Olive Garden is one of America’s favorite restaurant chains and the Italian-inspired restaurant is known for its delicious pasta dishes, lasagna, wine selection, salads, great-tasting apps, and delectable desserts.
Before you eat your food, though, it’s customary for your server to bring a basket of breadsticks to munch on while you’re deciding what you want to order.
So, are Olive Garden breadsticks vegan?
Yes! Olive Garden’s breadsticks are one of those “accidentally vegan” foods that weren’t intentionally made to be vegan but are vegan nonetheless.
The simple breadsticks are made using flour, water, salt, yeast, and vegetable oil. Just make sure to skip on the side of butter as butter is a dairy product that comes from cow’s milk!
In today’s post, I’m going to answer all of the vegan-related questions you’ve ever had about Olive Garden’s bread and breadsticks.
I’ll also give you guys a quick and easy-to-understand rundown of the ingredients used in Olive Garden’s breadsticks, so you can see why they’re considered a vegan-friendly appetizer.
Finally, an appetizer that vegans can enjoy guilt-free!
Is Olive Garden Garlic Bread Vegan?
Olive Garden’s breadsticks are often referred to as “garlic bread” since they come with a light garlic-and-oil mixture that’s drizzled over them. Regardless of what you call them, though, it’s the same exact menu item, meaning that they’re just as vegan-friendly as Olive Garden breadsticks.
Many people assume that Olive Garden uses garlic butter as the drizzled oil. However, this is not the case. Instead, Olive Garden uses a soybean oil base that’s flavored with minced garlic and a bit of salt.
In short, Olive Garden’s garlic bread is 100% vegan!
Does Olive Garden Bread Have Butter?
The real reason everybody is excited to go to Olive Garden is thanks to the unlimited free breadsticks that they bring out to the table.
Back in the day, when I used to go on low-carb diets, I’d always stop by Olive Garden on my cheat day and load up on all the carbs I couldn’t eat the rest of the week!
Luckily for vegans, Olive Garden breadsticks don’t contain any butter whatsoever. Unless you request otherwise, they’re traditionally topped with natural soy-based oil that’s completely vegan. Additionally, the recipe used for the breadsticks is completely butter-free.
That being said, Olive Garden waiters almost always bring out a side of spreadable butter alongside the breadsticks. While butter-and-bread is a timeless classic, butter is a non-vegan product, as it’s directly derived from dairy.
If you’re really craving something to spread on your breadsticks, some Olive Garden locations may offer a vegan-friendly vegetable oil spread that you can use instead. Just make sure to ask first. Additionally, a side of tomato-based marinara sauce tastes amazing with the breadsticks!
Does Olive Garden Bread Have Dairy?
We all love the warm, soft, fall-apart-in-your-mouth taste and texture of Olive Garden breadsticks. When it comes to baked goods, though, this texture is often the result of milk being added to the dough.
When milk is added to the dough, it makes for a sweeter-tasting, softer-textured bread. So, it’s easy to understand why some people automatically assume that Olive Garden bread uses dairy.
Thankfully, Olive Garden bread is 100% dairy-free! This means that no butter, milk, cream, milk fat, whey, casein, buttermilk, or any other milk derivatives are used in the restaurant’s breadsticks.
Do Olive Garden Breadsticks Have Cheese?
A lot of Italian restaurants top their breadsticks off with freshly grated parmesan cheese. It’s a traditional Italian appetizer that’s as old as time, so I completely understand why some vegans would be wary about Olive Garden’s breadsticks.
Olive Garden wins again! Their breadsticks are 100% cheese-free. While some customers may ask for parmesan topping on their breadsticks, they are not usually served with any parmesan or other cheeses.
If you’re really craving a cheesy flavor on your breadsticks, I recommend bringing your own little seasoning jar of nutritional yeast. This all-natural vegan seasoning is known for its savory, cheese-like flavor and for having a similar texture to parmesan cheese.
Olive Garden doesn’t offer this seasoning in their restaurants, but you can always add your own seasoning once your breadsticks have been served! The seasoning should stick to the garlic-and-oil drizzle without any issues.
What Are Olive Garden Breadsticks Made Of? Ingredients Listed
Nonetheless, here’s a quick breakdown of all of the main ingredients used to make Olive Garden’s breadsticks. They’re also very easy to make on your own at home! Check out this video for the full how-to baking tutorial:
1) Wheat Flour
Olive Garden’s breadsticks are made with an all-purpose wheat flour base. Wheat flour is 100% vegan, as it’s a plant-based food product that’s made from grinding dried wheat into a fine powder.
Filtered water is mixed with the wheat flour to create the bread dough that the breadsticks are made of. Water is always vegan!
3) Active Dry Yeast
Active dry yeast is different from nutritional yeast, which is already deactivated.
Once the active dry yeast is added to the dough, the yeast organisms feed on the sugars in the dough and release natural gasses, which cause the dough to rise as it’s sitting and as it’s cooked in the oven.
4) Vegetable Oil
Most breadstick recipes call for some form of vegetable-based cooking oil, such as canola oil or a blend of vegetable oils. This adds a bit of fat to the dough, which helps the uncooked breadsticks stay together and ensures that they cook evenly.
Salt is another common additive that’s used to balance the flavor of the bread and give it a more well-rounded taste. No matter what type of salt is used, it’s always 100% vegan!
Does Olive Garden Offer Vegan Options?
Yes! While Olive Garden has plenty of non-vegan dishes loaded down with cheese, shrimp, steak, and other ingredients, they also offer plenty of healthy, delicious, vegan-friendly options as well!
Some of my favorite vegan-friendly meals at Olive Garden include:
- Minestrone soup
- Create Your Own Pasta (with all-vegan ingredients)
- … and of course, breadsticks!
The Verdict – Olive Garden Breadsticks Are Accidentally Vegan!
Olive Garden may not have the biggest vegan-friendly menu on the market, but they certainly have lots of delicious options for vegans and vegetarians alike. I’m incredibly pleased that their famous breadsticks are always vegan.
Well, I’m getting really hungry writing this post, so I’m about to grab some lunch at Olive Garden.
In the meantime, be sure to check out my full list of the best vegan menu items at Olive Garden before your next visit!