Five Guys gluten-free options can be a solid choice for a quick bite if you have celiac disease. Their menu is simple, limited items have gluten, and they have allergen protocols in place. And in this post, I'm walking you through how to eat there, step by step!
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About This Five Guys Blog Post
While in my opinion not as good as In-N-Out, Five Guys still makes a decent burger and is the East Coast alternative I visit for a quick bite. They are a chain restaurant located in 49/50 US states as well as DC making burgers, fries, and hot dogs. Just like In-N-Out, because they stick to a smaller menu and are only cooking burgers, hot dogs, and bacon on their cooktops, which reduces the concern about cross-contact.
Believe it or not, the first time I had Five Guys was actually in Hong Kong during my 6-month backpacking trip in 2019. Hong Kong was extremely expensive to visit, so we only spent five days there, but finding celiac-safe food was very difficult. So when I found a fast food chain I knew had lettuce-wrapped burgers AND my server spoke good English, it was a win!
I'm not someone who eats fast food a lot. But sometimes, you just really want a burger and fries (and yes, the fries are safe at Five Guys too!)
The information in this blog post is based on direct research from the Five Guys website and dining in multiple locations of Five Guys in many different states along the East Coast. It also comes from 14+ years of experience dining out with celiac disease, and 4 restaurant allergen trainings: ServSafe, Always Food Safe, Beyond Celiac GREAT Training, and FARE.
Disclaimer: Please double check and do your own research when dining out with celiac disease. Everyone’s experience with celiac disease is different. What works for me may not work for you. My positive experience at a restaurant could be the opposite for you. Restaurants and businesses can change. Use your own judgment and only eat where you feel safe doing so.
- About This Five Guys Blog Post
Five Guys Gluten-Free Choices
Five Guys is also committed to fresh ingredients and making a few things very well. They make burgers, hot dogs, fries, and milkshakes, and almost everything on their menu is gluten-free except for a few items. And like In-N-Out burgers, they also have allergen protocols and can prepare burgers on a lettuce wrap rather than a bun. But of course, you need to clarify those steps with them and double-check on using fresh toppings and changing gloves. Keep an eye on what they are doing and who is preparing your food, so you can clarify if something is not done correctly.
Gluten-Free Menu Items at Five Guys
Meats: Both the burgers and hot dogs are gluten-free, as well as the bacon. The buns, obviously, are not.
Fries: The fries are gluten-free and cooked in 100% peanut oil. They only fry fries in their fryers. If you have a peanut allergy, they also have peanuts loosely hanging about in boxes/for a snack at Five Guys locations. Please be aware of this so you don't get sick if peanuts are an issue for you.
Sauces/Toppings: All of the sauces and toppings at Five Guys are gluten-free, except for the malt vinegar (malt is derived from barley, which contains gluten.)
Milkshakes: The cherry and malted milk flavorings are not gluten-free. And similarly, the Oreo cookies are not gluten-free. If you are ordering a milkshake, you'll want to be sure to ask about cross-contact prevention, such as asking for the blender to be freshly cleaned with soap and water before making your shake.
Is It Safe To Eat at Five Guys With Celiac Disease?
First of all, I don't like giving a blatant yes/no for these types of questions. It's also untruthful. Dining out with celiac disease ALWAYS has risks, especially in a place that is not 100% gluten-free.
But with that said, I have been eating at Five Guys locations without issue for about four years. Personally, I have never had an issue at any location. But that is just my experience. So please note, there is no guarantee of safety at Five Guys, and like any restaurant, you dine here at your own risk.
Does Five Guys Have Allergen Protocols?
In my personal experience, I've had positive meals & dining interactions at Five Guys. I have not been glutened at Five Guys, but have had an instance where I had to speak up and ask for my order to be remade because it was not done properly. This can happen if they are extremely busy, if someone new is on the staff, or if somehow the allergy alert did not go through.
Some things to help prevent this:
- Clarify that either the person who took your order, or someone specifically who has been alerted of the allergy, is going to make your meal from start to finish. This is standard allergen procedure for most restaurants and eliminates confusion & unsafe handling of your food.
