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

Hardee's

Verywell / Christian Alzate

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Hardee's (owned by the same company, CKE restaurants, as Carl's Jr.), is only the 35th largest hamburger fast food chain in the United States. In general, Hardee's menu items are grounded in the restaurant's "southern roots", while Carl's Jr.'s offerings are more southwestern-themed.

Customizing is the easiest way to reduce the calories, fat, or carb count of your meal and also lets you avoid specific ingredients.

What Experts Say

"Carl’s Jr. has several salad options that can add veggies to a meal, as well as an avocado sandwich, but most options don't offer a full veggie portion and lack fiber. If you eat here regularly, add vegetables and other higher fiber foods to your meals and choose lower sodium options when you can."

Willow Jarosh, MS, RD

Navigating the Menu

Hardee's serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. You can order breakfast sandwiches and platters, burgers, chicken, other sandwiches, Mexican options, and a variety of sides and desserts, as well as a few different kids' meals.

Most Nutritious Options
  • Frisco Breakfast Sandwich (Breakfast)

  • Small Hamburger (Burger)

  • 3 Pc. Chicken Tenders (Chicken)

  • Original Hot Ham N' Cheese (Other Sandwich)

  • Hard Shell Beef Taco (Mexican)

  • Small French Fries (Sides)

  • Chocolate Chip Cookie (Dessert)

  • Dasani Water (Beverage)

Least Nutritious Options
  • Hardee Breakfast Platter with Sausage (Breakfast)

  • The Really Big Hardee (Burger)

  • Charbroiled Chicken Club Sandwich (Chicken)

  • Monster Roast Beef (Other Sandwich)

  • Chicken Taco Salad (Mexican)

  • Onion Rings (Sides)

  • Hand-Scooped Vanilla Ice Cream Shake (Dessert)

  • Sweet Tea (Beverage)

If you're looking for the healthiest meal at Hardee's, a small hamburger and small fries is the best choice, especially if you replace the burger bun with a lettuce wrap.

Breakfast

Hardee’s offers 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. While a plain biscuit may have just 440 calories, it’s high in carbs and doesn’t have the protein you’d get from eggs.

A higher-calorie but protein-packed breakfast will keep you more satisfied until lunchtime. So, if you have a craving for a Hardee's biscuit sandwich, you can reduce its calories and fat by skipping the cheese and choosing ham over bacon.

Most Nutritious Option

The Frisco Breakfast Sandwich provides 430 calories, 19g fat, 8g saturated fat, 42g carbohydrate, 24g protein, and 1280 mg sodium. While its fat and calorie content is somewhat high, it's still lower than most other breakfast items on the menu.

Least Nutritious Option

The Hardee Breakfast Platter with sausage provides 1150 calories, 79g fat, 26g saturated fat, 76g carbohydrate, 30g protein, and 2420mg sodium. If you're not in the mood for a morning sandwich, ask for eggs and bacon and skip everything else.

Burgers

The burger options at Hardee’s range from typical fast-food fare to those 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.

You can also swap the bun for lettuce if you're watching your carbs. A lettuce-wrapped Thickburger—the "Low Carb It" version—has 420 calories and 33g fat. If you skip the cheese and mayo, you can get a burger for under 300 calories.

Most Nutritious Option

A small Hamburger at Hardee's provides 250 calories, 9g fat, 3.5g saturated fat, 32g carbohydrate, 11g protein, and 570mg sodium. All of these amounts can fit into most any eating plan, though if you're eating low-carb, you'll want to swap the bun for lettuce.

Least Nutritious Option

The Really Big Hardee provides 1170 calories, 58g fat, 23g saturated fat, 55g carbohydrate, 47g protein, and 1380mg sodium. If you lose even one of the burger patties and order The Big Hardee, you can save yourself 250 calories.

Chicken

Hardee’s has some chicken options as well, though many are in the tradition of classic fried fast food. For example, the chain’s star-shaped chicken nuggets and hand-breaded tenders are fried. There's no way around that.

However, several sandwiches can be ordered with lower-fat charbroiled chicken breast instead. If you still want nuggets and tenders, it helps to avoid dipping sauces which can be high in calories, salt, and even hidden sugar.

Most Nutritious Option

Hardee's 3-Piece Chicken Tenders provides 260 calories, 13g fat, 2.5g saturated fat, 13g carbohydrate, 25g protein, and 770mg sodium. That makes this a good option if you're looking for a high-protein meal that will fill you up.

Least Nutritious Option

The Charbroiled Chicken Club Sandwich provides 650 calories, 29g fat, 7g saturated fat, 53g carbohydrate, 43g protein, and 1870mg sodium. You can make this sandwich lower in calories and fat by leaving off the Swiss cheese, bacon, or both.

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.

Hardee’s Ham 'N' Cheese sandwich has 14 slices of ham, so the easiest way to reduce its calorie and sodium content is to ask for fewer slices. If you opt for the roast beef sandwich, order the regular rather than the larger size.

Most Nutritious Option

Hardee's Original Hot Ham N' Cheese provides 280 calories, 12g fat, 4g saturated fat, 29g carbohydrate, 19g protein, and 1140mg sodium. Most of the other sandwiches are at least double these amounts, if not more.

Least Nutritious Option

The Monster Roast Beef provides 870 calories, 33g fat, 13g saturated fat, 52g carbohydrate, 54g protein, and 3150mg sodium. If you're in the mood for roast beef, the Original Roast Beef Sandwich is less than half the calories of the Monster option.

