Applebee’s Accommodates Dairy-Free Guests with Various Dishes


Last Update in August 2021! Applebee’s has made some improvements for dairy-free diners over the years. They have several dairy-free salad dressings, and they even boast a few regular mains with no substitutions needed. But we dug deeper to uncover those special order options too. Our dairy-free menu guide includes appetizers, salads, main dishes, and sides available at Applebee’s.

Applebee's Dairy-Free Menu Guide with Custom Order Options

Applebee’s Dairy-Free Menu Guide with Custom Order Options

The vegan options at Applebee’s are still limited. A few years back, they began testing an Impossible Burger on their menu in New York locations. It hasn’t really taken hold. But Applebee’s does have a mostly meaty selection for dairy-free diners. In many cases, you need to custom order slightly. We’ve included those notes to make the process easier for you.

Important Note: Applebee’s allergen menu has flip-flopped a bit due to the “butter” they use. The margarine they sourced did contain dairy, but then they changed it for a dairy-free brand. Now their menu shows both. And of course, it’s possible that some regional managers might opt to source real butter. Before placing your order, confirm if any “butter” is used and if it’s safe for your needs.


  • Chips & Salsa (not on the appetizer menu separately, but available)
  • Chips & Guacamole (not on the appetizer menu, but available)
  • Boneless Wings, Plain or with Classic Hot Buffalo, Extra Hot Buffalo, Honey BBQ, Honey Pepper, or Sweet Asian Chile Sauce (no dressing)
  • Double Crunch Bone-In Wings, Plain or with Classic Hot Buffalo, Extra Hot Buffalo, Honey BBQ, Honey Pepper, or Sweet Asian Chile Sauce (no dressing)
  • Brew Pub Pretzels with Honey Mustard Dip (no beer cheese dip)

Heads Up! The slaw on the Grilled Chicken Wonton Tacos at Applebee’s contains milk. The Breadsticks themselves are dairy-free, but they do use a garlic butter sauce that contains a small amount of milk. Sorry, the Onion Rings contain whey! All of the dressings they typically serve with the wings contain milk, but you can request a dressing from the options below, or simply an extra side of the wing sauce.


  • Tuscan Garden Chicken Salad
  • Grilled Chicken Salad (no cheese, no breadstick)
  • House Salad (no cheese; see crouton note below)
  • Oriental Grilled Chicken Salad (no breadstick, sub dairy-free dressing)
  • Strawberry Balsamic Chicken Salad (no breadstick)

Dairy-Free Salad Dressings: Dijon Honey Mustard, Fat Free Italian, Honey French, Lemon Olive Oil Vinaigrette, Thousand Island

Heads Up! The croutons at Applebee’s appear to be dairy-free, but verify before ordering. The Oriental Dressing surprisingly contains dairy.

Steaks & Ribs

  • Applebee’s Riblets Plate with Honey BBQ or Sweet Asian Chile (order dairy-free sides)
  • Double-Glazed Baby Back Ribs with Honey BBQ or Sweet Asian Chile (order dairy-free sides)
  • 6 oz. Top Sirloin (order dairy-free sides)
  • 8 oz. Top Sirloin (order dairy-free sides)
  • 12 oz. Ribeye (order dairy-free sides)

Heads Up! Be sure that no dairy butter is used for grilling the meat. This isn’t standard practice with Applebee’s, but individual locations can take liberties. They have used a dairy-free butter alternative in the past, which they might still use for grilling.


  • Grilled Chicken Breast (order dairy-free sides)

Heads Up! The Chicken Tenders and Bourbon Street Chicken at Applebee’s do contain milk. The Fiesta Lime Chicken meal might be dairy-free without cheese and ranch sauce, check with your server.


  • Grilled Salmon
  • Blackened Cajun Salmon (no butter, order dairy-free sides)
  • Blackened Shrimp (no butter; this is available as an add-on, not an entrée)

Heads Up! The Fish & Chips and Double Crunch Shrimp at Applebee’s do contain dairy in the batter.


  • Southwest Chicken Bowl
  • Tex-Mex Shrimp Bowl

Burgers, Sandwiches & Wraps

  • Classic Burger (see Heads Up! below)
  • Clubhouse Grille (no cheese; see Heads Up! below)
  • Oriental Grilled Chicken Salad Wrap (sub dairy-free dressing)

Substitutions and Add-Ons: You can substitute a lettuce wrap for the bun, their Chicken Breast Patty for the Burger, or add Bacon or another Burger Patty to your burger.

Heads Up! The butter alternative used on their buns and bread is still dairy-free by ingredients, and their buns are still showing as dairy-free by ingredients. BUT, Applebee’s now lists their burgers and sandwiches as all containing milk. We contacted a representative of Applebee’s, and they let us know, “Milk was added to the allergens due to a potential temporary product substitution for the brioche bun for national supply shortages.” It seems some locations still have the dairy-free brioche buns, while some have the temporary substitution. Check at your location to verify which bun is available if you want a dairy-free burger. Or, you can opt for a lettuce wrap. Note, the Whiskey Sauce on the Whiskey Bacon Burger does contain real butter.

Sides & Extras

  • Classic Fries
  • Baked Potato (plain, no toppings)
  • Steamed Broccoli (no butter)
  • Spanish Rice (not on the menu separately, but available)

Heads Up! The Garlicky Green Beans, Cole Slaw, and Onion Rings do contain milk. All of the Applebee’s Soups also contain dairy. The Breadsticks themselves are dairy-free, but they do use a garlic butter sauce that contains a small amount of milk. You might be able to order them without the butter sauce.

Additional Sauces

  • Guacamole
  • Honey BBQ Sauce
  • Honey Dijon Mustard
  • House-Made Pico De Gallo
  • Marinara Sauce

Kids Menu

  • Kids Corn Dog
  • Kids Chicken Taco (no cheese)
  • Kids Burger (no cheese; see Heads Up! in Burger section above)
  • Kids Grilled Chicken Pasta (sub marinara sauce, no cheese)
  • Applesauce
  • Broccoli
  • Fries

Heads Up! The Chicken Tenders do contain milk in the batter.

Fruit Smoothies (also in Kids Sizes)

  • Mango Smoothie
  • Strawberry Banana Smoothie
  • Wildberry Smoothie

This Post is for Informational Purposes Only

Menus, ingredients, kitchen procedures, management, and restaurants are subject to change at any time. Always read the menu and discuss your dietary needs with the staff before ordering. Make sure that they can accommodate your situation. This post is for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as advice.

There is always a risk for potential cross-contamination of allergens in any commercial kitchen. If cross-contamination is an issue for you, always speak with the manager to ensure that your meal can be safely prepared. Listings here do not guarantee that a restaurant is safe enough for your individual needs. Only you can make that decision.

Please note that every location of a chain restaurant has different management and different staff, and some are individually owned. Some ingredients might be sourced locally, or liberties might be taken in preparation. Always verify that an item is safe for your needs before ordering.

Applebee's Dairy-Free Menu Guide with Custom Order Options

Where to Find Applebee’s Restaurants

Applebee’s has over 2000 locations, mostly in the United States, but a smattering of restaurants in 15 other countries. See the website below for addresses, hours, and online ordering.


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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!