Is the breakfast bowl at Chick-fil-A gluten-free?

Gluten-free diets have become increasingly popular in recent years, with more and more people opting to avoid gluten for health, dietary, or personal reasons. For those who follow a gluten-free diet, navigating meal options at restaurants can be challenging. One popular fast food chain that many wonder about in terms of gluten-free options is Chick-fil-A.

What is gluten?

Gluten is a protein found in grains like wheat, barley, and rye. For most people, consuming gluten is not an issue. However, for those with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity, ingesting gluten can cause negative health effects. Symptoms of gluten intolerance can include gastrointestinal distress, fatigue, headaches, and more. For this reason, following a strict gluten-free diet is essential for those with gluten sensitivities.

Is Chick-fil-A gluten-free friendly?

Chick-fil-A has made efforts in recent years to expand their gluten-free offerings. They have designated gluten-free buns for their sandwiches and have a small selection of other certified gluten-free menu items. However, most menu items at Chick-fil-A are not gluten-free due to potential cross-contamination and ingredients used.

Chick-fil-A states that while they aim to accommodate gluten-free requests, they cannot guarantee that any menu item is completely free of gluten exposure. Gluten-free patrons are advised to consider their own individual sensitivities and needs when choosing menu items.

What is in the Chick-fil-A breakfast bowl?

The Chick-fil-A breakfast bowl contains the following ingredients:

  • Hash browns
  • Scrambled eggs
  • Cheese
  • Chicken sausage or bacon crumbles (customer’s choice)

The breakfast bowl comes with a side of Chick-fil-A chicken sausage or bacon and a biscuit. The bowl can be customized with additional ingredients like peppers, onions, mushrooms, and pico de gallo.

Are the breakfast bowl ingredients gluten-free?

An analysis of the default breakfast bowl ingredients indicates that some items may contain gluten or risk cross-contamination:

  • Hash browns – Hash browns are typically made from potatoes which are naturally gluten-free. However, Chick-fil-A warns that gluten-containing ingredients may come into contact with the potatoes during processing.
  • Eggs – Eggs are a gluten-free food.
  • Cheese – Most cheeses are gluten-free, but some seasoning blends added to cheese may contain gluten.
  • Chicken sausage – Chick-fil-A’s chicken sausage contains gluten-containing spices and seasonings.
  • Bacon crumbles – Bacon is naturally gluten-free, but Chick-fil-A’s crumbles may come into contact with gluten during processing.

The additional ingredients that can be added to customize the breakfast bowl also have potential gluten concerns:

  • Peppers and onions – These fresh vegetables are naturally gluten-free.
  • Mushrooms – Mushrooms themselves are gluten-free, but cross-contamination is possible during processing.
  • Pico de gallo – The tomatoes, onions, cilantro, and lime juice are gluten-free, but some brands add gluten-containing spices.

What about the sides and biscuit?

The sides and biscuit that come with the Chick-fil-A breakfast bowl are more likely to contain gluten:

  • Chicken sausage – See above. The sausage contains gluten.
  • Bacon – Chick-fil-A bacon may be cross-contaminated with gluten.
  • Biscuit – Biscuits typically contain gluten-heavy ingredients like wheat flour.

Those who need to avoid gluten should skip the sausage, bacon, and biscuit sides when ordering the breakfast bowl.

Is cross-contamination a concern?

Even if the base ingredients in a dish are gluten-free, cross-contamination during processing and cooking is a major concern for gluten-free diners. Chick-fil-A uses shared equipment and fryers during food preparation, increasing the risks of gluten exposure.

Some potential sources of cross-contamination when ordering the breakfast bowl include:

  • Shared griddles, pans, and utensils for cooking eggs, hash browns, bacon, sausage, etc.
  • Shared oil used for frying hash browns
  • Shared food prep and serving areas

While restaurants like Chick-fil-A make efforts to clean thoroughly between uses, trace amounts of gluten can still be transferred from one food to another.

What measures does Chick-fil-A take?

While they don’t claim to have an entirely gluten-free menu, Chick-fil-A states that they take the following precautions for gluten-free diners:

  • Dedicated fryers for gluten-free items like fries
  • Gluten-free bun option
  • Employee training on gluten-free prep and precautions
  • Use of separate prep tools and gloves for gluten-free orders

However, they ultimately leave judgments up to the individual about what they can safely consume.

Should you order the Chick-fil-A breakfast bowl gluten-free?

For those with celiac disease or severe gluten intolerance, the breakfast bowl and its sides are likely too high risk to consume due to ingredients and cross-contamination concerns. Modifications like omitting the sausage, bacon, and biscuit may help slightly.

For those with milder sensitivities, the breakfast bowl may be tolerable when avoiding the obvious gluten-containing items. However, it depends on each individual’s health needs and how strictly they must follow a gluten-free diet.

Overall, Chick-fil-A acknowledges that despite their precautions, they realistically cannot guarantee a 100% gluten-free environment or meals. Those with serious gluten issues should use caution when choosing menu items.

Are there any certified gluten-free options?

As of this writing, Chick-fil-A has a limited number of menu items that they certify as gluten-free:

  • Chick-fil-A Chicken Soup
  • Hash Browns
  • Waffle Potato Fries
  • Greek Yogurt Parfait
  • Fruit Cup

While these items are prepared without gluten-containing ingredients, Chick-fil-A still issues the same warning about potential cross-contamination during processing and cooking. So those with celiac disease or who are highly sensitive should still use caution.

The breakfast bowl is not one of Chick-fil-A’s certified gluten-free offerings. And none of their biscuits, buns, bagels, or muffins make the list either due to the gluten-heavy ingredients.

What about other fast food breakfast bowls?

For comparison, here is a quick rundown of other fast food breakfast bowls and their gluten-free status:

Panera Bread – Breakfast Power Bowl

Not certified gluten-free due to ingredients and cross-contamination risks. Contains farro and breadcrumbs.

Starbucks – Sous Vide Egg Bites

Not certified gluten-free but lower risk depending on variety. Use caution.

Dunkin’ – Power Breakfast Bowl

Not certified gluten-free. Contains possible gluten ingredients like grains, crackers, and breadcrumbs.

McDonald’s – Fruit & Maple Oatmeal

Not certified gluten-free but ingredients are gluten-free. Risk of cross-contamination.


Those following a gluten-free diet need to be extra cautious when dining at fast food restaurants like Chick-fil-A. While the chain offers some lower-risk options and takes steps to accommodate gluten-free requests, there is no guarantee any menu item is 100% gluten-free.

When it comes to the Chick-fil-A breakfast bowl in particular, the hash browns, eggs, and fresh vegetables appear relatively safe on their own. However, protein options like bacon, sausage, and cheese introduce more uncertainty. There is also the sizable risk of cross-contamination during processing and cooking.

Ultimately, those with celiac disease or severe gluten sensitivity should avoid the Chick-fil-A breakfast bowl due to the numerous variables at play. For those with milder intolerance, the bowl may be tolerable when crafted carefully, but caution is still advised. Check with your doctor about your individual level of risk. And when in doubt at any restaurant, stick to naturally gluten-free whole foods like fruit, vegetables, and unseasoned grilled meats and fish.

Leave a Comment