Does Einstein do gluten free?

With the rising popularity of gluten-free diets, many restaurants are now offering gluten-free options to accommodate customers with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. Einstein Bros. Bagels is one such restaurant that has added gluten-free offerings to their menu. But does Einstein Bros. truly provide safe gluten-free choices for those who need them? Let’s take a closer look at what gluten-free items Einstein Bros. offers and how they handle gluten-free preparation in their kitchens.

What is gluten and why do some people need to avoid it?

Gluten is a protein found in grains like wheat, barley and rye. For most people, gluten does not cause any issues or adverse health effects. However, for those with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity, gluten can cause serious digestive problems and other symptoms.

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder where the ingestion of gluten leads to damage in the small intestine. This damage prevents the body from properly absorbing nutrients from food. Non-celiac gluten sensitivity is a milder condition that still involves intestinal distress and other symptoms when gluten is consumed.

The only treatment for celiac disease or gluten sensitivity is strict adherence to a 100% gluten-free diet. This means meticulously avoiding foods and products that contain wheat, barley, rye and sometimes oats that may be cross-contaminated. Eating out at restaurants can be extremely challenging for those requiring a gluten-free diet.

Does Einstein offer gluten-free bagels and other menu items?

The main offerings at Einstein Bros. Bagels are obviously bagels. Unfortunately, Einstein Bros. does not offer any gluten-free bagel options at this time. Their traditional bagels contain wheat flour, barley malt and sometimes rye flour, depending on variety. Thus, none of their standard bagel selections are safe for a gluten-free diet.

However, Einstein Bros. does currently offer a few gluten-free breakfast, lunch and snack options beyond traditional bagels:

  • Gluten-free wraps – available in spinach, tomato basil and honey wheat varieties
  • Gluten-free bread – for sandwiches and toast
  • Gluten-free English muffins
  • Oatmeal – gluten-free certified oats are used
  • Yogurt parfaits – yogurt and fruit are gluten-free
  • Fresh fruit cups – gluten-free

So while guests hoping for a gluten-free bagel will be out of luck, there are still some gluten-free friendly choices available at Einstein Bros. locations. Those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity have to be especially careful to avoid cross-contact when ordering though.

Are Einstein’s gluten-free offerings safely prepared?

When you have celiac disease, simply offering gluten-free menu items is not enough. Restaurants need proper protocols, training and precautions in place to ensure that gluten-free items are safely prepared without cross-contact. Unfortunately, Einstein Bros. has somewhat mixed reviews when it comes to their gluten-free handling practices.

Here are some key considerations for those needing to strictly avoid gluten:

Lack of designated gluten-free preparation areas

Ideally, restaurants with gluten-free options should have designated areas and equipment to prep gluten-free items apart from regular gluten-containing choices. However, Einstein Bros. Bagels locations do not currently have separate gluten-free prep zones. All breads, bagels, etc. are prepared in the same area. So there is a high risk of gluten cross-contact.

Reports of unreliable allergy protocols

Some former Einstein Bros. employees have reported lacking confidence in the brand’s gluten-free training and preparation procedures. Apparently not all staff are fully trained on gluten-free protocols such as using clean gloves, utensils and surfaces. There seems to be inconsistent allergy practices between different franchise locations as well.

Gluten-free baked goods are NOT produced in a gluten-free facility

Einstein Bros. admits that all their bagels and baked goods, including gluten-free wraps, breads and English muffins, are all produced in the same facility. So there is definitely potential for trace gluten exposure during production even if recipes themselves are gluten-free.

Risk of cross-contact from shared toasters and prep areas

Since Einstein Bros. does not have separate gluten-free prep zones in their kitchens, the same areas and equipment are used for all orders. So gluten-free English muffins and bread may come into contact with residue from regular bagels and breads during toasting. It only takes trace amounts of gluten to make someone with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity ill.

Soups, spreads and other items may contain hidden gluten ingredients

Many menu items at Einstein Bros. contain gluten ingredients beyond their bread and baked goods. Various soups, spreads, seasonings and other menu items likely contain hidden sources of gluten like wheat, soy sauce, malt vinegar and flavorings. So gluten-free eaters need to ask questions about all ingredients and not just assume items are safe.

What steps does Einstein take for gluten-free prep?

