What to Eat at Hardee's: Healthy Menu Choices and Nutrition Facts

Carl's Jr
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No matter which name you know it by, Hardee's/Carl's Jr. is the fourth-largest hamburger fast food chain in the United States, just behind McDonald's, Burger King, and Wendy's.

At one time, the two chains were separate but today both are owned by CK Restaurants Holdings Inc. If you’re in the western U.S., you probably know it as Carl’s Jr. while the signage reads Hardee’s throughout the rest of America. Other than the name, each restaurant uses the same marketing.

The menu is generally the same at both locations, however, there are a few key differences. Below you’ll find a closer look at the nutrition for Hardee’s menu.

Hardee’s has branded several items on its menu as healthier alternatives to traditional fast food. In recent years, the chain has specifically added options that are lower in calorie, fat, and carbohydrate.

For example, you can swap out burger buns for "Low Carb It" lettuce-wraps and or "Trim It" charbroiled chicken instead of fried.

Check the Hardee's website for more in-depth nutrition information, as well as need-to-know facts about food allergens and considerations for special diets. You can also use the online calculator to estimate the nutritional value of a meal before you order. Customizing is the easiest way to reduce the calories, fat, or carb count of your meal, and also lets you avoid specific ingredients.

Navigating the Menu

Most Nutritious Options

  • Frisco Breakfast Sandwich

  • Low-Carb Little Thickburger

  • Chicken Tenders

  • Roast Beef Sandwich

  • Beef Taco

  • Side Salad

  • Fries (Kid’s)

  • Apple Turnover

  • Dasani Water

Least Nutritious Options

  • Monster Biscuit

  • Monster Thickburger

  • Big Chicken Fillet Sandwich

  • Big Hot Ham and Cheese Sandwich

  • Taco Salad with Chicken

  • Crispy Curls

  • Hand-Scooped Ice Cream Shakes

  • Sweet Tea

Breakfast

Hardee’s offer an array of breakfast sandwiches, most of which center around the chain’s carb-heavy Made-From-Scratch Biscuits and meats like bacon and sausage.

Most Nutritious Option

“Trim It”-Frisco Breakfast Sandwich

360 calories, 11g fat, 3g saturated fat, 1100 mg sodium, 44g carbohydrate, 4g sugar, and 19g protein

Least Nutritious Option

Monster Biscuit

880 calories, 61g fat, 24g saturated fat, 2490 mg sodium, 48g carbohydrate, 4g sugar, and 35g protein

Hardee’s offers a variety of breakfast biscuits, but all of them are high in fat, calories, and sodium. While a plain Made-from-Scratch Biscuit may have just 290 calories, but it’s high in carbs and doesn’t have the protein you’ll get from eggs.

A higher-calorie but protein-packed breakfast will keep you satisfied until lunchtime. You can reduce the biscuit by 80 calories, as well as lower the sodium content, by skipping the bacon.

You’ll also want to avoid Hardee’s Breakfast Platters, which can be over 1,000 calories.

Burgers

The burger options at Hardee’s range from typical fast-food fare to a few, like the charbroiled Thickburgers, that are unique to the brand. Sticking to simple, single-patty, burgers without additions like cheese and sauce is the easiest way to keep calories in check. Hardee’s also gives you the chance to reduce the carb content of a traditional burger with some clever swaps.

Most Nutritious Option

“Trim It”-1/4lb. Low-Carb Little Thickburger

220 calories, 15g fat, 6g saturated fat, 590 mg sodium, 6g carbohydrate, 4g sugar, and 15g protein

Least Nutritious Option

2/3lb. Monster Thickburger

1300 calories, 90g fat, 33g saturated fat, 3140 mg sodium, 53g carbohydrate, 13g sugar, and 76g protein

Most of the hamburgers at Hardee’s have the amount of beef right in the name. If you opt for a 1/3lb or 1/2lb burger, skip the cheese and swap the buns for lettuce. The original 1/3lb Thickburger has 780 calories and 48g fat.

Lettuce-wrapped, the burger has just 420 calories and 33g fat. If you skip the cheese and mayo, you can make a burger for under 300 calories.

Chicken

Hardee’s has some chicken options as well, though many are in the tradition of classic fried fast food. The chain’s star-shaped chicken nuggets and hand-breaded tenders are fried, but several sandwiches can be ordered with lower-fat charbroiled chicken breast.

Most Nutritious Option

3-Piece Chicken Tenders

260 calories, 13g fat, 2.5g saturated fat, 770 mg sodium, 13g carbohydrate, 0g sugar, and 25g protein

Least Nutritious Option

Big Chicken Fillet Sandwich

710 calories, 36g fat, 6g saturated fat, 1510 mg sodium, 64g carbohydrate, 10g sugar, and 35g protein

A single fried chicken leg has 170 calories, 5g fat, and 15g protein, which could be used to top a side salad or as a leaner source of protein for a lettuce-wrapped burger.

