The world has become more easily accessible for those who might have dietary issues, and one that is coming to the fore more and more is the dietary issue surrounding gluten.
While it is not the most common intolerance or allergy, the problem for those who are unable to digest gluten – or for those living a gluten-free lifestyle – is that gluten is in absolutely everything.
It’s in breads, cakes, pastries, sometimes even in products that have no business having gluten in them. As such, it can be hard to go out to eat at a fast food joint if you don’t want to have gluten in your food.
Well, not to worry as we are going to look at the best Gluten free fast food options to try today and where you can get them.
Probably the king of gluten-free fast food, Chick-fil-A is the best fast-food restaurant for gluten-free options around.
It sources gluten-free bun products from a dedicated gluten-free supplier, as well as providing a dedicated fryer for their gluten-free items (so you don’t have to worry about cross contamination).
If you want to avoid gluten completely, then their grilled chicken filet and their chicken nuggets are offered as alternatives to their fried chicken.
If you want their chicken sandwich though, all you have to do is ask for it on a gluten-free bun, which is made from millet and quinoa, instead of glutinous grains, like wheat.
Plus, they have a wide range of gluten-free salads and sides on the menu, including hash browns and the spicy southwest salad, so really where else can you go to get this many gluten-free options?
Even most of the salad dressings are all made to be gluten-free.
If you want to keep it simple, though, go for the allergy safe grilled chicken breast sandwich with a side of waffle fries – which are also completely gluten-free.
This may be a surprising one, considering one of the main dishes for sale on the menu at Chipotle is filled to the brim with gluten – their flour tortillas. However, this is the only food item that actually uses or has gluten in it.
Chipotle has long been a go-to for people who are looking for a meat-based meal that is free of gluten, and the good news is that they’ve recently expanded their range to cover more of the menu.
Chipotle (see also ‘8 Items From Chipotle’s Secret Menu You Need To Try‘) now offers an allergy safe burrito bowl – with rice, cheese, black beans, vegetables and an allergy safe corn tortilla on the side.
Additionally, they offer an allergy safe salad bowl – with lettuce, black beans, vegetables and an allergy safe corn tortilla.
This safety standard goes for most of their dishes, as you can even get an allergy safe burrito, which – as stated in the other two menu items – uses a corn tortilla.
There is a slight issue that might occur for you at Chipotle, but it is only a small one. Since they serve gluten tortillas as well as gluten-free ones, there is a small possibility of cross-contamination if the tortillas touch.
However, this is a very slim chance and will almost never happen, so you should definitely give Chipotle a try (see also ‘14 Amazing Chipotle Orders You Must Try‘).
3. In-N-Out Burger
For a side order of fries that you can really sink your teeth into, In-N-Out Burger makes a suitable choice for gluten-free fast food.
In-N-Out Burger (see also ‘15 Best In-N-Out Menu Items For You To Try‘) is known for their simple menu, high quality ingredients – and that extends to their fries which are made with potatoes, no artificial ingredients and no preservative – and uncompromising attitude towards its own standards.
This has caused a few problems for those who wish to change the menu, however one group who has benefited from this are the people who are gluten-free.
The menu item that contains any gluten at all are the hamburger buns they serve their patties in.
Normally, this would be an issue for people who are gluten-free, but you can now order your food ‘Protein style’, which substitutes the bun for fresh lettuce, as such eliminating the gluten entirely.
If you ask for a gluten-free order as well, they will make your burger with a fresh selection of food to make sure there is no cross contamination – including using fresh fryers.
Going to In-N-Out Burger for a gluten-free meal means that you can get everything gluten-free rather than only some things, which is a godsend.
Arby’s (see also ‘Arby’s Menu Items – 14 Super-Delicious Foods To Get‘) is another chain that has received a fair amount of coverage surrounding their gluten-free menu, with many gluten intolerance and allergy sufferers considering them to be easy to visit – despite the limited gluten-free options.
Almost all the meats at Arby’s are gluten-free, including the pit smoked ham and roast beef, however you will have to insist on getting them without the bun otherwise you will be consuming gluten.
There are lettuce wraps if you really want a sandwich as a gluten-free alternative, however apart from this, the only other things to eat on the menu are the sides like chopped side salad.
