Is Buffalo Wild Wings safe for celiac?

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that affects around 1% of the population worldwide. People with celiac disease need to follow a strict gluten-free diet, as even small amounts of gluten can cause damage to their small intestine. This leads to a variety of unpleasant symptoms and health complications if left untreated.

For those with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity, dining out can be challenging. With so many menu items containing gluten or the risk of cross-contamination in restaurant kitchens, it can be difficult to find safe options. Buffalo Wild Wings is a popular sports bar and restaurant chain, but is it a good option for those avoiding gluten?

What is Celiac Disease?

Celiac disease is caused by an abnormal immune reaction to gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. In people with celiac disease, gluten triggers inflammation and damage to the lining of the small intestine. This damage interferes with the absorption of nutrients from food.

Celiac disease is a serious genetic autoimmune disorder and is not the same as a wheat allergy or gluten intolerance. The only treatment is sticking to a strict lifelong gluten-free diet. When gluten is removed from the diet, the intestine can heal and nutrient absorption goes back to normal.

Symptoms of celiac disease may include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Bloating
  • Gas
  • Constipation
  • Pale, foul-smelling stool
  • Fatigue
  • Joint pain
  • Headaches
  • Skin rash
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Tingling or numbness in hands and feet
  • Weight loss

Without treatment, people with celiac disease are at higher risk for serious complications like intestinal cancers, osteoporosis, anemia, and seizures. This is why it’s so important for people with celiac disease to be very strict about avoiding gluten. Even tiny amounts can cause issues.

What Foods Contain Gluten?

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. This means any foods made with these grains contain gluten. Some examples of foods that are not allowed on a gluten-free diet include:

  • Breads
  • Pasta
  • Cereal
  • Crackers
  • Beer

In addition to obvious grain products, gluten can also be found in many processed foods and condiments, such as soy sauce, salad dressings, seasonings, and sauces. It’s important to read ingredient labels carefully to look for hidden sources of gluten.

Even small amounts can cause issues for those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. The gluten-free diet eliminates all foods and beverages containing:

  • Wheat
  • Barley
  • Rye
  • Triticale (a cross between wheat and rye)
  • Malt
  • Brewer’s yeast

Safe grains on a gluten-free diet include rice, corn, quinoa, millet, buckwheat, and oats. Despite the name, products made from these gluten-free grains are usually safe as long as they are not contaminated with gluten.

Is Buffalo Wild Wings Gluten-Free Friendly?

When dining out with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, it’s always smart to do your research ahead of time. While many restaurants offer gluten-free menus and options now, the risk of cross-contamination is still significant. Even if a menu item is made without gluten ingredients, it could pick up traces of gluten during preparation and cooking.

So what about Buffalo Wild Wings? Here’s an overview of what to expect as someone with celiac disease dining at this popular restaurant chain:

Gluten-Free Menu

Buffalo Wild Wings does not have a specific gluten-free menu. However, they do have a gluten-free information page on their website that lists some gluten-free choices. Options include:

  • Traditional wings and boneless wings with GF sauce
  • Celery and carrot sticks
  • Chips and guacamole
  • Any salad without croutons or fried wontons
  • Grilled chicken sandwiches without the bun

They recommend checking with your server for the most up-to-date ingredient information to avoid gluten.

Gluten-Free Sauces

Most of Buffalo Wild Wing’s sauces are gluten-free, except for Teriyaki, Asian Sesame, and Hoisin. So traditional or boneless wings tossed in GF sauce are a good option. Just be sure to confirm with your server that they use a dedicated fryer.


Buffalo Wild Wings cannot guarantee that a dedicated, gluten-free fryer is used. They recommend checking with your specific location to see if they use a dedicated fryer to prepare gluten-free foods separately. If not, there is a high risk of cross-contamination.


The website states that Buffalo Wild Wings trains kitchen and service staff on gluten-free preparation. However, how extensive this training is will vary by location. Checking on staff knowledge before ordering is a good idea.


Even if a Buffalo Wild Wings location takes steps to reduce cross-contamination, dining there will always carry some degree of risk for those with celiac disease. Gluten can easily be transferred from hands to food, during prep, and through shared surfaces and fryers. While they offer some gluten-free choices, extreme caution is still needed.

Tips for Ordering Gluten-Free at Buffalo Wild Wings

If you do decide to eat at Buffalo Wild Wings with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, here are some tips to stay as safe as possible:

  • Confirm that wings or other fried foods are cooked in a dedicated gluten-free fryer, not just a clean one. This varies by location.
  • Stick to basic wings or other simple grilled protein. Avoid breaded items or anything with sauce that may have thickening agents.
  • Ask about ingredients and cross-contamination precautions for EVERY menu item, even salads. Don’t assume gluten-free.
  • Ask for wings or other items to be prepared fresh/separate if they don’t use a dedicated fryer.
  • Request new gloves before handling your food.
  • Bring your own gluten-free bun for a burger or sandwich.
  • Speak to the kitchen directly about allergens if possible.
  • Be very clear about the severity of your gluten allergy when ordering.
  • Know that even with the right precautions, some risk may remain.

The safest approach is to stick with simple grilled proteins and whole veggies without sauces or breaded items. The more complex the menu item, the higher the risk of gluten exposure. And always confirm that a dedicated fryer is used if ordering wings, fries, etc.

