Applebees Gluten Free Menu - Celiac Disease
Sep 7 2009

Applebees Gluten Free Menu

Applebees restaurants are everywhere these days, so it has always been frustrating to see that their corporate office will not commit to anything on their menu being gluten free.   With that said, that does not mean that you can’t eat a gluten free meal at an Applebee’s restaurant!   Major companies are often hesitant to confirm anything is gluten-free due to cross-contamination concerns, but they still have many gluten-free options available on their menu.  You’ll just have to work a little harder and make sure your server is aware of your gluten free needs.

According to my research and experiences dining at Applebee’s, there are a few fairly safe items which are gluten-free on the Applebee’s menu.    Here are the items which are more than likely safe if cross-contamination is avoided:

  • Garlic Herb Chicken
  • Chicken Caesar Salad (make sure they know not to use croutons)
  • Fiesta Lime Chicken
  • Chips with Salsa

Make sure you educate your server on cross-contamination concerns so they can be sure that croutons aren’t added and then removed from the salad, for example.  Typically when your server realizes the severity of your diet they can accommodate you without any problems.

Applebees also offers a “to-go” service, so knowing that there are a few okay items at Applebees can be useful when traveling.   Just make sure you educate the person over the phone of your dietary needs when you place your order!

Have you eaten a gluten-free meal at Applebees?  Let us know your experience (positive or negative) below in the comments!

Article Written by:

Kyle Eslick is the founder of Gluten Free Media, as well as the creator of the popular Celiac Support Groups page. Connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, and now Google+!


  1. michelle peterson says:

    Fiesta Lime Chicken made me sick 🙁

  2. linda valeri says:

    I was told at Applebees that the hamburg is gluten free but NOT the chicken! Can you pleae clarify????

  3. Courtnie says:

    to linda, i work at an applebees and i was also just recently diagnosed with celiacs and i can confirm that the burgers are gluten free. It is just fresh hamburger no added fillers or anything like that. as for the chicken it usually comes with a seasoning on it and if youd like to get it just ask for it without. however i have gotten the chicken sandwhich with no bun and it just has a light sort of seasoning on it and i have had no problems with it.

  4. Teresa says:

    My thought is if you have any doubts or question whether something is truly GF then don’t eat regardless of what someone has posted. Some people are more sensitive than others. Ultimately we are all responsible for ourselves and should only use the recommendations as guidelines.

  5. meghan says:

    I work at an Applebees, and the burgers are fine, but you need to get them without seasoning, and if they can cook them on tinfoil on the flat top grill. The chips and the chips in the fiesta lime chicken are fried in the fryers with everything else….cross contamination. They even fry the baked potatoes before they put them in the microwave. Stick with plain veggies, fruit, plain chicken or mashed potatoes.

    • Wendy says:

      I ate at one Applebees and the manager double checked that the mashed potato’s were in fact GF. I ate them and no reaction. Last night I ate at another and assumed they used the same mix – asked the server after eating them and the manager said they are not GF. I did react. Therefore – don’t trust the mashed potato’s either. Always check because another local chain has gluten in theirs as well.

  6. Di says:

    I recently tried Applebee’s for the first time since I was diagnosed. The chips with Queso Blanco were delicious, but now I know they were fried with the same oil as everything else (thank you Meghan!). I ordered the Grilled Shrimp N’ Spinach salad, and when I was half way through it I found that there were crunchy noodles that had probably accidentally gotten mixed in with some of the other toppings in the prep area. It’s always a gamble!

    • Kate says:

      Actually, the whole tortilla chips are the first item fried every morning before opening, in fresh oil. Therefore, they are not cross contaminated! 🙂

  7. melissa says:

    I love the queso blanco and the spinach artichoke dip, and right now they have it at half price from 10 pm to 2 am. I guess I’ll just have to bring my own chips! Thanks for letting us know!

  8. Stephanie says:

    Two days ago I ate the Fiesta Lime Chicken and my stomach is still very sore.. I never expected that kind of a reaction! Wish I would have read Meghan’s remarks first, but we were traveling and I was at the mercy of a recommendation.

  9. Kathi Bills says:

    I ate at an Applebee’s in July and my server was very helpful. She told me that they do fry the chips in oil but that they make theirs first thing, before frying anything else, with fresh oil. I took the gamble that this was true and I had them with the spinach and artichoke dip without any problems. I guess maybe it varies from one Applebee’s to the next. Just make sure you know which questions to ask.

