Known for its juicy burgers, exciting meal deals, and cheap cocktails, Applebee’s lives up to the claim its slogan makes – Eatin’ Good in the Neighborhood. But, there’s one more thing that attracts people to Applebee’s, and that is its late-night happy hour.
What could be better than winding down with your friends while enjoying your favorite drinks at reduced prices? Isn’t it the perfect way to end your stressful days? It sure is! No wonder the restaurant has a huge following.
Applebee’s is a great place to hang out with family and friends in a casual environment and to get your dose of mainstream American dishes. But, that’s for a person with no dietary restrictions. Can vegans say the same? Does Applebee’s have a vegan menu? Let’s dig into the restaurant’s menu and find out all about Applebee’s vegan options!
Does Applebee’s Have Vegan Options?
Applebee’s does not have an exclusive vegan menu, but its standard menu does include some plant-based options. There are also a few food items that vegans can get customized according to their dietary restrictions. Keep reading to find out what those menu items are and how you should go about ordering them vegan,
Warning – Don’t get your hopes too high!
What Can Vegans Eat at Applebee’s?
With customization, you can get the following vegan options at Applebee’s:
- French Fries
- Chips & Salsa
- Crispy Red Potatoes
- Baked Potato – requires custom order
- Salads – require a custom order
- Steamed Broccoli – requires custom order
- Impossible Burger – at selected locations
- Southwest Chicken Bowl
- Vegan Sauces
- Beverages (there’s a surprise here! Keep reading to find it out!)
It’s important to note that Applebee’s, just like many other restaurants, doesn’t claim any of its products to be vegan or vegetarian due to the potential risk of cross-contamination. If this is a deal-breaker for you, you may want to avoid fried items or eating at Applebee’s altogether, depending on your concept of veganism and commitment to the ideology.
Applebee’s Vegan Options – A Detailed Breakdown
Let’s quickly look at each plant-based item on Applebee’s menu to find out what ingredients they contain and what special instructions some of them need while ordering to eliminate non-vegan ingredients.
Ah! The good ol’ friend of vegans that always comes to rescue when we’re in trouble. They are vegan, majority of the time; sadly, some restaurants even make fries non-vegan by cooking them in animal fat. That’s not the case at Applebee’s, though.
Applebee’s fries are cooked in vegetable oil. However, they may be cooked in shared fryers. If this isn’t something you’re much troubled about, go ahead and order yourself some freshly cooked French fries at Applebee’s.
▪ Chips & Salsa
Are you tired of eating French fries at every non-vegan restaurant? Take a break from your usual order and get yourself chips and salsa when eating vegan at Applebee’s. Corn tortilla chips with fresh housemade salsa (isn’t your mouth watering yet?) will be a perfect beginning to your vegan meal at Applebee’s.
▪ Neighborhood Nachos
Find chips and salsa a little underwhelming? Order Applebee’s Neighborhood Nachos and enjoy an elevated version of tortilla chips. In this dish, tortilla chips come topped with seasoned ground beef or chipotle lime chicken, pico de gallo, sour cream, guacamole queso, cheddar, jalapenos, and cilantro.
When eating vegan at Applebee’s, get it without beef or chicken (of course), cheddar cheese, queso, and sour cream. You may also get bean and corn salsa added to it for an extra burst of flavor and texture.
▪ Classic Dip Trio
Another version of tortilla chips on Applebee’s menu, this dish, as the name suggests, comes with three dips. You will, however, have to make it a dip duo because one of them is non-vegan.
Applebee’s Classic Dip Trio comes standard with white corn tortilla chips, chipotle lime salsa, guacamole, and white queso. Skip the queso and enjoy your chips with fresh housemade salsa and guac.
▪ Crispy Red Potatoes
Applebee’s officials say (on their website) that their crispy red potatoes do not contain dairy, the only suspected non-vegan ingredient in the dish. This makes them vegan-friendly. Many other online sources also confirm the vegan status of Applebee’s Crispy Red Potatoes. However, to be on the safe side, I would recommend confirming with your server at the time of ordering.
▪ Baked Potato
If you prefer to eat healthily (even when dining out), watching your diet, or in the mood for a classic potato dish that is not French fries, baked potato is your best option. Just make sure to specify your dietary restrictions to the server and order it without butter when eating vegan at Applebee’s.
