Denny’s is an American diner-style restaurant chain, that serves classic American cuisine for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Denny’s claims to provide quality food and healthy portions for a fair price.
Does that also hold true for the gluten-free foods at Denny’s?
Denny’s doesn’t have a dedicated gluten-free menu, however, gluten-free dishes are marked as GF on their main menu. Even so, they are not plenty. If you’ve celiac disease or high gluten sensitivity, Denny’s may not be the best option.
Although, a lot depends on the location of the establishment.
Dining out on a gluten-free diet is tricky. You have to spend minutes guiding your server on how to prepare your food. Still, risky mistakes happen. So, here are some tips and gluten-free options you can try at Denny’s.
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Denny’s gluten-free options
The hallmark of Denny’s shop is that it remains open 24/7, even during holidays. Denny’s started by selling donuts, later it turned into a coffee shop.
And now, Denny’s menu offers a great variety of dishes from burgers, sandwiches, and omelets to pancakes, salads, slams, and more. They also have a wide selection of starters and side dishes.
However, the list of gluten-free items on Denny’s menu is small. But you can customize many dishes on their menu to fit your dietary requirements.
For example, you can build a gluten-free Grand Slam with four ingredients Gluten-free English muffin topped with strawberry jam, turkey bacon strips, and scrambled egg whites mixed with spinach and tomatoes.
Similarly, you can also build your burger with items like Lettuce, tomato, red onions, pickles, or any other combination of gluten-free items, wrapped in lettuce leaves.
You can also customize omelets in the same fashion. Several other dishes can be made gluten-free by removing an ingredient or two. Such as Denny’s house salad without croutons and so on.
The thing you need to be careful of, however, is cross-contamination. Ask your server to prepare your food with more caution.
These are the dishes labeled as gluten-free on Denny’s menu. All the nutritional facts are as mentioned on their website
#1. Santa Fe bowl
- Calories: 720 kcal
- Fat: 55 g
- Carbs: 33 g
- Protein: 26 g
The Santa Fe Bowl consists of Chorizo sausage, fire-roasted bell peppers & onions, mushrooms, and seasoned red-skinned potatoes. Topped with Cheddar cheese and eggs.
#2. Crazy spicy bowl
- Calories: 990 kcal
- Fat: 66 g
- Carbs: 43 g
- Protein: 59 g
The Crazy Spicy bowl contains Chorizo sausage, fire-roasted bell peppers & onions, mushrooms, jalapeños, and seasoned red-skinned potatoes. Topped with grilled seasoned chicken breast, Cheddar cheese, a spicy five pepper sauce, and Pepper Jack queso.
#3. Cobb salad
- Calories: 480 kcal
- Fat: 34 g
- Carbs: 23 g
- Protein: 22 g
The Cobb salad at Denny’s is made with Bacon, fresh avocado, grape tomatoes, Cheddar cheese, hard-boiled egg, and potato sticks atop a bed of iceberg mix. And it’s served with a choice of dressing.
#4. Zesty nachos
- Calories: 650cal
- Fat: 32g
- Carbs: 68g
- Protein: 26g
A plate of Zesty nachos has tortilla chips freshly cooked and topped with Pepper Jack queso, cheddar cheese, seasoned nacho meat, fresh pico de gallo, and sour cream on the side to keep chips crispy until you’re ready to assemble & devour!
- Calories: 210 kcal
- Fat: 16 g
- Carbs: 2 g
- Protein: 16 g
You can choose between four bacon strips or turkey bacon strips on the side.
- Calories: 310 kcal
- Fat: 29 g
- Carbs: 3 g
- Protein: 10 g
You will be served 4 sausage links on the side.
#7. Grilled ham slice
- Calories: 120 kcal
- Fat: 4 g
- Carbs: 7 g
- Protein: 14 g
You will be served one slice of grilled ham.
#8. Wavy cut french fries
It is not guaranteed that these fries are gluten-free because on Denny’s allergen chart they have a “maybe” symbol in the gluten-free box. Confirm with your server when ordering.
- Calories: 400 kcal
- Fat: 22 g
- Carbs: 46 g
- Protein: 4 g
#9. Seasonal fruits
- Calories: 110 kcal
- Fat: 0 g
- Carbs: 27 g
- Protein: 1 g
The selection of fruits will vary from season to season. You may be served a small bowl with apples, bananas, and berries.
#10. Scrambled Eggs
Boiled eggs, egg white, and whole/liquid eggs are gluten-free.
- Calories: 110 kcal
- Fat: 9 g
- Carbs: 1 g
- Protein: 7 g
All of the milkshakes at Denny’s are gluten-free.
These are the gluten-free items mentioned in Denny’s allergen chart:
- Gluten-Free English Muffin
- French Toast (batter only)
- Chicken breast, (grilled)
- Ham, (shaved, sliced)
- Prime rib
- Steak (Sirloin, and T-bone)
- Bacon Strips
- Bacon, Turkey
- Beef Patty
- Beyond Burger Patty
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- Corn, Sweet Petite
- Fire-Roasted Bell Peppers & Onions
- Jalapeños, Sliced
- Onions, Caramelized
- Pickles, Sliced
- Zucchini & Squash
- Aged White Cheddar
- Cream Cheese
- Shredded Cheddar
- Balsamic Vinaigrette, Low-Fat
- Blue Cheese
- Honey Mustard
- Italian, Fat-Free
- Oil, Salad
- Thousand Island
Sauces and spreads
- Alfredo Sauce
- Buffalo Sauce
- Apple Juice (including kids)
- Coffee, Regular / Decaffeinated
- Fuze Raspberry Tea
- Hot Chocolate
- Minute Maid Orange Juice
- Ruby Red Grapefruit
- Soft Drinks
- Tomato Juice
Tips for a Gluten-Free Meal at Denny’s
Customize your dishes.