- Clarify preparation steps with someone or ask to speak to a manager. Usually when my local Five Guys hears me say allergy, a manager comes over to confirm it is listed on the order, that they will be making it and bagging this item separately, and they shout out "ALLERGY" down the line.
- Watch them make your food. I usually stand at the counter to confirm mine is being made properly. This may not be possible at every Five Guys, but you can confirm when your order comes out again as to what steps were taken.
Steps To Take When Ordering Gluten-Free
First off, I always try to visit a place like this outside of super busy hours to lower any feelings of social anxiety. It's a lot less scary taking longer than everyone else when there ISN'T a long line behind you. I know that sometimes this may be unavoidable, but an extra tip to help lower your fear.
When you arrive at Five Guys and it's your turn to order, these are some things you may want to consider saying/asking (but always adjust/modify based on your comfort level and needs with celiac). Remember, gratitude and kindness go a long way, so rather than apologizing for your order taking longer than others, try shifting to saying "Thank you, I appreciate it" and see how that feels instead.
When it's your turn to order: "Hi! I have a severe gluten allergy and would like to order a lettuce-wrapped burger."
They should immediately make a note of this for you on your ticket. They may also prompt you by asking what kind of burger you'd like (With cheese or without, with bacon, regular, or little).
"I'd like a little cheeseburger wrapped in lettuce with tomatoes please."
At this point, this is where I would clarify about the flat top and that only meats are going on there (or that buns are kept separate). I'd also check on any toppings and confirm they are being pulled fresh & that the person preparing my burger changes their gloves before doing so.
"Just to confirm - is anything else cooked on the flat top except meats? Thanks."
"Since this is for an allergy, would you please change your gloves before making my burger? (Wait for them to confirm yes). Thank you!
"Lastly, are there fresh, untouched tomatoes & lettuce you can use for my burger, please? Thank you so much."
If you'd like to order fries, you can also request a glove change. If you are nervous, you can confirm they only do fries in their fryers. This is usually standard at all Five Guys.
"Hi, I'd like to order a small order of fries. Since I have a severe gluten allergy, could you ask the person preparing my fries to change their gloves first and place them in a separate bag? Thank you!"
If you're ordering a milkshake, you can ask for them to thoroughly wash the blender with soap and water before making yours.
"Hi, I'd like to order a vanilla milkshake but I have a severe gluten allergy. Could you please wash the blender with soap and hot water before making my shake? I appreciate it."
Finally, I always ask that my gluten-free order be bagged separately. Since my husband does not have celiac disease and usually orders a burger on a bun, I don't want anything touching that.
Of course, always feel free to clarify or ask further questions based on your comfort level.
What I Order At Five Guys With Celiac
I usually get the same thing at Five Guys almost every time. I get a lettuce-wrapped burger (Usually a little, which is only one patty) with cheese and tomato. Sometimes I add bacon. I get a side of fries to split with my husband. I pour them out onto a napkin for him and I eat the ones from the cup, so that we have no cross-contact in sharing fries.
I've also heard that some people will bring their own gluten-free burger bun with them to Five Guys and then assemble their own burger at their table or in their car. Genius! If you want to do this, power to you. I just am not in the habit of bringing burger buns with me on a regular basis. Five Guys is something I grab on the go and don't usually plan for.
Final Thoughts on Five Guys Gluten-Free Options
Again, while not In-N-Out (my favorite burger joint), Five Guys can still be a great gluten-free fast food option. Their small menu, allergen protocols, and the fact they have safe fries make it a win in my book. While I don't eat here all the time, it's super helpful to know Five Guys gluten-free options are available if I need them, or have a burger craving!
Looking for more gluten-free restaurant guides?
Check out this post on the celiac-friendly fast food chains around the USA.
Looking to eat gluten-free at Chick-Fil-A? Here's my breakdown of their menu and allergen protocols.
Craving a sub from Jersey Mike's? Here's how I order one and prevent cross-contact step by step.
Want to know one of the best places for celiac-safe eats? Read about Burtons Grill and why they've won awards in the allergy community for their protocols.
Do you eat at Five Guys with celiac disease?
What has your experience been like?
Let me know in the comments!