In this post, you’ll learn how to quickly and confidently order low carb at Carl’s Jr. It also goes by the name of Hardees depending on where you live. For the sake of simplicity, I’m calling it Carl’s Jr. throughout this post.
Read below to get my 25 item Carl’s Jr. low carb menu for free. It’s a great resource for anyone who wants to eat low carb, keto, Atkins, low sugar, or diabetic friendly at Carl’s Jr.
Join me on my mission to order low carb at the top 30 fast food chains in the US. For each fast food restaurant I’m evaluating:
- Availability of low carb entrees (less than 20 net carbs).
- Satiety of low carb entrees.
- Price of low carb entrees.
- Taste of low carb entrees.
- Ordering experience.
The last time I went to Carl’s Jr. was late night after a friend’s wedding in California. We were drunk in a taxi and cruised through the drive-thru to order some food off the $1 menu. It was so bad we couldn’t finish it.
Carl’s Jr. wasn’t a good fit for a buzzed Mr. SkinnyPants, but could they be a better fit for the sober, low carb version of myself?
Let’s find out.
Carl’s Jr. is low carb friendly but reminds me of a teenager going through a phase. Is he Carl’s Jr. or is he Hardee’s or both? Is he focused on all natural burgers or is he trying to sell me taquitos under his Green Burrito alter ego? It’s a weird brand identity crisis that customers get to watch unfold in real time. Thankfully it’s resulted in some good low carb options.
- Low carb friendly – Yes.
- Low carb entrees on menu – Yes. They have a lettuce wrapped Low Carb Thickburger on the menu.
- Satiety of low carb entrees – Above average. I’m giving them high marks for offering a 1/2 pound version of their Low Carb Thickburger. It’s incredibly filling.
- Taste of low carb entrees – Average. The burger was good. The chicken entrees were mediocre. Haven’t had their low carb breakfast options yet.
- Price / value of low carb entrees – Well Above Average.
- Lettuce Wrapped 1/2 Pound Low Carb Thickburger – $6.49 for 560 calories.
- Lettuce Wrapped Charbroiled Chicken Club – $5.49 for 370 calories.
- Charbroiled Chicken Salad – $4.99 for about 200 calories.
- Lettuce Wrapped Jalapeno Double Cheeseburger – $2.49 for 430 calories.
- Steak & Egg Burrito (No Tortilla) – $3.99 for 420 calories.
- Sausage, Egg & Cheese Biscuit (No Biscuit) – $2.99 for 310 calories.
- Ordering experience – Above Average. Showing up to the drive through between 10:15AM and 2.30PM has it’s perks. The lines were empty which meant the drive-thru attendant was patient with my low carb orders.
Of note, Carl’s Jr. is not afraid to experiment with some weird stuff on their menu. As of writing this, they had a burger you can order with a baby back rib on top of a beef patty. Now, I’m not going to get that, mind you, but I respect their adventurousness.
What I ordered
My first time through the Carl’s Jr. drive-thru I got three different lunch entrees. I wanted to test a low carb burger, a chicken sandwich, and a chicken salad. I also went back to get a jalapeno double cheeseburger and some breakfast entrees.
#1 The Low Carb Thickburger – Lettuce Wrapped with 1/2 Pound Patty
I was excited because the Low Carb Thickburger is actually listed and displayed on the Carl’s Jr. drive-thru menu. It’s extremely rare for a low carb item to be listed, much less depicted, on a drive-thru menu. Made it super-easy to order.
On the left, my Low Carb Carl’s Jr. ThickBurger still in the wrapper. On the right, I removed the top lettuce leaf so you can see the ingredients.
- Price – $6.49
- Nutrition – 560 calories and 8 net carbs
- Taste – Above Average. This was the best of my four low carb lunch entrees.
- Notes – Lettuce wrapped thick burger is a little messy. I transferred it to a larger bowl at home and ate with my hands. The lettuce only holds together for a few bites. The 1/2 pound patty is cooked to well done. There’s a tasty sauce on there that’s similar to Big Mac sauce.
The Low Carb Thickburger is a good option for low carb dieters and is a bit of a novelty in the fast food world since you can order it with a 1/2 pound beef patty.
#2 Charbroiled Chicken Club (Lettuce Wrapped)
I don’t like ordering grilled chicken while on a low carb diet because it’s light on calories and flavor. However, the lettuce wrapped Charbroiled Chicken Club at Carl’s Jr. comes with bacon, cheese, and mayo, so it’s a good high calorie, high protein, low carb fast food option. Of note, I had to special request that this sandwich be served “lettuce wrapped” because it wasn’t listed on the drive-thru menu.
- Price – $5.49
- Nutrition – 370 calories and 7 net carbs
- Taste – Average.
- Notes – Chicken was tender and flavorful. Bacon was a nice touch. Cheese was bland. Lettuce, tomato, and mayo made it a little soggy and messy, but that’s probably unavoidable. The tomato didn’t smell fresh.
