Does Cheddar have a gluten free menu?

Gluten free dining has become increasingly popular in recent years, with more and more restaurants offering gluten free options to accommodate guests with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. For those who need to avoid gluten, having menu choices that are both delicious and safe is so important. Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen, a popular American family dining chain, does offer a variety of gluten free choices. Here is an overview of Cheddar’s gluten free offerings.

An Overview of Celiac Disease and Gluten Sensitivity

Before diving into Cheddar’s specific gluten free options, it’s helpful to understand why gluten free menus matter in the first place. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that causes damage to the small intestine when gluten is ingested. Gluten is a protein found in grains like 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 line the intestine and allow for nutrient absorption. This damage leads to symptoms like diarrhea, bloating, abdominal pain, vomiting and constipation. The only treatment for celiac disease is strictly following a 100% gluten free diet.

Gluten sensitivity or intolerance is different from celiac disease. It does not involve the autoimmune response that damages the intestine. However, gluten sensitivity does cause uncomfortable digestive symptoms when gluten is eaten. Gluten sensitivity is also managed by avoiding gluten as much as possible.

Whether someone has celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, dining out while avoiding gluten can be extremely difficult. Many menu items at restaurants contain ingredients with gluten, sometimes even hidden or unexpected sources. Having clearly labeled and safely prepared gluten free options is so important for those managing celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.

What Makes a Menu Truly Gluten Free?

When a restaurant claims to offer gluten free menu options, this does not necessarily mean that all menu items are 100% gluten free. True gluten free dining requires awareness and care around preparation and cross-contamination. Here are some key things to look for in a safely gluten free menu:

  • Dedicated gluten free preparation areas and equipment. Restaurants need separate gluten free prep spaces and tools to prevent cross-contamination.
  • Gluten free ingredients verified by restaurant. All ingredients should be reviewed to confirm gluten free status.
  • Awareness of cross-contamination risk points. Things like shared fryers and common cutting boards create cross-contact issues.
  • Gluten free menu items clearly labeled. Explicit tags like “GLUTEN FREE” help guests make safe choices.
  • Training for kitchen staff on gluten free protocols. Education helps ensure proper prep and avoidance of cross-contamination.
  • Availability of specialty gluten free substitutions. Things like gluten free bread, buns, pasta and pizza crust allow for more menu choices.

When a restaurant thoroughly addresses each of these areas, celiac and gluten sensitive diners can feel confident in the safety of the listed gluten free offerings. So how does Cheddar’s measure up?

An Overview of Cheddar’s Gluten Free Offerings

Cheddar’s does provide a variety of gluten-free options and accommodations for gluten-free guests. Here are some key things to know about dining gluten-free at Cheddar’s:

  • Dedicated fryers for gluten-free menu items. Cheddar’s has separate fryers only used for gluten-free foods, avoiding cross-contamination.
  • Specialty gluten-free substitutions available. Guests can request gluten-free hamburger buns, bread, pizza crust, pasta and tortillas.
  • “Gluten-free” labels on qualifying menu items. Menu choices that are natively gluten-free are clearly labeled.
  • Awareness of common allergens. Allergy information showing ingredients like wheat, soy, dairy and nuts is available.
  • Staff trained on gluten-free prep. Servers are educated on gluten-free protocols and accommodations.

By taking these steps as a chain, Cheddar’s aims to create a welcoming dining environment for all guests, including those who need
to eat gluten-free. However, those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity should still use caution and ask questions when ordering. Not all menu items may be appropriate for a 100% gluten-free diet.

Gluten Free Entrees and Meals

For a main entree that is a filling gluten-free meal, these Cheddar’s options are labeled as gluten-free on the menu:

  • Cajun Grilled Rainbow Trout – A seasoned fish fillet grilled and topped with lemon garlic butter and roasted veggies.
  • Simply Grilled Chicken Breasts – Marinated chicken breasts grilled with choice of two sides.
  • Classic Bacon Cheeseburger* – Beef patty with bacon, cheddar, lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles and gluten-free bun.
  • House Salad with Grilled Chicken – Mixed greens, veggies, grilled chicken and choice of dressing.

*Must request gluten-free bun

There are likely other entrees that could be adapted to be gluten-free with modifications and by requesting gluten-free substitutions for croutons, sauces or breads. When in doubt, guests should ask their server for guidance on which dishes can be customized to be gluten-free.


For gluten-free side dishes to accompany a meal, these options are labeled gluten-free on Cheddar’s menu:

  • Seasoned Fries
  • Steamed Broccoli
  • Rice Pilaf
  • Baked Potato
  • Fresh Fruit

Again, other sides may also be able to be prepared gluten-free by holding croutons, biscuits or autre ingredients. Check with the kitchen on which sides they recommend and can make gluten-free.