  10. Aundie says:

    I ate at Applebee’s today and ordered the southwest chicken and mashed potatoes thinking that it is just grilled chicken with veggies on top and cheese. It did not settle well with me at all!!! I am not sure which one did it, but I will not try that again. It is good to know the burgers are not filled with gluten.

    • Wendy says:

      Aundie – the manager at the one I ate at last night told me their mashed potato’s have Gluten. Always ask!

  11. Tiffany Janes says:

    Aundie – I’m sorry you had a bad experience at Applebee’s. I would not eat there if they paid me to and I eat out at least once a week. The locations here really don’t seem to get what gluten-free means. Remember that you can’t assume chicken breasts are gluten-free because lower end places tend to buy prepackaged chicken that contains a solution. Some companies that make those use wheat in the solution which means the chicken isn’t gluten-free before it’s ever cooked. Also, cheaper places tend to use flour to stretch mashed potatoes. I have experienced each of those things more than once, but here are two examples.

    Dining at a beach town in AL (2007) – manager brings out the box of chicken breasts to show me it says wheat starch on the box.

    Having lunch at Fernbank museum in Atlanta (2006) – counter employee in cafeteria laughs when I inquire about gluten in the mashed potatoes. His face was pretty red when the manager told him via the walkie talkie (that I could hear) that the item contains wheat.

  12. Kathi says:

    Went to Applebee’s last night and got glutenated from the Queso Blanco dip & chips. After I ate it it dawned on me that I used to make that and you dredge the cheese in flour to thicken the dip. Must have been the chips also, from reading the above. Our server didn’t know if the chips were flour or corn…I said I have to know! But I didn’t think they actually cooked them in a fryer (cross contam) & not out of a bag. Bah! Not eating there any more.

  13. Tiffany Janes says:

    Sorry to hear that Kathy, but I don’t blame you for avoiding a place with uninformed staff members. In a way I feel sorry for the clueless staff members because the problem is usually with the corporate office. Many companies implement gluten-free menus and don’t bother to put a training program in place. Who cares if the place has a gluten-free menu if no one in the building knows what gluten is?!

  14. LeRoy says:

    Ate at the Applebee’s in Garden City – I was told the butter is not wheat free. ???
    But I did get the peppercorn steak with asiago cheese and the sides were broccoli w/o butter and fruit. No problems.

  15. Lu says:

    I think Applebee’s needs to get with the program and come up with a gluten free menu. In this economy, I would think it would be worth the customers and be less hassle for the servers. Other restaurants like OUTBACK have a great gluten free menu!!!

  16. Jessica says:

    I went to Applebee’s shortly after I was diagnosed. I requested a Gluten free menu and I was told that I have to call a 1-800 number! Whats the deal with that? I would think that if you want more business they would want to accommodate people with food allergies a little better! I ended up ordering steak with potatoes and veggies. Thinking that was a safe zone. Turned out I was very wrong. I was terribly ill. I also went a month or so after that experience and got nachos.. Turns out those aren’t safe either I was not aware that they fried them in the same oil.. Bye Bye Apple bee’s I will not be back!

  17. Joanna says:

    I went to applebees a few weeks ago and got the nachos as well as Jessica and they made me terribly sick as well. People need to realize celiac disease is not a joke they need to take it seriously and not tell us something is gluten-free when it is not! I am with Lu applebees needs to get a gluten-free menu! if they do not have one the next time I’m there it’s bye bye Applebees for me!

  18. Maggie says:

    I am with Joanna Celiac Disease is not a joke! it is killing people. some people say oh only a little bit won’t hurt you, yes it will your body treats it as a poison. and poison kills people!

  19. Jessica says:

    We have a wonderful Applebee’s in Watertown, SD. The servers are happy to help once they know I need to eat gluten-free. They have told me to order veggies and fries without seasoning and I usually have a steak or hamburger patty. My favorite meal is sirloin with parmesean and grilled shrimp slathered on top sided with broccoli and fries.

  20. Tiffany Janes says:

    How interesting Jessica! I’ve never heard of any Applebee’s location having a dedicated fryer to cook safe fries in. That is really neat 😉

  21. joanna says:

    That is very interesting Jessica! i have never heard of safe cooking fries at a resturaunt before. I like eating at wendy’s when on trips i get there chili and there medium frosty normally chocolate yum. and i have two nephews who may have celiac disease and i want to be able to help them with there diet. one is a yr and the other is 2 1/2 any suggestions?