Applebee’s offers a few different types of salads, all of which can technically be ordered vegan by skipping chicken and swapping non-vegan dressings with their vegan counterparts. Not all vegan-ized Applebee’s salads will make exciting options, though. Despite that, I am listing all of them below with instructions for getting them made vegan, so you know all your options.
Here’s a quick brief on how to order a vegan salad at Applebee’s:
▪ House Salad
This is pretty much your standard House Salad with greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, cheese, and croutons. But, it also has bacon and comes with your choice of dressing. When ordering vegan at Applebee’s, ask them to hold the bacon, croutons, and cheese and choose a vegan-friendly salad dressing (options listed below).
▪ Oriental Chicken Salad
This salad is available in two varieties, but it doesn’t matter for us vegans because the only difference is how chicken is cooked. One has breaded fried chicken, while the other has grilled chicken. We are going to omit that anyway. Other ingredients in Applebee’s Oriental Chicken Salad are Asian greens, rice noodles, and almonds.
These come tossed in housemade oriental vinaigrette, which is non-vegan; it contains mayonnaise (and probably honey as well). So, make sure to ask them to replace the oriental vinaigrette with a vegan-friendly salad dressing on Applebee’s menu.
Note – You may also get this salad in the form of a wrap, with same modifications.
▪ Crispy Chicken Tender Salad
As the name suggests, the star of this salad is chicken. But, it also contains a couple of more culprits – cheese and honey (in dressing). When you skip both these ingredients, you’re left with a boring mix of salad greens and tomatoes. Not something one would like to order unless it’s the only vegan-friendly option on the menu and you’re extremely hungry.
▪ Strawberry Balsamic Chicken Salad
This is another Applebee’s salad with chicken as the main ingredient. But, it’s a much better option than the one we just discussed. It contains salad greens tossed in vegan-friendly lemon olive oil vinaigrette, red onions, and garden tomatoes. These core salad ingredients are topped with strawberries, almonds, and balsamic glaze drizzle, which is also vegan.
The freshness of vegetables combines with the slight tanginess of strawberries and the sweetness of dressing to give this salad an incredibly delicious combination of flavors. This is not only the best vegan salad option at Applebee’s, but is also the easiest to get customized according to a vegan diet. All you have to do is to ask them to hold the chicken.
▪ Tuscan Garden Chicken Salad
This is a basic salad with mixed greens, red onions, bruschetta tomatoes, and cucumbers. But, what gives it a burst of flavor is the sweetness from light lemon olive oil vinaigrette and citrusy goodness from lemon, both of which come on the side and are vegan-friendly.
▪ Steamed Broccoli
Steamed broccoli is a vegetable side available at a lot of restaurants. However, contrary to what you may think, it’s not always vegan-friendly. At some restaurants, they top the broccoli with butter to add some flavor, making it unsuitable for vegans.
It seems to be the case at Applebee’s as well because, according to the restaurant’s allergen menu, this vegetable side contains dairy. There’s no other way dairy can get into steamed broccoli.
Therefore, when ordering vegan at Applebee’s, make sure to tell your dietary preferences to the server and ask to hold the butter. It can be done easily because they only add butter to the broccoli after it’s cooked.
▪ Impossible Burger
Now that we have talked about all the vegan appetizers and sides let’s come to the most interesting item on Applebee’s menu – the Impossible Burger!
It’s a new addition to Applebee’s vegan menu. However, it’s in the testing phase at the moment and is only available at selected locations in New York. If you live in the Big Apple, get your hands on this Applebee’s vegan burger. But, make sure to confirm if they are using vegan cheese in it. Otherwise, ask to hold the cheese.
▪ Southwest Chicken Bowl
Don’t live in New York? Don’t lose heart! Southwest Chicken Bowl is another great-tasting and filling item on Applebee’s menu that can be ordered vegan. All you need to make this delicious food option vegan-friendly is to order it without chicken.
You will get a hearty and delicious bowl filled with cilantro rice and mixed greens topped with black bean and corn salsa, guacamole, chimichurri sauce, housemade pico de gallo, tortilla strips, and lime wedge.
