The short answer is yes, most Taco Bell nachos are gluten-free. Taco Bell does not add any gluten-containing ingredients to their basic nachos. However, those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity should be cautious of cross-contamination risks when ordering nachos with add-ons at Taco Bell.
Ingredients in Taco Bell Nachos
The main ingredients in Taco Bell’s nachos are:
- Tortilla chips
- Refried beans
- Nacho cheese sauce
- Pico de gallo
None of these basic ingredients contain gluten. The tortilla chips are made from corn, which is naturally gluten-free. Refried beans are gluten-free as well, as long as no wheat flour is added. The nacho cheese sauce contains ingredients like milk, cheese, chili pepper, and other seasonings that don’t contain gluten.
Are Taco Bell Tortilla Chips Gluten-Free?
Yes, Taco Bell confirms that their tortilla chips used for nachos are gluten-free:
“Our Tortilla Chips are gluten free. They are made from stone ground corn and contain no gluten ingredients.” – Taco Bell Customer Service
The corn used to make their chips is not contaminated with gluten at any point during growing or processing. So you can feel confident that Taco Bell’s tortilla chips are safe to consume on a gluten-free diet.
Is Taco Bell Nacho Cheese Sauce Gluten-Free?
Taco Bell’s nacho cheese sauce is also gluten-free. According to Taco Bell, the ingredients include:
- Chili pepper
- Natural flavors
- Vegetable oil
- Garlic powder
- Onion powder
- Sodium phosphate
None of these ingredients contain gluten. The types of cheese used in the nacho cheese sauce may include cheddar, mozzarella, and Monterey jack. These are all gluten-free cheeses.
Can Refried Beans Contain Gluten?
Plain refried beans are naturally gluten-free. They are made by mashing pinto beans with oil. However, some restaurants add wheat flour to thicken refried beans, which would make them not gluten-free. But Taco Bell does not add any gluten ingredients to their refried beans used for nachos. The ingredients include:
- Pinto beans
- Vegetable oil (soybean, corn, canola)
- Garlic powder
- Onion powder
Taco Bell also confirmed the gluten-free status of their refried beans in an email response.
Are Add-Ons and Specialty Nachos Gluten-Free?
While the basic ingredients in Taco Bell nachos are gluten-free, some of the add-ons and specialty nachos may not be. Here are some things to watch out for:
The seasoned beef used as a nacho topping contains wheat-based ingredients. Taco Bell states their beef is not gluten-free due to the seasonings used. So nachos with beef added on would not be safe for those avoiding gluten.
Taco Bell’s white rice contains barley, making it not gluten-free. Nachos topped with rice would also be off-limits on a gluten-free diet.
Unlike the refried beans, Taco Bell’s black beans are NOT gluten-free. They contain wheat flour as an ingredient. So nachos with black beans added on are not safe for gluten-free diets.
The chipotle chicken used on some specialty nachos is marinated in adobo sauce that contains soy sauce, which is not gluten-free. Nachos with chipotle chicken topping should be avoided.
Cilantro Lime Chicken
Taco Bell states their cilantro lime chicken is gluten-free. So nachos topped with this grilled chicken should be safe.
The steak is also reported to be gluten-free by Taco Bell. Nachos topped with steak strips don’t contain any ingredients with gluten.
Freshly made guacamole only contains ingredients like avocado, onion, garlic, lime juice, and cilantro. Taco Bell’s guacamole topping is gluten-free and fine for gluten-free diets.
Pico de Gallo
Pico de gallo contains tomatoes, onion, cilantro, lime juice, and chili peppers. These are all gluten-free ingredients. Taco Bell’s pico de gallo does not contain gluten.
Plain sour cream does not contain gluten. Taco Bell’s sour cream used as a nacho topping is safe for gluten-free diets.
Fresh jalapeño peppers are a naturally gluten-free nacho topping as well.
Even if the ingredients in Taco Bell nachos are gluten-free, there is still some risk of cross-contamination occurring in the restaurant. Here are some things to keep in mind:
- Taco Bell uses shared equipment and fryers. The fryers used to make tortilla chips may also be used to cook flour-coated foods like empanadas.
- Employees use the same utensils to handle both flour and corn tortillas unless requested otherwise.
- Gluten-containing ingredients like flour tortillas, empanadas, and black beans are prepared in close proximity to the nachos.
- Some toppings, like rice and beef, contain gluten, increasing the risk of cross-contact.
For those with celiac disease or who are highly sensitive, these risks may be too significant. Requesting no beef or rice toppings can help reduce the chance of gluten cross-contamination.
What Menu Items Are Gluten-Free at Taco Bell?
Besides nachos, here are some of the gluten-free menu options available at Taco Bell:
|Menu Category||Gluten-Free Options|
|Tacos||Crunchy Tacos with lettuce, cheese, and gluten-free fillings like beans, steak, or chicken|
|Burritos||Bean Burrito, Fresco Bean Burrito|
|Salads||Chicken Power Salad Bowl|
|Sides||Chips & Guacamole, Chips & Pico de Gallo|
|Drinks||Soda, Water, Iced Tea|
However, modifications may be needed to ensure gluten-free preparation, such as requesting corn tortillas, no rice, no sauce packet, etc. It’s always smart to confirm directly with the restaurant staff.
Tips for Ordering Gluten-Free at Taco Bell
Here are some recommendations when ordering gluten-free nachos and other menu items at Taco Bell:
- Ask for fresh gloves to reduce cross-contact
- Verify ingredients with staff each time you visit in case recipes change
- Order corn tortillas instead of flour tortillas
- Choose gluten-free fillings like beans, grilled chicken, steak
- Avoid toppings like rice, beef, black beans, creamy sauces
- Request no sauce packets as they may contain gluten
- Check labels carefully for foods like dessert churros which may not be gluten-free
Should You Trust Taco Bell with Gluten-Free Orders?
Taco Bell states that they don’t recommend their restaurant for guests with celiac disease due to the potential for cross-contamination. Those with celiac disease or who are highly sensitive to gluten likely should avoid eating at Taco Bell.
For those with a gluten intolerance or allergy who are less sensitive, Taco Bell can be an option but precautions should be taken. Ingredients and preparation procedures can change without notice. Staff may not always be fully informed on gluten-free protocols.
In general, it’s wisest for those with celiac disease or severe gluten allergies to avoid fast food restaurants where the risk of cross-contamination is high. For those who do choose to dine at Taco Bell, verify ingredients with staff every time and supervise food preparation to ensure safety.
Most Taco Bell nachos are gluten-free based on the core ingredients. But specialty nachos with add-ons like rice, beef, and black beans may contain gluten. While the risk of cross-contamination exists, some individuals who are less sensitive can eat nachos and other menu items gluten-free at Taco Bell with precautions. But those with celiac disease should be very cautious and likely avoid Taco Bell altogether due to the potential for trace gluten exposure.