Does Taco Bell have gluten-free choices?

Quick Answer

Yes, Taco Bell does offer some gluten-free menu options. However, those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity should exercise caution when ordering.

Overview of Gluten and Gluten-Free Diets

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. For most people, consuming gluten is not a problem. However, for those with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity, gluten can cause serious health issues.

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that causes damage to the small intestine when gluten is consumed. Even small amounts of gluten can trigger symptoms like diarrhea, abdominal pain, bloating, and fatigue in those with celiac disease. The only treatment for celiac disease is following a strict lifelong gluten-free diet.

Non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) is a condition where gluten causes uncomfortable digestive and extra-intestinal symptoms, but there is no damage to the small intestine. Symptoms of NCGS may include bloating, headaches, fatigue, and “foggy mind”. The symptoms of NCGS usually resolve when gluten is removed from the diet.

The gluten-free diet excludes all foods and drinks containing wheat, barley, and rye. This includes obvious sources like bread, pasta, and baked goods made with these grains. It also includes less obvious sources like soy sauce, salad dressings, sauces, soups, beer, and processed meat products which may contain gluten as additives.

Instead, the gluten-free diet relies on naturally gluten-free foods like fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, dairy, eggs, meat, poultry, fish, and gluten-free grains like rice, quinoa, and corn. There are also many specialty gluten-free replacement products available like gluten-free bread, pasta, cereal, and baked goods.

What Makes a Food Truly Gluten-Free?

For a food to be considered gluten-free, it must meet the following standards:

– It must not contain any type of wheat, rye, barley, or their derivatives.

– It can’t have any detectable gluten. Foods labeled “gluten-free” can contain up to 20 parts per million of gluten.

– It can’t be made on shared equipment that processes gluten-containing foods unless that equipment is thoroughly cleaned.

– It can’t contain ingredients derived from gluten-containing grains that still contain gluten proteins, like wheat starch.

– There is no risk of cross-contact with gluten anywhere during growing, harvesting, processing, or preparation.

Meeting all of these criteria ensures a food is truly free of gluten and safe for those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.

What Gluten-Free Items Does Taco Bell Offer?

Taco Bell states that the following menu items are gluten-free as of November 2023:

Gluten-Free Taco Fillings

– Seasoned Beef
– Refried Beans
– Black Beans
– Chicken
– Steak

Gluten-Free Taco Shells and Taco Bowls

– Crunchy Corn Taco Shells
– Soft Flour Tortillas (corn, not wheat flour)
– Doritos Locos Tacos Shells (all flavors)
– Cantina Bowl (without tortilla strips)

Other Gluten-Free Items

– Chips and Nacho Cheese Sauce
– Guacamole
– Pico de Gallo
– Lettuce
– Cheese
– Sour Cream
– Rice
– Beans (except the Lava Sauce)
– Chicken, Steak, or Vegetable Power Bowl (without tortilla strips)
– Fresco Style Tacos or Burritos (without tortilla)
– Protein Bowls without crispy corn shell
– Power Menu Bowl without tortilla strips

Gluten-Free Drinks

– Water
– Soft Drinks
– Iced Tea
– Coffee
– Milk
– Juice

What Menu Items at Taco Bell Are Not Gluten-Free?

While Taco Bell does offer some gluten-free choices, there are also many menu items that contain gluten. Items with wheat/gluten include:

– Flour Tortillas (wheat flour)
– Tortilla Chips
– Cinnamon Twists
– Caramel Apple Empanadas
– Cinnabon Delights
– Churros
– Cookies
– Biscuits
– Muffins
– Breakfast Wraps
– Breakfast Quesadillas
– Waffles
– Pancakes
– French Toast Sticks
– Hash Browns
– Flatbread Melts
– Cheesy Roll Ups
– Loaded Grillers
– Cheesy Gordita Crunch
– Double Decker Taco
– Chalupas
– Gorditas
– Burritos
– Quesadillas
– Crunchwrap Sliders
– Triple Layer Nachos
– Mexican Pizza
– Cheesy Fiesta Potatoes
– Potato Soft Tacos
– Nachos Supreme
– Nachos Bell Grande
-XXL Grilled Stuft Burrito
– Encharitos
– Rice Bowls with Tortilla Strips
– 7 Layer Burrito
– Quesarito
– Beefy 5 Layer Burrito
– Toasted Cheddar Chalupa
– Loaded Nacho Taco
– Triple Double Crunchwrap
– Cheesy Bean and Rice Burrito

Sauces and Seasonings with Wheat/Gluten:

– Creamy Jalapeno Sauce
– Chipotle Sauce
– Pepper Jack Sauce
– Bacon Ranch Sauce
– Avocado Ranch Sauce
– Red Strips
– Pizza Sauce
– Spicy Ranch Sauce
– Nacho Cheese Sauce
– Baja Sauce
– Lava Sauce

Beverages with Wheat/Gluten:

– Beer

Cross-Contamination Risks

Even though Taco Bell offers some gluten-free choices, there is still a high risk of cross-contamination with gluten for those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.

