Carl’s’s Jr. has built a reputation for making delicious food at affordable prices. What started as a single hotdog cart in Los Angeles in 1941 grew into over 1,100 restaurants all over the American West.
While Carl’s Jr is known for burgers like the Western Bacon Cheeseburger or the Super Star Hamburger, if you ask me what the best Carl’s Jr menu items are, I cannot keep it to just a few.
With options like hand-breaded chicken tenders, hand-scooped ice cream, shakes, and malts, as well as many other sandwiches and sides, my first instinct is to say “all of it.” There are, however, some items on the menu that stand out.
If you are looking for the best food at Carl’s Jr, here are some of the highly recommended choices that you cannot go wrong with as well as a description of each item.
Hand-Breaded Chicken Tenders
Carl’s Jr’s chicken tenders stand out in a few different ways. First, each chicken finger is hand-breaded.
That ensures an even coating of batter on every piece. Second, Carl’s chicken fingers are all-white-meat single pieces of meat, not parts of chicken meat.
Each is dipped in buttermilk, rolled in bread crumbs, and fried until each chicken finger is crispy and golden brown.
There are two sizes (3 and 5 pieces.) The three-piece chicken tender option is also available as a meal special that includes a drink, fries, and cookie.
Every chicken tenders meal comes with a choice of three dipping sauces (blue cheese, buttermilk ranch, and honey mustard.)
Even though Carl’s Jr started as a hotdog joint, it is known for its burgers.
The restaurant prides itself on offering premium beef, fresh vegetables and rolls, and if you want, cheese. The Big Hamburger, though, stands on its own without the cheese.
The draw of the Big Hamburger is the 100 percent all-beef hamburger patty, which is charbroiled and served on a seeded bun. On the burger are onions, dill pickles, mustard, and ketchup.
The burger itself has 480 calories, 160 of which are from fat. Of the fat, 8 grams are from saturated fat and .5 grams are trans-fat.
Carl’s Jr is a restaurant that specializes in burgers but does everything else on their menu well.
While the chocolate cake is not bakery quality, if you are looking for a delicious, sweet dessert to top off your Carl’s meal, the chocolate cake is a statement maker.
The menu advertises the cake as “rich chocolate” that is “topped with frosting.” It is a popular menu item because the icing is sweet and the cake is rich
Carl’s chocolate cake has 300 calories per serving.
The sugar in the chocolate cake weighs in at 36 grams, which is more than the recommended daily allowance for sugar.
I found the Crisscut fries to be an amazing compliment to Carl’s already impressive burgers and chicken dishes.
They are the gold standard when it comes to fast-food French fries. Fried to golden brown perfection and seasoned with salt, you will not be able to stop eating them.
For those watching their weight, crisscut fries are not your best option.
Each order has a whopping 450 calories. An order of Carl’s crisscut fries also has 900 mg of sodium, which is about a third of the entire recommended daily allowance for sodium.
All that said, the taste alone makes any sacrifice later in the day well worthwhile.
Not every Carl’s offers a straight double cheeseburger. For the restaurants that do, what customers get is a slimmed-down version of the giant double cheeseburgers on the menu.
It only has 530 calories whereas most of the biggies have at least a couple hundred calories more.
Making up the Double Cheeseburger are two all-beef patties with melted American cheese in between, dill pickle slices, diced onions, ketchup, and mustard.
All that is bookended by a seeded bun. Basically, I found the double cheeseburger to be a meal for those who are hungry but not starving and looking to avoid feeling stuffed.
Double Western Bacon Cheeseburger
The Double Western Bacon Cheeseburger is all that plus onion rings, plus a toasted seeded bun, plus—and here is the important part—bacon.
You can also order this with ketchup instead of the Carl’s Jr special sauce, although I think the special sauce is delicious.
Now, this double cheeseburger is not for the faint of heart. Eating all of it earns you 1160 calories in one sitting. It also has 2020 milligrams of sodium, which is 2.02 grams.
That means one Double Western Bacon Cheeseburger has an entire day’s recommended intake of sodium.
Those facts aside, however, bacon takes an already great idea and makes it awesome.
Famous Star with Cheese
The Famous Star with Cheese is one of Carl’s Jr’s signature sandwiches.
It has a 100 percent charbroiled beef hamburger patty, melted American cheese, sliced onions, dill pickles, lettuce, and tomato, topped with mayonnaise and Carl’s special sauce, all on a seeded bun.
It is hard to imagine a more textbook example of a great cheeseburger. As with all Carl’s burgers, everything is fresh and delicious.
If you are watching your weight and want a cheeseburger, this is the best option on the menu.
The Famous Star with Cheese is the Super Star with Cheese without the extra patty or slice of cheese.
As a side or snack by itself, Carl’s Jr’s fried zucchini is a delicious alternative to French fries or onion rings. An order of fried zucchini comes in a size that could serve as a meal for a smaller person.
An order of fried zucchini is also a great way to top off one of Carl’s Jr’s famous burgers.
The calories are high at 330, and the sodium is about a third of the recommended daily allowance.
Taste-wise, however, this side exceeds all expectations.
The batter is crispy and slightly spicy, while the zucchini still maintains a bit of firmness.
Guacamole Bacon Thickburger
Everyone loves guacamole and bacon and beef, which makes the Guacamole Bacon Thickburger (also called the Guacamole Bacon Angus Burger) about as good as it gets.
