The Ultimate Vegan Guide For Carls Jr.
Vegan options are commonplace in many fast food chains these days, but this wasn’t the case three years ago. While smaller chains like Bareburger had taken over the Beyond Burger, Carl’s Jr. was the first major US chain to catapult the vegan patty into the mainstream drive-thru market. Plant-based customers need to consider a few changes to fully veganize the Beyond Burger option. So keep this guide handy the next time you drive to a Carl Jr. drive-through window.
Beyond famous star burgers
Carl’s Jr. offers a few different twists for his Famous Star Hamburger. The original Beyond Meat offering – the Beyond Famous Star with Cheese – includes a charred Beyond burger pate, melted American cheese, lettuce, onions, pickles, mayonnaise, tomato, and specialty sauce on a sesame bun. Don’t ask for any cheese or mayo to veganize this classic (yes, the specialty sauce is vegan). Similar to the original, the Beyond Fiery Famous Star contains the same ingredients but trades in Pepper Jack Cheese, Fiery Sauce, and Jalapeños. Ditch the cheese and fiery sauce for a spicy jalapeño kick or just add jalapeños to the Beyond Famous Star.
Build your own burger
Turning to the Beyond Famous Star options, the rest of the burger menu includes variations in the number of patties stacked between two buns and subtle differences in the toppings. How to Hack It: Build Your Own Burger. The key to this is knowing your vegan parameters. Start with the number of patties – Carl’s Jr. has single, double, and triple deck options. So decide how hungry you are. Next topping and sauces. The lettuce, tomato, sliced onion, jalapeños, cucumber, ketchup, mustard, barbecue sauce, special sauce, hot sauce, chili pequin sauce and guacamole are all vegan. Combine these and you have considerable hold. The sesame bun – and the Jr. bun – are also vegan approved. However, avoid all other rolls as they contain animal ingredients. When it’s topped with sesame seeds, you are essentially in the clear.
Be excited – the Crisscut fries are vegan! These golden waffle fries are great for dipping in ketchup, mustard, barbecue sauce or the Spicy Buffalo Dipping Sauce. For the waffle fry averse, the natural cut fries are also plant-based. If you’re looking for vegetables, the side salad can be vegan if ordered with the balsamic vinaigrette and without cheese. Avoid the onion rings and fried zucchini as both contain egg in the batter.
Carl’s Jr. offers a vegan fast food hash brown. These spuds are nugget-shaped and are technically known as hash rounds. The chain had a Beyond Breakfast Sausage with them for a while, but that option recently ended (we hope this isn’t forever). If you’re starving for more than hash browns, stick with lunch and dinner when you can swing it.
Green burrito menu
Burritos might not be the first thing that springs to mind when you think of Carls Jr., but it is the natural place that you are drawn to as a vegan. The chain’s iconic Green Burrito can be veganized by not asking for meat, cheese, cotija, crema, or green sauce (the latter contains chicken broth). You will receive a hot tortilla filled with pinto beans, coriander-lime rice, chili pequin hot sauce and pico de gallo. Strengthen it by adding guacamole and asking that your burrito be grilled for that extra bit of charred flavor. Other options in this menu are the burrito with beans and cheese (no cheese, sub guac or pico de gallo), the taco salad (no meat, sub beyond patty, no cheese, no crema, no cotija), french fries, guacamole and both the soft and crispy taco tortillas.
Hungry for more? Read our VegNews guides on how to eat vegan at Subway and Taco Bell.
Tanya Flink is a digital editor at VegNews as well as a writer and fitness enthusiast who lives in Orange County, CA.