Does Cane’s chicken have anything gluten-free?

Quick Answer

Cane’s Chicken does offer some gluten-free options for customers with gluten sensitivities or celiac disease. While their traditional chicken fingers and toast are not gluten-free, they do have alternative sides and sauces that are gluten-free. Their coleslaw, texas toast, fries, and ketchup are all reported to be gluten-free. However, cross-contamination is possible in the kitchen, so those with celiac disease should exercise caution. Calling ahead about gluten-free prep procedures is advised.

About Celiac Disease and Gluten

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that causes damage to the small intestine when gluten is ingested. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. When someone with celiac disease eats gluten, their immune system attacks the small intestine, damaging the villi which are small finger-like projections that absorb nutrients. This can lead to symptoms like diarrhea, abdominal pain, bloating, weight loss, fatigue, and anemia. The only treatment for celiac disease is strictly following a 100% gluten-free diet. Even small traces of gluten can trigger symptoms and further damage.

About 1 in 100 people worldwide have celiac disease. It often runs in families and can develop at any age. Getting diagnosed is important to avoid complications like malnutrition, osteoporosis, infertility, neurological conditions, and in rare cases, cancer. Diagnosis involves a blood test and endoscopy. Because celiac symptoms can vary so widely, it is estimated that 83% of Americans with celiac disease have not been diagnosed and are unaware they have this condition.

In addition to celiac disease, there are others who need to avoid gluten due to gluten sensitivity or wheat allergy. Gluten sensitivity is estimated to impact 6-7% of the population and causes gastrointestinal symptoms, but does not damage the small intestine. Wheat allergy affects around 0.5% of Americans. Those with wheat allergy must avoid wheat to prevent potentially life-threatening anaphylactic reactions.

Between celiac disease, non-celiac gluten sensitivity, and wheat allergy, an estimated 5-10% of Americans need to avoid gluten for medical reasons. Thankfully awareness and availability of gluten-free options has increased substantially in recent years in restaurants and grocery stores.

What Menu Items at Cane’s Are Gluten-Free?

The traditional Cane’s chicken fingers and toast contain gluten and are fried in the same fryers as the gluten-containing foods. However, Cane’s does offer some gluten-free menu options:

– Coleslaw – their coleslaw is reported to be gluten-free. As a cold salad, risk of cross-contamination is lower.

– Fries – Cane’s fries are made from potatoes fried in peanut oil. Potatoes don’t contain gluten, so the fries are safe as long as they weren’t contaminated during preparation.

– Ketchup – Most major brands of ketchup, like Heinz, are gluten-free. Cane’s serves individual packets of ketchup.

– Texas Toast – Cane’s Texas toast is made without gluten-containing ingredients. However, it’s cooked in the same fryer as gluten foods. Those highly sensitive should exercise caution.

– Chicken – the grilled chicken option allows you to get Cane’s popular chicken without the breading or fries cooked in the same fryer. Lower risk of gluten cross-contact.

– Sauces – Cane’s reports their dipping sauces like Canes Sauce, Honey Mustard, and Ranch are gluten-free. Ask about preparation procedures as some thickening agents can contain gluten.

So in summary, those looking for gluten-free fare at Cane’s can get grilled chicken, fries, coleslaw, and certain sauces. Just be advised that for those with celiac, even a little cross-contact can trigger symptoms, so consider the high risk of cross-contact in the kitchen when fried foods and flour is ubiquitous. Take precautions like requesting gluten-free prep, thoroughly cleaning tables and hands, and avoiding busy times if very sensitive. Calling ahead to inquire about gluten-free prep procedures is wise for celiac diners.

Tips for Eating Gluten-Free at Cane’s

Here are some tips for those needing to eat gluten-free when dining at Cane’s Chicken:

– Call ahead – Ask to speak to a manager about their gluten-free preparation procedures and policies. Inquire about dedicated fryers or prep areas.

– Avoid busy times – Visiting during slow periods cuts down on the risk of cross-contamination from shared surfaces and fryers.

