Does Jimmy John’s serve gluten free bread?

Quick Answer

No, unfortunately Jimmy John’s does not offer gluten free bread options for their sandwiches at this time. Jimmy John’s only offers standard white or wheat bread options that contain gluten. Those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity should avoid eating the bread at Jimmy John’s.

About Jimmy John’s

Jimmy John’s is a fast food sandwich shop franchise founded in 1983 in Charleston, Illinois by Jimmy John Liautaud. The chain now has over 2,800 locations across 43 states. Jimmy John’s is known for serving sub sandwiches with a variety of meats, cheeses, vegetables, and condiments on fresh baked bread. Their sandwiches are made-to-order in front of customers and typically served within 5 minutes.

Some of Jimmy John’s most popular sandwich options include:

  • The Pepe – Smoked ham, provolone cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, mayo, and Italian dressing
  • The Big John – Medium rare choice roast beef, onion, lettuce, tomato, mayo, and Italian dressing
  • The Totally Tuna – Tuna salad, provolone cheese, sprouts, cucumber, lettuce, and tomato
  • The Vito – Genoa salami, capicola, provolone cheese, onion, lettuce, tomato, oil & vinegar, and Italian dressing
  • The Vegetarian – Provolone cheese, avocado, sprouts, cucumber, lettuce, tomato, mayo, and Italian dressing

Customers can choose from 7-inch, 13-inch, or 15-inch sandwiches on white, wheat, or unwrap lettuce wrap bread options. Sandwiches can also be customized with the addition of extra ingredients.

Gluten Free Diet Overview

A gluten free diet involves excluding foods and ingredients that contain the protein gluten. Gluten is a protein found in grains like wheat, barley and rye. A gluten free diet is an essential treatment for celiac disease and gluten sensitivity.

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that causes damage to the small intestine when gluten is ingested. This damage prevents the body from properly absorbing nutrients from food. Gluten sensitivity is a condition that causes digestive symptoms like diarrhea, abdominal pain, and bloating after consuming gluten.

For those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, consuming gluten triggers an immune response and inflammation in the body. This reaction can cause long term complications like malnutrition, osteoporosis, infertility and certain cancers if a strictly gluten free diet is not followed.

Experts recommend that those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity stay under 20 parts per million (ppm) of gluten per day through their diet. This strict level of gluten avoidance helps manage symptoms and prevent intestinal damage.

It is estimated that 1% of the American population has celiac disease and 6-7% percent is gluten sensitive. As the rates of diagnosis increase, the demand for gluten free options at restaurants continues to grow.

Gluten Free Bread Options at Restaurants

Many popular restaurant chains now offer gluten free bread, buns, pizza crusts, pancakes, muffins and other bakery items to accommodate gluten free diners. Brands that feature gluten free bread options on their menus include:

  • Chipotle
  • Panera
  • Blaze Pizza
  • Pizza Hut
  • Domino’s
  • Buffalo Wild Wings
  • Subway
  • Wendy’s
  • Arby’s
  • Noodles & Company

These restaurants use certified gluten free breads, pizza crusts, buns and muffins made without wheat, barley or rye. Their gluten free offerings allow diners to still enjoy sandwiches, burgers, pizza and other menu items modified to be gluten free.

The availability of gluten free bread at popular chains makes dining out easier and safer for those avoiding gluten. Patrons appreciate having more meal options when eating out rather than having to eliminate menu items or restrict dining to only gluten free restaurants.

Jimmy John’s Current Gluten Free Options

While many leading sandwich and fast food chains have added gluten free breads to their menus, Jimmy John’s is not one of them at this time.

Jimmy John’s has very limited gluten free options due to their reliance on bread as the main component of their sandwiches. Their FAQ states:

“At this time, our menu does not offer gluten-free or wheat-free options. All of our bread and baked goods contain gluten.”

For those avoiding gluten, the only item that can be ordered gluten free at Jimmy John’s is their 16-ounce drink option. All other menu items contain gluten either through the bread, cheese or condiments used.

Some Jimmy John’s locations may offer lettuce wrap sandwiches, but these are not guaranteed gluten free due to risk of cross contamination. The lettuce wraps are assembled in the same area as regular sandwiches, so gluten could be introduced through shared utensils, preparation surfaces or employee hands.

Those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity should avoid eating any of the sandwiches at Jimmy John’s even if modified into a lettuce wrap. There are currently no certified gluten free offerings that meet the less than 20 ppm gluten standard.

Is a Gluten Free Jimmy John’s Sandwich In Development?

Many customers have expressed interest and demand for Jimmy John’s to offer certified gluten free bread and meal options. The chain has taken notice of this feedback.

In recent years, Jimmy John’s has announced plans to explore developing a gluten free menu:

“We have heard your requests and are actively working on gluten free options. We hope to test market gluten free bread in 2021. Please check back for updates.”

Jimmy John’s also conducted customer surveys in 2020 asking for input on what gluten free menu items patrons would like to see. This market research indicates the chain sees sufficient consumer demand to consider gluten free offerings in the future.

