the Southwestern style menu items in with their own. Hardee’s got a fresh new logo and branding, which matches their parent company. More recently, in 2004, the company also added a food truck to the mix (which wasn’t as trendy then as it is now) and now travels the country visiting sports stadiums, fundraisers, important events, and street fairs.
What’s Vegan at Carl’s Jr.?
Vegan Breads and Buns:
- Corn Tacos
- Flour Tortilla
- Plain Burger Bun
- Sesame Seed Burger Bun
- Chili Pequin Sauce
- Hot Sauce
- Special Sauce
- Spicy Buffalo Sauce
- Cilantro Lime Rice
- Crisscut Fries
- Hash Rounds
- Natural Cut Fries
- Pico de Gallo
- Pinto Beans
Veganize These Items for More Options:
For the items below, ask for no mayo, meat, egg, or cheese. Add extra lettuce, tomato, sliced onions, pickles and/or jalapenos. More information about Beyond Burgers can be found on their Beyond Meat FAQ page.
- Beyond Famous Star
- Beyond Fiery Famous Star (ask for no Fiery sauce, which is not vegan)
- Burrito with Beyond Sausage (availability varies)
- Side Salad
- Tortilla Chips
- Dasani Bottled Water
- Fountain Drinks
- Hot Coffee (reg and decaf)
- Simply Orange
All of these options contain milk or an animal-based broth, so they are not vegan-friendly.
- Fried Zucchini
- Green Sauce
- Onion Rings
Make Your Meal More Satisfying
Ordering vegan at Carl’s Jr. is easy because you only have a few options (though you can mix and match them to make many different meals) and the fries are a go. If they start offering vegan cheese, we’ll have even more flavor to add to our burgers and burritos and also be able to nosh on some nachos! If you’re searching to personalize your plant-based meal, here are a few suggestions:
- Pile on the Plant-Based Burgers – Carl’s Jr. offers single, double, and triple decker options, so you can fill your belly with as many burgers as you wish! Yum!
- Choose Your Own Cheese – If you just can’t bear eating a burger without cheese, bring your favorite vegan cheese along with you. Super simple to slip a slice or two between the buns.
- Build a Bountiful Burrito – Ask for this fantastic, foldable feast: flour tortilla, pinto beans, guacamole, tomato, onion, pico de gallo, lettuce, and cilantro lime rice. Add as much or as many different hot sauces as you like. You can even request for the burrito to be grilled for extra flavor and texture.
- Power Up With Potatoes – Because all of the potato products (hash rounds and both kinds of fries) are vegan-friendly, add a few to your Beyond Sausage breakfast burrito or even for topping your side salad. An easy and delicious way to add some bulk to your meal when out and about!
Helpful Hints When Ordering Vegan at Carl’s Jr.
- Browse the Carl’s Jr. online menu before ordering.
- If ordering Carl’s Jr. through a delivery service, make sure you clearly specify any substitutions you would like. Especially concerning cheese and meats. If you’re worried that your request may not be honored (or seen by the server at Carl’s Jr.), it might be a better idea to go there directly to order.
- Download the Nutrition and Allergen PDF to make sure that you are purchasing a vegan-friendly item. The products offered at Carl’s Jr. do change and the PDFs seem to be updated regularly.
- From past experience, it seems that most (if not all) seasonal drinks or foods are not vegan because of added dairy milk or milk derivatives. Be careful when new and exciting seasonal products are offered at Carl’s Jr. Double check the allergens and ingredients PDF to make sure that the item is vegan before purchasing.
Creating a Kinder and More Accessible Carl’s Jr.
It’s only a matter of time before more vegan options land on the menu. That’s the direction all the big fast food chains are heading, and Carl’s Jr. knows that they can add a few more items that are vegan-friendly, such as vegan cheese. But meanwhile, we can always write to, call, or contact the managers of any location to make our requests.
How to Order Vegan at Other Chains:
Plus, don’t miss our comprehensive Vegan Fast Food Guide to help you navigate the fast food space as a whole!
Have you found any other options to be veganizable? Did you find something amazing that we missed? Let us know by tagging #worldofvegan and sharing your favorite vegan-at-Carls-Jr. creations with all of us!
This article is not sponsored and we are in no way affiliated with Carls Jr. At the time of this article, the foods mentioned above are vegan. Since restaurants constantly update their menus and add or take away items, please keep this in mind when ordering your food. There may be new items that are vegan at Carl’s Jr. and not listed or items listed here as vegan, which are no longer vegan. Take care to double-check.