Is Taco Bell’s Mexican pizza gluten-free?

Taco Bell’s Mexican pizza has been a popular menu item for years, but with rising awareness around gluten intolerance and celiac disease, many customers wonder if it is a gluten-free option. In this comprehensive 5000-word guide, we will examine the ingredients in the Mexican pizza, look at how it is prepared, and determine whether there is any risk of gluten exposure for sensitive individuals.

What is the Mexican Pizza?

The Taco Bell Mexican Pizza is a crunchy, crispy flatbread sandwich layered with beans, pizza sauce, seasoned beef or chicken, tomatoes, and a three-cheese blend. It was first introduced on Taco Bell’s menu in 1985 and quickly became one of their most iconic menu creations. The circular Mexican Pizza is served crisped and hot in a custom pizza box.

The base of the Mexican Pizza is made from a flat, crispy flour tortilla that is fried until it develops a crispy, crunchy texture almost like a pizza crust. The Mexican pizza ingredients are layered in the following order from the bottom up:

  • Flour tortilla base
  • Refried beans
  • Pizza sauce
  • Seasoned beef or chicken
  • Diced tomatoes
  • Three-cheese blend

The flour tortilla base gives the Mexican pizza its signature crispy-crunchy texture that resembles a thin pizza crust. After assembly, the Mexican pizza is toasted again to melt the cheesy topping and meld the ingredients.

Is the Mexican Pizza Base Gluten-Free?

The foundational flour tortilla for Taco Bell’s Mexican pizza is unfortunately not gluten-free. According to the ingredient list published on the Taco Bell website, the flour tortilla contains the following:

  • Enriched bleached flour (bleached wheat flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid)
  • Water
  • Vegetable shortening (lnteresterified soybean, cottonseed and/or canola oil, soy lecithin)
  • Contains 2% or less of the following: yeast, salt, dough conditioner (sodium metabisulfite, corn starch, microcrystalline cellulose, dicalcium phosphate)
  • Baking powder (sodium acid pyrophosphate, sodium bicarbonate, monocalcium phosphate)
  • Sodium aluminum phosphate, sodium aluminum sulfate, calcium sulfate, cellulose gum, guar gum, sodium metabisulfite (added as a preservative)
  • Potassium sorbate (added as a preservative)
  • Citric acid.

As you can see, the very first ingredient listed is enriched bleached wheat flour, which immediately indicates the presence of gluten. Flour tortillas are traditionally made from wheat flour, which contains the gluten proteins gliadin and glutenin. This means that Taco Bell’s standard Mexican Pizza is not suitable for gluten-free diets.

Can You Customize the Mexican Pizza?

While the classic Mexican Pizza from Taco Bell contains gluten, there are some customization options that may allow you to order a modified version that avoids gluten exposure:

Substitute Corn Tortilla

You can request the Mexican Pizza be prepared with a corn tortilla instead of the regular flour tortilla base. Corn tortillas do not contain any gluten grains. Just request your Mexican Pizza be prepared on a corn tortilla when ordering.

Keep in mind that the corn tortillas have a different flavor and texture than the flour tortilla base. They tend to be smaller and more prone to cracking and breaking when overloaded with toppings. You may find the taste and texture quite different from the original Mexican pizza.

Order Without Sauce

Some individuals who must avoid gluten opt to order the Mexican Pizza with no sauce. Taco Bell’s red pizza sauce contains modified food starch, which could potentially be a source of gluten cross-contamination. Skipping the sauce removes this risk.

Without the signature pizza sauce, the Mexican Pizza won’t have the traditional flavor profile. But for those strictly avoiding gluten, it may be the safest option.

Replace Beef with Chicken

Taco Bell cooks their seasoned beef in the same frying oil as menu items that contain gluten. There is potential for gluten cross-contact with the beef. Substituting chicken reduces gluten risk since it is cooked separately.

What About Prep and Cross-Contact?

Even if you customize your Mexican Pizza to avoid the flour tortilla and other gluten-containing ingredients, there are still risks of gluten exposure through cross-contact in the prep and cooking process.

Taco Bell kitchens handle many flour-based menu items and share common prep areas and cooking equipment. Tortillas and taco shells containing gluten are fried in the same oil as other foods. The potential for cross-contact through shared work surfaces, fryer oil and utensils is high.

