Gluten Free Fast Food Options

glutenfree fast food

Gluten Free Fast Food Options

One of the biggest challenges I faced when eliminating gluten from my life was trying to find something I could quickly grab when I was out and about. Often, my day runs back to back and I’m not great of preparing and planning my day around food. So, I really struggled with making sure I had safe snacks with me consistently or ended up going to a dine in place just because I knew they would accommodate my gluten-free life! But that habit became too costly and I needed to get better about planning my meals.

But, sometimes you are in a jam and need something quick. Maybe you left your lunch at home or an out of the office meeting ran late, leaving you hungry with no time to get back to the office. What do you do? Where can you go?

When doing research on these companies, numerous other sites popped up offering information as well. I will tell you when doing research to go directly to the company as your best and most accurate information on safe choices for that restaurant. Every link I put on this site is directly from the website of the company and effective as of May 6, 2013.

Fast food disclaimer of mine: Please be aware the risk of cross contamination is high at any of these fast food joints. They are taught to do things quick because no one wants to wait for fast food. You can’t be sure they are handing your food safely or that proper precautions are being met to keep you safe. Any of these options are an eat at your own risk!

McDonald’s – I hardly ever eat here because it seems the only things safe are condiments. There is strong controversy over the french fries, its not very clear. They don’t make it very convenient to locate items with specific ingredients on their list of allergens either. It’s a gigantic list of every single food they offer with the ingredients listed. There is no chart and its extremely hard to read.

Wendy’s – This is my fast food stop whenever I’m caught unprepared or traveling. Their website has pages dedicated to the issue and they make it a point to let you know they understand and what options are available to us. This ONLINE GUIDE provides their options! My go to item is a baked potato with cheese. I could eat them every day. Wendy’s are all over the place so it makes it a perfect stop on our road trips!

Taco Bell- When I was first diagnosed, I couldn’t find anything to eat here. It seems with doing my research for this article, they improved their gluten-free selections and actually have some options. Check out Taco Bell’s offerings.

Burger King- Similar to their competitor McDonald’s, Burger King struggles to offer much for those of us eating gluten-free. Their burgers with no buns and condiments appear to be the minimal selections on their list of gluten-free menu items. As much as I’d love a packet of ketchup and a 2oz greasy burger, I think I’ll pass.

Kentucky Fried Chicken – “Yeah, can I get a tomato slice and a honey barbecue packet?” Or at least that’s what I’d order from KFC’s gluten free menu. I stopped eating KFC about 10 years ago when I watched a video of their employees horribly abusing the chickens but I’m pretty sure going gluten-free is another reason I won’t be visiting here anytime soon. Just another quick fix fast food chain offering up condiments and sides as their “gluten-free menu.”

Noodles & Company – I’ve had a mixed bag of success here. Sometimes it’s a great experience with no problems and other times I end up with regular noodles in my dish. They have done their homework and offer a great allergen and nutrition guide. I would love to see the same amount of enthusiasm go to training and educating their staff at the different locations! Be very clear when you go here and hopefully they will treat your food right.

Chipotle – Pretty much anything here is good except the flour tortillas. Check out their allergen and gluten free guide online.

Pei Wei – This chain is the little sister of PF Changs so it’s no wonder they know a thing or two about gluten-free. Their edamame needs to be requested gluten-free because they use chicken stock in making it regularly. I find this odd especially since this is a popular side dish for vegetarians and I’ve never seen it marked as being cooked in chicken. Check out their allergen and gluten free guide online.

Five Guys Burgers and Fries – I’ve heard wonderful things about them from other people but was sad by the information on their website. It isn’t very clear if they are gluten-free or not. It just says our buns contain… but nothing about the fries or meat being gluten-free. Several people told me they cook their fries separately and will make you a naked burger with no bun. If you know more than what they put on their website, or have a good experience, please post it below!

Sonic – How about a naked hotdog and a sundae? I’ve actually eaten that before here so don’t judge me…lol This is another one that’s tough to find some good options for gluten-free menu items. In desperate times, you can find something but I wouldn’t plan on actually eating here on purpose!

Carl Jr – They do have a low carb burger but gluten isn’t even listed on their allergen menu. They indicate which products contain wheat but not gluten. We don’t have them in Ohio so I can’t tell you what I’ve experienced. Have you been there? Let us know!

Del Taco – Avoid like the plague. Don’t believe me? Check out their menu which lists everything except soft drinks as containing gluten.

In N Out Burger – No allergy information listed on their website? Really? I find that extremely odd. But here is their menu of nutritional information.

El Pollo Loco – Just like anywhere else, eat here at your own risk. They don’t have a dedicated fryer but actually give a great disclaimer to say the risk of cross contamination is extremely high. They have a list of gluten/wheat free items on their site for those who are avoiding or can tolerate a small amount.

