HARDEE'S GLUTEN-FREE OFFERINGS? SKETCHY AT BEST
I've been knee deep in my search for fast food restaurants with (safe) gluten-free menu items. The struggle is real, but I'm chugging along. Hardee's has locations all across the United States (in some areas the restaurant morphs into Carl's Jr.), but are there Hardee's gluten-free menu items? Read on for the full details as well as the scary information one store manager shared with me.
You'll find a "Gluten-Sensitive" menu under their "Better for You" page on Hardee's website. I personally hear giant warning bells any time I see "gluten-sensitive" on a menu. I'm 100% gluten-free because I have Celiac Disease. This is not a dietary choice, it's a dietary necessity.
ARE HARDEE'S FRIES GLUTEN-FREE?
Trying to find out if Hardee's french fries are gluten-free was like finding Bigfoot. This took so much time that I should have just fried up my own dang fries in my own dang home fryer. After the confusing details below, I say that Hardee's fries are NOT gluten-free.
Exhibit A: Hardee's customer service told me their fries were in a dedicated fryer. Thumbs up!
Exhibit B: Hardee's "Gluten-Sensitive" menu does not include french fries. Thumbs down!
Exhibit C: I began calling individual Hardee's restaurant locations. An extremely helpful manager explained that while their french fries are made in a "dedicated fryer", if their other fryers are full, the food prep team will "throw a spicy chicken or other breaded food into the french fryer". Sound the alarms people - Bigfoot is real and he's probably full of gluten.
HARDEE'S GLUTEN-SENSITIVE MENU
Feeling lucky and still game for a Hardee's meal? Here's what's on the Gluten-Sensitive menu.
1/3 lb. Low Carb Thickburger A charbroiled 100% black Angus beef patty, cheese and all the fixings packed in a fresh whole-leaf iceberg lettuce wrap.
Side Salad Fresh iceberg lettuce, shredded cheddar cheese, tomato, red onions and your choice of dressing (they're all gluten-sensitive).
Low Carb Breakfast Bowl Folded eggs topped with a sausage patty and Swiss cheese, piled with a loaded omelet, and finished with shredded cheddar and bacon bits.
Note: As the Breakfast Bowl contains bacon bits, I contacted Hardee's to confirm their bacon bits are pure bacon. They are -- ingredients are bacon, sea salt, and brown sugar. Remember, not all bacon bits are gluten-free.
ARE HARDEE'S TACOS AND CHIPS GLUTEN-FREE?
No. Hardee's soft tacos, hard shell tacos, taco bowls, taco chips, and burritos are NOT gluten-free. These foods are made with wheat and/or deep fried with other gluten-filled menu items, so stay away. The scary thing is that on the Hardee's website, the Beef Grilled Burrito with ingredients listed as: Seasoned ground beef, refried beans, rice, cheese and freshly prepared salsa rolled up in a grilled flour tortilla, did NOT have an allergen declaration of wheat.
FYI - these items are not on the Hardee's Gluten-Sensitive menu, however one of the chain managers informed me Hardee's had a taco bar and could accommodate a gluten-free order. These are offered at the Hardee's Red Burrito.
Honestly, I would stay away from Hardee's altogether as I prefer to not puke Exorcist style or potentially poop my pants.
HARDEE'S (WAY OUT OF DATE) DISCLAIMER
Hardee's needs a refresh for sure. Per their website disclaimer, their information is current as of January 6, 2015. Here's a snippet "We do not have an allergen-free cooking environment in our kitchen. All of our products are prepared in the same kitchen area." Check out the full Hardee's disclaimer here.
I NEED GLUTEN-FREE FAST FOOD? WHERE DO I GO?
Some restaurants such as In-N-Out and Five Guys Burgers and Fries are on point with comprehending the needs of the celiac and gluten intolerant community. No matter where you go, always:
- Ask to speak with a manager and explain that your need for a gluten-free meal is due to medical reasons.
- Ask the manager to ensure the person preparing your order washes their hands and changes gloves before making your meal.
- Ask to see ingredient labels - there's no shame in that game. I once had an employee bring me a 10 pound container of nacho cheese so I could read the ingredients. It was gluten-free - I tried to run away with it - sadly mission was thwarted.
- Never ever feel embarrassed or high maintenance - you're advocating for the safety of your meal. Own it!
- Be prepared with a back up plan. I always have a protein bar or snack in the car.