On the whole, the Charbroiled Chicken Club was a little bland for my liking. A spicy buffalo sauce, Sriracha mayo, or creamy jalapeno sauce would have been a nice addition.
#3 Charbroiled Chicken Salad
I continue to believe salads are the Sucker’s Play in low carb fast food. They offer too few calories at too high a price. The Charbroiled Chicken Salad at Carl’s Jr. was better than most but still offers too few calories to merit my recommendation.
- Price – $4.99
- Nutrition – 200 calories and 7 net carbs (without croutons)
- Taste – Average.
- Notes – Chicken was good. Vegetables weren’t cut small enough for convenient fork-eating. Shredded cheese kinda fell off to the side of the tray in transit. Ordered buffalo sauce for flavor, but that didn’t work because it was too watery for dressing.
#4 Jalapeno Double Cheeseburger
I like spicy stuff so anytime there’s a jalapeno burger on the menu I’m getting it. In this case, I made a special trip back for it.
- Price – $2.49 (on special)
- Nutrition – 430 calories and 4 net carbs
- Taste – Below Average.
- Notes – I wanted to love this sandwich because it would have been a steal for under $3, but the beef patties are too thin and dry. I was wondering how they make this work for $2.49 and the answer is that they barely give you any meat.
#5 Steak & Egg Breakfast Burrito (No Tortilla)
I usually order bunless breakfast sandwiches but I was wondering how the quantity of food compares to a breakfast burrito so I ordered the Steak & Egg Burrito without a tortilla and they put it in a salad container for me. It was a revelation.
- Price – $3.99
- Nutrition – 420 calories and 1 net carb
- Taste – Well Above Average.
- Notes – Steak, eggs, cheese, and pico de gallo served in a salad container. Looked and tasted amazing. A revelation. Highly recommend.
#6 Sausage & Egg Cheese Biscuit (No Biscuit)
This is my standard low carb breakfast order. It was unimpressive next to the Steak & Egg Burrito Bowl.
- Price – $2.99
- Nutrition – 310 calories and 2 net carbs
- Taste – Average
- Notes – Visually unimpressive when sitting next to the Steak & Egg Burrito Bowl. Not as good as the bunless breakfast sandwiches from McDonald’s and Burger King.
What you should order
Do yourself a favor and get in to Carl’s Jr before 10:30AM and order their Steak & Egg Burrito without a tortilla. It’s the best breakfast item had during this low carb fast food challenge.
If you go for lunch, show your appreciation for the fact they have a low carb burger on the menu by ordering their Low Carb Thickburger.
What you can order
The Carl’s Jr. menu always seems to be in flux, but as of writing this post they had 5 different burgers and 2 different chicken sandwiches that can be ordered lettuce wrapped.
They also offer a chicken salad and garden salad that are low carb friendly.
You can also get a 3-piece chicken tender with 270 calories and 11 net carbs.
For breakfast, they have several egg, meat & cheese sandwiches and burritos that can be ordered without the bread or tortilla.
It should be the perfect resource if you’re looking for a Carl’s Jr. sugar free menu or a Carl’s Jr. diabetic menu.
My low carb menu is derived from my own online research as well as the buggy Carl’s Jr. nutritional calculator which works for about half the items on their menu.
What you should avoid
In case you’re new to low carb eating, I’ll point out that you can’t eat any of the Carl’s Jr. sandwich buns, tortillas, shakes, desserts or fries.
Here’s the full list of tricky and tempting items to avoid.
Avoid these Sauces
- Sweet & Bold BBQ Dipping Sauce – 12 net carbs.
Avoid these Sides
- Onion Rings – 58 net carbs.
- Fried Zucchini – 31 net carbs.
- Jalapeno Bites – 29 net carbs.
Avoid these Bunless Burgers (due to Onion Rings and BBQ Sauce)
- The Baby Back Rib Thickburger – 84 net carbs
- The Double Baby Back Rib Thickburger – 84 net carbs
- The 1/3 Lb Baby Back Rib Thickburger – 90 net carbs
- Western Bacon Cheeseburger – 25 net carbs
- Double Western Bacon Cheeseburger – 26 net carbs
Avoid these Items with Fried Chicken
- Bunless Big Chicken Fillet Sandwich – 52 net carbs
- Bunless Bacon Swiss Crispy Chicken Sandwich – 55 net carbs
- Bunless Spicy Chicken Sandwich – 41 net carbs
- Hand-Breaded Chicken Tenders (5 pieces or more) – 18+ net carbs
- Chicken Stars (4 pieces) – 11 net carbs for only 180 calories.
If you’re looking for a moderately low carb fast food fried chicken option, then check out my Chick-Fil-A low carb post.
My next low carb fast food guide is for Little Caesars which I’m hoping isn’t just another damn pizza place where I have to get wings or eat toppings only. Chances are slim.
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aka “Mr. SkinnyPants”