This burger has a third of a pound of Angus beef, guacamole, two thick strips of bacon, pepper jack cheese, and Santa Fe Sauce on a potato bun. Oh, you also get lettuce, tomato, and onions.
So many amazing ingredients would rarely be in the same place at the same time, but that is partly what makes the Guacamole Bacon Thickburger so incredible.
One taste will leave you wondering where this sandwich has been your entire life.
No discussion of Carl’s Jr’s is complete without covering their hand-scooped ice cream shakes.
These are not other fast food restaurant shakes (when their shake machines are up and running.)
These are Oreo, chocolate, vanilla, or strawberry milkshakes so thick you will seriously consider making one a meal in and of itself.
The secret is that Carl’s milkshakes are not watered-down frozen flavor slurries. Each milkshake is thick, delicious ice cream.
If the ice cream is not enough to get you to order one, each shake has a creamy whipped topping. As a dessert or by itself, a Carl’s Jr’s milkshake is a culinary event you will not soon forget.
Super Star With Cheese
Carl’s double cheeseburger, also called the Super Star with Cheese, is a trendsetter.
Packed between two halves of a seeded bun are two 100 percent all-beef patties, two slices of American cheese, lettuce, tomato, sliced onions, pickles, Carl’s special sauce (or if you prefer, you can order ketchup), and mayonnaise. The special sauce is proprietary.
If you crave a big cheeseburger, the Super Star with Cheese is for you.
The Super Star with Cheese is the Famous Star hamburger with Cheese and an additional hamburger patty and a slice of cheese.
It has 920 calories and is a full-sized meal for just about any normal-sized adult.
The Big Carl
Two charbroiled all-beef patties with classic sauce, 2 slices of American cheese, and lettuce on a seeded bun make up this Carl’s Jr. icon. By itself, the Big Carl is a hefty, satisfying meal.
Add fries or onion rings plus a soft drink, and you have a meal that is as tasty as it is filling.
By itself, the great thing about the Big Carl is that it is a meal, to be sure, but it is not so much that you will feel stuffed.
If your appetite is larger than a single burger, you will not be disappointed with the Big Carl.
Western Bacon Cheeseburger
Not everyone wants two patties on their bacon cheeseburger, and that is fine because it is, after all, a free country.
For the folks that want the great taste of a Carl’s Jr burger, but with bacon, there is the Western Bacon Cheeseburger.
This sandwich entails a charbroiled all-beef patty, 2 strips of bacon, a slice of American cheese, and a tangy BBQ sauce, all on a seeded bun.
Nutritionally, the Western Bacon Cheeseburger has 760 calories, so you will not leave feeling hungry.
It also packs a wallop of flavor, mixing fried onion rings, BBQ sauce, and bacon with the traditional taste of an American cheeseburger.
No discussion of Carl’s Jr menu items is complete without covering the Bacon-Egg Burrito.
Some fast-food restaurants “serve breakfast,” others, like Carl’s, provide you with the food you could and probably do want to eat at any meal.
The Bacon-Egg Burrito is one such meal.
Packed with crispy bacon, scrambled eggs, melted shredded cheese, and wrapped tightly in a flour tortilla shell, the Bacon-Egg Burrito is a flavor explosion that doubles as a full-blown meal.
Add some hash brown nuggets to it, and you have a meal to last all day, or at least until you can break for lunch.
Hash Brown Nuggets
Speaking of Hash Brown Nuggets, if you are looking for a quick pick-me-up that is both filling and great tasting, these are your answer.
A crispy shell encases shredded potato that virtually melts in your mouth.
By itself, it is a great snack. Paired with a breakfast burrito and you will be good to go at least until lunch.
From a nutrition standpoint, Carl’s Jr’s Hash Brown Nuggets have between 78 and 157 calories depending on the size order you place.
Order sizes come in Small, Medium, and Large. Carl’s Jr stores serve breakfast from opening time through 10:30 a.m.
Low Carb Thickburger
In most Carl’s, the Low Carb Thickburger gets listed on the drive-through menu, or you have to special order it.
If, however, you are on a diet or like to eat healthier, the Low Carb Thickburger meets that goal, although it still has over 500 calories and around 5 net carbs.
The lower calorie count is achieved by ditching the roll.
After that, the Low Car Thickburger is a regular Carl’s cheeseburger. To replace the roll, the burger is wrapped in lettuce.
If the carb reduction is not enough for you, you can have it made to order with no cheese.
Calling this giant breakfast sandwich a “Monster Biscuit” is misleading. Sure, the biscuit is big and delicious, but what makes this menu item special is what goes in between the biscuit:
Two folded eggs, Swiss and American cheese, bacon, and a sausage patty.
Other breakfasts pale in comparison, let alone other restaurants’ stand-alone biscuits.
Couple that with some golden hash brown nuggets, and you have a complete country breakfast at your fingertips.
Overall, it packs a full 850 calories, enough to fuel just about anyone through the morning. The Monster Biscuit gives you so much food that calling it “monster” does not do it justice. Gargantuan is more like it.
That is a rundown of the best Carl’s Jr menu items, although, just about anything you order from Carl’s promises to be filling and delicious.
It is worth noting that if you are a vegetarian, there are a few menu items you will find delicious.
Remember that not all Carl’s open and close at the same time, and not all restaurants open at the same time every day, so call ahead or check their hours online. That said, if you are hungry the very best food at Carl’s Jr will more than satisfy you!