I’ve been getting a lot of questions lately asking if Subway has gluten-free bread. I’ve found it most difficult to get official answers, but I will attempt to share what I can about eating gluten free at Subway. This article is for informational purposes and readers should do their own due diligence to decide if Subway restaurants are safe for their dietary needs. Please see my disclosures.
The moment my doctor called me to diagnose me with celiac disease, I was in the middle of eating a six-inch Subway sandwich and sipping on a Diet Coke. My phone rang. It was my doctor. She promptly said to me she received my blood test results and, in a life-changing moment, she told me I had celiac disease.
That Subway sandwich was the last bite of gluten I have ever had (at least knowingly).
If you can’t eat gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye, barley and sometimes oats, either due to celiac disease or gluten intolerance, you might be wondering if you can still safely eat at Subway. You might also be wondering if Subway has gluten-free bread and if it’s even worth eating there anymore.
While Subway prides itself on fresh-baked breads and made-to-order sandwiches, its famous assembly line is full of gluten-y crumbs ready to foil any gluten-free eater’s hope for a safe meal.
This means, if you don’t eat gluten for a medical or health reason, you should not, in good faith, eat at Subway, not even a salad.
You could also go to Jersey Mike’s, instead. The sandwich chain offers gluten-free bread at all locations and it has invested in training its staff to safely handle gluten-free orders.
I have personally tried Jersey Mike’s (read about my experience and watch me test my sub for hidden gluten) and can attest that the restaurant poses little risk for those on a strict gluten-free diet.
That said, if you’re simply avoiding gluten, you don’t have celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, and you’re not worried about gluten cross contamination, Subway offers a few options that might appeal to you.
Does Subway Have Gluten-Free Bread?
First, let’s talk about bread because that is top of mind when it comes to eating at a sandwich restaurant.
According to the Subway website, select Subway restaurants carry gluten-free bread. It’s made and packaged in a gluten-free facility and then is sent to Subway restaurants wrapped. It’s not baked inside the restaurant like Subway’s signature breads, and it comes in a six-inch option only.
While I’m able to confirm that some Subway restaurants in the U.S. have gluten-free bread, what I’m unable to pinpoint is which restaurants and in what cities its available. There is no information on the Subway website offering up this kind of information.
What I can tell you is that Subway introduced gluten-free bread and brownies at select locations in Texas in 2011 as part of a pilot program. Since then, other Subways have followed suit in carrying the g-free stuff.
In Canada, all Subway restaurants were offering gluten-free bread through mid-February 2018, and then after that, the restaurant left it up to individual franchisees to evaluate the demand and decide whether to continue selling it.
I assume the decision to carry gluten-free bread was also left up to U.S. franchisees as well, but I haven’t been able to independently confirm this information as my messages into the Subway PR team remain unanswered.
Subway said in a 2017 Tweet, “Our gluten-free bread is available at a vast majority of restaurants in Canada. Ask your Sandwich Artist for availability before ordering!” A member of the Gluten-Free Diet Support Group on Facebook from British Columbia, Canada confirmed in September 2021 that the Subway near her has gluten-free bread.
I called a few local Subways near me in Denver, CO and could not find a location that carried it. Members of the Gluten-Free Diet Support Group on Facebook in Kansas City and San Francisco said they have never seen gluten-free bread at Subway restaurants near them either.
Another member of the Facebook group located in western New York says some locations near her have gluten-free bread, but not all.
Some of the reviews (many over a year old) on the FindMeGlutenFree app have suggested individuals have found gluten-free bread in parts of New York, Rhode Island, Arlington, VA, Texas, Oregon, and Massachusetts in addition to other locations across the U.S.
What’s Gluten-Free at Subway?
Besides having gluten-free bread at select locations, Subway also offers a variety of sandwich meats that do not contain gluten.
At this time, however, Subway does not have a gluten-free menu.
The restaurant says its “meats” and sandwich ingredients are prepared on shared equipment and therefore it cannot guarantee any menu item is 100 percent gluten free as-is.
Please refer to Subway’s Allergen chart for the latest ingredient information, and be sure to inquire within as menu items and ingredients can change.
As of July 2021, sandwich “meats” that do not contain gluten ingredients (but may be subject to cross contamination) include:
- Bacon strips
- Oven roasted chicken patty
- Grilled chicken
- Cold cut combo meats
- Egg omlet patty
- Egg white omlet patty
- Genoa salami
- Ham (Black Forest)
- Italian BMT Meats (ham, pepperoni, salami)
- Rotisserie-style chicken
- Spicy Italian meats
- Tuna salad
- Turkey breast, oven roasted
- Chicken, grilled with buffalo sauce
- Veggie Patty
Please note that the Grilled Chicken with Teriyaki Sauce and the Meatballs and Marinara are the only two “meats” that contain gluten.
Additionally, all cheeses, condiments, vegetable toppings, and dressings are free from gluten-y ingredients, and if you want to eat at Subway (again, knowing that gluten cross contamination is rampant), you can order a salad or No-Bready Bowls with any of the non-gluten containing sandwich meats listed above. (The new Bready Bowls or Protein Bowls, which launched in January 2021, are basically footlong sandwiches without the bread.)
You should steer clear of the Beef Chili with Beans, Chicken Noodle, and Loaded Baked Potato at Subway, all which contain gluten. The exception is the Broccoli and Cheddar soup, which does not contain gluten.
Some locations also have certified gluten-free brownies by Rich’s, which is safe for everyone to eat since it’s pre-packaged in a gluten-free facility.
How to Order Gluten Free at Subway
If you’re simply avoiding gluten, but do not have celiac disease or gluten intolerance, and you still feel comfortable eating at Subway, you should go ahead and order as you wish.
However, if you have a medical condition that is treated by the gluten-free diet, I suggest avoiding Subway altogether.
If you must eat at Subway, as in there are no other options, these are my suggested Do’s:
- Express the seriousness of your gluten-free diet. Use words like “allergy” (even though it’s not technically a food allergy). Allergy is simply a word the restaurant industry understands.
- Ask staff to change his or her gloves when handling your sandwich.
- Ask staff to wipe down the prep surface AND use a fresh wrapper to protect your sandwich or salad from touching the shared surfaces.
- If at all possible, ask the staff if there are fresh, non-contaminated ingredients from another source (perhaps a fridge in the back?) that he or she can use to prepare your sandwich. If not, assess the situation at the prep station and order wisely.
- At your request, Subway employees also can use a clean knife to cut your sandwich (or request for it not to be cut altogether).
- I also suggest watching the staff handle your sandwich or salad with an eagle eye; it’s okay, you don’t want to be sick. If something doesn’t feel right, say something.
- [Optional] If you feel comfortable doing so, ask for the manager and see if he or she can prepare your sandwich.
And my suggested Don’ts:
- Don’t go to your local Subway restaurant without calling ahead of time to find out if it carries gluten-free bread. Only select locations have it; and you don’t want to get the run-around when you get there.
- Don’t go to Subway during the busy lunch rush. Instead, visit the restaurant on off-hours. This will ensure the staff has some time to wash hands and attend to your needs without worry of holding up a big line.
- Don’t order Subway for pick-up or delivery. You need to be there, in person, to communicate your needs and watch your sandwich or salad be prepared by the staff.
- Don’t be mean to the staff. The staff is not trained to handle “allergy” orders and some may not understand gluten free like you do.
I will update this article as more information becomes available.
Suggested Additional Reading
For more information on eating out safely gluten free, visit my Eating Out archives.
Also read the following articles to learn how to eat safely at your favorite restaurants: