They say no one does comfort food like Midwesterners. And knowing what the region has to offer, I couldn’t agree more.
From butter-based burgers and Cincinnati chili to butter cakes and frozen custard, the Midwest offers an amazing array of delicious comfort food. Culver’s play an important role in it.
A fast-food chain with about 850 locations (mainly in the Midwest) and close to 40 years in the business – you have to give the credit where it’s due.
But, what we are more interested in is if there are Culver’s vegan options. The restaurant may offer an endless variety of amazing foods. But, it won’t be of any use to us if there aren’t any meatless, egg-free, and dairy-free options.
So, let’s find out if one of America’s most loved burger chains (Restaurant Business’s annual list, 2017) has anything in store for us.
Is There Anything Vegan at Culver’s?
For the unfamiliar, Culver’s is known for its ButterBurgers, Frozen Custard, and Cheese Curds (it’s a Wisconsin-based eatery; they had to have it). They also have chicken sandwiches, seafood dinners, shakes, malts, and floats.
Do you still wanna know if there are vegan options at Culver’s?
If this doesn’t give you an idea about the kind of menu Culver’s has, let me put out the options, so you know what all is there for you as a vegan.
What’s Vegan at Culver’s?
Vegan-friendly foods at Culver’s include the following:
- Crinkle-Cut Fries*
- Steamed Broccoli
- A couple of bread options
- Salads – with modifications
- Sauces and Dressings
- Some Condiments, Toppings, and Mix-Ins
That’s literally it!
That’s all that you can eat at Culver’s as a vegan. It’s a disappointing situation. But, it is what it is.
Let’s follow our usual practice and discuss each of Culver’s vegan options separately to see what choices you have in each category and what modifications some of them require to be made vegan. Keep reading to get a clear picture of Culver’s vegan menu.
Culver’s Vegan Options – A Detailed Overview
Let’s dig into Culver’s menu to get more information about whatever egg-free and dairy-free plant-based items the restaurant has:
For vegans, fries are often the saving grace at fast-food chains. It’s the same at Culver’s, except that here, they come with a clear warning of cross-contamination.
Need I say more?
If you’re okay with food cooked in shared equipment, go ahead and fill yourself up with these crinkle-cut fries at Culver’s.
But, if you’re not comfortable eating such food, especially when you clearly know that it’s cooked in the same pan as meat products, your options basically get limited to just salads and drinks.
Note – Several online sources say that Culver’s also offers sweet potato fries. However, I didn’t see them listed on the restaurant menu or on the allergen guide given on the website.
So, they are either only available at selected locations or discontinued. Check your local Culver’s menu or ask the server to confirm.
Even if sweet potato fried are available at your local Culver’s, remember that they must also be cooked in shared fryers. So, make your decision with that in mind.
This is what just the name says – plain, steamed broccoli. Vegan (with no strings attached) and healthy. But would you really want to order steamed broccoli while dining at a restaurant?
The only reason I can imagine myself ordering it is to make my salad healthier and more nutritious. But, of course, you do you. There’s no one stopping you from ordering these plain steamed broccoli florets on their own.
Culver’s Vegan Breads
Culver’s offers a couple of vegan-friendly bread choices. These include:
- Rotella’s Gluten-Free Bun
- Dinner Rolls
While these aren’t of much value since there is no vegan patty available. But, if you’re really hungry and can’t do with a salad, you can use them to make your own veggie sandwich (of sorts).
Important – Make sure to order the bread non-toasted/grilled because, as per the restaurant’s website, they use the same grill for bread and beef.
Culver’s offers four different types of “fresh salads” and a “side salad.” None of them comes standard as vegan-friendly, but can be made upon request. Don’t get your hopes up too high, though; the options aren’t’ very exciting.
Here are your choices with instructions on how you can order them vegan:
- Chicken Cashew Salad with Grilled Chicken – Contains mixed greens, grape tomatoes, cucumbers, cashews, Wisconsin cheddar, and grilled chicken. Ask them to hold the chicken and cheese when ordering vegan at Culver’s.
- Cranberry Bacon Bleu Salad with Grilled Chicken – This one also has the same ingredients, except cranberries. So, if you prefer cranberries over cashews, you may want to order this instead of the Cashew Salad. Just make sure to order it without chicken and blue cheese.
- Garden Fresco Salad – When ordered vegan, this Culver’s salad will also be pretty much the same as the other two, in fact, a little more boring than them. It has mixed greens, grape tomatoes, cucumbers, Wisconsin cheddar, and croutons. You will need to hold the last two ingredients when eating vegan at Culver’s, so you’ll be left with the same core ingredients.
- Garden Fresco Salad with Grilled Chicken – It’s the Fresco salad with chicken, so you better just skip it and order the one that comes without meat.
- Side Salad – The only difference between the Garden Fresco Salad and this is perhaps the size because they have all the same ingredients – mixed greens, tomatoes, cucumber, cheddar, and croutons.
