Like many restaurants, Sonic tries to appeal to a wide crowd, and in recent years that means addressing concerns around gluten. Now, to be clear, most Sonic gluten-free options aren’t truly gluten-free. They have exposure to gluten in the kitchen, even without wheat in their ingredients. So Sonic isn’t a good restaurant if you’re truly sensitive or allergic to this substance. However, if you’re trying to avoid gluten but can still tolerate it, Sonic has plenty of excellent options for your diet. Here are my favorite options from their menu that generally avoid gluten. These items are not listed in any particular order, though I have a few personal preferences that I’ll mention below. Finally, remember that restaurants change their menus regularly. As a result, they may add new gluten-free options in the future or remove some of the products currently available. This is why I always recommend having a backup order ready if they’re no longer carrying your preferred foods. Check out our favorite gluten free items at Sonic! If you have a serious gluten allergy, be sure to ask your local Sonic about the possibility for cross-contamination before you eat.
*Disclaimer: Always confirm food allergen information with your local restaurant before consuming.
Fries are perhaps the iconic American food, made with Russet potatoes, fried in oil, and then seasoned. Sonic is a little more flexible than some of is competitors, offering toppings like cheese, chili, and onions, plus a selection of condiments. Make sure to check the labels of condiments for wheat when trying to avoid gluten. Beyond that, fries stand out as a gluten-free order because they’re one of the larger menu items you can order as is. That makes a real difference when you’re trying to get a good meal, so these might just become a staple of your visit.
Hamburger (No Bun)
Sonic technically prefers cheeseburgers, but they’re entirely willing to leave the cheese off on request. Without the wheat bun, a typical burger will include the patty, some diced onions, lettuce, pickles, tomato, ketchup, and mayo. It almost becomes a meat-heavy salad if you order this in a small bowl or equivalent container. For the best results, I recommend using a fork and a knife to break up the patty into smaller bits and eat that together with everything else. It’s a different experience with the same ingredients, but changing how you eat the food makes a big difference in how it tastes. Also, ask the staff to try and keep the other ingredients cold. For example, having crisper lettuce makes a big difference.
Tots are a great alternative to french fries and easily one of the best items at Sonic. I prefer them, especially because they have more texture, making them more interesting to eat. Like the regular french fries, you can order tots at Sonic with many toppings, including onions, two types of cheese, chili, or some jalapenos. Tots go quite well with condiments, and I enjoy their BBQ sauce the most. That sauce isn’t known to have gluten, so it should be a safe choice when you’re watching what you eat. A little spice and smokey flavor go further than plain ketchup, although that’s more about personal preference than anything else.
Hot Dog (No Bun)
Getting a simple hot dog is another way to help avoid gluten. Sonic’s hot dogs are made entirely with beef, and without the bun, they still usually come with onions, ketchup, mustard, and relish. Moreover, hot dogs are easily customizable, so you can leave off any toppings if you prefer. Plain hot dogs aren’t particularly good if you ask my taste buds, so I suggest keeping some of the existing toppings or modifying them with a sauce packet. A plain hot dog cut into chunks goes well with tots, too, and you can make an entire meal out of that.
Sonic often has apple slices available in-store, and this is one of the best things to order if you’re sensitive to gluten and need to minimize your chance of consuming it. Like most companies, Sonic sources its apples and packages them elsewhere. So although they might not be registered as gluten-free, the actual risk for buying these is extremely low. As I mentioned above, prepackaged food is always the safest option when trying to avoid gluten. Like other restaurants, Sonic shares equipment for its food, so it’s easy to get trace amounts of contamination. Packaged foods neatly avoid that risk.
Fritos Corn Chips
Fritos corn chips are another product you’ll often see available in-store at Sonic locations. They’re quite simple products, made exclusively with corn, corn oil, and salt. Fritos chips are specifically reported as not containing any gluten, and much like the apple slices, they come prepackaged. That makes them a safe and reliable choice. I prefer tots above corn chips if I have time to sit down and eat. Warmer food often tastes a bit better, and tots have more substance. However, a bag of Fritos can be a great choice if you need to leave quickly and want to eat elsewhere. They’ll stay fresh and ready as long as your vehicle isn’t too hot.
Sonic primarily sells eggs as part of breakfast menu items like their Bacon Breakfast Burrito, but they can also provide eggs separately on request. Freshly-cooked eggs are reliably gluten-free themselves, though remember that there may still be trace amounts from equipment contact with other food. For a better meal, you can add the eggs to tots, hot dog chunks, and diced onions, topped with their barbeque sauce. That’s getting into the territory of a genuinely decent meal, especially for breakfast, and I highly recommend it.
Bacon is similar to eggs at Sonic in that they’re usually part of another dish instead of something you buy separately. Otherwise, these largely follow the same principle as hot dogs in that they’re gluten-free to start with and don’t have much exposure, giving you a crispy and meaty option to add to your meals. I don’t recommend bacon as much as hot dogs, though, because it can be a little hard to mix into a customized meal. If you get eggs and bacon however, you have a breakfast bowl in the making! Also, the crispiness of the bacon can clash a bit with other, softer ingredients. On the other hand, it’s easy to eat the bacon separately, so this isn’t a huge demerit or anything. It’s just my personal preference after trying several variations.
Vanilla Ice Cream
Vanilla ice cream is available in both a dish and a cone at Sonic, but the cone has gluten, and we’re trying to avoid that here. The ice cream is as simple as you’d expect, consisting of a mix of milk, sugar, and a small number of other ingredients to make it smooth and tasty. Gluten isn’t one of those ingredients, so this is a great choice on a warmer day. The main downside of getting vanilla ice cream at Sonic is that it’s hard to get it for carry-out without a cone unless you bring your own dish for them. Ice cream needs a good bowl that won’t transfer heat too easily, so consider getting something like a durable glass bowl. Alternatively, their larger shakes are mostly ice cream and come in larger cups. Sonic milkshakes should be gluten free – but if your allergy is serious, you should ask them to wash the milkshake spindle before making it in case of trace amounts from other flavors.