  22. Joanna says:

    I Guess no one responds to me huh? Well i had a great thanksgiving! did any of you?

    • Maggie says:

      I respond to you Joanna. And the best thing you can do for your nephews is help their parents with finding gluten free foods. And letting them no they are not the only ones who have celiac dz! And also I think when people don’t respond to you I think they are being rude and inconsiderate

      • Joanna says:

        You People mainly Tiffany and Jessica why don’t you respond to me? and thank you Maggie for your advice!!!

        • Tiffany Janes says:

          Joanna – if you’re asking for a reply re: your nephews, I don’t have kids (with or without celiac) and don’t feel I’m qualified to advise people about kids with any food allergy or intolerance. However, it’s my personal opinion that kids should be tested before being put on any restricted diet. Getting parents to test the kids is not always easy so good luck to you 🙂

          • Joanna says:

            Thank you and they were already tested just no results yet! so thank you very much for your advice tiffany! i have completely given up applebees nothing there i can eat without getting sick! And MERRY CHRISTMAS to all! 🙂

            • Joanna says:

              I mean Thank you Tiffany! 🙂

              • Tiffany Janes says:

                Keep in mind that test results for both kids and adults can be inconclusive so if they come back negative for celiac and evidence points to issues with gluten, then the kids could try going gluten-free to see if symptoms go away. Merry Christmas to you too, Joanna and everyone else – and happy holidays to those who celebrate other holidays this month!

  23. Lyla says:

    I have a question anybody can answer!
    How come companies will put gluten free on there label and then you read the ingredient label and you see a lot of things you cannot eat? It just doesn’t make since to me why a company would jeprodize your health like that! 🙁

  24. Tiffany Janes says:

    Hi Lyla – if you can be more specific, I can try and address your question. If something is labeled gluten-free, there isn’t any gluten in it. Some people think modified food starch is all made from wheat – it’s not. In gluten-free items it’s generally made with corn or tapioca. MSG is also gluten-free, though many people are also confused by this ingredient.

    • Lyla says:

      Yes that is what a lot of people say! but for instance we with celiac disease cannot eat maltodextrin~ and that is in something with a label that says gluten free~ therefore the company just lied! see what i mean? or even they will say gluten free and it says made in a facility shared with wheat products that is cross contamination and we cannot eat that either! What do You think about a company that would do that?

  25. Rusty says:

    Maltodextrin is gluten free.

    • Lyla says:

      I am NOT the argueing type! but have you ever read Elisabeth Hasselbeck’s book called “The G Free diet” ? if not i would reccomend reading it Rusty! because Malt is made from Barley and according to Elisabeth’s book and my Dr. barley is a type of gluten! But i don’t know i guess its your Intestines that are being destroyed not mine:(. i tried warning you. but Rusty i would really Reccomend reading Elisabeth Hasselbeck’s book if you haven’t already! 🙂 what do you think About that Rusty??

      • Karen says:

        I have not read Elizabeth Hasselbeck’s book, but keep in mind that she is a celebrity, not a doctor. If you want to read the book that is the Gold Standard in this disease, read Peter Green M.D.’s book “Celiac Disease: A Hidden Epidemic”. He directs the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University and can answer ALL your questions about this disease and what you can eat. You don’t need to read anything else.

    • sherbear says:

      not necessesarily

    • Karen says:

      Maltodextrin in the US is usually corn, altho some comes from wheat. With the new allergen law, products that contain wheat in any derivative HAVE to indicate that allergen is in the product, but I do not believe this applies to restaurants. Some restaurants have gone far enough to let us know specifically about these “iffy” ingredients. I don’t feel Applebees has done this, so if in doubt, do NOT eat it.

  26. Lyla says:

    If malt is made from Barley therefore MALTodextrin is Not GLUTEN~FREE

    • Joanna says:

      Rusty, I have read Elisabeth Hasselbeck’s book and she does say that Maltodextrin is NOT Gluten~free ;)!! but if you don’t get sick eating it then i guess as your age progresses you will see what it does to your digestive system ;|

  27. meghan says:

    Maltodextrin, a common food additive, is a type of sugar that’s made by breaking down starch. (Despite its name, maltodextrin does not contain malt.) Whether maltodextrin is gluten-free depends on what kind of starch it came from. In the United States, maltodextrin is usually made from rice, corn, or potato. In Europe, maltodextrin is frequently made from wheat.

