Gluten Free on the Go: Burger King
If McDonald's is the burger chain that's everywhere, then I would say that Burger King is the chain that's "almost" everywhere. Internationally it's not as common as the golden arches, but if your town is decent-sized then you probably have one or more. Somewhere. They are slightly more common than Wendy's, with 1300-some more locations in the US (according to CNN), but about 5000 fewer locations than McDonald's.
So the question is, how does it stack up as far as the gluten free selection? If you have a choice between three McDonald's franchises or one lonely little Burger King, why should you veer toward the creepy king rather than the creepy clown?
I set out to do research for this article thinking I would have to dig around to find the ingredients. I was very surprised to find that once I clicked on "menu" there was an option to find out what the gluten free items were. Clicking on this led to a list of all the parts of all the menu items that would be gluten free. Which is nice. But is it helpful?
You can access the PDF here. (If this ever gets changed or taken down, please leave me a note in the comments.)
The reason I question the helpfulness of this list is because it doesn't list MENU ITEMS. It lists components. So while that's great, and a lot easier than digging through a list of ingredients, it still doesn't necessarily tell me what I can order.
According to this list you have your choice of meats, much like McDonald's. The meat patties, grilled/chef's choice chicken patties, ham, bacon and egg are all gluten free. There are a few items listed as being iffy--these are CC risks since they might be fried with other items, so I recommend checking with your cashier or the manager before ordering. Those items are the fries, tacos, and sausage patties.
So as far as lunch or dinner goes, you can get a burger without the bun or chicken sandwich without the bun (obviously not the fried chicken). Pretty much all the basic condiments are fine, including the lettuce, tomato, onion, pickle, mustard, mayo and ketchup. Oh, and the cheese.
You have the option of getting a salad with your choice of dressing, though it's harder to tell from the new gluten free item list just what salads you can have. You would have to cross-reference the ingredient list for the salads with the gluten free list, and I notice that the dressing listed on one particular salad does not match any of the dressings on the list.
As for side items, you can have a side of apple slices or you can take a chance on the fries.
Notice how I didn't bold those ...
The problem at Burger King is that they also serve onion rings. Those may be fried in the same oil as the fries, which makes them a CC risk. Even if they aren't, the same tool (the metal scoop) may be used to put the fries and onion rings into their containers. I really do not recommend going for the fries--the extra onion ring used to be a pleasant surprise, but now it's a lot like finding a fried cockroach in your food. And this did happen to me. And I did get sick from CC.
If you want to risk that, well, that's up to you.
For dessert you have similar choices to the ones at McDonald's. Shakes are fine, as are sundaes. They also have sodas, smoothies and frappes that you can enjoy.
At breakfast time you have slightly more limited options. Of course you can always get a sandwich without the bread (leaving you with a slab of meat, egg and cheese), but the potatoes are not gluten free. There's a platter similar to McDonald's, but to remove all the gluten components would leave you with eggs and a slab of suspicious sausage. (I assume the sausage is grilled on the same surface as the hot cakes?) Of course, you can still have your apple slices with your meal. They used to serve a breakfast bowl, but it seems to have been removed from the menu.
And there you have it. To be honest, it's not all that different from McDonald's as far as selection, with the added difficulty in the salad department.
Of course I should also point out that this list is not intended for those with celiac or "severe gluten sensitivity," which is one of those CYA disclaimers. I'm pretty sure it doesn't mean that anyone's tossing flour around in the back. You're probably hard-pressed to find any kind of basic ingredient like that in a fast food place anyway.
As always, if you want to get in touch with Burger King about their menu, contact them at: This link (can be a general comment rather than for a specific restaurant). This may be especially useful if you want to clarify the situation regarding the salads.
Or you can call them at 866-394-2493, but generally I think email gets a better response, and your ear doesn't get sweaty while you wait on hold for an hour.