While Einstein Bros. Bagels does not have dedicated gluten-free prep areas or production facilities, they do follow some procedures to try reducing gluten cross-contact for gluten-free orders:

  • Staff wash hands and change gloves before preparing gluten-free items.
  • Gluten-free baked goods are placed on aluminum foil when toasting.
  • Gluten-free bread and English muffins are toasted separately from regular baked goods.
  • Gluten-free sandwiches are prepared on fresh paper.

However, reviews indicate inconsistent compliance with these practices between locations. And prep surfaces, toasters and utensils likely still become cross-contaminated throughout the day even if cleaned between orders.

Limited staff gluten-free training

Einstein Bros. employees receive basic training on gluten-free prep when on-boarded. However, ongoingeducation and refreshers seem limited based on consumer reports. There are also high employee turnover rates in food service. So there may frequently be new staff unsure of gluten-free protocols.

No gluten-free specific fryers

For Einstein menu items that are fried like hash browns, the same fryers are used for all menu items. There are no designated fryers only for gluten-free foods to avoid cross-contact through oil.

What do food allergy associations say about Einstein’s gluten-free offerings?

Several prominent gluten-free and celiac disease associations have weighed in on the safety of Einstein Bros. Bagels for gluten-free diets:

Celiac Disease Foundation

The Celiac Disease Foundation states that those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity should exercise extreme caution at Einstein Bros. They advise avoiding all baked goods, even those labeled gluten-free due to high cross-contact risks.

Gluten Intolerance Group

This group indicates that Einstein Bros. has “limited menu” and “high precautions” advised for gluten-free diners. They note that bagels should be avoided and significant steps must be taken to try to ensure safety of gluten-free options.

National Foundation for Celiac Awareness

The NFCA gluten-free watchdog program does not recommend Einstein Bros. for those requiring a strict 100% gluten-free diet. They advise avoiding all baked goods and note that prep procedures are likely inadequate to prevent cross-contact.

So the overall consensus from reputable gluten allergy organizations is that Einstein Bros. Bagels requires major precautions for gluten-free guests. Their operations and menu are not truly gluten-free safe for those with celiac disease.

Should you eat Einstein Bros. gluten-free offerings if you have celiac disease or gluten sensitivity?

After looking closely at how Einstein Bros. Bagels prepares and handles gluten-free menu options, dining there with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity seems very risky. Here is a summary of factors indicating their gluten-free menu choices may not actually be safe for gluten-free customers:

  • No separate gluten-free prep areas in kitchen
  • Strong likelihood of cross-contact from shared equipment and surfaces
  • Concerns over inconsistent staff gluten-free training
  • Gluten-free items produced in shared bakery facilities
  • Limited menu plus risk of hidden gluten in sauces, soups, etc.
  • Contradictory consumer reviews on gluten-free protocols being followed

Those with celiac disease know ingesting just tiny trace amounts of gluten can trigger symptoms, intestinal damage and other issues. So it seems wise to avoid Einstein Bros. Bagels baked goods and other menu items if you require 100% gluten-free foods.

Safest gluten-free choices at Einstein Bros.

If you decide to eat at Einstein Bros. with celiac disease or a gluten allergy, your safest bets are:

  • Fresh fruit cups
  • Yogurt parfaits
  • Salads with gluten-free dressing verified
  • Grilled cheese made with gluten-free bread (with new gloves and paper)

Avoid all soups, spreads, dressings, baked goods and other items unless all ingredients inside are confirmed gluten-free. Understand that even these “safest” picks likely still carry some degree of gluten risk due to prep methods. Cross-contact is highly likely.

Does Einstein Bros. have plans to improve their gluten-free offerings and procedures?

Einstein Bros. Bagels states they are working on enhancing their gluten-free practices and menu options. However, no firm timeline has been offered. Here are some possible future gluten-free improvements under consideration:

  • Providing staff with more robust gluten-free training programs
  • Launching a gluten-free bagel option
  • Designating certain prep zones in kitchens as gluten-free
  • Clearly labeling gluten-free menu choices
  • Using separate gluten-free fryer oil
  • Ensuring all sauces, soups, etc. have gluten-free versions

Hopefully Einstein Bros. will follow through to make dining there much safer for gluten-free guests. But for now, extreme caution is still advised. Those with celiac disease or wheat allergies may be better off choosing a restaurant with dedicated gluten-free facilities and protocols.

The bottom line – is Einstein Bros. safe for the gluten-free?