  28. Lyla says:

    Like i told Rusty i am not the argueing type so i am not going to argue i am just going to listen to my Dr. Malt is made from barley and is in MALTodextrin so think what you want im just excluding all MALTodextrin from my diet! ;0. i have two questions for you Meghan are you ready for it? where are you getting your INFORMATION? and When were you diagnosed with Celiac Disease?

    • meghan says:

      I get my information from researching everything I eat before I eat it. My husband and son are also eating gluten free with me. I spend countless hours on the computer looking things up, or asking my best friends to help me out. One is a doctor and one is a dietitian. I was diagnosed almost 4 years ago. I have no reason to argue with anyone either….I was just letting others know to not just stop eating it because yourself or Elisabeth Hasselbeck said not to. You should look it up for yourself before you decide. I wondered about this too when I was diagnosed, but like I said, I researched, and you can call the company also to find out just to make sure.

  29. Joanna says:

    Lyla i have been doing research and actually there are GLUTEN~Free types of Maltodextrin it can be made with corn instead of Wheat! So maybe you should do some research for yourself to help you in disagreements like this one 😉

  30. Lyla says:

    I have something you may ALL want to think about! yes Meghan in AMERICA they use rice corn or potatoe and in Europe They use wheat frequently. Well where are they getting there Maltodextrin from They could be getting it from Europe for all we know! and that is great to hear where you get your information from! i like you, you seem very SMART :). And i research everything i eat before i eat it as well that is one of the precautions of being a celiac patient i suppose ;). Needless to say Meghan you have Helped me tremendously! And i Thank you for it! Do you know where i can go to get some better tasting G~Free Foods?

    • meghan says:

      I found noodles that taste just like the real thing. I will cook them for everyone and nobody knows the difference. Bionaturae makes them. Made from rice, potato and soy. Betty crocker also has a list of all of General Mills gluten free foods. Good recipes too. Bisquick has a gluten free mix, excellent pancakes and a recipe for chicken fingers right on the box. Sooo good! Udi has good bread. Hope this helps…

  31. Lyla says:

    Another Question Meghan What website do you use when researching?

  32. Lyla says:

    MAybe we can chat once a week with new discoveries or something!

  33. Rusty says:

    My God, you’d think I personally directed some sort of insult toward you based on your reaction to my single comment. Currently, here in the U.S., if the maltodextrin in a product is derived from wheat it must be labeled as such. It’s more commonly made from potato, rice or corn starch. If a product from outside the U.S. contains maltodextrin, I wouldn’t touch it. I’m very familiar with Elizabeth Hasselbeck and I sincerely credit her for significantly raising the awareness of Celiac disease. I’ve enjoyed the occasional visits to this site to discuss gluten related topics, but I will unsubscribe after this post. I have better things to do than be harped at by a rude lunatic. What do you think about that, Lyla??

  34. Lyla says:

    I am sorry you took it that way! i was not intending to sound or seem like that at all I was just trying to stand my grounds! but as you have read! from what Meghan and i have said! i now see that it is G~ free! so don’t leave the site! ok i am sincerely sorry! 🙂

    • Rusty says:

      You caught me on a REALLY bad day. I’m sorry to have taken it out on you, Lyla, that is not like me to do that. Thanks for apologizing – all is well. Happy holidays to you and yours.

      • Lyla says:

        Thank you same to you! and actually i was having a terrible day as well! so I am glad all is well. looking forward to chatting with you in the future! 🙂

  35. Sive says:

    FYI a server just brought me out the ingredient list for the queso blanco and it is gluten free. That doesn’t rule out CC issues on the dip or chips but it may save someone else the stress.

  36. Sherbear says:

    Chilis has a gluten free menu, carrabas has one, O’Tooles, Unos, Olive Garden, PF Changs, Outback and Fridays have one. Eat there instead. Maybe if people stop eating at Applebees, they will wake up and do something about this. Applebees stubborness on this issue infuriates me. I for one will boycott them and my family will until they do something about it.

    • Joanna says:

      I have a question do you know where i can find good tasting gluten free bread and what its called?

      • Theresa says:

        I was recently diagnosed with gluten intolerance and have been gluten free for approximately a month.
        I absolutely love Pamela Bread Mix.. It is delicious. You can order it on or if you are from the north east you can get it at Tops.
        It is a little dense, but delicious. Enjoy!

        • Joanna says:

          Thank you so much i am definitely going to try that i have been diagnosed for over a year and still searching myself for more gluten free foods that are tasty so if you have any questions maybe i can help you!?