So, basically, all of Culver’s salads are more or less the same. They don’t have much to offer. But, since you don’t have any other food choices, you have to make do with these boring salads when eating here.
If you ask me, I would recommend getting any of the first two options; they at least have a little something extra.
Culver’s Vegan Sauces and Dressings
Here are your vegan-friendly choices for sauces and salad dressings to add some flavor to your boring Culver’s food and make it a little interesting:
- Frank’s RedHot Buffalo Dipping Sauce
- Sweet Baby Rays’ BBQ Sauce
- Spicy Brown Mustard
- Yellow Mustard
- Culver’s Vinaigrette
- Ken’s Raspberry Vinaigrette
- Mott’s Applesauce – from the kid’s menu
*Some third-party sources list a few more options for vegan sauces at Culver’s. But, these are the only vegan options I found on the menu given online.
Culver’s Vegan Condiments, Toppings, and Mix-Ins
Here are a few more options to make your Culver’s vegan salad flavorful. You can also use them to put together your own vegan veggie burger at Culver’s:
- Dill Pickle
- Red Onions Rings
- Shredded Lettuce
- Tomato Slices
- Peach Halves
- Marshmallow Crème
- Maraschino Cherries
- Wild Cherries
- Mango Fruit Infusion
- Oreo Cookie Crumbs
- Peanut Butter
- Sugar Cookies
*Culver’s also offers Granola Clusters. While these seem to be vegan-friendly, I would recommend confirming that they do not contain honey with your server.
Culver’s Vegan Beverages
Culver’s brings you a great variety of handcrafted shakes, malts, floats, and concrete mixers (their signature drinks are similar to ice cream shakes).
There are some irresistible options. But, sadly, none of them is vegan-friendly. So, you’re basically left with just the usual options.
Here are all your choices for vegan beverages at Culver’s:
- Diet Pepsi
- Wild Cherry Pepsi
- Mountain Dew
- Diet Mountain Dew
- Dr. Pepper
- Diet Dr. Pepper
- Culver’s Root Beer
- Culver’s Diet Root Beer
- Sierra Mist
- Tropicana Pink Lemonade
- Tropicana Fruit Punch
- Mott’s 100% Apple Juice – from the kid’s menu
- Fresh Brewed Tea
- Fresh Brewed Sweet Tea
Note – According to multiple online sources, Culver’s also offers a slushie kind of a drink called Lemon Ice, and it’s vegan-friendly.
While I couldn’t find it on the restaurant’s menu or allergen guide, you can always try your luck by asking the server. You may be able to get it. It apparently comes on the menu for a limited time only (in summers, I presume).
Culver’s Menu Items That May Look Vegan, But Are Not
Be clear of the following items when eating vegan at Culver’s. They may appear to be vegan-friendly but contain animal ingredients:
- Zesty Avocado Dressing – Contains both milk and eggs
- Ken’s Country French Dressing – Contains honey
- Horseradish Sauce – Contains egg
- Coleslaw – Contains egg
- Onion Rings – Contain dairy
- Tomato Florentine Soup – Contains egg and dairy
- Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups – Contain milk
Culver’s Vegan Menu FAQs
- Are Culver’s pretzel bites vegan?
The vegan status of Culver’s pretzel bites is not clear. The restaurant’s allergen menu tells that they contain dairy, but then they come with cheese sauce on the side, which seems to be the source of milk.
I couldn’t get my hands on the ingredients list for pretzel bites, so I can’t say it for sure, but I feel they may be vegan-friendly. Ask your local Culver’s to confirm.
It’s important to note here that even if Culver’s pretzel bites do not have any animal ingredients, they are likely cooked in shared equipment, so there is the risk of cross-contamination. Just wanted to clarify in case it’s important to you.
- Is Culver’s veggie burger vegan?
As much as we wished for it, Culver’s veggie burger turns out to be non-vegan. The veggie patty apparently has dairy in it.
- Does Culver’s have a vegan burger?
It does not. Culver’s may be one of the best burger chains in America, but they do not offer any vegan-friendly burgers.
Badly craving a vegan burger and have no options available nearby? You can always make one at home. Check out the following video for a simple recipe for a vegan burger with detailed guidelines on how to go about making it.
You can do it even if you have never stepped into the kitchen ever before; it’s that easy. So, what are you waiting for? See the video, gather your supplies, and get started.
Conclusion – Is Culver’s Vegan-Friendly?
It’s certainly not.
Even though Culver’s management says that it’s a cook-to-order restaurant and they happily accommodate their customers’ requests, it doesn’t change the fact that they have literally no real food options for vegans.
Even their fries are cooked in the same oil as their meat products. So, their whole cook-to-order offer is of no use to us.
It wouldn’t be wrong to say that Culver’s is one of those places a vegan would never want to go. But, if you happen to be there some time with anyone else, you at least know the few things you can eat there.
Did you find this article helpful? Interested to learn about vegan options at other fast food places? Check out my article Hardee’s Vegan Menu to find out what this chain restaurant known for its Thickburgers has in store for its vegan diners.