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Food on the Run: Hardee's and Carl's Jr.

By , SparkPeople Blogger
My grandfather was a regular at Hardee's for breakfast each morning after my grandmother passed away. He would have the same basic breakfast each morning and the women behind the counter had it ready for him many days when he walked in the door. I would enjoy joining him a morning or two when I was home from college. The Hardee's in my hometown has since closed and my grandfather has passed away but my memories of breakfast with him at Hardee's remain.

Last week it was reported that Hardee's and sister chain Carl's Jr. will be the first national fast-food chains to permanently include turkey burgers on their menu.

It is wonderful that the same chain that sports the 1,320 calorie, 2/3 pound Monster Thickburger with 95 grams of fat is interested in offering a healthier alternative. With a healthy entrée goal of 250 calories and 10 grams of fat or less, something healthier is certainly a step in the right direction, right? Let's take a closer look at this new burger option and the rest of the menu alternatives as part of our ongoing Food on the Run series to see how it measures up.

The restaurant chain takes great pride in presenting four Charbroiled Turkey Burger options that are all under 500 calories. While some nutrition minded folks praise this new direction because turkey is lower in fat, be careful you don't miss the bigger picture which in this case is the nutritional details.

Turkey Burger
Calories – 480
Fat – 17 grams
Sodium – 930 mg
Carbohydrates – 47 grams
Fiber – 4 grams
Protein – 31 grams

BBQ Ranch Turkey Burger (Hardee's only)
Calories – 460
Fat – 15 grams
Sodium – 950 mg
Carbohydrates – 52 grams
Fiber – 4 grams
Protein – 31 grams

Mushroom & Swiss Turkey Burger (Hardee's only)
Calories – 480
Fat – 17 grams
Sodium – 1,380 mg
Carbohydrates – 44 grams
Fiber – 3 grams
Protein – 37 grams

Guacamole Turkey Burger (Carl's Jr. only)
Calories – 490
Fat – 21 grams
Sodium – 1,120 mg
Carbohydrates – 43 grams
Fiber – 3 grams
Protein – 33 grams

Teriyaki Turkey Burger (Carl's Jr. only)
Calories – 470
Fat – 14 grams
Sodium – 1,120 mg
Carbohydrates – 55 grams
Fiber – 3 grams
Protein – 32 grams

These sandwich options are lower in calories by almost half in some comparisons, to other burger choices. However, they are still calorie-rich sandwiches that are also high in sodium. For many people they would be difficult to fit into their daily meal plans. Here are your best lower calorie sandwich choices when you stop at Hardee's although none may fit in your meal plans if lower sodium is required.

Hot Ham 'N' Cheese (Hardee's)
Calories – 280
Fat – 12 grams
Sodium – 1,090 mg
Carbohydrates – 29 grams
Fiber – 1 gram
Protein – 18 grams

Small Hamburger (Hardee's)
Calories – 310
Fat – 15 grams
Sodium – 500 mg
Carbohydrates – 32 grams
Fiber – 1 gram
Protein – 14 grams

Kid's Hamburger (Carl's Jr.)
Calories – 230
Fat – 10 grams
Sodium – 510 mg
Carbohydrates – 24 grams
Fiber – 1 gram
Protein – 9 grams

Charbroiled BBQ Chicken Sandwich (Carl's Jr.)
Calories – 380
Fat – 7 grams
Sodium – 1,070 mg
Carbohydrates – 51 grams
Fiber – 3 grams
Protein – 30 grams

If you must have fries, portion control and being a kid again is the key.

Natural-Cut Kid Size French Fries (Both restaurants)
Calories – 200
Fat – 9 grams
Sodium – 450 mg
Carbohydrates – 28 grams
Fiber – 2 grams
Protein – 2 grams

A better side choice would be a salad.

Side Salad (without dressing at both restaurants)
Calories – 120
Fat – 7 grams
Sodium – 160 mg
Carbohydrates – 7 grams
Fiber – 2 grams
Protein – 7 grams

Hawaiian Grilled Chicken Salad (without dressing at Carl's Jr.)
Calories – 260
Fat – 8 grams
Sodium – 560 mg
Carbohydrates – 34 grams
Fiber – 4 grams
Protein – 22 grams

Original Grilled Chicken Salad (without dressing at Carl's Jr.)
Calories – 270
Fat – 9 grams
Sodium – 780 mg
Carbohydrates – 21 grams
Fiber – 3 grams
Protein – 25 grams

Low Fat Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing (Both restaurants)
Calories – 35
Fat – 1.5 grams
Sodium – 480 mg
Carbohydrates – 5 grams
Fiber – 0 grams
Protein – 0 grams

If breakfast is what you are interested in, your calorie-wise choices will be limited.

