It is not an overstatement to say that Sonic is one of the most famous drive-ins in the country.
With over 3000 locations in the United States, the franchise has been around for quite a long time. They are quick solutions for days you don't feel like cooking.
However, you're on a low carbs diet, and drive-ins serve too many carbs. (1)
What if we tell you there are ways to get around that and still get a decent meal at Sonic?
How? you may ask?
The answer is simple - substitution.
Sounds simple, right?
We think so too. But how do you know what ingredients your meals have?
That is what this article is going to help you with.
We are going to help you identify the carbs in some of the most popular meals in Sonic, and how to avoid the high carb ones.
What is Sonic Drive-In?
The story of Sonic is not much different from many other franchises in the food industry.
It started small, and little by little, it became big. The origin of the franchise can be traced back to Troy Smith in the 50s.
The first Sonic was in Oklahoma. It was established right after Smith returned from World War II. (2)
Is There Anything Low Carb at Sonic Drive-In?
The answer is no!
The items on the menu at Sonic Drive-In range from burgers to hot dogs, and all of them are high in carbs.
If you're on keto, eating them will kick you out of ketosis. If you're on a low-carb diet, eating them will take you out of your carbs limit. (3)
But that's not everything.
The only way you can get a low-carb meal at Sonic is to improvise. This means you can tweak the menu here and there to get something that's low in carbs. For example, you can remove the buns from the burgers and tortillas from the breakfast burrito.
What is the Healthiest Low-Carb Option at Sonic Drive-In for Keto?
However, with the substitution method, the healthiest is the grilled chicken breast. To make this meal completely low-carb, ask for the flour tortilla to be removed. That contains way too many carbs.
Believe us when we say you can top your chicken with other low-carb options.
- Avocado and American cheese.
- Spicy jalapenos are also a great option.
These toppings will add more taste to your grilled chicken. This particular meal is even perfect for those on keto.
How to Order Low carb at Sonic Drive-In
Sonic is a great place to eat when you want to save time in the kitchen. That's one of the reasons why it's so widely loved.
The truth is Sonic is a fun place to eat in. But if you don't plan what you'll order beforehand, you cant help with food additives and ingredients that are high in carbs. It's one of the reasons why we think it's not worth it on a low-carb diet.
Nevertheless, if you're set on getting a meal there, there are certain tips you need to keep at the back of your mind.
Order a bunless breakfast sandwich
At Sonic, breakfast is served throughout the day. So, whether you're there at 9 AM or 6 PM, you can still get something on the breakfast menu. This is wonderful because many of the meals on the menu are easy to tweak.
What does this mean?
It means that you can order a sandwich made of cheese, bacon, and egg without the bread.
If you order the sandwich as it is without making a special request for the bread to be removed, you can easily remove the bread by yourself.
While the breakfast sandwich is a low carbs dream, the breakfast burrito options are usually the opposite. Many of the burrito shells are heated and rolled with the ingredients.
This makes it really difficult for them to be separated. No matter how hard you try, you may end up eating too many carbs. (7)
Along with the breakfast menu option, you can also order coffee. This drink is naturally low in carbs.
However, it can also be naturally high in carbs if you decide to have the coffee sweetened. So, stick with black coffee and only add cream.
Learn to use the nutritional table as a guide
There is a nutritional guide (8) on Sonic's website you can consult to track your calorie intake for a meal.
With this guide, you can get the various macronutrients in the item you want to buy. The only downside is that the ingredients are not listed.
On one hand, this makes sense since they don't want to release their recipe. On the other hand, this means that we can only guess what ingredient contains what nutrient.
However, because we know a lot about what some ingredients contain, we can guess that the hot dogs and bacon contain nitrates and sugar from preservatives.
And that's not all!
We can also advise that you should ask for a grilled chicken sandwich because the original one is fried.
Note that the nutritional guide will only give you an idea of the macronutrients you're eating and how low your customization can make it go.
For the substitution method, the ingredients you can explore are American cheese, avocado, crispy bacon, grilled onions and spicy jalapenos. All of these contain only 1 gram of carbs.
Don't eat the snacks and sides
As great as the snacks and sides at Sonic are, you can't eat them on a low-carb diet. The reason is that they are all fried with bread crumbs. (9)
The only way you can enjoy a decent topping on your burger or sandwich is to go the substitution way by adding more bacon or cheese.
And that's just one side of the story. Since Sonic is basically a fast food joint, there are no salads or low-carb veggies available. The only ones available are those that are necessary for burgers. By that, we mean tomato, lettuce, and onion.
In some Sonic Drive-Ins, you can order wings as a side provides they are neither breaded nor topped with sauce.
Lastly, while Sonic has a lot of beverage options to pick from, you should stick with unsweetened coffee and iced tea because many of them contain loads and loads of sugar, which in turn translates to carbs.
Try to "Make It Yours"
While Sonic does not have an option to build your meal from scratch like Denny's, there is a 'make it yours' option.
What this means is that you'll probably be given a chance to customize your own burger or sandwich.
As we have already mentioned, the healthiest option you can explore is grilled chicken. You can then add American cheese, ranch dressings, grilled onions, crispy bacon, or avocado to it as toppings.
Top 11 Low Carb Options at Sonic Drive-In for Keto Diet
At Sonic, the menu list isn't as extensive as it is in many other restaurants. So, you don't have too much to work with, and that's a good thing.
The primary things you'll be ordering are burgers, milkshakes and sandwiches. This section will give you an idea of the things you can tweak to make to make the food low carb and keto compliant.
Some of them are obvious substitutions while others are not. What matters is that you'll be able to order your favorite meals without too many carbs.
Ultimate Meat and Cheese Breakfast Burrito
This is one of the most famous Sonic's breakfast options.
