Find out what menu items from Wendy’s do not contain gluten and what you need to know about gluten-free options from fast food restaurants.
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When it comes to ordering food from your favorite fast food restaurants, it can be tricky to find options that work for you if you follow a gluten-free diet. Whether you go for the burgers, fries, or other menu items, you know that gluten can be just about anywhere in most restaurant food.
While most fast food restaurants use ingredients that contain gluten, many offer some options that don’t have specific gluten ingredients. In this post, we’re going to find out what options from Wendy’s contain no gluten ingredients and whether these may or may not work for your gluten-free diet.
Before we dive in, let’s make sure that we’re all on the same page as it relates to what gluten is, where you can find it, and where you’re most likely to encounter it at a fast food restaurant.
What is gluten?
Gluten is a protein found in most wheat products, and acts as the “glue” that helps to hold wheat, barley, kamut, spelt, farro, durum, bulgur, rye, and semolina together to maintain their shape.
Gluten is naturally occurring, and therefore is impossible to strip away from the grain. If a grain naturally has gluten in it, there’s no way to make that food gluten-free.
Where can you find gluten in food?
Gluten can be found in the form of wheat and grain products, like bread of flour in the more obvious places. You can also find gluten as a binding ingredient, an ingredient added for texture like to make a food more crispy, or as a thickening agent.
Where can you find gluten in many fast food restaurants?
Depending on the fast food restaurant you’re visiting, you may find gluten in a variety of places. Hamburger buns, the breading of crispy chicken sandwiches or chicken nuggets, some French fries, salad dressings, croutons on salad, and chili or soup options.
Where gluten is found in the menu items will vary from restaurant to restaurant. That’s why it’s always a good idea to review menus from home, and see if you can find any allergen information before you get to the restaurant itself.
Being able to review nutritional information and allergen statements before visiting a fast food restaurant can be the difference between ordering something that you think is safe for your gluten-free diet and getting sick, and being knowledgeable about what specific menu items you’ll be able to eat without any worries of later reactions.
Wendy’s allergen statement
It’s important to know what the fast food restaurant itself has to say about how they handle allergens in their places of business. Let’s see what Wendy’s says about allergens at their locations from their website.
Directly on Wendy’s Nutrition and Allergens page, they have a full section dedicated to food allergens. Here’s what they have to say:
“On our website, in our restaurants and on our app, we provide food allergen information to make it easy to see items containing common food allergens or that might have cross-contact with allergens. Many of our menu items can be customized to leave off ingredients you are trying to avoid, like cheese or condiments. You can make those modifications when ordering through our website or app, or at the restaurants simply by asking.
Wendy’s identifies the major eight (8) food allergens as defined by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on our U.S. menu: Milk, Eggs, Fish, Crustacean Shellfish, Tree Nuts, Peanuts, Wheat and Soybean.
Wendy’s identifies the 12 priority food allergens as defined by Health Canada on our Canadian menu: Mustard, Sesame Seeds, Sulphites, Milk, Eggs, Fish, Crustacean, Shellfish, Tree Nuts, Peanuts, Wheat and Soybean.
We provide known instances of allergens; however, cross contact is possible due to common handling and preparation areas in our restaurants. We are unable to guarantee that any menu item can be completely free of allergens. Customers with allergies and sensitivities should exercise judgment when ordering. ”
As you can see, Wendy’s does their best to make sure that their gluten-free options are obvious on their website and their mobile app. You can review their menu items to help you determine what you can order before you step food in any of their restaurants.
What to know about cross contamination at fast food restaurants
Most fast food restaurants are not considered gluten free establishments so it’s useful to keep this in mind when making decisions about where to go and what to order.
It’s important to know that even if a fast food restaurant claims that their menu items do not contain gluten, that the possibility and probability of gluten in their products is going to be high if there is even one menu item with gluten available.
Depending on your level of sensitivity to gluten, this can be make or break information for you. If you are Celiac and are allergic to trace amounts of gluten, you’ll likely want to avoid most fast food restaurants that offer any bread products or French fries that are cooked in a shared fryer with other gluten-containing ingredients.
If you are not sensitive to gluten at the trace level and have adverse reactions to gluten due to a food intolerance, you may decide that these trace amounts of gluten from cross contamination are worth risking for a quick, easy, and convenient food option.
Being aware of how you have reacted to gluten in your diet in the past and how much gluten it takes for your body to react is useful knowledge when it comes to situations like these. Use your best judgment about what you know about your body, how you react to gluten, and what the risks are for you specifically.
Gluten-free Menu Items from Wendy’s
Now that we have all the caveats out of the way, let’s review some of the menu items you’ll find at Wendy’s that are noted as not containing wheat. Since I also follow a dairy-free diet, I’ve noted any dairy-free options with an asterisk (*) below.