Pancakes (without syrup or butter from Hardee's)
Calories – 300
Fat – 5 grams
Sodium – 830 mg
Carbohydrates – 55 grams
Fiber – 2 grams
Protein – 8 grams

Grits (Hardee's)
Calories – 110
Fat – 5 grams
Sodium – 490 mg
Carbohydrates – 16 grams
Fiber – 1 gram
Protein – 2 grams

The Bottom Line
It is nice to see fast service restaurants making an effort to improve the nutritional content of their food. It is also somewhat encouraging to learn that the Men's Health and Eat This, Not That assisted with the new burger development in addition to leading a marketing promotion. Never the less, it is all in an attempt to offer patron's (especially hungry men) a more health conscious alternative. Nutritionally, a 254 gram Turkey Burger provides 17 grams of fat, 4 grams of saturated fat, 75 mg of cholesterol as part of the 480 calories. In comparison, a 220 gram Little Thickburger offers a whopping 39 grams of fat, 12 grams of saturated fat, 80 mg of cholesterol for 100 calories more. The turkey burger provides a significantly lower saturated fat choice and is the way to go if the 480 calories fits into your meal plan when you are selecting a meal away from home. Remember that Subway offers many sandwich choices at half the calories and fat that would make a better quick service option if your calorie allowance doesn't fit with the turkey burger options.

What do you think of the idea of a turkey burger? Is it something you would try?

