Want to know how to eat gluten-free at Culver’s? I’m going to show you how in this post.
Growing up, I remember my mom shuttling my sister and me off to soccer practice after she’d just got off of work. We were on a travel team that was homed across the city. In those days, stopping for fast food was a way my mom fed us while getting us to the fields as a single working mom.
And those 50 minutes chomping on french fries and singing along to music with my mom and my sister are some fond memories of mine. That’s the power of food. So if you’re looking for gluten-free fast food, no matter what the reason, add Culver’s to the list of gluten-free options.
P.s. Don’t forget to sign up for my FREE Gluten-Free Restaurant Cheat Sheets for the USA! In these free restaurant cheat sheets I cover what’s gluten-free at different USA restaurant chains and cuisines in the USA PLUS I give you scripts to help build up comfort with ordering. Grab your copy of these FREE cheat sheets here!
When talking about gluten-free Culver’s menu items, it’s important we know what gluten is. Gluten is a protein found in barley, rye, contaminated oats, and wheat. It may be helpful to remember the acronym “BROW” when trying to remember what foods have gluten.
In baked goods, gluten holds things together working as a binding agent. It gives texture and chew to foods.
Most people can safely eat gluten. However, some people have gluten sensitivity or celiac disease which means they need to avoid gluten. It can cause digestive issues such as diarrhea and nausea as well as nonintestinal symptoms such as rashes, headaches, or joint pain.
When talking about gluten-free Culver’s menu items, it’s also important we know what Culver’s is.
Culver’s is an American fast-food chain that was founded in 1984 in Wisconsin. It’s a predominantly Midwestern U.S. chain that serves frozen custard and burgers.
So what’s gluten-free at Culver’s? Based on the allergen guide on their website as of June 2022, they’ve got quite a few options.
You can get a burger with a gluten-free bun but there is a risk for cross-contact with the hamburger patty as sometimes it’s cooked on the same grill as buns. You can get coleslaw, crinkle-cut fries (check to make sure they aren’t made in a shared fryer because often they are), and steamed broccoli.
You can also get Broccoli Cheese Soup, George’s Chili and George’s Chili Supreme with minimal cross-contact concerns.
They’ve also got some gluten-free salads, in fact, it appears that ONLY their Garden Fresco salad contains gluten. This would mean cross-contact would be low, but you’d want to check with your location about how they make their salads to verify this.
Want something sweet? They’ve got gluten-free Concrete Mixers which are ice cream shakes with toppings mixed in. However, the toppings are at high risk for cross-contact if stored next to each other. For more on ordering safe gluten-free ice cream, check out this post.
If you have celiac you probably just want to stick with the Vanilla or Chocolate Dishes (basically ice cream scooped into a bowl). Or you can get the Lemon Ice, Lemon Ice Cooler, Lemon Smoothie, Culvers Root Beer Float, or all NON-MALT shakes (just make sure they wash the mixing wand for blending it if they use it).
The French Fries at Culver’s are gluten-free by ingredients. However, if you have celiac disease the French Fries likely are not safe due to cross-contact with the fryers. Some locations might vary so you can always call your location and ask if they fry other things in the same oil as their french fries (like onion rings).
Culver’s now serves Rotella’s gluten-free buns for those who request it. Any order on a gluten-free bun will come disassembled so there is minimal cross-contact. However, per the Culver’s website, grilled chicken and hamburger patties may come into cross-contact with gluten on the grill so this might not be suitable for people with celiac.
But when I called my local Culver’s they told me that the hamburgers were cooked on a separate grill and told me that they had cross-contact precautions in place if someone came in a specified an allergy. I would still check with your location to make sure they are on the same page.
I do want to make note that even if you call and verify cross-contact precautions at a specific location, that does not mean you don’t need to specify those precautions when you order. One of the biggest things I’ve done when dining out that has stopped me from getting glutened all the time is telling restaurant staff the cross-contact precautions I need every time I order.
If you want to watch me call my local Culver’s and verify the cross-contact precautions for yourself, consider joining the Gluten-Free Dining Course! This is a course I put together using my 10 years lived experience with celiac and my dietitian expertise to help people with celiac dine out safely in just 4-simple steps.
Culver’s is a potential gluten-free fast food option for those with celiac disease. While you still need to be mindful of gluten cross-contact when ordering a burger, concrete mixer, and a salad, it’s a great option for when you want to gluten-free drive through.
Remember, even though the food is gluten-free by ingredient and even though you’ve confirmed gluten-free cross-contact precautions when calling the location, you still need to ask for those precautions when ordering.
Feel uncomfortable ask for specific cross-contact precautions when ordering food from restaurants? Want more help with dining out with celiac disease?
Check out my Gluten-Free Dining Course where I show you how to dine out safely in just 4 simple steps (complete with simulations, practice problems, and examples to make sure you’re confident at the end of it).