Without potatoes we would be a hungrier people. While delicious in any form, fries hold a special place in our hearts because their carb-y, salty, deep-fried selves have saved us from settling for salads at many fast-food restaurants. But, sadly, not all fries are vegetarian. We’re here to tell you which.
Are french fries vegan?
All fries must be vegetarian, right? After all, they’re just fried, salty potatoes. Although many fries are free of animal ingredients, sometimes they contain dairy or may be fried in lard.
In most cases, the fries you order from a fast-food restaurant are cooked in the same oil that is used to fry meat and other animal products. Some vegetarians avoid ordering food that could be cross-contaminated, but others are fine with it as long as the fries don’t contain meat or dairy ingredients. It’s a choice that ultimately depends on the individual.
Which fast-food French fries are not vegetarian?
Although most fries are vegetarian, there are some that actually contain animal ingredients:
McDonald’s: These fries are cooked in oil with “natural beef flavor”, which contains no actual meat, but contains dairy.
Checker: Their fritters are coated with milk powder and fried in animal lard, so they’re unequivocally not vegetarian.
Poppy’s: As with most of Popeye’s menu, the fries are not vegetarian. In this case, they are fried in beef.
This is not a definitive list of which fries contain animal products. If you go to a small chain or local fast-food establishment, ask your server about the ingredients.
12 Vegan Fast-Food French Fries to Add to Your Order
We’ve dug up the top fast-food chains in the US that have vegan fries. In no particular order, here are 12 fast-food fries that are free of animal-derived ingredients.
1 Burger King
Unlike its rival McDonald’s, Burger King has vegan fries.
Served piping hot and salty, you don’t have to eat them alone as the Impossible Whopper has been on Burger King’s menu since summer 2019.
Apart from burgers and fries, you’ll find a few other vegan options at Burger King that will ensure you don’t have to face your hunger pangs.
It may be known for fried chicken, but KFC gets credit for putting vegan fries on the menu.
Secret Recipe fries are made with a “secret blend of herbs and spices,” according to the website. But what this really means is that they are tossed with onions, carrots, tomato powder and a bit of MSG.
If you’re traveling and find yourself in need of a vegetarian meal without a plant-based restaurant, KFC’s menu will do in a pinch. Its other vegan options include baked beans and a few other vegetables you’d expect to find on a barbecue table. Meanwhile, we’ll also be waiting for Beyond Fried Chicken to return in some way, shape or form.
We don’t know if Wendy’s Black Bean Burger will ever make its debut, but we do know one thing: the fries are vegetarian.
Wendy’s fries are different from other fast-food fries in that they leave the skin on. We’re about it.
Wendy’s also has a few other plant-based options on the menu that can help you with your meal plan. If you need more in your meal, you can have a baked potato and a starchy meal of both fried and baked spuds. And there may not be a veggie burger, but the premium bun is vegan.
4 Taco Bell
Yes, Taco Bell has fries! Nacho fries are known to come and go, so give them a try the next time you see them on the menu. The fries are vegetarian, but only if you order without cheese. We recommend replacing it with pico de gallo and guacamole for some toppings that fast-food chains don’t usually offer. However, Taco Bell happens to be one of the most vegetarian-friendly fast-food chains, so you don’t have to just get potatoes if you don’t want to. Most of its menu can be made plant-based with a few simple swaps.
5 five people
At Five Guys, there are two types of vegan fries to choose from. There is the regular option, which is deep fried in peanut oil before being salted. Then, there are Cajun-style fries that are fried in oil and then seasoned with onion powder, garlic powder, salt, paprika, oregano, white pepper, and cayenne pepper. For other vegan options, Five Guys is one of those fast-food chains where you just have to make do with the fries.
6 In-N-Out Burger
Although it is only located in California, Arizona, Nevada, Utah and Texas, In-N-Out Burger has made a name for itself in the fast-food world. If you ever find yourself near one, unfortunately, you won’t be able to get a burger, but fries is Vegetarian as they are fried only in sunflower oil.
7 of Arabic
This meat-centric establishment has a surprising number of vegan options, including fries! Crinkle-cut fries and curly fries—both rare on fast-food menus—are free of whale-based ingredients. Also, depending on your location, you may find a third, regional option: thick-cut homestyle fries.
8 Sonic Drive-In
Sonic’s regular fries are primed for dipping in vegetarian and ketchup. But if you’re looking for potatoes in other forms, you’ll be happy to know that tater tots are also made with only plant-based ingredients.
9 Dairy Queen
There’s no animal fat—the Dairy Queen fries and hash browns are both vegetarian. You won’t find many other animal-free options here, but surprisingly, Dairy Queen has a non-dairy version of the Dili Bar, so you can indulge in the salty-sweet combination of French fries and ice cream.
jack in the box
10 jack in the box
Get ready, because Jack in the Box has a total of three fries to choose from French fries, crispy fries, and potato wedges do not contain beef tallow or any other animal-based ingredients. Also, hash browns are vegan.
Fries are one of the few items on the Whataburger menu that are actually vegetarian. You can pair your spuds with a cheese-less garden salad and some apple slices, but not much else.
12 Carls Jr. and Hardy
Both Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s share incredibly similar menus—both chains are owned by the same parent company, which has chosen to market itself practically the same way. Both have natural cut fries but Carl’s Jr. has waffle fries, while Hardee’s has curly fries. All of them are vegetarian, but unfortunately, only Carl’s Jr. sells the Beyond Burger to cater to your dietary needs.
Eating fries isn’t always fun, but we appreciate how fries are there to satisfy our hunger when we’re desperate.