For nuggets and tenders, avoid dipping sauces which can be high in calories, salt, and even hidden sugar.

Other Sandwiches

Hardee's also offers a few other types of hot sandwiches made with popular deli meats and cheese—meaning they aren't necessarily more nutritious than the chain's hamburgers or chicken sandwiches.

Most Nutritious Option

Roast Beef Sandwich (regular)

380 calories, 11g fat, 4.5g saturated fat, 1080 mg sodium, 50g carbohydrate, 8g sugar, and 21g protein

Least Nutritious Option

Big Hot Ham and Cheese Sandwich

530 calories, 20g fat, 8g saturated fat, 2190 mg sodium, 51g carbohydrate, 10g sugar, and 34g protein

Hardee’s Ham and Cheese sandwich has 14 slices of ham, so the easiest way to reduce the calorie and sodium content of the sandwich is to ask for fewer slices.

If you opt for the roast beef sandwich, make sure you get the regular size rather than the larger size, which has 560 calories, 25g fat, and 1580 mg sodium.

Burritos & Tacos

In addition to burgers and sandwiches, Hardee’s also offers Tex-Mex inspired fast-food favorites on its Red Burrito menu. You’ll find soft and crunchy tacos, burritos, quesadillas, steak bowls, and nachos, as well as sides like chips and salsa.

Most Nutritious Option

Beef Taco (1)

180 calories, 13g fat, 5g saturated fat, 290 mg sodium, 13g carbohydrate, 1g sugar, and 11g protein

Least Nutritious Option

Taco Salad with Chicken

960 calories, 51g fat, 15g saturated fat, 2080 mg sodium, 74g carbohydrate, 5g sugar, and 50g protein

While these options can often be high in fat and sodium, you have the option of customizing them with grilled instead of fried chicken, and can easily skip extras like cheese to reduce the calories of your order.

Salads

At Hardee’s, you’ll only have the option of a side salad for 120 calories, but that doesn’t mean you’ll be limited to less-nutritious options. With a little creativity and customization, you can make a healthy, satisfying salad with the options you have.

Side Salad (no dressing)

120 calories, 7g fat, 4.5g saturated fat, 470 mg sodium, 45g carbohydrate, 5g sugar, and 3g protein

Hardee’s offers two types of salad dressing: House dressing for 220 calories or low-fat Balsamic Vinaigrette for 35 calories—both of which you can get on the side.

Skip crunchy carb-heavy extras like croutons, which don’t add any real nutrition to your salad. Instead, choose protein-packed additions like grilled chicken, egg, or nuts.

Sides

As with most fast food restaurants, Hardee’s offers classic sides like french fries, onion rings, and curly fries. In regular sizes, sides add a lot of avoidable calories, salt, and fat to your meal, but if you look to the kid’s menu you can usually find smaller snack-size portions.

Most Nutritious Option

Kid’s Fries

230 calories, 11g fat, 2g saturated fat, 460 mg sodium, 30g carbohydrate, 1g sugar, and 6g protein

Least Nutritious Option

Crispy Curls (Large)

570 calories, 28g fat, 7g saturated fat, 1420 mg sodium, 72g carbohydrate, 0g sugar, and 7g protein

Hardee’s also offers another crispy potato side on its breakfast menu: Hash Rounds. A small side of hash browns has 260 calories, 15g fat, and 320 mg sodium—similar to a small order of fries.

Desserts

Other than its ice cream shakes, Hardee’s has a limited dessert menu. Options such as cookies and pastries add sugar and carbs to your meal and aren’t good sources of protein, vitamins, or other valuable nutrition.

Most Nutritious Option

Apple Turnover

270 calories, 13g fat, 3.5g saturated fat, 260 mg sodium, 35g carbohydrate, 11g sugar, and 3g protein

Least Nutritious Option

Hand-Scooped Ice Cream Shakes

710 calories, 33g fat, 24g saturated fat, 240 mg sodium, 87g carbohydrate, 73g sugar, and 14g protein

The only other offering on Hardee’s dessert menu is a classic chocolate chip cookie with 290 calories, 15g fat, 35g carbohydrate, and 17g sugar.

Beverages

When you’re dining out or at home, water is always the healthiest beverage choice to accompany your meal. Depending on your dietary preferences and needs, you’ll have a few other low-calorie or sugar-free options at Hardee’s.

