Staying away from gluten can feel like a daunting prospect, and it often makes eating at some of your favorite restaurants a bit of a minefield. While the options out there are improving all the time, you still need to know what’s safe and what’s not. With that in mind, you might be wondering: what’s gluten-free at Taco Bell?
Taco Bell has a number of gluten-friendly menu items, including some of their nacho and black bean dishes, Cantina Power Bowls, and hash browns. Quite a number of items, however, are made with ingredients that contain gluten, and they do not officially state that any options are “gluten-free” due to the possibility of cross-contamination.
Read on to find out exactly what you might be able to try at their restaurants, and just how risky eating there might be.
Is Anything Gluten-Free at Taco Bell?
There are a lot of items that Taco Bell sells which are made without any gluten in them, but there are no “gluten-free” items. This is because the restaurant cannot guarantee that there will be no cross-contamination.
Because there are foods containing gluten that are stored, prepared, and served in the restaurant, it is possible for some amount of gluten to end up in any meal.
The FDA requirements for a product to be labeled “gluten-free” state that it has to have less than 20 parts per million (ppm) of gluten. Taco Bell uses a lot of gluten products which might be prepared and cooked using the same implements, chopping boards, and cooking oil as non-gluten products. Therefore, it’s possible that some small amount of gluten might make its way into your meal.
In fact, although they do clearly lay out which products do not contain gluten in their allergy information, Taco Bell does not recommend that celiacs eat at their restaurants at all. Basically, they don’t want to take the blame if anyone does ingest gluten by accident. For some people, a small amount wouldn’t be a problem but, for others, it can be seriously dangerous.
What Is Made Without Gluten at Taco Bell?
With that being said, you might still be able to enjoy a meal at Taco Bell if you’re not concerned about the small risk of a small amount of gluten being transferred to your plate by a knife or chopping board. However, your options will still be relatively limited.
While there are a number of different ingredients at Taco Bell that are made without gluten, quite a large proportion of the main menu items are off-limits.
For the relatively big options, you can choose between:
- Cantina Power Bowls
- Boss Nachos
- Black Beans/Black Beans ; Rice
- Doritos Locos Tacos
- Crunchy Tacos
- Hash Browns
The Hash Browns will definitely be fried in the same fryer as gluten ingredients, so that is something to keep in mind.
For the Power Bowl options, you can choose chicken, steak, or vegetables and still be safe, and you can have either the chicken or the steak for your Boss Nachos too. You can even make your Crunchy Tacos “Supreme” and they will still be made without any gluten ingredients.
It is worth mentioning that there are a couple of things that might seem relatively safe but are not actually free from gluten. Their Chips and Nacho Cheese Sauce option doesn’t contain wheat but it does contain gluten, and all of their beef mixes have oats in them.
What Drinks, Sauces, and Sides are Gluten-Free at Taco Bell?
There are quite a lot of smaller things that you can get at Taco Bell which don’t contain gluten, but they’re not exactly going to make much of a meal on their own.
Their Creamy Chipotle Sauce, Creamy Jalapeno Sauce, Spicy Ranch Sauce, Hot Sauce, Mild Sauce, Red Sauce, and Avocado Ranch Dressing are all made without gluten, as are a huge number of different drinks. You can have a Freeze of any kind, hot or iced coffee, orange juice, Fountain Drinks, and Lipton Unsweetened Iced Tea without worrying.
Also, their Black Beans, Lettuce, Japalenos, Tomatoes, and Guacamole should all be made without gluten as well.
Read More >> Is Taco Bell Mild Sauce Gluten-Free?
What Are The Best Gluten-Free Mexican Fast Food Chains?
You don’t get a whole lot of options at Taco Bell, so is there anywhere else that might give you a bit more choice? There are actually quite a few. Many Mexican restaurants use a lot of corn-based ingredients for their main dishes and they don’t rely as heavily on wheat flour as other cuisines tend to.
According to celiac.com, the best fast-food Mexican joints out there for anyone who is gluten-free are:
A huge percentage of the menu at Chipotle has no gluten in it whatsoever. In fact, it’s only really the flour tortillas that you need to avoid, and a couple of other more specific menu items. All of their bowls, salads, and tortilla chips, for example, are made without gluten.
El Pollo Loco
Almost all of the fire-grilled chicken, most of the salads, and the vast majority of the sides at El Pollo Loco do not use any gluten-containing ingredients, and even their chips and corn tortillas are considered safe.
It might be a little harder to find one of their locations, but almost all of the original tacos, taquitos, tostadas, tacoburgers, and pepper poppers at Jimboy’s are free from gluten and made fresh to order. It’s a really long menu too, with a lot of interesting things to choose from.
Read More >> Gluten-Free Mexican Food
Conclusion: What’s Gluten-Free At Taco Bell?
So, what you can find at Taco Bell that’s gluten-free? There are a few things that are made without gluten, but the options are relatively limited and they cannot guarantee that there will be no cross-contamination.
Taco Bell does not claim any of their menu items to be completely “gluten-free” as they do use gluten ingredients in their kitchens, but their Cantina Power Bowls, Boss Nachos, Black Beans/Black Beans ; Rice, Doritos Locos Tacos, Crunchy Tacos, and Hash Browns are all made without gluten.
You also have quite a few sides, small plates, and sauces that you can choose from – but you definitely get a wider selection at somewhere like Chipotle.