Chick-Fil-A – They have a few options for you! They specifically state it is a challenge to prevent cross contamination but they do have policies in place to reduce the risk. I wonder why the kids chicken nuggets are gluten free but the regular ones are not? How are they different? I’m going to have to check it out next time I’m over that way! Here is their list of nutrition and allergen information.

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Comments

  1. Jordan says:

    I never eat at McDonalds, mostly because back in January I stopped there and was going to get their French Fries (seemed like a safer choice), but decided to look up their allergen information direct from heir website. Low and behold they batter their fries with a combination of things, one ingredient being wheat flour (it said it makes them extra crispy)
    I was going to copy the link, but just got on their website and apparently they took down the allergen information/ ingredient list for the French Fries.

  2. Chick Fil A has been great for my 2 year old granddaughter with Celiac. Only place she can have a “kids meal”… You can get grilled chicken nuggets as opposed to the breaded ones. They also have a separate fryer for their fries so no cross contamination from breading. Although no guarantees, we have had no problems there.

  3. Allison says:

    Chick-fil-A kids nuggets are gf because they’re grilled, not coated and fried. My daughter loves them, has eaten them lots of times and has never felt ill afterward.

  4. Amanda Yoder says:

    I tried the Wendy’s potato and fries (in a dedicated fryer) last week when I was in a pinch and still got mildly sick, so they’re off my list and they seem to be the best fast food option from most people. I can attest the ChickFil A grilled nuggets seem to do well for me. If you have a Jason’s Deli near you or see one on your trip, they have gluten free bread and pretty good training most places about cc, I’ve had a lot of success with their sandwiches.
    A note about Chipolte–since hearing everyone else’s excitement and that it’s almost all GF, I’ve tried it twice, both times I got sick, despite ensuring they change gloves, etc. When I did some research online, the common thread of complaints was chicken, so perhaps their seasoning is not truly gluten free for those very sensitive/symptomatic.

    • I used to love Chipoltle before celilac, and also wonder about it being safe. When they make burritos, they spread out the flour tortillas, and then spoon ingredients into the tortillas. It seems inevitable that the spoon would touch the tortillas and then go back into the beans, rice, whichever serving tray. Also, you can get corn tortillas, they are ready to go in paper–but would employees have switched gloves just for handling corn tortillas?

      • Vik, you have to specifically tell them that you have an issue/allergy to something like gluten and they can actually make your food fresh in back from ingredients that don’t risk contamination. I’ve had an issue with Chipotle because they dip their flour contaminated gloves in the cheese and lettuce on the prep line. However, I was assured that if you alert them ahead of time, they can and will change their gloves and are willing to get fresh, non-contaminated toppings in the back. However I’d also be careful around the utensils which mostly sit down in wells beneath where food is set making them easy targets for getting contaminated by crumbs and other loose food.
        Jennifer @ Gluten Free School recently posted…Slow-Cooker Sausage SoupMy Profile

    • I had a horrible experience at Jason’s deli. It was cross contamination central! I don’t care for Chipotle’s chicken and all of their meat seems to bother my stomach. I just get a veggie bowl. I think the extreme amount of sodium is enough to affect anyone!

    • Chipotle may be gluten free but watch them take the spoon from the beans and put it on the flour tortilla of the person before you on line. I do not recommend this place anymore after seeing this

  5. I wanted to agree with Jordan. I got very sick after eating McDonald’s fries one time because I “assumed” that fries would be safe. As I was suffering with my stomach, I googled “McDonald’s fries gluten free” and there it was. The ingredients Jordan lists. I stay away from fast food now and a result. Will keep your list and maybe try again if desperate.

  6. Marleena A says:

    Five Guys Burgers & Fries only fries their french fries and sometimes their bacon in the fryers so they are safe. Their meat, burgers and hot dogs, are made on grills that are for the meat only, buns are done on a separate grill. I’ve eaten there three times and the only tummy trouble was too much food but it was so good.
    This is what my local one does when you ask for no bun. Asked “Do you have food allergies or other issues” Yes, your order is flagged. When my order comes up to be prepped the assistant manager or manager who ever is there at the time went around a tapped workers on the shoulder, bun guy was told “Just stand there and don’t move until I tap you again and tell you to move”, everyone else cleaned off the work areas then changed their gloves even if they weren’t going to be touching my food. My meat and toppings except ketchup, mustard, mayo, were put on to a wrapper the condiments were served in separate small little plastic cups with lids. My food wrapped up was sent down to be bagged and my fries were added to the bag, most in the cup some poured on top of the wrapped meat (keeps everything warm longer) then folded the top over, called my number and handed me my bag. Then the one in charge tapped the bun guy and told him he could move again and they went back working like they had before. There were a lot of steps but it didn’t take very at all the manager said less than 45 seconds to make sure my food was safe. It was like a dance with everyone in synch. It was great I love that place. Their food was great and they care about their customers.
    Just a note: they have open boxes of in-the-shell peanuts and use peanut oil for their fries so if you have a peanut allergy it’s not a pace for you. They even have a sign on their front door stating that and they don’t allow you to take peanuts outside the store. They don’t want a child to get sick or die because of one of their peanuts left the store and the child came in contact with it.