All hamburger items contain gluten in the form of their buns. At Wendy’s you can order no bun or a lettuce wrap if you wish.
Chicken, Nuggets & More
All the chicken options from Wendy’s contain gluten, because they are breaded in flour to create the crispy fried texture on the outside. Their chicken sandwiches also contain gluten from the buns that they come on.
Their Grilled Asiago Ranch Chicken Club which uses a grilled chicken breast as opposed to a fried chicken breast has a note stating “Grilled, classic, and spicy chicken breasts are cut on a common cutting board, which results in cross-contact with wheat, soy, and milk allergens.”
- Parmesan Caesar Salad (has a note: “Grilled, classic, and spicy chicken breasts are cut on a common cutting board, which results in cross-contact with wheat, soy, and milk allergens”)
- Southwest Avocado Salad (has a note: “Grilled, classic, and spicy chicken breasts are cut on a common cutting board, which results in cross-contact with wheat, soy, and milk allergens”)
- Taco Salad
- Apple Pecan Salad (has a note: “Grilled, classic, and spicy chicken breasts are cut on a common cutting board, which results in cross-contact with wheat, soy, and milk allergens”)
Fries & Sides
Wendy’s french fries do not contain any gluten-containing ingredients, however they are cooked in vegetable oil in fryers that share the same oil with wheat, milk, and fish.
Wendy’s official note on their website states for all their fries: “Cooked in the same oil as menu items that contain wheat, milk, fish, egg (missouri only), and soy (missouri only).”
- Natural-Cut Fries*
- Baconator Fries
- Chili Cheese Fries
- Cheese Fries
- Sour Cream and Chive Baked Potato
- Plain Baked Potato*
- Bacon Cheese Baked Potato
- Chili & Cheese Baked Potato
- Cheese Baked Potato
- Apple Bites*
Read on: Are Wendy’s fries gluten-free?
Read on: Is Wendy’s chili gluten-free?
Read on: Are French fries gluten-free?
None of the breakfast items at Wendy’s are considered gluten-free, including their croissants, biscuits, and classics.
- Cold Brew Iced Coffee*
- Vanilla Frosty-ccino
- Chocolate Frosty-ccino
- Fresh Brewed Coffee*
- Fresh Brewed Decaffeinated Coffee*
Read on: Is coffee gluten-free?
Sides and More
- Seasoned potatoes (has a note: “Cooked in the same oil as menu items that contain wheat, milk, fish, egg (Missouri only), and soy (Missouri only)”
- Simply Orange Juice
- Pineapple Mango Lemonade*
- Tropical Berry Lemonade*
- All-Natural Lemonade*
- Strawberry Lemonade*
- Coca-Cola Zero Sugar*
- Diet Coke*
- Dr Pepper*
- Barq’s Root Beer*
- Fanta Orange*
- Minute Maid Light Lemonade*
- Hi-C Flashin’ Fruit Punch*
- Iced Tea*
- Sweet Iced Tea*
- Nestle Pure Life Bottled Water*
- Fresh Brewed Coffee*
- Fresh Brewed Decaffeinated Coffee*
- Chocolate Milk
- Cold Brew Iced Coffee*
- Vanilla Frosty-ccinno
- Chocolate Frosty-ccinno
- Honest Kids Fruit Punch*
- Simply Orange Juice*
Read on: Is soda gluten-free?
- Classic Chocolate Frosty
- Vanilla Frosty
None of Wendy’s bakery items are considered gluten-free as they all have notes that they contain wheat.
Wendy’s Kids’ Meal
All the main dishes of the kids’ meals, including the nuggets, spicy nuggets, kids’ hamburger, and kids’ cheeseburger contain gluten from the breading on the nuggets or the bun of the burger.
The milk and apple bites in the kids’ meals are considered gluten-free.
If you’ve been wondering what menu items you can eat on a gluten-free diet, I hope this information has been helpful for you.
It’s important to note that nothing on the Wendy’s menu is considered fully “gluten-free,” as there is always the possibility of cross contamination based on what the company shares in their allergen statement.
Take this information into account when you’re making decisions about what to order next time you find yourself at Wendy’s.
More Gluten-free Restaurant Menu Items
If you’re looking at other popular restaurants and wondering what gluten-free menu items they offer, be sure to check out some of these posts. I’ve outlined all the gluten-free options from each of the following places, plus tips on cross contamination.
- Gluten and Dairy-free Diet: 4 Restaurant Tips
- Burger King Gluten-free Menu Items
- Cheesecake Factory Gluten-free Menu Items
- Chick-Fil-A Gluten-free Menu Items
- Dunkin Donuts Gluten-free Menu Items
- Einstein Bros Bagels Gluten-free Menu Items
- Little Caesar’s Gluten-free Menu Items
- McDonald’s Gluten-free Menu Items
- Taco Bell Gluten-free Menu Items
- Wendy’s Gluten-free Menu Items