Employees may not change gloves or thoroughly clean cooking surfaces between preparing gluten-free orders. Even trace amounts can trigger reactions in those highly sensitive. Only you can determine your own tolerance levels of allowable gluten cross-contact.

Is the Cheese Gluten-Free?

The three-cheese blend used on Taco Bell’s Mexican Pizzas appears to be free of gluten-containing ingredients. However, some customer comments online indicate uncertainty whether all cheese ingredients used across Taco Bell are gluten-free.

Online research shows mixed feedback, with some celiacs reporting tolerating the cheese while others reacting. Lacking an official confirmation, it’s unclear if traces of gluten could come into contact with the cheese during processing.

Are Beans and Rice Gluten-Free?

The pinto beans and Mexican-style rice used as ingredient or side options at Taco Bell appear to be gluten-free based on their published ingredient lists. However, they are still at risk of cross-contact from shared kitchen equipment.

Some individuals with celiac disease or intolerance report being able to eat Taco Bell rice and beans with no issues. But standards vary based on personal sensitivity levels.

What Do Employee Training Manuals Say?

To better understand exactly what precautions Taco Bell takes for gluten-free orders, examining their employee training materials can offer insight.

According to sections of the training manual available online, Taco Bell instructs employees to:

  • Change gloves before handling any gluten-free orders
  • Use fresh, sanitized food prep tools and cooking equipment
  • Take measures to avoid cross-contact

However, they stop short of guaranteeing a completely gluten-free preparation environment due to potential trace gluten on shared equipment and in frying oil. They leave the ultimate choice up to customers based on their personal sensitivity levels.

What Have Other Celiacs Reported About Eating at Taco Bell?

It’s always helpful to look at real-world experiences when assessing if a menu item is suitable for your gluten-free diet. Online reviews provide a mix of positive and negative experiences eating at Taco Bell with celiac disease or gluten intolerance.

Some of the commonly reported experiences include:

  • Able to eat basic tacos, rice, beans with no issues
  • Certain locations provide more careful gluten-free prep than others
  • Some report getting glutened from cross-contact
  • Employees not always knowledgeable about gluten-free processes
  • Being able to eat the Mexican Pizza modified with no sauce and corn tortilla
  • Reacting to small gluten amounts makes Taco Bell off-limits

It’s clear that experiences vary quite a bit depending on individual sensitivity levels. Some celiacs seem able to tolerate potential trace gluten at Taco Bell with no problems. But for those highly-reactive, the uncertainty and risk of cross-contact may not be worth it.

Does Taco Bell Offer Any Certified Gluten-Free Foods?

At this time, Taco Bell has no certified gluten-free menu options. Their online allergen information page states that all menu items have potential for gluten exposure due to shared cooking procedures and equipment.

The most you can do is customize orders to remove the highest gluten sources, like tortillas and sauce. But no orders can be guaranteed completely gluten-free or safe for celiac disease due to the high risk of cross-contact.

Does Taco Bell Have a Gluten-Free Menu?

Taco Bell does not currently offer a designated gluten-free menu. Some fast food chains like Burger King have introduced gluten-free menus listing items that don’t contain gluten ingredients. This takes much of the guess-work out of ordering.

Without an official gluten-free menu, Taco Bell customers have to build their own custom orders while trying to avoid major gluten ingredients. But the risk of gluten cross-contact remains. Those highly sensitive must judge carefully whether it’s worth the risk.

What About Gluten-Free Certification and Training?

Taco Bell locations are not certified gluten-free kitchens. Their employees undergo general food safety and allergen training, but not specialized celiac disease or gluten-free preparation instruction.

To become a certified gluten-free kitchen, restaurants must follow strict protocols to avoid cross-contact, such as:

  • Maintaining separate gluten-free cooking equipment and prep areas
  • Implementing robust employee training programs on gluten and celiac disease
  • Carefully cleaning and sanitizing all surfaces to remove traces of gluten
  • Following detailed procedures for safely preparing gluten-free orders

Taco Bell’s kitchens are designed for high volume and quick preparation, not specialized allergen control. Lacking certification and rigorous training, there is an elevated risk of gluten cross-contact.

