The Top 5 Allergy-Friendly Fast Food Chains

Dining out with allergies? Here are the best restaurants to consider.

Did the employee wash their hands between orders? Is anything at risk of cross contamination? Was a glove change performed? Is there some hidden ingredient buried in the nutrition label that could be life-threatening? Did the person taking my order really hear and listen to my concerns?

As a mom of a 5-year-old with multiple food allergies, these are the questions running through my head every time we dine out as a family. That makes traveling especially complicated.

To avoid a potential lawsuit, most chain restaurants have a catch-all warning label like "We cannot guarantee that any of our menu items are free of allergens or gluten." Checking the ingredients lists is crucial, since even things like french fries can have dairy or gluten hidden in them, or be cooked in an oil that can cause a reaction.

Before our next family vacation, I wanted to know which fast food chains and popular restaurants did the best job at catering to their customers with food allergies, so I connected with both fellow parents and organizations to field suggestions. Here are five great allergy-friendly restaurant chains, recommended by the families who feel safe there.

Red Robin

This chain tops a lot of people's lists because of its allergy-friendly menu.

Here's what user lira9497, who has wheat and celiac-gluten allergies and lives in Arkansas, wrote on the food allergy app Spokin about their experience with Red Robin:


"I am an adult with food allergies. Surprisingly, this is one of the most organized places I've ordered from! Without me even asking for the run down I was given a play by play of their protocol and the food even came with a little flag in it indicating that it's gluten free and being handled with the allergy protocol."

Stacey Agin Murray, a professional organizer and food allergy parent in New Jersey, discovered her now 13-year-old son had food allergies when he was 11 months old. Although he's outgrown a few of his allergies, he's still allergic to dairy, peanuts, some tree nuts, and tinned fish. "We go to Red Robin because they are very attuned to food allergies," Murray says.

"The kids have multiple anaphylactic food allergies and Red Robin makes it easy," writes user susanisrael, a Seattle-based parent of two food-allergic elementary school children, on Spokin. "No issues with the burger and chicken kid meals – no dairy, no eggs, no nuts."


Megan Lavin, an Idaho mom of two elementary-aged boys, also likes Red Robin. She usually orders the bite-sized Grilled Chicken Dip'Ns with fries and a drink combo off the kids' menu.

"I'll often get broccoli side for one son, and order the bottomless fries for the other, so that way they can share sides and get two different things," Lavin says.

According to Kathleen Bush, VP of Communications and Field Marketing at Red Robin, the chain uses dedicated fryers to cook its gluten-free Bottomless Steak Fries, Sweet Potato Fries, and Yukon Gold Chips "when guests communicate a gluten sensitivity to their server." Red Robin also has a gluten-free bun and gluten-free seasoning.

MOD Pizza  

Many people rave about MOD Pizza thanks to its "super helpful" online allergen chart that includes a comprehensive list of ingredients. My personal experience: MOD doesn't disappoint.

There are two gluten-free crust options at this chain found in 29 states. The traditional GF crust, which is free of the top nine allergens, is made with rice flour, modified rice starch, potato starch, sugar, tapioca starch, potato flour, and culture brown rice. There's also a gluten-free cauliflower crust, but it contains milk and eggs.


Since my son can't do dairy, gluten, or nuts, we opted for the traditional gluten-free crust with just the red sauce. Unfortunately, we couldn't add the dairy-free cheese, since it includes coconut oil (tree nuts). As soon as we ordered, it became a Christmas-like countdown.

"Is it ready?" my son asked. "When is it going to be done?"

Less than 10 minutes later, we had a piping hot pizza—and it actually tasted good.

"This is amazing," he said after the first bite. "The sauce is a little spicy, but it's the best sauce in the whole world."

This was the first time we were able to order a restaurant pizza he liked without any allergic reaction. (Unfortunately, some pizza sauces have dairy or gluten hidden in them, so you always have to ask.) Also, thanks to the restaurant layout, customers can watch the food being prepared at MOD, which might help those with food allergies feel more secure.


Pro tip: Ask for a glove change and a clean cutter to slice the pizza when it's done.

In-N-Out Burger

This expanding chain indicates that its food does not contain peanuts, tree nuts, sesame, shellfish, or fish via its allergen information.

Lavin says her family gets the "protein style" burger, which comes wrapped in lettuce. "We do wish they'd start offering gluten-free buns, and it's quite messy for a kid, but it's better than nothing," Lavin says.


Another big draw for her son: the gluten-free, soy-free, and dairy-free French fries, which are cooked in a dedicated fryer.

"We only cook French fries in our fryers, and we use 100% sunflower oil," says Kathleen Hardesty, a marketing communications specialist for In-N-Out.

Mellow Mushroom

This Atlanta-based pizza joint where customers build their own pies is popular among allergy families due to its gluten-free, vegan options. There are more than 170 locations, primarily throughout the Southeastern U.S., and its menu includes a variety of vegan and gluten-free options.


Known for its hand-tossed, stone-baked "classic Southern pizza," this chain offers a variety of allergy-friendly ingredients including tempeh and Follow Your Heart dairy-free cheese made with coconut oil, potato, and corn starch. Its gluten-free crust is made in a dedicated gluten-free facility and includes tapioca flour, sorghum, amaranth flour, teff flour, potato starch, white rice, molasses, sugar, agave, and flaxseed, among other ingredients.

"Delicious pizzas, including a 10" gluten-free crust. A family favorite of ours! Kid & adult approved!" writes Spokin user moriedee from Dublin, Ohio, a parent of a food allergic child.

Mellow Mushroom's tomato sauce is made with olives, sea salt, water, and ferrous gluconate, an iron supplement. However, the can doesn't specify whether the product is gluten- or dairy-free.


According to, "Mellow Mushroom finishes their pizzas and calzones with parmesan and garlic butter. These items are left off on their vegan menu, but you'll need to request 'no parmesan and no garlic butter' if custom ordering a dairy-free pizza."

Chipotle Mexican Grill

This chain comes up on a lot allergy-friendly lists, since it gives you the ability to customize each order and to watch the food being prepared as you wait. The Chipotle menu also contains no nuts, peanuts, mustard, sesame, shellfish, fish, or eggs, except at locations that offer breakfast.


Ask for a glove change, since multiple toppings can be problematic for cross contamination. Consider ordering a bowl rather than a burrito, since it requires the food to be touched less. If you go the burrito route, you can substitute a flour tortilla for one made with corn.

"I typically order a burrito bowl with protein, black beans, brown rice, fajita vegetables, and salsa," says Melissa Sallee, a Los Angeles mom of a 4-year-old son and 8-year-old daughter who both have food allergies. "I make sure to communicate my allergies and ask that they prepare and plate my food separately."