Most Nutritious Option

Dasani Bottled Water

0 calories, 0g fat, 0 mg sodium, 0g carbohydrate, 0g sugar, and 0g protein

Least Nutritious Option

Sweet Tea

380 calories, 0g fat, 25 mg sodium, 99g carbohydrate, 97g sugar, and 0g protein

As with your entree and sides, keep an eye on portions when considering drink options. Large beverage sizes, a common sight at fast food restaurants, can be a source of added calories, sugar, and even sodium.

Diet-Specific Options

Hardee’s menu allows for quite a bit of customization. If you have certain dietary needs and preferences, it’s often possible to simply ask the employee taking your order if certain ingredients can be left off or swapped for something else.

If you have special dietary needs related to food allergies or intolerances, such as being gluten-free, let the employee preparing your food know. In some cases, they can take extra precautions to help prevent cross-contamination of food allergens in the kitchen. 

Gluten-free

Hardee’s does offer a few options that may be gluten-free. If you are sensitive to gluten and wheat or have Celiac disease, review the nutrition of each menu, as well as the ingredients lists, carefully.

Items on Hardee’s menu that may be suitable for gluten-free diets include:

  • Grits
  • Ice cream shakes
  • Fries, mashed potatoes
  • Side Salad (no dressing), Cole Slaw, Green Beans
  • Hamburger or chicken fillet in a lettuce wrap (no bun)

Low-carb

  • Low-Carb Breakfast Bowl
  • Chicken Tenders (3 pieces)
  • Crunchy or Soft Taco (Chicken or Beef)
  • Side Salad (no dressing), Cole Slaw, Green Beans
  • Hamburger or chicken fillet in a lettuce wrap (no bun)

Diabetes-Friendly

  • Chicken Tenders (3 or 5 pieces)
  • Crunchy Taco (Chicken or Beef)
  • Side Salad (no dressing), Cole Slaw, Green Beans,
  • Hamburger or chicken fillet in a lettuce wrap (no bun)
  • Sour Cream, Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce, Buttermilk Ranch Dipping Sauce

Low-fat

  • Grits, Hash Rounds
  • Frisco Breakfast Sandwich
  • Charbroiled BBQ Chicken Sandwich, 3-Piece Chicken Tenders
  • Fries, Side Salad (no dressing), Mashed Potatoes (small), Green Beans
  • Hot Ham and Cheese, Regular Roast Beef Sandwich, Hamburger or Cheeseburger (small)

Low-sodium

  • Crunchy Taco (Beef)
  • Grits, Hash Rounds (small)
  • Hamburger or Cheeseburger (small)
  • Side Salad (no dressing), Cole Slaw, Chips and Salsa
  • Chocolate Chip Cookie, Hand-Scooped Ice Cream Shakes

Vegetarian & Vegan

Hardee’s offers a few options that may be suitable for you if you follow a vegetarian or vegan diet.

While these options don’t use meat or animal products, or they can be modified to be vegan and vegetarian-friendly, Hardee’s employees do prepare meat and other animal-derived ingredients alongside vegetarian options in shared kitchen space.

Hardee’s menu items that may be vegan include:

  • Chips & Salsa
  • Sourdough Bread
  • Fries, Hash Rounds
  • Side Salad (no cheese)
  • Grape or Strawberry Jelly, Ketchup, Mustard, Texas Pete sauce, Fat-Free Italian Dressing

Vegetarians have a few additional options at Hardee’s, including:

  • Grits
  • Refried Beans, Cheese Quesadilla
  • Crispy Curls, Onion Rings, Mashed Potatoes (no gravy)
  • Made-From-Scratch Biscuit, Jelly Biscuit, Egg and Cheese Biscuit
  • Chocolate Chip Cookie, Apple Turnover, Hand-Scooped Ice Cream Shakes
  • Butter blend, Honey, Ranch Dipping Sauce, BBQ Dipping Sauce, Sour Cream

Food Allergies and Safety

If you have food allergies or need to avoid certain ingredients when dining out, Hardee’s provides an online chart showing which allergens are present on the menu.


Hardee’s
notes the presence of the following common food allergens:

If you have a food allergy and are concerned about cross-contamination of allergens, be aware that Hardee’s prepares all its food in shared kitchen spaces.

While your order may not use ingredients containing a particular allergen, they may have come into contact with it during the storage, prep, or cooking process.

A Word From Verywell

Hardee's and Carl's Jr. might be owned by the same company, but you'll find that the menus aren't identical. It's possible to create a healthier fast food meal at Hardee's—even one that's suitable for a vegetarian diet—but your options will be limited. With a little creativity, attention to portion sizes, planning ahead and taking advantage of Hardee's low-carb swaps (like replacing burger buns with lettuce) you can make a satisfying meal from the fast food chain's menu.

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