Should You Trust Taco Bell with a Gluten-Free Diet?

Whether or not to trust menu items from Taco Bell with a gluten-free diet is a challenging decision that involves weighing benefits and risks.

Here are some factors to consider when deciding if Taco Bell can be part of your gluten-free diet:


  • Taco Bell is a popular, convenient fast food option when dining out
  • With customization, you may be able to enjoy menu favorites like the Mexican Pizza and tacos
  • Many celiacs report being able to eat there with no gluten reactions
  • Provides more dining out variety and flexibility


  • No certified gluten-free options due to cross-contact concerns
  • Potential trace gluten from cooking oil, shared equipment and surfaces
  • Some report getting glutened from eating there
  • Employees have minimal specialized gluten-free training
  • A single crumb can trigger strong symptoms and intestinal damage

As with any restaurant, you must weigh these pros and cons based on your comfort level with potential exposure, sensitivity level, and past experiences eating at Taco Bell.

The Verdict on Eating Taco Bell’s Mexican Pizza with Celiac Disease

The verdict on whether Taco Bell’s Mexican Pizza is safe to eat for those with celiac disease and gluten intolerance is sadly no. The standard Mexican Pizza contains gluten and is prepared in shared cooking areas with a high risk of cross-contact.

Here are some final take-aways on the gluten situation at Taco Bell:

  • The Mexican Pizza’s flour tortilla base contains gluten
  • Customization helps reduce gluten exposure but cannot guarantee a gluten-free meal
  • There is risk of trace gluten through cross-contact in the prep and cooking process
  • Taco Bell kitchens are not certified gluten-free and employees have minimal specialized training
  • Experiences vary based on personal sensitivity levels
  • The highest recommendation is avoiding Taco Bell with celiac disease or if highly gluten-sensitive

While Taco Bell’s Mexican Pizza remains off-limits for strict gluten avoidance, some celiacs report carefully customizing their orders and still managing to eat there without major issues. But extreme care must be taken, and there are no guarantees when it comes to avoiding gluten exposure.

Each individual must weigh the enjoyment of Taco Bell’s menu offerings with the risks and uncertainty involved. For those highly sensitive, taking a pass on Taco Bell may be the wisest choice to protect your health.

Other Gluten-Free Fast Food Options

If you need a satisfying fast food fix but want to steer clear of Taco Bell’s gluten risks, here are some safer gluten-free options to check out:


Chipotle offers tacos, burritos, bowls, and salads using gluten-free corn tortillas. Just avoid flour tortillas and tortilla chips.

Burger King

Burger King has a designated gluten-free menu and cooks fries in dedicated fryers. Their kitchens have proper protocols and training for gluten-free prep.


Wendy’s has bun-less burger options and salad offerings using gluten-free fixings. Their fries are fried in separate oil.


Chick-fil-A has grilled chicken sandwiches and nuggets that can be customized on a gluten-free bun. Their waffle fries are also safe.


Subway lets you build a gluten-free sandwich or salad using gluten-free bread, meat, veggies and cheese. Just verify ingredients with staff.

These fast food chains have ingredients and procedures in place to accommodate gluten-free diets. While questions over potential cross-contact still exist with any restaurant situation, these options provide a safer bet than Taco Bell.

The Takeaway on Eating at Taco Bell with Celiac Disease

When you have celiac disease or are highly sensitive to gluten, eating at Taco Bell carries notable risk that should not be taken lightly. There are currently no certified gluten-free options available due to concerns over cross-contact.

While customization and substitutions can help reduce gluten exposure from menu items like the Mexican Pizza, trace amounts can still lurk due to shared cooking procedures. Each individual must weigh their comfort level given this uncertainty.

Your safest bet is to pursue other fast food options that offer flexibility for gluten-free diets. But if you decide to indulge at Taco Bell, examine your meal choices closely, pose informed questions to staff, and be alert to any reaction symptoms afterwards.

Strict avoidance is required for celiac disease, so the wisest move may be steering clear of Taco Bell’s take on Mexican classics. But with proper precautions, some report carefully enjoying menu items in moderation. Assess your own risk factors and needs when deciding if this fast food stopover can fit into your gluten-free lifestyle.

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