Even their fries and onion rings are not gluten-free, as they are cooked in the same oil as gluten containing products.
Unfortunately, Arby’s has come under fire recently as many of their products are not certified gluten-free, but are produced in a gluten-free environment.
That said, Arby’s (see also ‘The Best Healthy Options To Try At Arby’s‘) does have some gluten-free options which are worth considering if you are looking for a fast food option and are struggling to eat out in your area.
5. Five Guys
This is another fast-food chain that has received plenty of praise for their gluten-free options, with many people remarking that their meals taste better than their gluten containing equivalents.
In fact, they are happy to fulfill your order with no fuss whatsoever when you ask for a gluten-free option or an order without the bun.
For example, their burger is normally served on a bun but since they wrap it in foil, they can make it without a bun without making a mess.
You can even have it with a lettuce bun if you like, and this is the same for their other sandwiches and hot dogs.
Likewise, their signature fries are gluten-free and cooked in a dedicated, separate fryer that stops any cross contamination from happening.
Since they are cooked in peanut oil as well, there is no chance of them being contaminated by gluten in the first place.
All the toppings in Five Guys are gluten-free as well, leaving you the choice – for once! – to choose what you would like on your food.
The only other item that may contain gluten are the milkshakes, but as long as you avoid the cherry, Oreo cookie, and malted milk one you should be fine.
Sonic (see also ‘11 Of The Best Sonic Slush Flavors To Order‘) is often overlooked as a destination for gluten-free fast food due to most of the menu items not being gluten-free, but it does offer some options for those who need a gluten-free meal on the go.
Since almost all fried and breaded options are prepared in the same fry oil, most fried food items are off the table for anyone with a gluten-free diet – including their fries and tater tots.
This also includes their buns for burgers, hot dogs, and other sandwich products, as they offer no gluten-free buns.
However, if you are looking for gluten-free options then it is the grilled foods that you want and there are a couple of things to chow down on.
Asking for hamburgers and hot dogs without the buns is fine as a gluten-free option, as is bacon, breakfast sausage, eggs, and Philly steak.
Even with these items, there may be an issue in that the kitchens at Sonic restaurants are always quite a small size, so there is a chance of cross-contamination.
But it is rare and generally doesn’t happen, so you can make Sonic a safe bet for gluten-free options.
Wendy’s (see also ‘The Best Wendy’s Sauces To Try With Your Meal‘) are a surprising entry onto this not for the fact that they offer gluten-free options, but due to the sheer amount of options they have without really making a gluten-free burger option (especially because that is their biggest seller).
The third-largest hamburger restaurant in the world has a huge number of sides and salads that any person on a gluten-free diet can enjoy without any problems.
These include their chili, baked potatoes, and all their salads, if you get rid of the chicken and croutons, almost anything except the main options.
While you can order a hamburger or their bacon and hamburger without a bun, there are no gluten-free bun options and even the grilled chicken is prepared in an environment that is heavy with cross-contamination.
Luckily, though, their Frostys are gluten-free, so you can always finish your meal with one.
Even without the main course, though, Wendy’s (see also ‘15 Wendy’s Food Items Ranked‘) is not a bad shout for gluten-free eaters, and the amount of variety will fill you up in no time. Just remember that you always should end a meal at Wendy’s with an ice-cold Frosty.
8. Taco Bell
Unfortunately, we have to put a disclaimer before Taco Bell. They say on their website that they are not a gluten-free establishment and as such the environment isn’t necessarily gluten-free.
Therefore, they can’t guarantee that your food won’t be gluten-free.
Of course, this makes Taco Bell a bit of a tough sell when it comes to gluten-free options, but it is not as bad as you might think. The main things to avoid are their standard menu items, which is unfortunate but necessary.
The items on their menu that are truly gluten-free are their nachos, spicy tostadas (see also ‘20 Best Tostada Recipes‘), black beans and rice, pintos n cheese, and hash browns. Anything else may either have gluten in it or traces of gluten from cross contamination.
If you plan to get toppings for your rice, then consider adding steak, chicken, or vegetables rather than anything else. All the beverages at Taco Bell are gluten-free also (see also ‘11 Taco Bell Gluten Free Menu Items‘).
While it can be an occasional indulgence, Taco Bell might not be the best for those with a severe allergy to gluten.
