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 calories, fat, and carbohydrates.

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


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: “Trim It”-Frisco Breakfast Sandwich with 360 calories, 11g fat, 3g saturated fat, 1100 mg sodium, 44g carbohydrate, 4g sugar, and 19g protein
  • Least nutritious: Monster Biscuit with 890 calories, 63g fat, 25g saturated fat, 2480mg sodium, 45g carbohydrate, 6g 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 440 calories, 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.


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: “Trim It”-1/4lb. Low-Carb Little Thickburger with 220 calories, 15g fat, 6g saturated fat, 590mg sodium, 6g carbohydrate, 4g sugar, and 15g protein
  • Least nutritious: Monster Double Thickburger with 1,400 calories, 97g fat, 35g saturated fat, 2,780mg sodium, 53g carbohydrate, 13g sugar, and 86g 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 Low Carb It—the Thickburger has just 470 calories and 36g fat. If you skip the cheese and mayo, you can make a burger for under 300 calories.


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: 3-Piece Chicken Tenders with 260 calories, 13g fat, 2.5g saturated fat, 770mg sodium, 13g carbohydrate, 0g sugar, and 25g protein
  • Least nutritious: Big Chicken Fillet Sandwich with 710 calories, 36g fat, 6g saturated fat, 1,510mg 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: Roast Beef Sandwich (regular) with 380 calories, 11g fat, 4.5g saturated fat, 1,080mg sodium, 50g carbohydrate, 8g sugar, and 21g protein
  • Least nutritious: Big Hot Ham and Cheese Sandwich with 530 calories, 20g fat, 8g saturated fat, 2,190mg sodium, 51g carbohydrate, 10g sugar, and 34g protein

Hardee’s Ham 'N' 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 500 calories, 22g fat, and 1,350mg 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: Beef Taco with 170 calories, 12g fat, 5g saturated fat, 320mg sodium, 13g carbohydrate, 1g sugar, and 11g protein
  • Least nutritious: Chicken Taco Salad, 940 calories, 49g fat, 14g saturated fat, 2,060mg sodium, 73g carbohydrate, 4g sugar, and 49g 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.


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. For example, a Side Salad (no dressing) clocks in at 120 calories, 7g fat, 4.5g saturated fat, 140mg sodium, 7g carbohydrate, 1g sugar, and 7g 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.


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: Kid’s Fries with 240 calories, 12g fat, 2g saturated fat, 480mg sodium, 31g carbohydrate, 0g sugar, and 3g protein
  • Least nutritious: Onion Rings with 670 calories, 35g fat, 6g saturated fat, 750mg sodium, 77g carbohydrate, 7g sugar, and 10g protein

Hardee’s also offers another crispy potato side on its breakfast menu: Hash Rounds. A small side of hash browns has 240 calories, 14g fat, and 300 mg sodium—similar to a small order of fries.


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: Apple Turnover with 270 calories, 13g fat, 3.5g saturated fat, 260mg sodium, 35g carbohydrate, 11g sugar, and 3g protein
  • Least nutritious: Hand-Scooped Ice Cream Vanilla Shake with 700 calories, 35g fat, 24g saturated fat, 240mg sodium, 86g carbohydrate, 65g sugar, and 12g protein

The only other offering on Hardee’s dessert menu is a classic chocolate chip cookie with 200 calories, 10g fat, 35g carbohydrate, and 11g sugar.


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: Dasani Bottled Water with 0 calories, 0g fat, 0 mg sodium, 0g carbohydrate, 0g sugar, and 0g protein
  • Least nutritious: Sweet Tea with 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. 


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 Breakfast Bowl
  • 3-Piece Chicken Tenders
  • 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)


  • 3- or 5-Piece Chicken Tenders
  • 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


  • 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)


  • 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:

  • Soy
  • Egg
  • Milk
  • Fish
  • Wheat
  • Shellfish
  • Peanuts
  • Tree Nuts

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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