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.

Smashburger's website promoting its addition of GF buns

Smashburger’s website promoting its addition of GF buns

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: 

  1. 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”
  2. Some of the burger toppings are not gluten free, so cross contamination could happen there too.
  3. 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.

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7 Responses to “Gluten Free at Smashburger: What you should know”

  1. I find this kind of advertising so irresponsible and infuriating. I ran into a similar situation at FlipBurger in Atlanta recently: gluten-free buns, burgers, and many toppings, but the buns are toasted in the same area as the non-GF buns. So, in the end, your meal is not GF. Why go to such lengths to reformulate recipes and introduce safe products, but then ruin the whole process with cross-contamination?

  2. In and Out (CA, AZ, UT, TX and NV) are very good about offering GF fries and burger (no bun, though) and are very contentious about making sure there is no cross contamination. Even their shakes are GF!

  3. There is a place here that has locations randomly through the US called The Counter Burger (http://www.thecounterburger.com/) that has amazing gluten free burgers with GF buns, fries in their own fryer, and GF chili as well. I love it there.

    Another recent chain we’ve got in our area with a GF fryer for fries and burgers in Elevation Burger (http://www.elevationburger.com/). I don’t think the food there tastes as good as when I had Smashburger pre-celiac diagnosis, as it’s very similar with the fast casual, but not fast food setting, but it is still good. They have random locations scattered throughout the US as well.

  4. Lion’s Tap has GF fries! All they do is burgers and fries so there is no chance that anything else will be fried in the oil. They do not have GF buns so you’ll have to go bunless. I keep meaning to talk to them about the idea of keeping some GF buns in the freezer but since our celiac daughter isn’t crazy about buns anyway I forget to bring it up.

  5. Larkburger is great for gluten free food. They have GF buns and GF ice cream cones. Everything is GF except for the regular buns and I think one add-on. So its a great place to have a GF burger and fries and even a cone if you have room.

  6. I’m fortunate that this small amount of cross-contamination won’t affect me. Keep in mind that restaurants often make similar disclaimers and won’t guarantee gluten free dining. It’s as much a liability issue as anything else.

  7. The owners of these food chains are CHEAP & DUMB……… First of all I wish they would stop calling it “GLUTEN”, call it what it is “GLUE”, “ELMERS GLUE”, to be exact! Its what they use on the back of stamps & envelopes to seal the envelopes shut! No joke thats the scary truth…….. Anyone who keeps eating this disgusting poison & feeding it to their kids should be locked up “They are certifiable”! These companies make me sick & thats before I eat their food! After I eat their “ELMERS GLUE” I mean food I have no comment because Im dead! Anyway, Why not just have a separate area to prepare gluten free foods for people that don’t like to eat “ELMERS GLUE”……… Plus, the fries should be made in there own fryer at all fast food chains at the very least……….. These billionaires are cheap & only care about their wallets……. The truth is if they were smart they would be 10 steps ahead & change with society…….. Everyone I know is going gluten free because when you know better you do better…….. Just like with cigarettes once people realized & became educated about the damage it does to your body people (slowly), gave up cigarettes & now most people won’t go near the stuff! If this company was smart they would realize that 10 years from now only the dummys will still be eating “ELMERS GLUE”!

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