There aren’t many gluten-free options on Denny’s main menu, however, you can increase your options by customizing your dish. You can customize dishes like slams, burgers, and omelets with gluten-free items on their allergen chart.
You can also increase your choices by removing gluten items from certain dishes.
Avoid anything cooked in the fryer.
Denny’s, like most restaurants, uses the same frying pan to make all fried items. This leads to cross-contamination of food. Stay away from fried items like french fries.
Investigate the grilled dishes before ordering.
Denny’s in their allergen guide state that, they season their grills with vegetable oil from their fryers. So items like top sirloin and chicken are seasoned and unsafe to consume.
So, either ask them to not season your grills or avoid them completely.
Furthermore, the grill used to cook the filling of the omelet may be cross-contaminated. So, ask the server to use a pan instead of the grill.
Emphasize your food allergy while ordering.
Explicitly mention that you have celiac disease or gluten allergy even if you are ordering a gluten-free dish. Let the server know that cross-contaminated food is risky for you.
Ask them to take extra precautions while preparing your food like changing their gloves, cleaning the preparation area, using different equipment like toast, grill, knife, etc.
Stay away from sandwiches and burgers.
The bread and buns at Denny’s are not gluten-free. However, you can choose lettuce wraps instead of buns for your burgers.
Avoid any fried items inside the burger. Most of the proteins, veggies, and condiments are gluten-free so you can go with those.
Avoid the following.
All of the desserts, pancakes and fried items like chicken tenders and cheese sticks are unsafe to consume. The common ingredient inside all of them is wheat, so they are not gluten-free
Pick the right potatoes.
If you want side dishes made of potatoes, then go with red-skinned mashed potatoes, hash browns, and baked potatoes without toppings. However, avoid the seasoned fries because they are not gluten-free.
Before you pay a visit, check Denny’s online menu.
If you are familiar with their menu, you’ll spend less time deciding what to order. You’ll also know whether you like their gluten-free options or not. And checking their allergen chart will help you better customize your dishes.
Cross Contamination Risk
On Denny’s menu, items marked as GF are gluten-free, i.e, those dishes have gluten 20 parts per million in them. However, they state that their restaurants are not set up as strictly gluten-free.
All of their dishes are prepared in a shared area and have the risk of cross-contamination. So, even if they have gluten-free options, they can’t guarantee any item is free of any allergen.
Always inform your server about your food concerns before ordering. Tell them that your food needs to be prepared differently. Ask them to ensure that the food is not cross-contaminated during preparation.
What People Are Saying
This is what people with high gluten intolerance and celiac have said about the gluten-free food options at Denny’s.
This data has been collected from around the net to help you make a more informed decision while ordering gluten-free food from Denny’s.
A lot of people said that “the server was knowledgeable about gluten sensitivity and celiac, took time to listen, and answered all of their doubts”. Many seemed to doubt that the restaurant takes safety precautions against cross-contamination.
However, some also said that “the staff changed their gloves and cleaned the area of preparation upon request.”
Some people mentioned that Denny’s has fewer gluten-free options. The food there is good and has not caused any reactions. Many people recommended the restaurant for breakfast and lunch.
Several others said, “they’ve visited Denny’s many times and never had any issue with their gluten-free options”. The most common food people with celiac and high gluten sensitivity had at Denny’s were:
- Gluten-free English Muffins
- Hash Brown
- Lettuce wrapped burger, and
The location of the Denny’s also affected their experience. Staff at some locations were more polite and understanding, whereas, at some places they were impatient and committed mistakes.
Gluten-Free Alternatives to Jimmy John’s
1. Skyline chili
Skyline Chili is a chain of Cincinnati-style chili restaurants that has been serving the best chilis since 1949. This restaurant is famous for its Cheese Coneys and 3 Ways. The common ingredient inside these dishes is their secret-recipe chili.
But you can’t try those because they are not gluten-free. Skyline chili provides a list of gluten-free dishes in their allergen chart.
Some of the gluten-free options on that list are Coney bowl, which is similar to their Cheese Coney but in a bowl.
Some other items you can try there are Buffalo Chicken Salad, greek salad, etc. This restaurant is suitable for breakfast and lunch.
2. Flower child
At Flower Child, each dish is made from scratch using only fresh ingredients. They cater to people with varying dietary preferences like sugar-free, gluten-free, and dairy-free.
They serve a great variety of dishes such as salads, bowls, and wraps. Most of their salads are gluten-free. Gluten-free dishes are marked as GF on their main menu.
Some of the gluten-free options you can try there is ginger miso crunch, it is a salad that has carrots zoodles, zucchini, red pepper, Asian cabbage, etc.
Another choice from their bowls section could be Chicken Enchiladas, which is made with roasted corn, guajillo chile, smoked gouda, poblano crema, etc.