Celiac/Gluten Sensitive Community: Ask (even more) Questions When Ordering from Applebee’s GF Menu!

I was given a gift certificate to Applebee’s restaurant recently (admittedly, not one of my go-to gluten-free restaurants). Over the weekend I decided to use the certificate. Applebee’s offers a gluten-free menu and though it does clearly state at the top of their “Wheat Allergen Information” located on their website and at the top of the GF menu I was given, that “during normal kitchen operations involving shared cooking and preparation areas, including common fryer oil, the possibility exists for food items to come in contact with other food products. Due to these circumstances, we are unable to guarantee that any menu item can be completely free of allergens”. Okay, they make it pretty clear, that we are taken our chances when ordering from their GF menu. Many restaurants serving gluten-free items have similar cautionary statements, but they take extra steps to avoid cross-contamination, which makes us feel a tad more comfortable ordering (still with fingers crossed behind our backs!).

Perhaps you, like me, will not read Applebee’s cautionary statement thoroughly enough, so I’d like to highlight the point about the “common fryer oil” should you find yourself visiting Applebee’s having Celiac Disease/Gluten Sensitivity or a wheat allergy.

Please note:

Even though TORTILLA CHIPS (with salsa) & the FRENCH FRIES are on the gluten-free menu, they should be avoided as they are indeed cooked in the same fryer oil as items made with wheat … breaded this, breaded that.  These are the only two items I am able to caution you about, because they are the two I discussed with the server. If you visit an Applebee’s, I caution you to question EACH & EVERY item on the gluten-free list with your server before ordering.

I told the server I had CD and would become very ill if I ingested gluten, she took down my order for the Chips & Salsa, without a word about them being cooked in the same fryer oil. Yes, I do blame myself for not reading the cautionary statement more carefully, but because I even went further to express my surprise that the chips were GF and asked her to check with the kitchen staff to confirm, I would think at that point she would have informed me. She just didn’t know. To the server’s credit, she came back with word from the kitchen that indeed the tortilla chips & fries are prepared in shared oil, but again, only because I inquired.

How many others will order the chips and fries, and possibly other items cooked in shared oil, assuming they are safe because they are listed on the “Gluten-Free” Menu? Just google “gluten-free at Applebee’s”, and you will likely find as I did when I arrived home, 9 out of 10 comments from people with Celiac/Gluten-Sensitivity stating they got sick after eating at Applebee’s. Obviously their servers are not trained well on their gluten-free items, certainly not in the venue I visited. I believe they should be directed, at a minimum, to point out to a customer who has just declared they cannot consume gluten, that a particular GF item ordered is prepared in shared oil, and therefore unsafe. Am I expecting too much?

On a positive note, I ordered the Fiesta Chicken Chopped Salad (with tortilla strips removed) and honey mustard dressing and felt fine afterwards, however, I will unlikely visit another Applebee’s anytime soon.

In my opinion, any “gluten-free” items which are prepared in the same cooking oil as wheat items, need to have a very large asterisk, noting they are cooked in shared oil.

Be careful out there my gluten-free friends.


What do you think? Have you had a good/bad experience eating at this restaurant? Please feel free to comment below. 


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On March 3rd, 2014, posted in: CeliacCorner Blogs by

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