Mexican

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, beef and chicken bowls, and nachos.

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

Most Nutritious Option

The Hard Shell Beef Taco provides 170 calories, 12g fat, 5g saturated fat, 13g carbohydrate, 11g protein, and 320mg sodium. If you'd rather have a soft shell, it will add 40 calories and 240mg sodium, but it also has 1g less fat.

Least Nutritious Option

Hardee's Chicken Taco Salad contains 940 calories, 49g fat, 14g saturated fat, 73g carbohydrate, 49g protein, and 2060mg sodium. You can reduce its fat, calories, and sodium by ordering it without cheese and nixing the flour tortilla bowl.

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 calories, salt, and fat to your meal. But if you look to the kids' menu, you can usually find smaller portions.

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

Most Nutritious Option

Hardee's small order of Natural-Cut French Fries provides 300 calories, 15g fat, 3g saturated fat, 39g carbohydrate, 3g protein, and 600mg sodium. It's not the best option if you're watching your sodium intake, but it has less fat and calories than other side dishes.

Least Nutritious Option

Hardee's Onion Rings contain 670 calories, 35g fat, 6g saturated fat, 77g carbohydrate, 10g protein, and 750mg sodium. Split them with a friend to satisfy your taste buds while also saving yourself half of the calories, fat, and sodium.

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 the best sources of protein, vitamins, or other valuable nutrition. That makes these better for occasional splurges versus ordering them every time.

Most Nutritious Options

Hardee's Chocolate Chip Cookie provides 200 calories, 10g fat, 5g saturated fat, 26g carbohydrate, 2g protein, and 180mg sodium. If you're watching your saturated fat, the Apple Turnover has less at 3.5g fat, but it is higher in calories, carbs, and sodium.

Least Nutritious Options

Hardee's Hand-Scooped Ice Cream Vanilla Shake contains 700 calories, 35g fat, 24g saturated fat, 86g carbohydrate, 12g protein, and 240mg sodium. The chocolate and strawberry options aren't far off with only 10 fewer calories. If you really want one, eat half now and save the other half for another day.

Beverages

Whether 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.

As with your entrée 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.

Most Nutritious Option

Dasani Bottled Water has 0 calories, 0g fat, 0g carbohydrate, 0g protein, and 0mg sodium. This saves more of all of these for the meal itself, or you can simply enjoy consuming lower amounts of each if it helps you better adhere to your eating plan.

Least Nutritious Option

A Hardee's Sweet Tea provides 380 calories, 0g fat, 99g carbohydrate, 0g protein, and 25 mg sodium. If you want a sweet drink, a diet soda is a better option without all of the calories.

Diet-Specific Options

Hardee’s menu allows for quite a bit of customization, with some items available for those following a gluten-free, low-carb, diabetes-friendly, low-fat, low-sodium, vegetarian, and vegan diet. It's not as easy to find something to eat if you follow a low-FODMAP diet.

Gluten-Free

  • Low-Carb Breakfast Bowl
  • Side Salad
  • Hand-Scooped Ice Cream Shakes
  • Chicken Bowl
  • Beef Bowl
  • Mashed Potatoes
  • Green Beans
  • Coleslaw

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 the ingredients list carefully. It does indicate which foods may contain wheat with a "W" or gluten with a "G."

Low-Carb

  • Low-Carb Breakfast Bowl
  • 3-Piece Chicken Tenders
  • Crunchy or soft taco (chicken or beef)
  • Hamburger or chicken fillet in a lettuce wrap (no bun)
  • Side salad

Most any sandwich can be made low-carb by swapping the bun for a lettuce wrap. If you want a taco, you can lower the carb content by not eating the shell.

Low-Fat

  • Grits
  • Side salad (no dressing)
  • Chicken bowl
  • Rice
  • Beans
  • Mashed potatoes

Many of Hardee's menu items get a large portion of their calorie count from fat. You can help lower the fat in these foods by leaving off items such as cheese and bacon, as well as choosing the smallest size options.

Low-Sodium

  • Hard-shell beef taco
  • Hard-shell chicken taco
  • Single slider
  • Side salad (no dressing)

If you're watching your sodium, ask the staff to hold as many condiments and toppings as possible, because many contain salt. If they're not busy, they may even agree to not salt a batch of French fries so you can enjoy them without worrying about added sodium.

Vegetarian and Vegan

  • Chips and salsa
  • Sourdough bread
  • Grits
  • Hash rounds
  • Fries
  • Crispy curls
  • Green beans
  • Side salad (no cheese) and low-fat Italian dressing
  • Some condiments including the BBQ and Buffalo Dipping cups
  • Tortilla, beans, and Mexican rice (no cheese)
  • Peach cobbler

Hardee’s offers a few options that may be suitable for you if you follow a vegetarian or vegan diet. While these don’t contain meat or animal products, they are prepared alongside these options in shared kitchen space.

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. It notes the following common food allergens:

  • Egg
  • Fish
  • Milk
  • Peanuts
  • Shellfish
  • Soy
  • Treenuts
  • Wheat
  • Gluten

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. Therefore, while your order may not use ingredients containing a particular allergen, they may have come in 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 either restaurant, but your options may be limited.

With a little creativity, attention to portion sizes, planning ahead, and taking advantage of low-carb swaps (like replacing burger buns with lettuce) you can make a satisfying meal from this fast food chain's menu.

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Article Sources
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