Applebee’s Accommodates with Dairy-Free Dishes and a Vegan Burger


It’s been years since I’ve addressed this massive chain, and a recent email from a reader named KT has prompted me to revisit Applebee’s for dairy-free diners.

Emailed in from KT:

You state that Applebee’s is one that is good for “Dairy Free” option, I suggest that you revisit that posted Alergen list of theirs. I enjoy the restaurant, BUT almost nothing they serve is dairy free, even the classic hamburger has dairy, and a dressing free salad is not to my liking.

KT is right – the burger buns do contain dairy. That is unfortunate, but they do have some other great options. For burgers, my husband has had success ordering a lettuce wrap at a couple locations.

Also, they currently have several dairy-free salad dressings. At last check, you could choose to top your salad with the Dijon Honey Mustard Salad Dressing, Honey French Dressing, Lemon Olive Oil Vinaigrette, Fat Free Italian, or Chili Lime Vinaigrette. Or you can order the Thai Shrimp Salad, which was listed as dairy-free as ordered, last time I looked at their allergen chart (July 2018).

Applebee's Restaurants - dairy-free options

They also have a wide selection of wings (bone-in and boneless), ribs, and riblets which can be ordered dairy free, by choosing certain sauces or seasonings. You can enjoy them with the French fries, which are also dairy-free by ingredients. Other options I spotted included stir-fries and cedar-planked entrees. You can see their allergen chart for current choices. Just scroll to the bottom of the Applebee’s website – it is an “Allergens” link at the bottom that downloads the latest PDF.

For vegans, the options at Applebee’s are a little more sparse. You can special order steamed vegetables with no butter, a salad with no meat and a vegan dressing (like the Chili Lime Vinaigrette, Lemon Olive Oil Vinaigrette, or Fat Free Italian), or a Baked Potato with no butter (try salsa for topping!). Their French Fries and Chips & Salsa are reportedly vegan as is. But there is good news on the horizon. The Applebee’s restaurants in New  York are reportedly testing out the vegan Impossible Burger on their menu. With luck, more options will become available at all Applebee’s locations.

Applebee's Restaurants - dairy-free and vegan options

Applebee’s Allergen Disclaimer

Their allergen chart covers the top food allergens plus gluten and MSG. But as with most restaurants, shared equipment can be an issue. Applebee’s includes the following statement on their allergen chart:

Please be aware 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.

So always check with the manager to ensure they can accommodate your needs if you are dealing with a severe food allergy. Management and training can vary by location. Especially since some locations are corporate-managed and some are franchised.

Where to Find Applebee’s Restaurants

They have over 2000 locations, mostly in the United States, but a smattering of restaurants in 15 other countries. See the website below for addresses, hours, menus, and more.


Prefer to Cook In? Enjoy Hundreds of Dairy-Free Recipes:

Go Dairy Free 2nd Edition - The Ultimate Guide and Cookbook for Dairy-Free Living with Over 250 Recipes!

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About Author

Alisa is the founder of, Food Editor for Allergic Living magazine, and author of the best-selling dairy-free book, Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance, and Casein-Free Living, and the new cookbook, Eat Dairy Free: Your Essential Cookbook for Everyday Meals, Snacks, and Sweets. Alisa is also a professional recipe creator and product ambassador for the natural food industry.


  1. Mind telling me what you ordered? I’m also ovo-vegetarian and I need to go to applebees for a family dinner. I have no idea what to order.

  2. The impossible burgers have coconut oil in them as one of the top ingredients. Being dairy free and allergic to coconut can be tough since it’s not typically listed as it’s not a top 8 allergen and coconut is a common dairy substitute. Just adding info for others like me!

  3. Applebees needs to get up with the times when Chic fil A even has a Kale superfood salad their VEGAN options are non existent. Is just one vegan meal option too much to ask for?

  4. We ate at an Applebee’s yesterday and I chose dairy free options. My son (breaatfed infant) had a reaction last night throughout today, so there must have been cross contamination 🙁

    • Oh no! Did you mention cross-contamination concerns to the staff before ordering? If so, you should definitely let that location and corporate know. I’m not sure if they have allergen protocols in place.

    • I don’t trust applebees at all. They list a dish, like ribs, on the menu twice. One says it containes dairy. The other does not. I haven’t looked for awhile but it seems like there were a few other things on the menu that were listed twice and different each time.

  5. I ate at Applebee’s yesterday for lunch, and I chose a gluten free entrée, the Cedar Grilled Salmon. I ordered the artichoke spread on the side because I assumed that was the dairy portion of the entrée, and I cannot have dairy. I had a reaction yesterday so I believe there was cross contamination. So be careful if the allergen menu entrée item is marked gluten-free because it doesn’t mean that it is gluten-free.

  6. I Attended Applebee now and fortuitously I looked on the website before leaving our local restaurant did not have a copy of the list of free dairy products. They were really helpful, but I was disappointed. In addition, the number of tickets free milk is limited. I had the jalapeno lime shrimp was very good.

  7. I recently went to an Applebee’s north of Orlando. I had a simple gf pasta and had a reaction. I am not sure if I just ate too fast or if there was some cross contamination. I just went to the Applebee’s in Pelzer, SC. The hostess brought a wonderful binder with just about EVERY type of allergy and the allowed menu items for each allergy on the menu. As I am GF/CF, I just cross referenced and had a lovely meal that only left me with happy memories.

  8. I went to Applebee’s today and fortunately looked at the website before I went as our local restaurant did not have a copy of the dairy free items list. They were helpful, but I was disappointed. Also, the number of dairy free entrees is quite limited. I had the jalapeño lime shrimp which was very good. The other options were steak and the riblet basket (which our local Applebee’s did not even have on the menu).

  9. I am an ovo vegetarian and recently visited an applebees. They were very accommodating and totally went out of their way for me. I highly recommend!

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