Red Lobster Gluten-Free Options
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Jan 4 2013

Red Lobster Gluten-Free Options

I can’t believe there is a chain restaurant out there that I haven’t tried since I have been gluten-free, but there is: Red Lobster.  I guess I knew they had a few gluten-free options, but never really stopped to see what they offered. 

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In addition to the obvious gluten-free items like steamed shellfish, baked fish, baked potato and plain salad there are many other options such as:

  • Shrimp scampi
  • Bacon-wrapped shrimp  with mashed potatoes
  • Blackened fish
  • Coleslaw
  • New York Style cheesecake with strawberries

There are some other items marked gluten-free, like chicken wings and French fries, but it is necessary to check to see if a common fryer is used at the location where you are dining.  The allergen menu is updated on a regular basis to ensure that if anything has changed it is updated. 

Just because an establishment offers a gluten-free menu doesn’t mean you don’t need to ask questions regarding preparation and precautions taken to eliminate the chance of cross-contamination.  Here are some questions that should always be asked:

  • Is there a dedicated fryer?  Fries, tortilla chips and chicken wings are not gluten-free if they are fried with breaded items.
  • How are gluten-free items on the grill/flat top kept from coming in contact with gluten? 
  • Is it possible to cook the gluten-free items in a separate pan? 
  • If there is gluten-free pasta offered, is it cooked in a dedicated pot? 
  • Is the salad prepared in a separate dish to avoid being tossed with any crouton remnants?
  • Are separate utensils used to plate the gluten-free food?
  • Are vegetables a part of your entrée?  Ask how they are prepared to ensure any butter sauce or seasonings are gluten-free and that they are not cooked in pasta water.
  • If there are gluten-free bread or bun options, how are they toasted/warmed?
  • If you are eating breakfast and ordering omelets or scrambled eggs, ask if pancake batter is used to add fluffiness. 
  • If there is gluten-free pizza on the menu, is it baked separately or on a dedicated pan?  Is the sauce and toppings kept separate from the non-gluten-free sauce and toppings?
  • Desserts – flourless chocolate cake isn’t gluten-free if the pan is dusted with flour; ice cream should be scooped with a clean scoop that hasn’t come in contact with gluten, crème brulee is gluten-free until a cookie is stuck out of the top of it.

The list above is not all-inclusive, but should give you a good place to start when dining out gluten-free.  Always remember if you don’t feel comfortable eating someplace, leave and go to another restaurant. Don’t worry about hurting feelings of any staff members, your health comes first.  I try to research new-to-me restaurants in advance to limit some of the issues that may arise and make a mental list of questions I want to get answers to before I get settled in. 

Have you eaten gluten-free at Red Lobster?  Have you tried the New York Cheesecake?

What is your number one tip for dining out gluten-free?

Article Written by:

Kimberly Bouldin is a gluten-free wife, runner & blogger with two children in Columbus, Ohio. After her celiac diagnosis in 2006, she has made it her mission to embrace an entirely new approach to nutrition in a gluten-free world, exploring options that run the gamut from "made from scratch" homemade bread to sampling and reviewing the gluten-free prepared foods that are continuously being introduced to the market. While navigating the waters of becoming gluten-free, Kim shares her experiences and passes along valuable product reviews in addition to helping other moms of celiac kids develop healthy menus that are kid-friendly and palatable. Kimberly is a valuable resource for those who are newly diagnosed, as well as for the more seasoned gluten-free veterans. Follow Kim on Twitter!

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  • http://www.examiner.com Jennifer Harris

    I had a horrible experience at Red Lobster years ago and I have not been back since. I spoke to the manager for about 15 minutes to see what was safe and how it was prepared and I still had a reaction. I don’t feel comfortable eating there, but I would like to hear from others if they have had a good dining experience at Red Lobster.

    • http://glutenfreeislife.com/ Kimberly Bouldin

      Jennifer,

      Thanks for sharing! I hear ya – once you get sick, it is hard to trust again. I don’t blame you one bit.

      Kim

  • Martha Wirt

    A lot of bacons aren’t gluten free so the bacon wrapped shrimp needs to be questioned; cole slaw needs to be made with Miracle Whip since most mayos have some possibility of gluten; has the shrimp or baked fish been seasoned with anything or marinated in anything?

    • http://glutenfreeislife.com/ Kimberly Bouldin

      Martha,

      I agree that questions need to be asked, but the menu is dated so that the most current suppliers and ingredients have been checked. I have never come across bacon that contains gluten, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t one out there. Mayo is gluten-free, so that isn’t a concern. If the shrimp/fish is marinated and is marked that it is free of gluten, those have been checked.

      I hope this helps.

      Kim

  • http://elegantlyglutenfree.com Pat @ Elegantly, Gluten-Free

    In the past couple of years I have eaten at Red Lobster several times. I checked out their website information beforehand so I was pretty sure I could find something to eat. When we were at the restaurant our server brought me a freshly printed copy of the same information to select from. The manager stopped by to see how things were, and each time I have had several choices from appetizer to dessert. I have been quite satisfied with them.

    • http://glutenfreeislife.com/ Kimberly Bouldin

      Pat,

      Thanks for sharing your experience! Did you happen to try the cheesecake? I can’t wait to see how it is!

      Kim

  • Katie

    I often wonder, though, what else is in the food at chain restaurants like this. MSG, GMO cooking oils, soy…? I would like to see this kind of information on the menu as well. It is nice that restaurants have started showing gluten-free items on menus, but I’d like to see even more information, you know? Panera does that, which is awesome (on their website)…but it’s also why I stopped eating there. :/

    • http://glutenfreeislife.com/ Kimberly Bouldin

      Katie,

      Yes, I agree that it would be nice to see those things on the menu as well. Perhaps one day, right?

      Kim

  • Lori Baird

    FYI: Was at Red Lobster in Walkill, NY on New Years Eve Day and it was lousy. I had the chicken wings with blue cheese and celery and a hamburger on a plate with lettuce and tomato because even though I was given the Gluten Free Menu upon request, many of the items were unavailable at the time we were there. This happens frequently according to staff and not the first time it has happened at any of the chains that have GF menus. It sucks to think that I wanted a simple lunch and couldn’t get just a light, simple lunch instead of a huge meal. The only things that were available on the GF were the wings, a burger, a lobster or shrimp scampi. I, again, did not want a big meal, so made my choices. The wings were stuck to the bone and so chewy, it was ridiculous and the burger was a premade patty that was a hockey puck. And, to make matters worse, the wings were fried in the common fryer!!! I did not get sick, THANK GOD, but found out after I had ingested them as the person at the table next to us was attempting to find out if onion rings or chicken was cooked in with the fries and was told all fried items shared the fryer. I opted to ask the waitress, AGAIN, if my food would have been cooked in the common fryer and the answer was that “it never touched the battered chicken”. Needless to say, never again. Disappointing…..