What is in Hardees fries?

Hardee’s fries are a popular menu item at the fast food chain. Customers may wonder what exactly is in the fries they are eating. The main ingredients in Hardee’s fries are potatoes, vegetable oil, and seasonings. However, there are some other ingredients used to achieve the signature taste and texture of Hardee’s fries. In this article, we will take a deeper look at the ingredients and nutrition facts for Hardee’s french fries.


The base of Hardee’s fries, like most french fries, is potatoes. Specifically, Hardee’s uses a variety called Russet potatoes. Russet potatoes are known for their large size, rough brown skin, and starchy, fluffy interior. These qualities make them perfect for frying into crispy french fries. The potatoes are thoroughly washed, peeled, and precisely cut into Hardee’s signature fry shapes before frying.

Vegetable Oil

To achieve the crispy texture of their fries, Hardee’s fries the potato slices in a vegetable oil blend. The exact blend of oils used is proprietary information. However, vegetable oils commonly used for frying in the food industry include canola, corn, soybean, cottonseed, sunflower, and palm oils. The oil helps conduct heat evenly to the potatoes during frying resulting in a crispy outer layer. The potatoes absorb a small amount of oil during frying as well.

Natural Flavors

Hardee’s adds natural flavors to its fry seasoning blend to enhance the potato taste. Natural flavors can come from a variety of plant or animal sources. They provide the signature taste customers expect from Hardee’s fries. Some of the likely natural flavors used include onion, garlic, paprika, black pepper, and celery.


Dextrose is also added to Hardee’s fry seasoning. Dextrose is a sweetener made from corn. It adds a subtle sweetness that balances against the saltiness and enhances the flavor. Dextrose also contributes to the golden brown color achieved on the fries.


Salt is another essential seasoning in Hardee’s fries. It enhances the natural potato flavor and provides the salty taste customers crave. The salt used is likely plain table salt, or sodium chloride. Some fry recipes also incorporate garlic salt or onion salt.

Disodium Dihydrogen Pyrophosphate

This long, complicated ingredient name is used to refer to a food additive called disodium phosphate. It is added in small amounts to the fry oil as a buffering agent. Buffering agents help maintain the proper pH balance in the oil as it is used repeatedly for frying. This allows the oil to last longer before it must be replaced. The chemical keeps the oil from becoming too acidic from the frying process.


Dextrin is added to the fry seasoning as well. Dextrin is a dietary fiber produced from starch. Like dextrose, it provides a light sweetness. But dextrin also assists with adding a satisfying crispness and brown color to the fry coating. It creates an appetizing finished fry appearance.

Corn Starch

Corn starch aids with crisping the exterior of the fries. It absorbs moisture released from the potatoes during frying. This keeps the fry surface dehydrated resulting in a desirable crunch. The corn starch may come from genetically modified corn sources.

Hydrolyzed Corn and Soy Protein

Hydrolyzed corn and soy proteins are added to improve flavor. The proteins are broken down into amino acids that provide umami or savory taste. This gives a boost to the overall taste profile of the fries. The hydrolyzed proteins are likely made from genetically engineered corn and soybean crops.


TBHQ stands for tertiary butylhydroquinone. This petroleum-derived preservative is added to the vegetable oil. It keeps the oil from oxidizing or becoming rancid during frying. This allows the oil to be re-used many times. TBHQ also maintains the texture and flavor of the fries. However, it has raised health concerns in high doses. Hardee’s likely uses the FDA approved amount of 0.02% in the frying oil.

Citric Acid

Citric acid is used as a preservative to maintain freshness and prevent discoloration of the potatoes before frying. It may come from fermented corn sugar sources. Citric acid provides tartness to balance the salt and enhance potato flavor. It also acts as an antioxidant to slow rancidity development in the vegetable oil blend.


This unique ingredient is added to the cooking oil as an anti-foaming agent. It prevents bubbling and foaming as the potatoes fry in the hot oil. Excess foaming can make a mess and lead to boiling over. This silicone-based compound improves the efficiency of the frying process. It is made from silica (sand) and is considered safe in food.

Nutrition Facts

Now that we know the main ingredients that go into Hardee’s fries, let’s take a look at the nutrition facts for this popular menu item. The nutrition information provided is based on a medium-sized order of fries at Hardee’s.

Calories 350
Fat 19g
Carbohydrates 43g
Protein 4g
Sodium 420mg

As we can see, a medium serving of Hardee’s fries is high in calories, fat, carbohydrates and sodium. This is typical for fried, fast food menu items. The high calorie and fat counts come from the vegetable oils used for deep frying. The carbohydrates are derived from the potatoes as well as ingredients like dextrose. A medium order provides 17% of the Daily Value for fat and 18% of the Daily Value for sodium.

Overall, Hardee’s french fries make an indulgent, satisfying treat. But the low protein, high sodium, and high fat make them best consumed in moderation as part of an otherwise balanced diet. Being aware of all the ingredients that go into this food can help customers make educated decisions.

Ingredients to Avoid

Some customers may want to avoid specific ingredients found in Hardee’s fries. Here are some ingredients to keep an eye out for if you need to avoid them:


The frying oils pose concerns for people with nut allergies or sensitivities. The vegetable oil blend likely contains soybean, corn, and/or canola oil. People with these allergies should check with their specific restaurant for details.


The hydrolyzed corn and soy protein, dextrose, and citric acid may come from genetically engineered crops. Anyone wishing to avoid GMOs should be aware of this.


The preservatives TBHQ, dimethylpolysiloxane, and citric acid could be avoided by people with sensitivities.


People on low-sodium diets need to watch out for the high 420mg of sodium in a medium serving.


With 19g of fat in a medium fry, this menu option does not fit into a low-fat diet plan. The saturated and trans fat contents may also pose concerns.

Healthier Frying Oils

While vegetable oil blends are commonly used, some restaurants are switching to healthier frying oils for their french fries. Here are some healthier oil options:

Olive oil

Olive oil is high in heart-healthy monounsaturated fats. However, its low smoke point makes it unsuitable for deep frying. It can be used for oven “fries” though.

Avocado oil

With its high heat tolerance and monounsaturated fat content, avocado oil is uniquely suited for deep frying. It provides a clean, light flavor as well.

Sunflower oil

Sunflower oil is high in vitamin E and monounsaturated fats. Its light taste works well for frying.

Coconut oil

Coconut oil holds up well to frying heat. It provides lauric acid and other health benefits. However, the flavor may overpower potatoes.

Preparing Healthier Fries at Home

Customers can also make healthier french fries at home. Here are some tips for lightening up homemade fries:

– Use fresh potatoes instead of frozen for higher nutrient content
– Leave the skins on for added fiber and vitamins
– Rinse potatoes well but avoid soaking to reduce starch loss
– Opt for oven baking instead of frying to reduce oil and calories
– Toss fries in spices like garlic powder, rosemary, or chili powder instead of salt
– Arrange fries in a single layer on a baking sheet to allow even cooking
– Use 1-2 Tbsp of olive, avocado, coconut, or sunflower oil instead of deep frying

With some simple substitutions and cooking adjustments, homemade fries can still taste delicious while being significantly healthier. Portion control is also easier at home.


Hardee’s french fries are a tasty, satisfying menu option made from simple whole food ingredients like potatoes, vegetable oil, and seasonings. Breaking down exactly what is included in Hardee’s fries can help consumers make informed decisions. While tasty, the fries are best enjoyed in moderation as part of an overall nutritious diet. Healthier frying oils and homemade oven-baked fries are also excellent alternatives. Being aware of what you eat empowers you to balance indulgent treats with nourishing whole foods.

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