Are Cookout Fries Vegan? Analyzing This Fast Food Favorite

With its no-frills approach and signature seasoned fries, Cookout has become a go-to fast food spot, especially across the Southeastern US. But can vegans partake in Cookout’s famous french fries? Many want to know: are Cookout fries vegan?

If you’re short on time, here’s the quick answer: Unfortunately, Cookout’s traditional fries are not vegan due to being cooked in beef tallow along with chicken fat.

In this comprehensive article, we’ll take a close look at Cookout’s fry ingredients, preparation process, potential for cross-contamination, and any options for customizing a vegan order. Let’s determine if this fast food chain’s fan-favorite fries can fit into a vegan diet.

Animal-Derived Ingredients in Cookout Fries

Beef Tallow

Cookout fries are not vegan-friendly due to the use of beef tallow in their cooking process. Beef tallow is a rendered form of beef fat that is commonly used in the food industry to enhance flavor and texture.

It is often used in frying because of its high smoke point, which allows for deep frying at high temperatures. While this ingredient may give Cookout fries a delicious taste, it unfortunately means that they are not suitable for vegans or those following a plant-based diet.

Chicken Fat

In addition to beef tallow, Cookout fries also contain chicken fat. Chicken fat is another animal-derived ingredient that is used to enhance the flavor of foods. It is commonly used in cooking and baking to add richness and depth to dishes.

While some may argue that the amount of chicken fat in Cookout fries is minimal and therefore negligible, it is important to note that even small amounts of animal-derived ingredients can prevent a food item from being considered vegan.


Another animal-derived ingredient found in Cookout fries is buttermilk. Buttermilk is a dairy product that is made from the liquid left behind after churning butter. It is often used in baking and cooking to add moisture and tanginess to recipes.

While buttermilk may not be a significant ingredient in Cookout fries, it still means that they are not suitable for vegans or those who are lactose intolerant.

It is worth noting that the ingredients used in Cookout fries may vary depending on the location and specific recipe used. However, it is important to be aware of these common animal-derived ingredients when considering whether or not the fries are vegan-friendly.

How Cookout Fries Are Prepared

Peeling and Cutting

Cookout fries start with fresh potatoes that are peeled and cut into the desired shape. The potatoes are typically washed and scrubbed to remove any dirt or debris before peeling. Once peeled, they are cut into thin strips or wedges, depending on the style of fries being prepared.


Before they are ready to be served, Cookout fries go through a pre-frying process. This involves partially cooking the fries in oil at a lower temperature. Pre-frying helps to remove excess moisture from the potatoes and ensures that the fries turn out crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.

Final Frying

After the pre-frying stage, the Cookout fries are set aside and allowed to cool. When an order is placed, the partially cooked fries are then fried again at a higher temperature until they reach the desired level of crispiness.

This final frying step gives the fries their golden-brown color and enhances their texture.

It’s important to note that while the process of preparing Cookout fries is relatively straightforward, the specific ingredients and techniques may vary between different locations or franchises. So, it’s always a good idea to check with your local Cookout restaurant for any specific details related to their fry preparation process.

Risk of Cross-Contamination

When it comes to determining whether cookout fries are vegan, one important factor to consider is the risk of cross-contamination. Cross-contamination occurs when food items that are not vegan come into contact with the fries, either during the cooking process or while they are being prepared.

Shared Fryers

One common source of cross-contamination is the use of shared fryers. Many fast food restaurants, including cookout establishments, use the same fryer to cook various food items. This means that non-vegan items, such as chicken nuggets or onion rings, may be cooked in the same oil as the fries.

This can be problematic for vegans, as the oil from these non-vegan items can seep into the fries, making them no longer suitable for a vegan diet. While the fries themselves may be vegan, the risk of cross-contamination can make them off-limits for those who follow a strict vegan lifestyle.

Presence of Allergens

In addition to cross-contamination from shared fryers, another concern for vegans is the presence of allergens in the cooking process. Some fast food establishments may use ingredients that contain animal-derived products, such as milk or eggs, in the seasoning or preparation of their fries.

It’s important to note that not all cookout establishments follow the same practices, so the presence of allergens can vary. Some restaurants may use vegan-friendly seasonings and preparation methods, while others may not.

It’s always a good idea to check with the cookout establishment directly or consult their website for more information on their specific practices.

Remember: Cross-contamination and the presence of allergens are important factors to consider when determining whether cookout fries are vegan. If you have specific dietary restrictions or follow a strict vegan lifestyle, it’s always best to check with the cookout establishment directly or consult their website for accurate and up-to-date information on their food preparation practices.

Customizing Vegan Friendly Fries

When it comes to enjoying a fast food favorite like cookout fries, vegans may have some concerns about whether or not they can indulge in this tasty treat. However, with a little customization and some knowledge of the preparation process, vegans can enjoy cookout fries without compromising their dietary choices.

Here are a couple of ways to customize your cookout fries to make them vegan friendly.

Requesting Fries Well-Done

One way to ensure that your cookout fries are vegan friendly is by requesting them to be cooked well-done. This means that the fries will be fried for a longer period of time, resulting in a crispier texture.

By cooking the fries longer, you can help ensure that they are cooked separately from any animal products, such as chicken or beef. This customization can help reduce the risk of cross-contamination and make your cookout fries a vegan-friendly option.

Asking for Allergen-Free Preparation

Another way to customize your cookout fries for a vegan diet is by asking for allergen-free preparation. This means requesting that the fries be cooked separately from any allergens, such as dairy or eggs.

By doing so, you can minimize the risk of any animal-based ingredients coming into contact with your fries. It’s always a good idea to inform the staff about your dietary restrictions and ask them to take extra precautions when preparing your food.

Pro tip: If you’re unsure about the ingredients or preparation methods at a specific cookout location, it’s always a good idea to check their website or contact them directly for more information. Many fast food chains now provide detailed allergen information on their websites, making it easier for customers to make informed choices.


While Cookout’s traditional preparation method of frying fries in beef tallow and chicken fat means they are not vegan, those adhering to a plant-based diet may be able to request specially cooked fries to enjoy this fast food favorite.

As more eateries expand their vegan offerings, we can hope for more widely accessible vegan-friendly fry options in the future. In the meantime, Cookout and other chains may be willing to go the extra mile to accommodate their vegan clientele if asked.

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