All of the foods at Taco Bell are prepared in the same kitchen, often in close proximity. Gluten-containing ingredients like flour tortillas and burritos shells are heated on the same surfaces and grills. The same utensils are used to handle both gluten-free and gluten-containing foods. Employees may not change gloves between making different orders.

For extremely sensitive individuals, even tiny amounts of gluten cross-contact can trigger symptoms and damage to the small intestine. The level of precautions taken by Taco Bell may not be enough to prevent all cross-contamination for those who are highly gluten-sensitive.

Ordering Gluten-Free at Taco Bell

If you need to follow a gluten-free diet, here are some tips for ordering gluten-free options at Taco Bell:

– Stick to the fillings identified by Taco Bell as gluten-free, like chicken, steak, beans, lettuce, tomatoes, etc. Avoid flour tortillas.

– For the taco shell, choose corn tortillas or taco bowls/salad bowls. You can also do tacos “fresco style” without the shell.

– Avoid all sauces except guacamole, salsa, and nacho cheese sauce.

– For sides, stick to rice, beans, chips with nacho cheese. Avoid tortilla strips, potato items, and desserts.

– Only drink plain coffee, soft drinks, water, juice, and dairy-based drinks. No beer.

– Ask for new gloves before handling your order if they just touched wheat-based foods.

– Request that employees change gloves, wash hands, and use clean utensils when preparing your food.

– Explain your food allergy/sensitivity and the risk of cross-contamination of gluten.

– Check ingredient labels each time you visit, as recipes can change.

– Consider the risks and make your own judgment whether cross-contamination is likely.

Being Gluten-Free at Taco Bell: The Verdict

While Taco Bell does list some gluten-free options, the risk of cross-contamination makes it a poor choice for those with celiac disease or who are highly sensitive. There are some menu items that can be modified to be gluten-free, but extra precautions must be taken.

For those with milder gluten sensitivity who don’t get sick from occasional small amounts of cross-contact, Taco Bell can be an option. But it requires carefully customizing orders, verifying ingredients, and being very cautious about cross-contamination.

Those with celiac disease should be especially careful and likely avoid Taco Bell, as the facilities and procedures may not prevent cross-contact at a level safe for those with celiac. Individuals have to weigh the risks based on their personal level of sensitivity.

In general, Taco Bell is not the most gluten-free friendly option for sensitive individuals. But with modifications and care, some people who are less sensitive can eat there occasionally. Anyone with celiac disease or gluten issues should inquire about the latest ingredients and policies before ordering.

Other Fast Food Chains with Gluten-Free Options

While Taco Bell is not the most accommodating fast food option for gluten-free diets, other chains may offer safer choices. Here are some other fast food places reported to have gluten-free options:


Chipotle Mexican Grill offers many naturally gluten-free rice bowls, salads, meat choices, salsas, and more. Just avoid the flour tortillas. You can even get corn tacos or burrito bowls in a lettuce wrap.


Chick-fil-A has gluten-free grilled chicken options, salads, and waffle fries cooked in dedicated fryers. Their buns contain gluten though.


In-N-Out offers burgers wrapped in lettuce leaves instead of buns, as well as fries cooked in a separate fryer.

Five Guys

Five Guys burgers come wrapped in foil, allowing gluten-free diners to skip the bun. Fries are cooked in peanut oil.


Panera Bread has a gluten-free menu available offering salads, sandwiches on gluten-free bread, and soups.


Subway allows you to customize a salad or sandwich on gluten-free bread or in a lettuce wrap.

Always check with the restaurant on their latest gluten-free policies and allergen information. Even foods prepared without gluten internally may risk cross-contact depending on procedures. Carefully inspect your order before consuming.

Gluten-Free Fast Food Can Be Found

While Taco Bell is not the safest choice, people who need to be gluten-free have some convenient fast food options. With customization and careful consideration of cross-contamination risks, fast food can occasionally fit into a gluten-free diet. Being informed about menu options and ingredients is key for anyone dining out gluten-free.

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