    • I’ve also had good experiences on the rare occasions that I’ve gone to Five Guys. They’ll call out that there is a “Bun Allergy” and my food is made separate from everything else and also served separate as well. I’ve never gotten sick (though I’ve only gone a handful of times in the few years they’ve been open. I’ve also brought along my own GF tortillas without any issues… they are very accommodating.
      Jennifer @ Gluten Free School recently posted…Slow-Cooker Sausage SoupMy Profile

    • That’s so wonderful to know! Thank you for sharing your experience with my readers. I’ve never tried it but I’m glad to know I have another place for when I’m in a pinch!

  7. Hi Rebecca,

    There’s a very comprehensive guide to all chain and fast food restaurants at http://www.GlutenFreeGuideHQ.com. It’s actually my blog and I know that you and your readers will benefit from it greatly. Thanks!
    Adam Bryan recently posted…Chick Fil A Gluten Free MenuMy Profile

  8. Five guys is amazing for fast junk food. Fries are safe & completely GF. Nothing breaded is cooked in the oil. I get sick from chipotle every.single.time & have requested to change their utensils & gloves. Got total attitude once & another visit they couldn’t bc of the long line. Love hothead burrito options. I get veggie bowl. Chicken is NOT GF!!! Hothead has GF info. Wendy’s baked potato & two-thumbs up. I will never eat at Chic-Fil A because I recently heard they sprinkle MSG on ALL the food, fries ,chicken, everything. Still trying to confirm. Regardles, I avoid because I swell after I eat like I o w/ Chinese take out.
    Love Jason’s deli GF options. Mccalisters deli huge baked potato. Awesome.
    kunzfamily recently posted…A Few Great Holiday Moments..My Profile

    • Marleena A says:

      Five Guys doesn’t have any breaded items except the buns for the burgers and hot dogs. :) Nice to not have to worry about cross contamination on the fries. Hmm… I’m going to be out that way tomorrow and been craving fries, think I’ll stop and pick up some I know are safe. :)

    • Thank you so much for sharing with my readers! I appreciate it!
      Rebecca

  9. Melissa says:

    Another good place is Boston Market. They have a list of items on their website that don’t contain wheat.

  10. Shanes rib shake has a gluten menu! So easy to pick out what u want and they have several yummy options. Pulled BBQ, half chicken, baked beans, etc… Very nice!!

    • They have a menu you can actually hold in your hands. Also if you have a question or they are in doubt, they will go and research it for you.

  11. I’m new to this gluten free thing, and after 20 minutes of the waiter going back and forth about my allergies at PF Changs…assuring me of my gluten free food, I get glutened. Maybe if my waiter was a part of the kitchen staff, I wouldn’t have gotten sick.

  12. This is such a great list of gluten-free fast food options! My favorite fast food place has to be Noodles & Company! I love the pad thai so much I’ve never tried anything else (that’s a habit I’ve developed since going gluten-free, once I find something that is delicious and doesn’t make me sick, I stick with it!), but my husband, who is not gluten-free has tried several dishes and loved them all.

    I agree with other comments about Five Guys, I’ve never had any problems there and usually have a small hamburger or cheeseburger with fries. If I’m really hungry, I plan ahead and bring my own Udi’s bun. The staff at the Five Guys we go to are very knowledgeable on food allergies and have never given me a problem, they even pack my husbands regular hamburger with bun in a separate bag, and I get all the fries in with my burger!

    I’ve heard that Subway has a gluten-free bun, but I’ve haven’t gone since going gluten-free. I’m worried about the cross contamination issues that seem to be waaay to common in assembly-line style fast food restaurants!
    Courtney recently posted…“When we plant trees, we plant the seeds of peace and hope”My Profile

  13. This is fantastic collection of gluten free fast food options. Popeyes also does have some as mentioned in http://popeyesmenuprice.com/popeyes-gluten-free-menu

  14. Stephanie Wolfinger says:

    I was just diagnosed with celiac about 4 weeks ago. I’m having a little hard time because I am allergic to peanuts , tree nuts , and pine nuts and chocolate (cocoa) . I’m finding that I’m eating a lot of fruits and veggies and chicken. But it’s not filling me up. Is this normal in the beginning. And I’m really exhausted. I stand on my feet anywhere from 10 -11 hours a day doing hair and running my salon. Does the exhaustion go away and my energy comes back??

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  1. […] Foods + Gluten Free (It’s not the BEST, but sometimes you get caught out and are HUNGRY):  http://prettylittleceliac.com/2013/05/07/gluten-free-fast-food-options/ Gluten Free Restaurants: […]

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