  37. Wendy says:

    @joanne. My favorite is Udi’s White Bread. Not sure where you are located but if in Michigan – I buy it at Meijer.

  38. Jenny says:

    I worked at Applebee’s for 5 years, and can tell you that the chips are simply deep fried flour tortillas, not corn. The cooks make them fresh every morning. Since the Fiesta lime chicken is simply a chicken breast covered in cheese and placed atop a bed of said flour tortilla chips, this dish should be off limits as well.

    All in all, I would recommend never eating at Applebee’s in the first place, all of the meats, vegetables, and sauces go from frozen to microwaved and there is not a single pronounceable ingredient on ANY of the salad dressings. They cater to what the average American craves, but it’s terrible for you.

  39. Mazzy says:

    Wow, Jenny, that is great information. I unfortunately, was eating at Appleby’s a lot before I knew I had celiac disease. Then, after I got diagnosed, I remember going there a few weeks ago and asking for a gluten free menu and was pretty much shocked that they weren’t able to provide one. I think whatever I had was fine though.

    Does anyone know if Friendly’s burgers contain wheat? I should look that up…I got sick there almost immediately after eating a bun-free burger, and I am not sure if I should attribute it to the high fat content (which may or may not also cause me problems) or hidden wheat.

  40. Josie says:

    I ate at Applebees two days ago, ordered a small steak, potatoes, mushrooms, and onions off the gluten-free menu. Within hours, I was sick and up all night with the usual abdominal cramps that comes from eating wheat products. I have a sensitivity, not celiac disease. Somewhere there was some wheat, but it wasn’t obvious. I wonder if the meat had something added to it. The steak tasted great, but I won’t be going there again. You can’t trust the employees of a restaurant, they are not trained to know all about sensitivities.

  41. kendrafer says:

    Mazzy, I just ate at Applebees tonight and when I asked for a gluten free menu they went in the back, got a 3 ring binder and opened it to their gluten free page. they have different categories for all types of food sensitivities. Dont bother asking your hostess, ask the manager. Every Applebees has a gluten free menu.

  42. siearra horning says:

    what are some more gluten free foods and what are the callories n prices ?

  43. TInaC says:

    I’ve been gluten free a few years now and have not had good luck eating at Applebees. Olive Garden is another place I will not eat any more. Despite ordering off their gluten free menu I always get sick there, and have heard the same from others. Love the gluten free dishes at Carrabas and PF Changs though. I love those tope secret restaurant cookbooks, easy to adapt my old favorite dishes to gluten free and I know they are safe. Eating out is always a risk and I only do so when I travel.

  44. T Lyman says:

    I ate at Applebees, from the “gluten free menu” which included Chips and Salsa. From reading this post it turns out that the chips are indeed made from wheat. I am so angry right now!!!!!

  45. Amanda says:

    I had the Napa chicken which made me super sick. I’m a Celiac and this meal about killed me. It’s on the gluten free menu online, however upon visiting another location at a later date I noticed it was not on the gluten free menu the location gave me. It is still however on the online gluten free menu. I highly suggest asking to speak with the chef everytime you eat out.

  46. I asked my waitress at the end of my meal the last time I ate there and she said the Napa Chicken was GF. I then went home and became sick so it was the potatoes not the chicken. The first time i ordered it the restaurant had ran out of potatoes and I got a extra side of veggies and was fine. Just make sure to be aware of the sides you pick when ordering.

  47. Denise Adams says:

    I have tried several gluten free breads and I found Schar’s bread. It is like a sourdough. It tastes the best.

  48. Betsy thomas says:

    Ate at Applebee’s Jefferson City Missouri and had the tequila lime chicken off the menu…had a terrible reaction….must have been the chips….will not go again. Thankfully I was not traveling.

  49. Gayle Rose says:

    Chips are not always gluten free since many restaurants (in general) deep fry them.

  50. Gayle Rose says:

    Can anyone be sure whether the garlic butter is gluten free or not?


  1. […] Applebee’s Gluten-Free Menu […]

  2. Applebies menu | Dimitribirioukov says:

    […] Applebees Gluten Free MenuGluten Free Restaurant Dining Resource … I think Applebee’s needs to get with the program and come up with a gluten free menu. In this economy, I would think it would be worth the customers and be less hassle for the servers. Other restaurants like OUTBACK have a great gluten free menu!!! […]

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