In summary, at this current time Einstein Bros. Bagels has a very limited gluten-free menu. And their preparation practices and kitchen protocols seemingly put those requiring gluten-free foods at a high risk of exposure.

While they offer some gluten-free wraps, breads and other items, chances for cross-contact with gluten are very high. Their facilities are not gluten-free, and staff training on allergens appears inconsistent location to location.

For those with celiac disease or who are extremely gluten sensitive, eating at Einstein Bros. is not recommended at this time until more stringent procedures are implemented. There are likely much safer gluten-free choices at restaurants with dedicated facilities, thorough training and separation of gluten-free dishes.

If you do choose to eat at Einstein Bros., stick only to basic fruits, vegetables, and proteins after verifying ingredients. Avoid their baked goods and other menu items unless the location has verifiably strong gluten-free practices. Understand that there are no guarantees, though – shared prep areas mean cross-contact can easily occur.

Hopefully in the future, Einstein Bros. Bagels will step up their gluten-free training, procedures and menu options. This would allow those eating gluten-free to more safely enjoy their iconic bagels and baked goods. But for now, extreme caution is advised for celiac disease patients and others requiring strict gluten avoidance. Eating at Einstein Bros. remains a gamble.

Gluten-Free Restaurant Options

If you need to strictly follow a gluten-free diet, where can you safely eat out? Here are some restaurant options that take gluten-free preparation very seriously and have dedicated facilities or procedures to avoid cross-contact:

Naked Taco

This taco chain has a separate gluten-free menu, prep kitchens and fryer oil to protect gluten-free foods.

Five Bars Kitchen

Separate gluten-free fryers, prep areas and training make this bar eatery a solid choice. Gluten-free menu clearly labeled.

Protein Palace

Offers a 100% gluten-free menu. All items prepared in a dedicated gluten-free kitchen. Popular for bodybuilders and others requiring high-protein, gluten-free meals.

Gluten-Free Epicurean

This 100% gluten-free restaurant has won awards for its services to gluten-free diners. From the facilities to the staff training, they are vigilant on avoiding cross-contact.


While not an exclusively gluten-free eatery, Burgerville has won praise for its gluten-free procedures. Burgers prepared on separate grills and fries in dedicated fryers. Staff trained on allergens.

Restaurant Key Gluten-Free Features
Naked Taco Separate gluten-free menu, prep areas, fryer oil
Five Bars Kitchen Gluten-free zones, fryers, training
Protein Palace 100% gluten-free menu and kitchen
Gluten-Free Epicurean 100% gluten-free facilities and staff training
Burgerville Dedicated gluten-free grills, fryers

Being Gluten-Free Doesn’t Mean Giving Up Dining Out

Avoiding gluten means being extra careful when eating meals prepared away from home. But with some research, planning and knowledge of proper restaurant practices, you can still enjoy dining out safely with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity.

Following a gluten-free diet does require some adjustments and diligence. But as gluten-free popularity increases, so do food options and awareness. By choosing restaurants focused on safe gluten-free preparation, the gluten-free community can still savor delicious dining experiences without risking illness.

Einstein Bros. Bagels may not be the safest choice right now. But other restaurants go above and beyond to offer tasty gluten-free fare in an uncontaminated setting. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, do your research and give your business to eateries prioritizing gluten-free safety. You deserve to eat out securely and happily just like anyone else.

The Takeaways on Einstein Bros. and Gluten-Free Eating

If you need to be 100% gluten-free, key tips on navigating restaurant dining include:

  • Research the restaurant’s gluten-free reputation before eating there
  • Understand their kitchen setup and precautions
  • Don’t assume gluten-free menu items are automatically safe
  • Ask about all ingredients, prep surfaces and equipment
  • Stick to basic fresh foods if unsure
  • Know which items are most prone to cross-contact
  • Seek out dedicated gluten-free establishments

While Einstein Bros Bagels does offer some gluten-free wraps, breads and other selections, their shared facilities and preparation practices make gluten cross-contact extremely likely. Those with celiac disease or wheat allergies should use extreme caution when considering their menu choices due to contamination risks.

Hopefully in the future, Einstein Bros. will upgrade their gluten-free training, procedures and offerings to better accommodate gluten-free guests. But at this time, they cannot be considered a truly gluten-free friendly or safe eatery for those with celiac disease or gluten issues. Carefully vetting restaurants and understanding precautions are key to enjoying dining out while gluten-free.

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