9 of the Best Vegetarian Fast Food Menu Items Out There

9 of the Best Vegetarian Fast Food Menu Items Out There

These meatless options are arguably tastier than a beefy burger.

We may earn a commission from links on this page.
Image for article titled 9 of the Best Vegetarian Fast Food Menu Items Out There
Photo: Culver’s

If you’re a vegetarian, road-tripping with a bunch of carnivores can be an unsavory experience. They’re flying through the McDonald’s drive-thru with glee; you’re left with a sad handful of fries. (Fries that are cooked in an oil blend mixed with beef flavoring, no less.) So, what’s a plant-based fast food patron to do? Take heart: meatless fast food entrees and sides seem to get better every year. These days, we’re working with options that range from a hearty, crispy mushroom burger to a deeply satisfying bowl of mashed potatoes. Here are some of our favorites.

Advertisement

2 / 11

Taco Bell: Black Bean Crunchwrap Supreme

Taco Bell: Black Bean Crunchwrap Supreme

Why we like this dish: If you’re looking for a high-protein meatless entree, the Black Bean Crunchwrap is a godsend. It’s exactly what it sounds like—the meatless version of Taco Bell’s signature Crunchwrap—and contains black beans, nacho cheese sauce, lettuce, tomatoes, sour cream, and a crunchy, crunchy tostada shell, all wrapped up in a flour tortilla. It’s just as satisfying as its meaty counterpart, which is saying something considering that the Crunchwrap is one of God’s most splendid creations.

How vegetarian-friendly is it?: Definitely not vegan, but about as veg-friendly as fast food gets. T-Bell is the first quick-service restaurant to offer food certified by the American Vegetarian Association (AVA). The chain’s website does specify that “vegetarian and meat ingredients are handled in common, and cross contact may occur,” so keep that in mind.

Advertisement

3 / 11

Arby’s: Mozzarella Sticks

Arby’s: Mozzarella Sticks

Why we like this dish: This isn’t one for vegans, but cheeseheads will delight in this under-appreciated fast food side. Arby’s mozzarella sticks are, typically, larger than your average mozz stick, packing a serious cheese pull and crispy breading. Throw in some marinara sauce, and your chicken finger-eating friends will be green with envy.

How vegetarian-friendly is it?: So-so; Arby’s specifies that the mozz sticks “may be cooked in the same oil as menu items that contain soy, egg, and fish.”

Advertisement

4 / 11

KFC: Beyond Fried Chicken

KFC: Beyond Fried Chicken

Image for article titled 9 of the Best Vegetarian Fast Food Menu Items Out There
Photo: Lillian Stone

Why we like this dish: We’ve got mixed feelings about the ethos behind these nuggets—who are they for, really?—but can’t deny that they’re damn delicious. The Beyond imitation meat used in the nugget does a great job of mimicking the texture of chicken, and they’re expertly seasoned. They may not be a perfect option for strict vegetarians, but we can see these appealing to meat eaters who are looking to try something new.

How vegetarian-friendly is it?: These, too, are fried in oil that is used to fry actual chicken products.

Advertisement

5 / 11

Chipotle: Sofritas

Chipotle: Sofritas

Image for article titled 9 of the Best Vegetarian Fast Food Menu Items Out There
Photo: Philip Arno Photography (Shutterstock)

Why we like this dish: While more of a quick-service restaurant than a fast-food restaurant, we’re putting Chipotle on the list because of the chain’s vast availability of vegan and vegetarian ingredients. All of the tortillas, veggies, rice, beans, salsas, chips, and guac are certified vegan. The sofritas, made of richly seasoned ground tofu, are a very tasty way to top off a bowl or burrito. Just keep in mind they only contain eight grams of protein. If you’re looking for a high-protein meal, you’ll need to supplement that by doubling the sofritas or adding extra beans. Which you can do, because Chipotle thinks of everything.

How vegetarian-friendly is it?: Sofritas are both vegan and vegetarian. You usually don’t have to worry about cross-contamination at Chipotle, although there’s always a chance that a stray piece of chicken will fly into the sofritas compartment.

