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2023 Jack in the Box Vegetarian Options

Jennifer Hanes MS, RDN, LD

It seems like people are finding these articles quite helpful, and I get it.  Sometimes, we need fast options while we’re running around and other times we just feel like a greasy meal right?

While I’m not advocating fast food as the foundation for your diet, a meal from a drive-thru here and there won’t wreck your health either.

Jack in the Box is a popular fast-food chain, though it’s never really been one of my go-to’s. I always thought the cult following around their tacos was a little weird, honestly.

That being said, it does appear that a vegetarian will have a few options at Jack in the Box, and the company has experimented with furthering their vegan options as well. 

I can’t find anything from the company that discloses the outcome of those experiments, so I guess time will tell…

As a reminder, I put together these posts about vegetarian options using the resources I have available to me.  This generally means lots of reading on the internet and scouring their website for intel.

In general, the menus I can see are local and are subject to change based on location.  Always check with your location if you have any questions or concerns about their options.

Breakfast

The menu, as written, doesn’t have a whole lot that’s already vegetarian.  Mini pancakes and hashbrowns are pretty much it.

However, many of the options seem customizable.   

To get some protein in, try ordering the Sourdough Breakfast Sandwich or the Breakfast Jack® customized to remove the meat. 

With the Sourdough Breakfast Sandwich, you’ll get sourdough bread melty Swiss and American cheese, and a fried egg. The Breakfast Jack® will get you a bun, American cheese, and an egg. Add tomatoes to pretend you’re eating vegetables.

There’s not much available for a hungry vegan here.  The hashbrowns are vegan. The pancakes are not. A lot of the bread/buns contain milk as well. The sourdough bread appears to be vegan, but some of the other bread options are not.

Burgers and Chicken

For the most part, you don’t really have any options here. Jack in the Box does not have any dedicated vegetarian or vegan options for burgers.

However, this may be changing. Some locations are testing Impossible Burgers, and others are testing an Unchicken Sandwich.

Currently, these testing locations are in California, Arizona, and Nevada. No word on how they’re doing there or if they plan to expand. 

The last mention I could find of the Impossible Burger was in 2022, and the last mention of the Unchicken Sandwich was in 2020.  So don’t hold your breath for this. 

tacos

Prior to researching this article, I had never heard the rumor that Jack in the Box tacos are vegan.  However, this is all over the internet and is 100% NOT true.

I’m not really sure where this idea came from. One guess is that there is some soy present in the taco meat, and maybe people got a bit overzealous. Though really, this is likely one of those urban legends that someone made up and gained some traction.

Yes, there is soy in the Jack in the Box’s taco meat. But there is also beef and chicken. The presence of soy does not equal a veg*n product.

Sides

There are a few options here.

The Classic Grilled Jack Wrap without chicken will get you lettuce, cheddar, pickles, and sauce in a tortilla that might hold you over for a while. They also have a spicy version.

Already vegetarian options include fries (seasoned curly fries, shoestring fries, or a mix of both), onion rings, stuffed jalapenos, rice, and apple sauce.

The fries, rice, and apple sauce are vegan.

Jack in the Box uses canola and soy oil in their fryers but doesn’t separate animal products from vegetarian products. You’ll have to decide if that’s okay with you.

Lighter Options (Salads)

A vegetarian would be good with the garden salad or the southwest salad, with no meat.  Both would be okay, but the southwest salad would be the better option, as it contains black beans.  You could potentially ask for the chicken to be subbed with extra beans.  

The side salad is vegetarian already.

For a vegan, you’ll also have to remove the croutons and cheese and choose the Balsamic Vinaigrette dressing.

Desserts

As I’m writing this, we’re gearing up for Halloween, so they do have a couple of holiday-themed desserts, the Basic Witch Shake and Pumpkin Croissant Bites. These will obviously change with the seasons and holidays.

Other desserts include chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, and Oreo shakes, mini churros, a chocolate cake, and a plain cheesecake.

All of these options are vegetarian, but none of them are vegan.

Kids

This is pretty much chicken nuggets and burgers.  No options here except for the sides. Removing the meat will just leave you with bread!

Dips and Sauces

All of their sauces appear to be vegetarian unless they specifically mention meat, such as Creamy Bacon Mayo.

However, very few options are vegan.  From what I can tell, your options are the balsamic vinaigrette salad dressing, Franks® Red Hot® Buffalo dipping sauce, soy sauce, and Sweet ‘N Sour dipping sauce.

My choices

If I were to go to Jack in the Box, I would likely choose the Southwest salad, no chicken.   With this option, I’ll get fiber, protein, and fat. These nutrients are important in getting full and satisfied from a meal and staying full for a bit.

Depending on how hungry I was, I might add a small order of onion rings or fries to that as well.

How to Create a Balanced Meal when Eating Fast Food

When eating at any fast food restaurant, it can be hard to get a balanced meal in.  A vegetarian’s biggest struggle will be getting in some protein.  For one meal, this may just be something you choose to let go.

However, you can look for options that contain cheese, eggs, or beans.  

You can generally find at least a side salad and a carb side at most places, and Jack in the Box is not exception.

a few notes

*Fast food should be eaten in moderation. Make sure to get in some fruits and veggies elsewhere in the day, if you don’t get a salad.  

*I’ve provided vegetarian options to the best of my ability from what’s available online.  Ask for clarification if you are concerned about potential animal products.

*Menus (and recipes) may differ by location.

I hope that this helps someone out if they find themselves running around and suddenly super hungry, or feeling some nostalgia for a restaurant they loved before they stopped eating meat. 

Remember that the foundation of nutrition is THAT you eat, not WHAT you eat.  You will cause more damage to your health by refusing to eat when your body is telling you to than picking up a quick meal.

I have lots of articles about eating out as a vegetarian, and trying to add more routinely!

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