I have had a lot of inquiries with people asking what I knew about Smashburger‘s new gluten-free offerings. I am not a big Smashburger eater (it is relatively new to the Twin Cities area and the closest one is about 30 minutes away from me), but it is a fast-casual burger and fries kind of place.
The inquiries I had were about their burgers specifically. Gluten-free eaters knew that the patties weren’t gluten free before the announcement that Udis’ buns were now on the menu, so they wondered if Smashburger was truly putting a gluten-laden burger on a gluten-free bun. So I inquired last May, then again in June. And just yesterday, July 1st I finally got an answer on burgers that are gluten free at Smashburger.
Gluten Free at Smashburger
Christine Beggan does communications for Smashburger. She explained that their burgers and chicken used to contain gluten, but when the Udi’s Gluten Free Buns came on board, that changed. “We have reformulated our burger and chicken seasoning to be gluten-free, allowing our guests to order a completely gluten-free menu option.”
This was very similar to the statement that came out in the news release last May which stated, “to meet the growing demand for gluten-free menu items, Smashburger has also reformulated the seasoning that goes on its juicy burgers and tender-marinated grilled chicken sandwiches to be gluten-free. Guests can now order a completely gluten-free entrée option, keeping in mind that some toppings available for add-ons do contain gluten and cross contamination in the kitchen may occur.”
Cross contamination gets me to the next point.
This is something you need to seriously consider if you have celiac disease or a gluten sensitivity. Beggan mentioned these cross contamination issues:
- They have Udi’s Gluten Free Buns, “however cross contact with gluten can occur when toasting the gluten free buns on the same toaster as our regular buns”
- Some of the burger toppings are not gluten free, so cross contamination could happen there too.
- The veggie burger still is not gluten free. So I have followed up with Beggan on that question about shared equipment with the burgers and chicken.
On the main page of the website, it warns about possible cross contamination as well.
Beggan did end her email response to me by saying, “While we believe this is a good option for those individuals seeking to lower the amount of gluten in their diet, we cannot ensure that some gluten will not come in contact with their meal in our kitchen and therefore do not recommend this product for those with an allergy to gluten.”
Michael from GlutenFreePhilly.com has a son with celiac. He says they have no issues when they go to their local Smashburger. They ask the staff to clean the grill and “toast” the Udi’s bun on the grill rather than in the toaster. But he admits whether your Smashburger will do that for you is dependent on your location, management, time of day, how busy the place is, etc. It might not work all the time.
Aside from the burgers, the Smashburger’s website says the french fries are not gluten free, as they can be cross contaminated in the oil during frying. I did ask Ms. Beggan this question during my original email, but she didn’t answer it. I have re-asked with the hope of getting some information soon.
My recommendation is that if you have celiac or gluten sensitivity, Smashburger unfortunately isn’t for you.
Bummed about this news and still have a hankering for a gluten-free burger and fries? Try Red Robin (GF bun and GF fries) or Five Guys Burgers and Fries (no bun, but burgers are GF and so are the french fries). Any other ideas on reliable places to go for a gluten-free burger and fries? Feel free to comment below.