If it weren’t for potatoes, we’d be 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 having to settle for salads at many-a fast-food restaurants. But, sadly, not all fries are vegan. We’re here to tell you which ones are.
Are French fries vegan?
All fries should be vegan, right? After all, they’re just fried, salted potatoes. While many fries are free from 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’s used to fry meat and other animal products. Some vegans avoid ordering food that may be cross-contaminated, but others are okay with this as long as the fries themselves don’t contain meat or dairy ingredients. It’s a choice that’s ultimately up to the individual.
Which fast-food French fries aren’t vegan?
While most fries are vegan, there are a few that actually contain animal ingredients:
McDonald’s: These fries are cooked in oil with “natural beef flavoring,” which doesn’t contain any actual meat, but it does contain dairy.
Checkers: Their fries are coated in milk powder and fried in animal lard, so they’re unambiguously not vegan.
Popeye’s: Just like the majority of Popeye’s menu, the fries are not vegan. In this case, they’re fried in beef tallow.
This isn’t a definitive list of which fries contain animal products. Ask your server about the ingredients if you’re visiting a smaller chain or a local fast-food establishment.
12 vegan fast-food French fries to add to your order
We dug through the top fast-food chains in the US to uncover which ones have vegan fries. In no particular order, here are 12 fast-food fries that are free from animal-derived ingredients.
1 Burger King
Unlike its competitor McDonald’s, Burger King has vegan fries.
Served piping hot and salted, you won’t have to eat them alone since the Impossible Whopper has been on Burger King’s menu since the summer of 2019.
Apart from a burger and fries, you’ll find a few other vegan options at Burger King that will ensure that 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.
The Secret Recipe Fries are seasoned with a “secret blend of herbs and spices,” according to the website. But what that really means is that they’re tossed with onion, carrot, tomato powder, and a little bit of MSG.
If you’re traveling and find yourself in need of a vegan meal without a plant-based restaurant in sight, then KFC’s menu will serve in a pinch. Its other vegan options include baked beans and a couple of other vegetables that you’d expect to find at a barbecue table. Meanwhile, we’ll also be waiting for Beyond Fried Chicken to return in some way, shape, or form.
We may not know if Wendy’s black bean burger will ever make its debut, but we do know one thing: the fries are vegan.
Wendy’s fries differ from other fast-food fries in that they leave the skin on. We’re about it.
There are a few other plant-based options on Wendy’s menu that can help you round out your meal. If you need more to your meal, you could get a baked potato and have a starch-filled 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! The Nacho Fries are known to come and go, so give them a try the next time you spot them on the menu. The fries are vegan, but only if you order them without cheese. We suggest replacing it with pico de gallo and guacamole for some toppings that fast-food chains don’t normally offer. But, Taco Bell also happens to be one of the most vegan-friendly fast-food chains, so you don’t have to get just potatoes unless you want to. Much of its menu can be made plant-based with some simple swaps.
5 Five Guys
At Five Guys, there are two types of vegan fries to choose from. There’s the regular option, which is deep-fried in peanut oil before being salted. Then, there are the Cajun-style fries which are also fried in oil and then seasoned with onion powder, garlic powder, salt, paprika, oregano, white pepper, and red pepper powder. As for other vegan options, Five Guys is one of those fast-food chains where you’ll have to make do with just fries.
6 In-N-Out Burger
Although it’s only located in California, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, and Texas, In-N-Out Burger has earned 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 the fries are vegan since they’re only fried in sunflower oil.
This meat-centric establishment has a surprising number of vegan options, including fries! Both the crinkle-cut fries and the curly fries—a rare white whale on fast-food menus—are free from animal-based ingredients. Plus, depending on your location, you might find a third, regional option: the thick-cut homestyle fries.
8 Sonic Drive-In
The regular fries at Sonic are vegan and primed for dipping into ketchup. But if you’re seeking potatoes in another form, then you’ll be glad to know that the tater tots are also made with just plant-based ingredients.
9 Dairy Queen
No animal fat here—Dairy Queen’s fries and hash browns are both vegan. You won’t find many other animal-free options here, but surprisingly, Dairy Queen has a non-dairy version of its Dilly Bar, so you can indulge in a salty-and-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 whopping three fries to choose from. The French fries, seasoned curly fries, and the potato wedges don’t contain beef tallow or any other kind of animal-based ingredients, for that matter. Plus, the hash browns are vegan, too.
Fries are one of the few things on the Whataburger menu that are actually vegan. You can pair your spuds with a cheese-less garden salad and some apple slices, but not much else.
12 Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s
Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s both share incredibly similar menus—both chains happened to be owned by the same parent company, which has chosen to market them in practically the same way. Both have natural-cut fries but while Carl’s Jr. has waffle fries, Hardee’s has curly fries. All of them are vegan, but unfortunately, only Carl’s Jr. sells the Beyond Burger to help round out your meal.
It’s not always fun eating just fries, but we appreciate how fries have been there to satiate our hunger in desperate times.