– Request gluten-free prep – Ask that gloves be changed and gluten-free surfaces used to prepare your food separately.

– Verify ingredients – Double check the ingredients in sauces and sides by reviewing allergen info and asking staff.

– Check labels – If you use any condiments like honey mustard, inspect the label to ensure they are certified gluten-free.

– Wipe down – Bring disinfecting wipes to clean off your table or tray before eating as flour particles could linger from previous guests.

– Prevent cross-contact – Use a clean tray and serving utensils. Avoid shared condiments.

– Look for signs – Visually inspect food for any breading or signs of contamination before consuming.

– Know your options – Stick to foods less likely to be cross-contaminated like salad, plain grilled chicken, and packaged sauces.

– Scope your exit – Have an escape plan if you suspect you have been glutened, whether that means taking a digestive enzyme, heading home, or seeking medical care.

Is Cane’s Chicken Safe for Celiacs?

Cane’s Chicken does offer some gluten-free menu options like grilled chicken, coleslaw, and fries. However, the prevalence of fried foods means a high risk of cross-contact for those with celiac disease. Several factors lead to a moderate-high risk dining environment for those with celiac disease:

– No dedicated fryers – All fried items including chicken fingers and fries are cooked in shared fryers. Significant risk of gluten cross-over into supposedly “gluten-free” items.

– Heavy fried food focus – With a limited menu centered around fried chicken fingers and toast, avoiding cross-contact is very difficult.

– High use of gluten – Flour for breading chicken fingers is used frequently. Gluten is ubiquitous in this kitchen environment.

– Potential seasoning risks – Seasonings on meats and in sauces could introduce gluten, especially as ingredients can change. Need to verify.

– Employee awareness varies – How well staff is trained on gluten-free prep varies. Misunderstandings about cross-contact are common.

– Risk of airborne particles – Some studies show airborne particles containing gluten can contaminate surfaces, food, and utensils during frying.

In summary, those with celiac disease or who are highly sensitive are advised to exercise extreme caution when eating at Cane’s Chicken. While some menu items may be gluten-free as prepared, the prevalence of heavily fried foods makes cross-contamination during prep very likely. Those with celiac especially are advised not to eat fried items from shared fryers due to the numerous reports of getting sick. Opt for fresh-prepared items like salads and grilled meats, thoroughly clean tables and hands, verify ingredients, and consider calling ahead or even avoiding Cane’s if very sensitive.

Options for Safe Gluten-Free Fried Chicken

Those craving gluten-free fried chicken do have some options, though limited. Here are a few ideas:

– Purchase certified gluten-free frozen chicken fingers and prepare them at home in a dedicated gluten-free fryer. Brands like Tinkyada and Bell & Evans offer gluten-free nuggets.

– Find a gluten-free restaurant or food truck in your area that offers fried chicken in a dedicated fryer. These can be hard to find, but they do exist!

– Opt for grilled chicken strips from a restaurant with a gluten-free prep kitchen area. Load them up with GF sauces and sides.

– Make baked chicken strips or nuggets coated in certified GF breadcrumbs, corn flakes, or panko at home. Gets the crunch without the cross-contamination risk.

– Pressure or pan fry cornflake or panko coated chicken at home. Use oil with high smoke point like avocado, sunflower, or palm oil.

– Do a buttermilk soak or egg wash on chicken pieces before coating in GF mix for extra flavor and crunch.

– Food allergy bloggers offer many recipes for gluten-free chicken fingers, nuggets, and fried chicken online or in specialized cookbooks.

Though not as convenient as picking up take-out, making your own gluten-free fried chicken from scratch ensures no cross-contact. With planning, those on a gluten-free diet can still find ways to enjoy crispy fried chicken safely. Just takes a little creativity and care in sourcing gluten-free ingredients.

Other Tips for Eating Gluten-Free on the Go

Those needing to avoid gluten have to take extra care when dining out and eating on the go. Here are some tips to stay gluten-free when traveling or running errands:

– Pack snacks – Bringing your own gluten-free bars, crackers, fruit, and nuts ensures you have safe options if needed.