9. Burger King
Onwards to the king of Burgers, the Floridian national treasure that is Burger King (see also ‘20 Best Burger King Breakfast Items That You Have To Try’).
As you might have seen by now, fast food chains have been working harder than before to cater for those who need gluten-free options, and Burger King is no different.
All the beverages, the fries, the apple slices, the sundaes, and the salad are gluten-free – just be wary of the fries as they may have been cooked in oil that has been contaminated by other gluten products.
Most of the dressings are as well, which is a real bonus.
The main issue, once again, comes from the burgers. No one is going to Burger King for anything other than the burgers (see also ‘Top 13 Best Burger King Items To Try’) .
While everything inside the burgers is gluten-free, the burger buns are not gluten-free and so, if you order the burger, you will have to ask for it without the bun and pay attention to the order to make sure it is not contaminated.
Nowadays, they do offer a burger between two lettuce leaves which is a bonus, but it is a shame that you can’t enjoy the burger as it is supposed to be.
Luckily, when you get a Burger King nowadays, you can get a full meal without feeling left out, rather than just having a drink.
Furthermore, Burger King, like many other fast food chains accepts SNAP EBT benefits, making it accessible to a wider range of customers.
10. Red Robin
For those living in the west of the United States, there is always the opportunity to get your fast food fill from Red Robin (see also ‘The Best Fast Food Fried Chicken Restaurants You Need To Visit!‘).
While Red Robin is not the biggest fast food chain – not even close, with only 500 or so restaurants – it offers a surprisingly high amount of gluten-free options and positively welcomes those who are on a gluten-free diet.
If you are craving a burger and fries in a bun of all things, Red Robin offers a huge menu of options catered towards the gluten-free.
This is because they actually offer a gluten-free bun with their burgers, that’s right, you can actually get a gluten-free bun – not just lettuce leaves – at Red Robin (see also ‘The Best 15 Dipping Sauces From Red Robin‘).
They also have grilled chicken sandwiches (see also ‘15 Of The Most Finger Lickin’ Fast Food Chicken Sandwiches’), veggie burgers, and salads, which all fall under the banner of gluten-free.
Even the fries at Red Robin are gluten-free, as they use dedicated fryers for different foods. As such, you can enjoy a full gluten-free meal at this fine establishment.
The reason it is so far down the list is that Red Robin is localized to the Western States, so half the country can’t enjoy its wonderful gluten-free menu. But if you ever find yourself in Washington or Colorado, find yourself a Red Robin.
We finally get to the largest restaurant and fast food chain in the world: McDonald’s (see also ‘The 15 Greatest McFlurry Flavors Of All Time‘).
It seems implausible that McDonald’s would not have any gluten-free options on their menu, due to their massive size and considerable financial status, but it does not claim to offer gluten-free options – like Taco Bell (see also ‘Taco Bell Breakfast: The 13 Best Breakfast Foods‘).
If you are at a McDonald’s and are gluten-free, your best bet is the premium bacon salad or the Caesar salad without the chicken.
Both of these options do not have any gluten in them and are great choices for those who want a salad but are on a gluten-free diet.
However, it should be noted that many salads have been removed from the McDonald’s menu, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and so their return may not happen soon.
Otherwise, most of the food is prepared in the same cooking environment, so cross contamination is highly likely, and the Big Mac is completely off the menu for gluten-free people, due to the sauce.
However, you can still get the burgers in a lettuce bun should you so desire. All in all, not a great showing by the world’s biggest restaurant chain.
12. Panera Bread
Finally, we come to Panera Bread, which like Red Robin is only down the list because there aren’t many outside its local area, but it is one of the best places if you are looking to eat out at a place that has gluten-free options on the menu.
They have many salads and soups that are gluten-free, and they have a specific section of their menu that is dedicated to gluten-free items.
They even have desserts that are gluten-free and are great for those who don’t want to miss out on dessert while they are on a gluten-free diet.
Even their drinks and dressings are basically gluten-free, and their website allows people to see whether or not their favorite items have gluten in them.
While fast food restaurants (see also ‘The 14 Least Healthy American Fast Food Items‘) haven’t quite caught up with other places in being good for people who are gluten-free, they are certainly getting there.
Many of the places on this list are gluten-free and allow you to live the life you want to live without gluten in it.