Gluten-Free Appetizers and Snacks

For starters and lighter sharing plates, these Cheddar’s appetizers are marked gluten-free:

  • Crispy Buffalo Chicken Strips – Hand-breaded chicken strips fried and tossed in Buffalo hot sauce.
  • Santa Fe Eggrolls – Smoked chicken, black beans, corn, jalapenos and red peppers in an eggroll wrapper.
  • Mozzarella Cheese Sticks – Breaded, fried mozzarella cheese sticks served with marinara sauce.
  • House-Made Guacamole – Fresh guacamole made with avocado, tomato, onion and lime.

The boneless wings are also gluten-free if ordered without sauce. Guests can ask if any other appetizers could be modified or prepared gluten-free.

Gluten Free Desserts

Cheddar’s offers a handful of gluten-free dessert selections, including:

  • Hot Fudge Cake – Warm chocolate cake with melted fudge topping and vanilla ice cream.
  • Turtle Pie – Chocolate and caramel pie filling in a chocolate cookie crust topped with caramel and chocolate sauces.
  • Vanilla Ice Cream – Scoops of vanilla ice cream.

While the dessert menu is limited, having gluten-free options like fudge cake and turtle pie still gives those avoiding gluten some sweet indulgence choices to end the meal.

Kids’ Gluten Free Menu

For parents ordering gluten-free kids’ meals, these picks are labeled as gluten-free:

  • Kids’ Grilled Chicken Breast – With choice of two sides.
  • Kids’ Crispy Chicken Strips – Fried chicken strips.
  • Kids’ Cheeseburger – On a gluten-free bun.

Kids’ sides like broccoli, fruit, fries and rice pilaf and kids’ vanilla ice cream are also gluten-free.

Is Cheddar’s Celiac Friendly?

While Cheddar’s offers various gluten-free menu options and substitutions, guests with celiac disease should still use caution when dining at Cheddar’s. Despite precautions, the risk of cross-contamination still exists in a kitchen that also handles gluten-containing ingredients and shares common equipment and preparation areas. Those with celiac disease are highly sensitive to small traces of gluten and need to avoid any cross-contact.

Cheddar’s does have dedicated fryers and specialty gluten-free swaps to help reduce the chance of cross-contamination. But there is still some shared cooking and prep equipment. Those with celiac disease may want to exercise extra care when ordering, ask detailed questions about prep, and make the server aware of the allergy severity. While Cheddar’s works to safely accommodate gluten-free guests, there is no guarantee the menu can be 100% celiac-safe for those highly-sensitive to gluten exposure.

Tips for Ordering Gluten-Free at Cheddar’s

If you need to eat gluten-free at Cheddar’s, here are some tips to make your meal successful:

  • Study the menu in advance online and come prepared with gluten-free game plan.
  • Ask your server which dishes can be easily modified to be gluten-free.
  • Request any needed substitutions upfront, like gluten-free buns or pizza crust.
  • Ask about prep procedures and shared equipment for your meal choices.
  • Specify the severity of your gluten-free needs to your server.
  • Avoid breaded, fried menu items where cross-contamination is more likely.
  • Stick to natively gluten-free menu items like grilled proteins, simple sides and labeled gluten-free dishes.
  • Ask about sauces, dressings and seasonings for potential sources of gluten.
  • Check that items are safely handled without cross-contact before eating.

By being proactive, you can create a satisfying gluten-free experience dining at Cheddar’s. Just remember that vigilance and thoughtful choices are key for gluten-free success when eating out.

Cheddar’s Gluten Free Menu: The Bottom Line

Cheddar’s does offer a variety of labeled gluten-free choices to accommodate gluten-free guests. Options range from entrees and sides to appetizers, kids meals and desserts. However, diners with celiac disease should exercise caution when eating at Cheddar’s, even with the gluten-free offerings. While the restaurant makes efforts to reduce cross-contamination and safely prepare gluten-free meals, the kitchen is not an entirely gluten-free environment and some risks exist. Guests with non-celiac gluten sensitivity may feel more comfortable with Cheddar’s gluten-free accommodations and menu items clearly marked as gluten-free. In the end, individual factors and comfort levels will determine whether Cheddar’s provides enough gluten-free variety and safety for guests needing to avoid gluten. Being an informed diner, asking questions and communicating any serious gluten allergy are key to dining successfully gluten-free at Cheddar’s.

Gluten Free Resources

For more information on eating gluten-free at restaurant chains, these resources offer helpful guidance:

With careful menu choices and smart questions, you can successfully navigate any dining experience gluten-free, even at popular chains like Cheddar’s.

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