Love Chick-fil-a but can’t tolerate gluten? In this post, I’ll discuss the gluten-free options available at Chick-fil-a and reveal the results of my tests of various gluten-free menu items for hidden gluten. This post contains affiliate links. Please see my disclosures.
Can you eat gluten-free at Chick-fil-a and still maintain a strict, gluten-free diet?
You bet you can, and not only does Chick-fil-a say so, but also my trusty gluten detecting device verified such claims.
What’s Gluten Free at Chick-fil-a?
After looking over the Chick-fil-a Allergen Menu, you’ll see that there are quite a few items that do not contain gluten or wheat. I will go over that list in a bit.
First, however, you must know that there is always an inherent risk of cross contamination when you eat out, and Chick-fil-a is not a dedicated gluten-free restaurant nor does it maintain dedicated gluten-free spaces.
On its website, the restaurant writes, “Due to the handcrafted nature of our food, variations in our supplier ingredients, and our use of shared cooking and preparation areas, we cannot ensure that our food is free from any allergens. Products containing wheat, egg, soy and milk are all made in our kitchens. There could be other potential allergens not addressed here. Please consult the ingredients on each product prior to consuming.”
However, I believe you can get a safe, gluten-free meal at Chick-fil-a if you order right and communicate your needs fully.
Let’s discuss what is gluten-free at Chick-fil-a.
First and most importantly, according to the Chick-fil-a Allergen Menu online, the French fries do not contain wheat or gluten, and they are likely cooked in a dedicated French fry fryer.
In fact, most Chick-fil-a restaurants only cook the restaurant’s signature waffle fries in a fryer – using 100% refined peanut oil – that dedicated to cooking only fries, nothing else. This means the breaded nuggets are cooked in a separate, dedicated fryer of their own. Of course, inquire within to confirm your Chick-fil-a has a dedicated fry fryer.
Other items without gluten in them include the grilled chicken nuggets, the hashbrowns (just check about the fryer, not sure about that one), the Grilled Market Salad, the Spicy Southwest Salad, the fruit cup, and a side salad.
Some of the milkshakes are noted to be gluten free, but I believe they may be highly cross contaminated in the milkshake machines used also mix gluteny bits of candy.
Since first publishing this post, Chick-fil-a has added a grilled chicken sandwich (with gluten-free bun) to its gluten-free menu (pictured below).
How to Order
When you arrive at Chick-fil-a, you’ll want to do your usual protocol, which typically involves a lot of probing to better understand the gluten-free and allergen safe practices in place.
Ask the server if he has an allergen menu available (just to double check things again at that specific location). If not, ask if they can confirm specific menu items as gluten free, and also inquire if the French fries are cooked in a dedicated French fry-only fryer.
Explain to your server that you’re serious about eating gluten free and request “allergy prep” for your meal. My server told me there is a button he can push on the cash register that alerts the staff that that it’s an allergy order. He said the servers preparing my food will be prompted to change their gloves before handling my order. Nice touch, Chick-fil-a!
Testing Chick-fil-a for Hidden Gluten
During my visit, I ordered grilled nuggets and waffle fries. They arrived on a separate tray from the rest of my family’s order.
The same server said to me the standard mumbo-jumbo upon delivering my food. He said that the food was not made in an allergen-free environment so there is always risk of cross contamination. That sentence, while an important disclosure for the company, always puts just a tad bit of doubt in my head.
That day, however, I came armed with a Nima Sensor. This nifty portable gluten-detecting device gives me one additional clue into whether or not these grilled nuggets and waffle fries that I was about to eat are truly free from gluten. I simply put a small piece of my food into the test capsule, and in about 2-3 minutes, the Nima Sensor tells me if it finds gluten or not.
Please note that the Nima Sensor’s fate is in question after the founders sold the company to Medline in 2020. You can read more about this debacle in this article.
I decided to do the tests on Facebook Live so everyone could watch things unfold in real time. I could feel everyone watching rooting for Nima to give us a smiley face (the smiley face means there’s no gluten in the food sample and it is thereby gluten free).
I’ll give you a little hint – here is the verdict on the grilled nuggets. Nima is all smiles!
I went back to Chick-fil-a several years later after publishing this original article, again armed with my Nima Sensor. I wanted to test the new gluten-free grilled chicken sandwich with gluten-free bun.
The bun comes wrapped in plastic and the chicken and vegetables come in a secured plastic container (vs. wrapped in paper). Everything appears to have been prepared separately and safely gluten-free.
And I have some good news to report!
Everything came back with a smiley face with my Nima Sensor.
You can watch my second round of Nima Sensor tests at Chick-fil-a in this Facebook Live video:
I only tested a pea-sized sample of each food item with my Nima Sensor. This information gave me a little clue in my quest to know if this food is safe for me to eat.
However, I must note that the Nima Sensor cannot give you a definitive answer, and I cannot say with 100 percent certainty that you can safely eat gluten free at Chick-fil-a every time nor at every location.
Every Chick-Fil-A and experience will be different. The Nima Sensor is not a replacement for common sense, asking good questions, and doing your own due diligence.
These are my opinions and findings based on my person research and knowledge. I am not giving advice, nor am I a medical doctor.
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