▪ Vegan Toppings, Sauces, Dressings, and Condiments at Applebee’s
Eating vegan at Applebee’s can be quite boring, especially at locations where Impossible Burger isn’t available because there are only a few vegan options available. But, you can add more flavor to your Applebee’s vegan food by getting any of the following toppings, sauces, and condiments:
- Steamed Broccoli
- Grilled Onions (doesn’t appear as a separate item on Applebee’s menu, but can be ordered)
- Baby Carrots (without sauce)
- Chunky Roma Pepper Relish
- Black Bean Corn Salsa
- Pice de Gallo
- Sweet Asian Chile Sauce
- Classic Hot Buffalo Sauce
- Sweet & Spicy Sauce
- Applebee’s Classic Sauce
- Chimichurri Sauce
- Lemon Olive Oil Vinaigrette
- Chili Lime Vinaigrette
- Champagne Vinaigrette
- Fat-Free Italian Dressing
- Balsamic Glaze
- Applesauce, from the kids’ menu
▪ Vegan Beverages at Applebee’s
Applebee’s offers quite a good range of drink options. Not all of them are suitable for plant-eaters, but quite a few are
Here’s the list of all your Applebee’s vegan drinks options:
- Diet Coke
- Coca-Cola Zero Sugar
- Barq’s Root Beer
- Fruit Punch
- Red Bull
- Frozen Lemonades
- Ginger Ale
- Decaf Coffee
- Hot Tea
- Fresh Brewed Iced Tea
- Fruit Flavored Iced Teas
- Top-Shelf Long Island Iced Tea
- Blue Hawaiian Long Island Iced Tea
- Perfect Margarita
- Perfect Patron Margarita
- Captain Bahama Mama
- Shark Bowl
- Strawberry Mucho Margarita
- Mucho White Sangria
- Mucho Red Sangria
Waiting for the surprise I mentioned at the beginning of the article? Here you go:
The fruit smoothies available at Applebee’s are vegan-friendly. The restaurant’s allergen menu lists them as dairy-free, which is both surprising and exciting. Your vegan fruit smoothie options at Applebee’s include:
- Mango Smoothie
- Wildberry Smoothie
- Strawberry Banana Smoothie
While these smoothies are listed as vegan-friendly on Applebee’s website, I would recommend confirming their vegan status at the time of ordering.
Applebee’s Menu Items That May Look Vegan, But Are Not
Following are some items on Applebee’s menu that might be mistaken as vegan-friendly by some people, but they actually contain non-vegan ingredients, so make sure to steer clear of them:
- French Onion Soup – contains milk
- Tomato Basil Soup – contains milk
- Signature Cole Slaw – contains eggs and milk
- Toasted Brioche Bun – contains eggs and milk
- Breadsticks – contain dairy
- Garlicky Green Beans – contain dairy
- Fire-Grilled Veggies – contain dairy
Applebee’s Vegan Options FAQs
Let’s answer the questions that you may still have about Applebee’s vegan menu to clear all your confusions and make it clear what you can and cannot eat at the chain restaurant.
▪ Is Applebee’s pasta vegan?
Sadly, none of the pasta varieties available at Applebee’s is suitable for a vegan diet. Although the pasta they use is categorized as vegan-friendly by numerous online sources, their preparation involves using animal ingredients. All is Applebee’s pasta varieties include cheese and/or meat.
▪ Are Applebee’s Onion Rings vegan?
Applebee’s onion rings are not vegan. According to the restaurant’s allergen menu, they contain dairy.
▪ Are Applebee’s tortilla chips vegan?
Applebee’s tortilla chips do not contain any non-vegan ingredients. However, they are likely cooked in shared fryers. If this is something you are highly concerned about, make sure to confirm while ordering.
▪ Does Applebee’s have vegan desserts?
Unfortunately, Applebee’s doesn’t offer any vegan dessert. Everything on Applebee’s dessert menu contains dairy.
Conclusion – Is Applebee’s Vegan Friendly?
Applebee’s may have a cult following, but when it comes to vegan-friendliness, it’s pretty average. The restaurant doesn’t offer many vegan options, and the few plant-based food varieties that are on the menu are primarily sides.
Having said that, Applebees’ isn’t the worst place for vegans as well.
You can order a decent vegan meal for yourself here, even if you don’t live in New York, where they offer the legendary vegan burger, the Impossible burger. Get yourself a customized Southwest Bowl with a side of fries, tortilla chips, or the good ol’ French fries (stick to baked potato if you’re concerned about cross-contamination), a couple of vegan sauces, and, if you have a big appetite, a customized vegan salad too. Don’t forget to try out their vegan fruit smoothies!
If you still have some confusion, check out the following video to learn how to order vegan at Applebee’s…
Did you find this article helpful? Are you interested to learn about the vegan options available at other popular restaurant chains as well? Check out my article Outback Steakhouse Vegan to find out if the restaurant specializing in meat dishes has anything for non-meat-eaters!