Normally, it contains a whopping 47 grams of carbohydrates. However, you can reduce it by getting egg whites, leaving out the sauce, and swapping the tortilla for lettuce wraps.
However, since the carbohydrate level is extremely high to begin with, there is no guarantee that the substituted version will be low enough.
So, a great option to get instead of the ultimate meat and cheese breakfast burrito is the Jr. Breakfast Burrito which originally has 22g of carbohydrate.
Another thing that Sonic is very famous for is its cheeseburgers. The ingredients are simple.
They have 100% beef patty, American cheese, pickles, tomatoes, lettuce, and onions. You can also choose to have ketchup, Mayo or mustard in your cheeseburger. The high carbs ingredient you should watch out for is the buns, again!
Supersonic Bacon Double
The SuperSonic Bacon Double is as the name says. It comes with 2 quarter pounds of 100% beef patty, along with the normal vegetables, two slices of American cheese, creamy Mayo, and tasty bacon.
Quarter Pound Double
The Quarter Pound Double has a layer of two 100% beef patties, two slices of American cheese, all the veggies and ketchup. The ketogenic substitution is to remove the buns and hold the ketchup because they contain too many carbs. (13)
There are other types of cheeseburgers on Sonic's menu.
- For all of them, hold off on the bun.
- For Supersonic double-stack cheeseburger, hold off on the Mayo.
- For Sonic cheeseburger and Supersonic cheeseburger, don't order with Mayo or ketchup. In fact, Every order burger should be ordered without Mayo or ketchup.
That's not all!
The last is the Bacon cheeseburger toaster which has more ingredients. To make it keto-compliant, order it without the BBQ sauce or hickory.
All American Hot Dog
This is a classic meal at Sonic.
It comes with a hot dog that's made with 100% beef, and then topped with ketchup, yellow mustard, relish and soft onions. To make it keto-compliant, ask for the hot dog without bun or relish. You can also hold off on the ketchup.
Another option you can try is to order the hotdog alone. You can have it grilled or keep it simple.
Chicken wrap is another great food to have at Sonic.
You can order it with grilled chicken. Make sure you stress the fact that you don't want the tortilla.
This meal is the closest you can get to a salad at Sonic. Once you remove the tortilla, all you're left with is the chicken, tomato, lettuce and ranch dressing.
Chilli Cheese Coney
This is another hot dog on Sonic's menu that can fit perfectly into your low-carb diet with the right tweaking.
How? By getting rid of the bun, simple as ABC!
Footlong Quarter Pound Coney
The Footlong Quarter Pound Coney is just like the Chilli Cheese Coney. Originally, it comes with melted cheddar cheese, warm chilli, a grilled hot dog and a bun.
The only difference is that it has more calories. Where the Chilli Cheese Coney has 410 calories, the Footlong Quarter Pound Coney has 790.
This is not where the similarities end. Just like with the other, you have to remove the bun to reduce the carbs count.
Left as it is, the breakfast toaster at Sonic contains a whopping 52 grams of carbs, and why not?
Originally it contains eggs, American cheese, a chance to pick ham, bacon or sausage sandwiched between two Texas toasts. The healthiest option is to pick ham.
For a possible keto meal, remove the toast and eat only the eggs, cheese and ham. It's tasty and has low carbs.
SuperSonic Breakfast Burrito
We love this burrito, and why not?
It is a combination of sausage, golden tots, fluffy scrambled eggs, spicy jalapeños, diced onions, tomatoes, and cheddar cheese.
Everything here says, "I am tasty". However, with the flour tortillas, it also says, "ugh, too much carbs".
What are we saying?
It's simple! You need to get rid of that tortilla.
Classic Grilled Chicken Sandwich
Grilled chicken is the healthiest option at Sonic. However, when it's in a sandwich, it's not that healthy.
In this form, it contains grilled chicken breast with fresh lettuce, ripe tomatoes, and mayonnaise toppings. Together all these add up to 410 calories.
To make it low carb or keto compliant, get rid of the Brioche bun and maybe the Mayo.
Sonic Keto Drinks
In case you don't know, Sonic started as a root beer stand. So, drinks are kind of a big deal there.
However, not many of these drinks have low carbs. Many of them are loaded with sugar. But, there are three sure drinks you can't go wrong with.
We're talking about coffee, iced tea, and diet limeade.
- Take your coffee unsweetened. This will reduce the carbs content.
- Don't put sugar in your iced tea too.
- As for the diet limeade, it only contains 1g of net carbs. To sweeten it, you can ask for the sugar-free cherry syrup. (15)
What Foods to Avoid on Keto at Sonic
In general, the things to avoid at Sonic are the sides and snacks. They mostly contain too many carbs. You should also avoid drinks like shakes, ice cream, smoothies, and juices.
There's more! They are those foods that look like low carbs but are not.
Avoid chicken strips. Even though the main ingredient is chicken, the smallest order contains a whopping 25 carbs. This is enough to kick you out of ketosis. Popcorn chicken contains 12 net carbs, and Bunless crispy chicken sandwich contains 15 net carbs. These two are not as much for low carbs, but they can deplete your carbs limit for keto.
At 18 net carbs, Corn dog is your natural enemy. Avoid it at all costs. For others like All American Dog and Chicago Dog, make sure you ask for no relish to reduce a whopping 6 net carbs. (16)
Finally, we are here, and what a great tour that was. In this article, we went through the best low-carb and keto options at Sonic. We learned about substitution and how to make use of it.
But there's something we haven't mentioned yet, and that's the fact that it'll be easier to disassemble your meals at home instead of in the parking lot.
You need to be careful, and a burrito or sandwich can be tricky. You don't want to make a mess all over your car seat.
Now that we've said that, we hope you have a great time ordering at Sonic!