Advertisement

6 / 11

Culver’s: Cheese Curds and Pretzel Bites

Culver’s: Cheese Curds and Pretzel Bites

Image for article titled 9 of the Best Vegetarian Fast Food Menu Items Out There
Photo: Culver’s

Why we like this dish: Is a meal composed of cheese curds and pretzel bites going to leave you feeling energized enough to run a marathon? No—but you’re probably not en route to the starting line if you’re rolling through a fast food joint for lunch. At our beloved Culver’s, you can combine two sides to create a delicious, indulgent meal worthy of even the most persnickety Wisconsinite. The curds are deep-fried and made with creamy yellow and white Cheddar, while the pretzel bites are salty and perfectly toothsome.

How vegetarian-friendly is it?: Tread carefully; Redditors report a slight risk of cross-contamination in Culver’s kitchens.

Advertisement

7 / 11

Jollibee: Mashed potatoes

Jollibee: Mashed potatoes

Why we like this dish: Jollibee knows the Lord’s truth: that all fast food menus should include mashed potatoes. (Also rice, but that’s a rant for another day.) The chain’s large mashed potatoes are heaped with gravy and served in a tidy little cup. A little cup of mashed potatoes, all for you! It’s the sweet, potato-y satisfaction of a serving of fries without the salty fingers.

How vegetarian-friendly is it?: Jollibee’s gravy is confirmed meatless, so no worries there.

Advertisement

8 / 11

Shake Shack: ‘Shroom Burger

Shake Shack: ‘Shroom Burger

Image for article titled 9 of the Best Vegetarian Fast Food Menu Items Out There
Photo: Noonisachon (Shutterstock)

Why we like this dish: Shake Shack has figured out the secret to truly satisfying fast food: instead of mimicking meat, you’re better off leaning into the natural goodness of robust veggies like mushrooms. This bad boy features a crisp-fried portobello mushroom filled with melted muenster and cheddar cheeses, topped with lettuce, tomato, and the brand’s signature ShackSauce. If you’re not into mushrooms, Shake Shack’s grilled cheese also gets an honorable mention here.

How vegetarian-friendly is it?: The ‘Shroom Burger can’t be made vegan-friendly since it’s, well, stuffed with cheese. The brand’s allergen guide also stipulates that the burger is “processed in a factory where possible cross-contact occurs with” fish.

Advertisement

9 / 11

White Castle: Impossible Sliders

White Castle: Impossible Sliders

Image for article titled 9 of the Best Vegetarian Fast Food Menu Items Out There
Photo: Kevin Pang

Why we like this dish: Good things come in small packages, including White Castle’s itty-bitty Impossible patties. Eater called this slider “one of the country’s best fast-food burgers, period,” and we can’t help but agree. Is it the griddled onion? The juicy texture that surpasses the slider’s larger counterparts at other chains? The fact that it is very, very cute? All of the above.

How vegetarian-friendly is it?: Like most of its burger industry counterparts, White Castle doesn’t rule out the possibility of griddle cross-contamination with meat products.

Advertisement

10 / 11

Starbucks Chickpea Bites and Avocado Protein Box

Starbucks Chickpea Bites and Avocado Protein Box

Why we like this dish: Last year, the Chickpea Bites & Avocado Protein Box joined Starbucks’ permanent vegetarian menu. At only 15 grams of protein, it’s tough to call this entree a “protein box”—but it’s a solid grab-and-go option if you’re on the move. In the box, you’ll find snap peas, mini carrots, a savory avocado spread, and a trail mix of sorts that includes dried cranberries, almonds, pepitas, and sunflower seeds. The star of the show here are the chickpea bites, which the brand calls “falafel-inspired.” (????) Confusing chickpea nomenclature aside, the chickpea bites are surprisingly filling.

How vegetarian-friendly is it?: This little guy is both vegan and vegetarian.

Advertisement

11 / 11