Vegan Guide to Carl's Jr.: The Best Menu Options and Swaps

Carl's Jr. continues to lead the pack with its plant-based meat options.

vegan carl's jr

Food images courtesy of Carl's Jr. Illustration by Catherine Song.

If you’re humming for a plant-based meal on the go, the Carl’s Jr. yellow star might be calling your name. This national chain has been serving drive-thru burgers and fries for over 60 years. In 2019, Carl's Jr. became the first in the nation to introduce plant-based meat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. And although the breakfast Beyond Sausage is no longer on the menu, their partnership with Beyond Meat proved fruitful. Since introducing their Beyond Burger, the chain has seen an uptick in new customers.

Let us help you become one of them with our guide to customizing your order so "the (vegan) food is the star" of your next meal.

Treehugger Tip

Customize any burger on Carl’s Jr. menu to be vegan by replacing the hamburger patty with a plant-based Beyond Burger. Feeling really hungry? Double or even triple up on these vegan patties. Carl wouldn’t have it any other way.

Top Pick: Beyond Famous Star With Cheese

For a vegan burger build, request that your Beyond Famous Star leave off the cheese and the mayo. The Seeded Bun contains no eggs or dairy, but we like to order ours in a lettuce wrap. Slather on Special Sauce—it, too, is vegan—for that classic Carl's Jr. taste. If you’re seeking more fruits and veggies, ask for extra onions, tomatoes, pickles, and lettuce. Spice things up by adding guacamole or jalapeños to your custom vegan burger order.

Vegan Charbroiled Burgers

Carl’s Jr.’s Beyond Burgers are indeed plant-based, but they are also prepared on shared cooking surfaces as is all Carl’s Jr. food. Because of this, the restaurant told us that their food should be considered “vegan-friendly”—not officially “vegan.”

If that fits your comfort levels, choose between the Seeded Bun or the Potato Bun, then add your veggies and choice of vegan-friendly Special Sauce, Spicy Buffalo Sauce, or Sweet and Bold BBQ Sauce to complete your plant-based burger.

  • Beyond Famous Star With Cheese (Remove mayo and cheese, then add extra onions, tomatoes, pickles, and lettuce.)
  • Beyond Fiery Famous Star (Order yours without Fiery Sauce or cheese. Ask for more lettuce, pickles, tomatoes, and onions.)
  • Western Bacon Cheeseburger (Swap the patty for a Beyond Burger, then remove the onion rings, cheese and bacon. Served on a vegan Potato Bun, this burger comes topped with tangy, vegan-friendly BBQ sauce. Add more veggie toppings if you like.)
  • Big Hamburger (Make this classic vegan by switching out the beef patty for a Beyond Burger. Add extra ketchup, mustard, pickles, and onions to bulk up your bite.)
  • Original Angus Burger (Similar to the Big Hamburger but with raw red onions and lettuce, you can exchange the Angus patty for a Beyond Burger. Choose from a lettuce wrap or bun. Remove the cheese and mayo to make this burger vegan-friendly.)
  • Guacamole Bacon Angus Burger (Take off the cheese, bacon, and Santa Fe Sauce, then swap the patty for Beyond Meat. Choose either from one of the vegan buns or lettuce wrap.)
  • Jalapeño Angus Burger (Without the cheese and the Santa Fe Sauce, you only need to switch out the patty for a Beyond Burger. Add extra tomatoes, red onion, lettuce, and jalapeños for extra spice.)

Treehugger Tip

Add fries and a drink to your burger. Carl's Jr. Natural-Cut French Fries and signature Crisscut Fries are vegan-friendly. They are, however, prepared in shared cooking areas, and Carl's Jr. can't guarantee that cross-contamination won't occur.

Vegan Chicken & More

This menu category doesn't offer vegans much more than what’s available on Carl’s Jr.’s burger menu. The honey wheat buns aren’t vegan, and the sauces introduced here aren’t vegan either.

There is one salad here—the Charbroiled Chicken Salad—that can be made vegan by removing the chicken, the cheese, and the croutons and selecting Balsamic Vinaigrette, the only vegan salad dressing option on the menu. 

Vegan Sides

Fried potato lovers can chow down on Carl’s Jr.’s vegan-friendly Natural-Cut French Fries and Crisscross Fries. Unfortunately, the onion rings and the fried zucchini both contain milk.

There is a small side salad with iceberg lettuce, red onion, and tomato that can be ordered without the cheese or croutons for vegan eating. Opt for the low-fat Balsamic Vinaigrette instead of the house dressing, and you’re good to go.

Vegan Breakfast

Because Carl’s Jr.’s biscuits contain dairy, a breakfast burrito with vegan Hash Rounds and fresh salsa is your only vegan morning option. Order the Loaded Breakfast Burrito without the sausage, ham, bacon, eggs, or cheese.

Vegan StarPals Kids Meal

Simple though it may be, you can order a vegan Hamburger Kid’s Meal by swapping the hamburger for the Beyond Burger. Add onions to your ketchup, mustard and pickles, or customize it further with other vegan-friendly toppings.

Vegan Beverages

Choose from a variety of vegan-friendly fountain and bottled drinks.

  • Coca-Cola soft drinks (including bottled Mexican Coke)
  • Bottled water
  • Hot coffee (regular and decaf)
  • Simply Orange

FAQ

Which of Carl’s Jr. sauces are vegan?

Carl’s Jr.'s Special Sauce, Spicy Buffalo Dipping Sauce as well as Sweet and Bold BBQ Sauce are all vegan-friendly. You can also top your burgers or dip your fries in good old ketchup and mustard.

Does Carl’s Jr. have vegan cheese?

No. None of the cheese at Carl’s Jr. is vegan, but given the success of Beyond Meat products, perhaps we’ll see one in the future.