What Do Experts Recommend for Dining Out with Celiac?

So what do experts and gastroenterologists who treat celiac disease recommend when it comes to eating out safely? Here are some general tips:

  • Call ahead to ask questions about menu options and prep procedures.
  • Explain the severity of your condition and risk of cross-contamination.
  • Start with a simple order like a grilled chicken breast or plain steak.
  • Ask for any sauces or marinades to be left off.
  • Request food be prepared in a clean area with fresh gloves.
  • Ask that utensils and surfaces be wiped down first.
  • Avoid fried and breaded items unless a dedicated fryer is used.
  • Politely send back an item if you notice gluten cross-contamination.
  • Bring your own gluten-free snacks or backup meal.
  • Follow up if you get glutened to help prevent it happening to others.

With good planning and clear communications, dining out gluten-free is possible. But there will always be some level of risk involved. Avoiding gluten exposure completely may mean limiting restaurant meals or sticking to dedicated gluten-free establishments.

Should You Eat at Buffalo Wild Wings with Celiac Disease?

So is Buffalo Wild Wings safe for people with celiac disease? Here is a summary:

  • They do not offer a gluten-free menu but have some gluten-free options.
  • Most sauces are GF but a few contain gluten.
  • They cannot guarantee no cross-contamination with shared fryers.
  • Policies vary by location, including staff training.
  • Gluten-free dinners will need to ask questions and take precautions.

While it’s possible to order gluten-free at Buffalo Wild Wings, the risk of cross-contamination is quite high. Those with celiac disease or NCGS would need to use extreme caution.

Being very selective with menu items, verifying ingredients, and requesting special prep procedures can lower risks. But traces of gluten can still occur even with the right precautions.

The Verdict

Most experts advise those with celiac disease or NCGS to avoid dining at restaurants like Buffalo Wild Wings that use shared cooking equipment and prep areas. The chances of cross-contamination with gluten are just too high.

While an occasional visit is possible by being very careful with your order, those with celiac disease may want to avoid making it a regular habit. The risks often outweigh the benefits when gluten exposure can trigger serious immune and digestive issues.

To prevent symptoms and long-term complications, those with celiac disease require a strictly gluten-free diet. So it’s best to focus on restaurants that offer dedicated gluten-free menus and preparation areas instead.

Other Gluten-Free Chain Restaurant Options

If you’re looking for a safer gluten-free dining experience, here are some restaurant chains that cater better to gluten-free diners:


Chipotle Mexican Grill offers all of the ingredients to make delicious burritos, bowls, salads, and tacos using gluten-free ingredients. Just avoid the flour tortillas. Tortilla chips cooked in their own fryer are also GF.

Five Guys

For burgers and fries, Five Guys is a top choice. Fries are cooked in peanut oil in their own frier. Burgers can be served in lettuce wrap instead of a bun.

In-N-Out Burger

In-N-Out also has great gluten-free options. Get a “Protein Style” burger wrapped in lettuce, plus fries cooked in a dedicated fryer.

Jason’s Deli

Jason’s Deli has an extensive gluten-free menu including sandwiches, salads, baked potatoes, soup, roast turkey, and dessert.

Noodles & Company

Noodles & Company has gluten-free noodles, zoodles, rice bowls, salads and soups. Just avoid breadcrumbs and croutons.

Pier 1 Imports

Pier 1 Imports has a gluten-free menu featuring pizza, pasta, sandwiches, appetizers and more. They are very accommodation to gluten-free dietary needs.

Red Robin

Red Robin offers gluten-free buns plus French fries cooked in dedicated fryers. Just avoid onion rings and ask about sauces.

Texas Roadhouse

Texas Roadhouse rolls and fried foods are not gluten-free. But they offer burgers without a bun and steak and ribs that are GF. Baked sweet potatoes and house salads are also safe gluten-free sides.

Being Gluten-Free While Dining Out

Avoiding gluten while dining out with friends and family may seem challenging at first. But with some planning and knowledge of the safest restaurant choices, you can still enjoy eating out while maintaining your gluten-free diet.

Be sure to call ahead, ask questions about food prep, and explain your dietary needs clearly when ordering. And don’t be afraid to send back an item you’re unsure about to avoid getting sick.

Focus on restaurants that understand gluten-free diets and have dedicated menus and procedures in place. While occasional meals at chains like Buffalo Wild Wings may be possible with caution, those with celiac disease will want to choose gluten-free restaurants as their go-to options for safety and peace of mind.

The Bottom Line

While Buffalo Wild Wings does offer some gluten-free choices, the risk of cross-contamination for those with celiac disease is quite high. Sadly, Buffalo Wild Wings is not considered one of the safest gluten-free restaurant choices.

Those with celiac disease or NCGS are better off focusing on eateries with dedicated gluten-free menus, preparation areas, and well-trained staff. Dining regularly at restaurants with shared kitchen equipment just poses too much risk of gluten exposure and accidental ingestion over time.

The good news is that safe gluten-free dining options continue to expand. By choosing restaurants carefully and taking precautions when ordering, those avoiding gluten can still enjoy eating out. It just takes some care and planning to avoid getting “glutened.”

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