– Research ahead – Scope out restaurant menus online and call ahead about prep procedures when possible.

– Explain your needs – Be very direct about having celiac disease or gluten allergy when ordering. Ask about risk of cross-contact.

– Verify, verify, verify – Double check with staff that sauces, seasonings, and sides you order are gluten-free. Make no assumptions.

– Choose naturally gluten-free dishes – Opt for items like salads, grilled meats, and fresh foods requiring little processing.

– Buy fresh – Grocery items like produce, meats, dairy are less likely to have hidden gluten versus processed foods.

– Check labels – If purchasing packaged foods, read labels closely and look for a Certified Gluten-Free seal for validation.

– Wipe surfaces – Use disinfecting wipes to clean tables, chairs, and counters if you feel they may be contaminated with gluten.

– Travel with back-ups – Pack back-up safe snacks or even prepared meals in case you can’t find gluten-free options. Planning prevents pain.

With proactive planning and careful questioning, those who need to be gluten-free can still navigate eating out and on-the-go without too much hassle. It just takes education, commitment, and thinking ahead. Supportive restaurants willing to accommodate make the process much smoother.

Gluten-Free Dining Precautions Due to Cross-Contact Risk

For those with celiac disease, eating out at restaurants that serve gluten-containing foods can be extremely risky due to the chance of cross-contact with gluten. Here are some precautions those with celiac may choose to take:

– Call ahead – Thoroughly question staff on prep procedures and possibility of cross-contact. Inquire about dedicated fryers and prep areas.

– Avoid fried foods – Shared fryer use makes supposedly gluten-free fried items very high risk.

– Bring wipes – Wipe down table surfaces, chairs, etc that may have had contact with glutenous foods.

– Come at off-peak times – Opt for weekday lunches or early dinners to avoid the chaos of busy meal rushes when contamination risks increase.

– Designate a prep area – Request staff use a clean surface and fresh gloves to prep your meal separately.

– Grill simply – Stick to basics like salads, plain grilled chicken, and steamed vegetables that don’t require complicated handling.

– Skip sauces – Sauces thickened with wheat flour pose a hazard, even if recipes are seemingly gluten-free.

– Avoid cross-contamination – Don’t share serving utensils or condiments with glutenous items.

– Verify thorough training – Ensure the restaurant has rigorous gluten-free handling policies and training procedures in place.

– Politely make requests – Advocate for your needs clearly but nicely. Gluten-free dining requires extra work for kitchen staff.

– Teach when possible – Kindly help educate staff on celiac disease and the serious impacts even traces of gluten can have.

– Understand mistakes occur – Know that despite the best intentions, cross-contact may still happen occasionally. Be gracious.

– Have an exit plan – Be prepared to pack up and leave politely if you suspect food handling mistakes have occurred.

With diligence and care, people with celiac can safely eat out at non-dedicated restaurants. But extra caution is warranted given the hidden nature of gluten cross-contact. Open communication and thoughtful planning enables gluten-free diners to advocate for their needs while showing staff grace as they accommodate requests.


In conclusion, those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity can eat at Cane’s Chicken, but need to be very careful. Traditional menu items like chicken fingers and toast are not gluten-free. However, Cane’s fries, coleslaw, grilled chicken, and certain sauces are reported to be gluten-free. The high use of shared fryers means a significant risk of cross-contamination. People with celiac especially are advised to avoid fried foods. Safest options include fresh-made foods like salads, grilled meats, and packaged sauces after verifying ingredients. Anyone with celiac should use extreme caution when dining at Cane’s Chicken due to the prevalence of fried foods and shared prep areas. Calling ahead, visiting off-peak times, wiping down surfaces, avoiding sauces and fried items, and thoroughly questioning staff can help mitigate risks. With proper precautions, those seeking gluten-free fare can navigate dining at Cane’s, but caution is warranted. Being aware of ingredients, prep processes, and risks of cross-contact allows those needing gluten-free food to make informed choices when eating out.

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