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ATEAMSIS08 12/31/2017
The $5.00 options have been a great way to get my mom to eat a full meal. Nice article. Report
Thank you for including the sodium. So many of us need that information. Report
If I do not choose to make my own turkey burgers (a whole lot less calories then Hardees) I buy the Jennie'O brand pre formed for about 170 Calories a burger. I haven't had a hamburger in about 2 years and I do not miss them. Report
For those calories I think I will stick with my homemade turkey burgers. Driving into Hardee's will be too tempting for me-looooove(d) the bacon cheeseburger!!! Report
While I am not close to Hardee's, I do enjoy a good turkey burger. Fuddrucker's offers them, but mine are so much better at home. Thx for sharing! Report
I tried the Guacamole Turkey Burger today at Carl's Jr. I don't know if it was the guacamole or (more likely) the pepper jack cheese, but something was VERY spicy (and I usually like things fairly spicy). The turkey patty was dry and tasteless. It did look like a whole wheat bun and the lettuce was fresh. The turkey burgers I make at home are much better than this. I would not get it again. I do go to Carl's occasionally (rarely) to get a char-grilled burger though.. I won't shun them altogther. Report
I was very surprised at how good this is. Yes, it's still not the healthiest option. But cut it half and save it for later or share if you can't afford the calories (I was raised not to throw away food and I just can't do it unless it's spoiled). FYI: It's not ground turkey which makes me like it even more....ground turkey doesn't trick me into feeling like I'm eating a "real" hamburger :) Report
When ever I eat a "sandwich" out I always have it without the bun. And many of the condiments. Saves a lot of calories, processed food consumption, and guilt.
all things in moderation.
Of course, I rarely eat at a fast food place. Report
The calories are reasonable, if you're joansin' for a burger, but the sodium is unreasonable so "No, thanks!!" Report
I had the regular turkey burger today. Actually it was quite good. It looks as if it was served on a whole wheat bun. Report
I can't comment on this as we don't have these in Canada at least not where I live. Report
No, I don't like ground turkey, although I eat regular turkey. Report
Just reading this makes me want a Little ThickBurger, I have to will myself away from Hardee's I just love them! I'll definitely try the turkey burger instead.
For the longest time, Hardee's was the only fast food place in my hometown. Unfortunately, there isn't one near where I currently live. So whenever I go home for a visit, I always make a stop. While I don't have a desire to try a turkey burger, it's good to know that my favorite (hot ham 'n' cheese) is only 280 calories. Report
I tried the guacamole turkey burger the other day and loved it, but my friend had the original turkey burger and wasn't impressed. BTW, it did fit into my nutrition plan better than a jr hamburger since I had the calories available and needed the extra protein. I think 500 calories is fair for a burger and fair for lunch, but if you're worried about calories at Carl's Jr., a little known fact is that you can get ANY sandwich low-carb style (wrapped in lettuce vs on a bun), which does save some calories. Report
I love turkey burgers, can't wait! Report
Wish we had either one of these around here! Report
We don't have either place here. If I can I get a veggie burger, over a meat and cheese, bacon, and the whole works...full of fat. We do eat fast food rarely. Report
Good attempt, but sodium is way too high! Report
I'm trying to stay away from fast food.Too many calories!!! Report
sure would! Report
i sometimes complain about living so far from "civilization" that we dont have any fast food chains closer than 20 miles, except subway....so that is a good thing.
but we have a few mom and pop fast food places, im sure they dont have anything with 280 calories..... Report
Having stopped eating red meat almost 18 years ago I was thrilled when I was driving and saw the new turkey burger signs at a local Hardee's, I couldn't wait to try them and did so the next day. I chose the original turkey burger, no mayo (just lettuce, tomato, mustard and a squirt of ketchup). I was extremely displeased with the turkey patty, it looked very unappetizing (think beige prefrozen patty). The bun was lackluster and the flavor was missing entirely, well...I could taste the salt, ketchup and lettuce. A few days later I tried another one at a different location (after emailing Hardee's about my experience)...although it was slightly better it is nothing to rush out and try. I'll stick to making my own (which I season with herbs NOT salt). Overall I find much of Hardee's food to taste too salty (and I'm a Southern girl...we like our salt)! Report
No, I don't eat meat. When I eat fast food 99% of the time I go to Subway and have a 6 inch veggie patty on 9 grain wheat. lettuce, tomato, onion, no cheese, a little mustard and some plain red wine vinegar. Fills me up and only 390 calories. Thank God there are Subway restaurants everywhere! Report
WOW. Too bad there are no Hardee's or Carl Jr. on Long Island. I don't eat ANY fast food, but I might try these! Report
Yes, my husband & I are going to try a turkey burger. We occasionally eat at Hardee's & I'm glad to see a healthy alternative. Report
The sodium content of these "healthier" choices is still way off the charts. No turkey burgers for me!! Report
I just the commercial for the turkey burger and they look ok, but I'm mine are much better tasting and much healthier. I don't get the sodium? How the heck can these things have so much salt in them? I did figure out that skipping the bun would save you 450 mg of sodium. (From CJ's website.) Report
I might try a turkey burger, but would only be in this kind of restaurant under dire circumstances. Report
Not that I've been eating healthy, I don't crave fast food at all...this is a GOOD thing because before eating healthy, it was so convenient on busy days. Now I just keep healthy snacks in the car so I don't get ravenous as I'm running here there and everywhere. Report
So glad that I will now have the choice to have a turkey burger. Beef doesn't always agree with me. Report
I love Carl's Jr.'s 2 for 99 cent tacos! Report
Even though I DON'T have high blood pressure, the sodium in one of these burgers can contribute significantly to weight going up on the scale. If I do eat one of these burgers, then I would be sure to drink lots of water to help flush the sodium out of the system. Ideally preparing my own meat and other food is healthier than fast food. I like to use Jennie-O lean ground turkey, the unseasoned kind.
http://www.jennieo.com / Report
I dont each beef so I'm all for turkey burgers. It's nice to have that choice. Report
Does anyone know how these taste? I like having the choice between and small hamburger and a turkey burger when I go to Hardees. Report
I think its a great idea for other, but I don't like poultry. So, I'd rather see a veggie burger. It would be even better if it was offered on a value menu. Report
Turkey burgers are a great idea, Personally for me, I never have a problem with staying out of fast food restaurants because all I have to do is think about all the steriods in the meat. Organic is the way to go especially when it comes to fast food meats. Report
I like my own home-made turkey burgers. Proceed with caution when I order at a place I'm not familiar with. Report
It is a great start and it is nice to know that if I was in a pinch and needed an option other than a salad at a fast food joint... there may be one. There are times when sitting with a huge group of teenaged boys from the varsity swim team that I want a burger too! Turkey is a wayyy better choice and it is nice to know there is other choices. Just cut it in half, pitch the rest and have a side salad. YAY! And as a former member of the CPC (Clean Plate Club) ...it is a great idea to throw away food in this situation. The extra fat that I didn't need... will cost me more in Life Points than throwing it away. Report
480 calories is too many for a sandwich that tastes worse than anything I'd make at home. Report
Many years ago, I learned that turkey burgers aren't as "responsible" as they appear. They tend to have more sodium than a regular burger and while the fat content is less, it really isn't that much less. Better to have a salad with some grilled chicken than any kind of "burger". Report
Well, it's something, I guess. If you've read the books in the Eat This, Not That series, Men's Health has panned these fast food joints mercilessly, with reason. Many of their offerings are at the offensive side of the scale, in an industry that already doesn't have a stellar history of providing reasonable options. Report
I would rather have a black bean veggie burger, but I think its great that fast food joints are making an effort to be health conscious. Report
I generally like turkey burgers. However, when it comes to Hardee's, I prefer the Hot Ham n' Cheese! Report
I guess I might try it once, but when I eat fast food I really try to get something I know I enjoy since I know it will take up such a big chunk of my daily calories. If I'm going, I'm more likely to get the roast beef sandwich that I loved as a kid (without fries and drink of course!) Report
My partner and I had to drive cross-country on emergency family business this past August, 3300 miles in a week. We grew very tired of fast food of all sorts and this change, while small and not exactly great, is a good start - and one I hope is the first domino toward good health on the road. Report
Comendable, big hand please ... remember portion size? that's a whopping amount of PROTIEN Soooo.. CUT IT IN HALF now look at the numbers... in addition ask for no sauces, no cheese, no grilled bun and then ask for veggies tomatoe, lettuce, onion? ask if they can cut it in half and give it away. I remember the 2 for 1 deals or a coupon and I woud order it an give to some there, there's always a dog wanting a treat or how about screaming starving seaguls in the parking lot! It's a nice option Thankyou. Report
I wouldn't mind trying the turkey burgers; however, the sodium is a big problem as I have HBP. It's a problem everywhere. Report
Turkey always sounds like a better bet, but I'm sure they grind up the skin and fatty parts along with the lean. Gotta make a huge profit you know. Report
Sorry to say there are no Carl jrs. or Hardees out here on Long Island. I'm very happy that these two chains have the gumption to add these items to their menus.
I would give them a try, I would guess the other FF folks are monitoring the sales before they deceide to go ahead and place a like item(s) on the menu. Report
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