This post will show you how to approach eating gluten free at Sonic Drive-In and contains affiliate links. Please see my disclosures.
I have to be upfront and honest with you because you’d expect nothing less of me. I had never eaten nor considered eating at Sonic Drive-In until I wrote this post. It just didn’t feel like me.
However, a few months ago, I shared a post on Instagram that talked about my love of French fries, and how I despised restaurants for cooking naturally gluten-free fries in their shared fryers with gluten, rendering my favorite junk food no longer free from gluten due to cross contamination.
A few of my followers told me that Sonic had French fries cooked in a dedicated fry cooker. My heart skipped a beat. Could it be true? I love French fries so much so that I’m willing to give any restaurant a try when I know I can safely eat crispy French fries.
Sure enough, I looked at Sonic’s website, and, right there on the Sonic Allergen Guide, it shows that the fries do not contain wheat or gluten. The fried tots, as well, are not cooked in the shared fryer and are considered free from gluten too.
This French fry discovery made me curious about what’s gluten free at Sonic Drive-In. It convinced me to go in for a test-drive (pun intended).
In this post, I’ll discuss what is (and isn’t) gluten free at Sonic Drive-In as well as share the results of my Nima Sensor tests with you.
A Nima Sensor is a portable gluten detecting device that you can use to test a small portion of your food for gluten. It’s definitely sensitive enough to detect gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye, barley and sometimes oats, even from cross contamination in a fryer.
Please note the Nima Sensor has a few limitations, which I discuss at length in this article. And if you’ve questioned the accuracy of the Nima Sensor, I implore you to read this article and this article.
Before I talk about what’s gluten free at Sonic Drive-In, I have to tell you I had no idea how big this fast-food chain was before writing this post. According to Sonic Drive-In, there are more than 3,500 Sonic restaurants in 44 states in the U.S. Wow!
I also didn’t realize that you eat your Sonic order in your car. You place your order at a too-small covered drive-in stall, order through an intercom speaker, and then your food is delivered by a carhop. This was all foreign yet very entertaining to me!
What’s Gluten Free at Sonic Drive-In?
There are several items you can order at Sonic, although be forewarned that the restaurant does not maintain a dedicated gluten free kitchen nor have the best gluten-free safety practices in place. If you eat gluten free at Sonic, it will be so at your own risk.
Items listed as gluten free according to the Sonic Allergen Menu include (always check the newest allergen menu for the latest information and inquire within each restaurant):
- Cheese: All cheeses are gluten free.
- Sauces: All sauces are gluten free EXCEPT for the Asian Sweet Chili Sauce.
- Condiments, Gravies, Sides: All condiment packets are listed as gluten free. The gravy and chili contain gluten and should be avoided.
- Flavor Add-Ins and Syrups: All flavors are free of gluten EXCEPT for the Cheesecake Syrup.
- Grilled Items: All grilled foods are gluten free except for the Veggie Burger Patty.
- Fried Items: All fried items contain gluten EXCEPT for the fries and tots. (See notes below for an in-depth discussion about the fryer.)
- Other Foods to Avoid: Avoid all bread items (buns, pretzels, biscuits and tortillas) as they contain gluten.
About Sonic’s Fryer
Let’s discuss the fryer a bit more, because, to be honest, even though I’ll show you I had a safe meal at Sonic, I’m not sure everyone will receive the same care.
First of all, you MUST ask if the actual Sonic you’re visiting has a dedicated fryer, one that only cooks French fries and tater tots. Many do, but not all. I went to two Sonic restaurants and got two different answers.
One Sonic worker told me this, “I’m pretty sure we cook other things in the fryer besides fries.” Hard pass.
I then drove to a second location where the Sonic worker assured me the “fry fryer” only cooked fries and tots. Never assume every location abides by the same standards or procedures. Never!!
Also, according to the Sonic Allergen Menu, the company explicitly warns against eating its fried foods, saying, “WARNING: Fried foods may be exposed to gluten and allergens. Fryer oil may come in contact with items containing milk, egg, fish, shellfish, soy, wheat and gluten because fried items are not always fried in designated stations.”
Nima Testing Sonic for Hidden Gluten
If you’re at a Sonic and do not get a clear answer, do not order the fries or tots. Got it? Remember, restaurants are run differently at different locations, so always confirm within so you know for sure your Sonic has safe fries and tots for you.
As mentioned, I used my trusty Nima Sensor to test everything before I ate anything. You may not have this luxury, so eat at Sonic at your own risk.
Here are the results of my Nima test on one given day. Again, these results may not be the same for you.
(1) The Nima Sensor did not find any gluten in the French fries. A smiley face means Nima did not find any gluten.
(2) The tots also tested a-okay too when put to the hidden gluten test.
(3) I did not test the burger for gluten. Honestly, I wasn’t impressed with the burger anyway to give it much thought. When you order it without a bun, it looks sad. Really sad. And they didn’t even give me a fork! (I had to ask for one… twice.)
Nima Sensor Pique Your Interest?
You can watch me test Sonic for gluten using my Nima Sensor in the following video:
I’ve been testing dozens of restaurants for hidden gluten over the years. Please visit my Eating Out archives to find out how to eat out safely at restaurants such as the Olive Garden, Maggiano’s, Cheesecake Factory and more.
Download my Gluten Free Safe Dining Card for FREE to ensure a safe, gluten-free dining experience every time!