As of November 2022, Jimmy John’s has not yet introduced any certified gluten free bread options in their restaurants. But the chain’s public statements signal that gluten free sandwich offerings could potentially launch soon in test markets first.

Challenges Developing Gluten Free Bread

Creating gluten free bread that meets customer expectations poses some unique challenges including:

  • Maintaining sandwich structure and integrity
  • Achieving proper texture and mouthfeel
  • Preventing rapid drying out
  • Providing similar taste to traditional bread
  • Making large quantities for each restaurant
  • Keeping production costs comparable
  • Sourcing gluten free grains and flours
  • Preventing cross contamination during prep and baking
  • Training staff on dedicated kitchen protocols

These obstacles likely explain why Jimmy John’s has not rushed to launch a gluten free line despite customer requests.

Taking time to develop a recipe that solves these issues, and pilot testing the new menu, minimizes risk before rolling out gluten free options nationally across thousands of locations.

Recommendations for Dining at Jimmy John’s with Celiac / Gluten Sensitivity

Until gluten free sandwiches are available at Jimmy John’s, those avoiding gluten should take precautions when choosing menu items. Here are some tips for ordering:

  • Stick to gluten free drinks like soda, water, etc.
  • Ask about lettuce wrap sandwiches, but know they carry cross contamination risk
  • Verify no croutons or breaded toppings added to lettuce wraps
  • Check that gluten free dressings are used
  • Ask staff to change gloves, wash hands and use disposable paper on prep surfaces
  • Look for visible crumbs or cross contamination clues
  • Carefully inspect lettuce wraps when served

Those who are highly sensitive should avoid eating any sandwiches at Jimmy John’s for safety. For people with celiac disease, consuming cross contaminated lettuce wraps could still trigger intestinal damage and other health issues.

Patrons with celiac or gluten sensitivity should also know that Jimmy John’s does not list nutritional or allergen information for their products online. In-store allergen binders may provide some details about wheat-based ingredients in their sandwiches. But limited transparency from the chain makes safely navigating their menu very difficult for gluten free diners.

Other Sandwich and Sub Chains with Gluten Free Bread

While Jimmy John’s currently offers no gluten free bread options, other sub and sandwich chains do serve certified gluten free baked goods as healthier choices for their customers.

Jersey Mike’s Gluten Free Subs

Jersey Mike’s launched gluten free bread nationally in 2019 after successful regional testing. Their gluten free sub rolls meet the strict < 20 ppm standard for gluten and are clearly marked in stores for customers. Any of Jersey Mike's cold and hot subs can be customized on gluten free bread. Their gluten free rolls taste very comparable to the traditional white or wheat options. It provides a upgraded sandwich experience for those requiring gluten free meals when dining out.

Subway Gluten Free Bread Options

Select Subway locations offer gluten free bread and brownies, developed in partnership with gluten free manufacturer Canyon Bakehouse. Their gluten free line launched in 2019 at over 500 Subway stores.

The gluten free bread, wraps, and brownies contain under 20 ppm of gluten like Jersey Mike’s. Subway gluten free products are toasted separately from regular bread to prevent cross contamination also.

Availability of Subway’s gluten free menu items varies by location depending on local inventory and staff training. Customers should check directly with their nearby Subway store if gluten free options are offered.

Firehouse Subs Gluten Free Bread

Firehouse Subs rolled out gluten free bread nationally in 2020. Their “Gluten Free Bread” labeling makes identifying the gluten free rolls very simple for patrons.

Any Firehouse Subs specialty sandwich or customized creation can now be enjoyed on gluten free bread. For extra safety, sandwiches are prepared using disposable bags and gloves to avoid cross contact with gluten.

Jimmy John’s Should Follow the Trend

Peer chains like Jersey Mike’s, Subway and Firehouse Subs prove that serving gluten free subs is possible, popular with consumers, and in Jimmy John’s best interest.

Following the consumer trend towards gluten free options, and competition from other sandwich brands, Jimmy John’s has ample reason to finally deliver on long-awaited gluten free menu offerings. The infrastructure and customer base already exists to make gluten free bread successful at their locations.

The Takeaway: No Gluten Free Bread Currently at Jimmy John’s

Jimmy John’s only menu items free from gluten today remain their basic drink options. The chain acknowledges strong customer demand for gluten free subs, but has not yet rolled out testing or launched certified gluten free bread.

Those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity unfortunately cannot safely eat sandwiches at Jimmy John’s locations currently due to ingredient and cross contamination concerns.

Diners seeking gluten free subs in the interim can look to other brands like Jersey Mike’s, Subway or Firehouse Subs that have proactively answered calls for gluten free bread on their menus nationwide.

Jimmy John’s will hopefully take note of shifting market expectations, and become more accommodating of gluten free patrons. But until gluten free subs actually arrive at Jimmy John’s, those avoiding gluten should dine at other sandwich shops that offer gluten free bread instead.

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