If there is one place you can rely on for good breakfast (and by good, I mean Grand Slam) at any hour of the day or night, for that matter, it’s Denny’s.
Started as a donut and coffee shop in California more than half a century ago, Denny’s is a go-to place for many people because it’s always open and serves their entire menu all day long. This means diners have plenty of options to choose from.
Is it the same for vegans? Does Denny’s have vegan options?
Let’s dig into the restaurant’s menu and find out all about Denny’s vegan options!
Is There Anything Vegan at Denny’s?
Denny’s has a pretty extensive menu, which, at first glance, can appear non-vegan friendly. But, when you look closely, you’ll find quite a few plant-based food options. Moreover, Denny’s recently announced that it’s looking to diversify its breakfast menu for vegan diners.
The news, unsurprisingly, has been well-received in the vegan community because we really need some good vegan alternatives to traditional breakfast items.
This is the second vegan-friendly news that has come from Denny’s in the past few years. The first was the inclusion of Beyond Burger to their menu in October 2019 (it’s not 100% vegan-friendly, though. Keep reading to learn how it can be made vegan).
What Are the Vegan Options at Denny’s?
Since Denny’s doesn’t have a separate vegan menu, it can be a little difficult for many to find 100% plant-based options. Searching through a large menu to find vegan options can also be an exhaustive process. To make sure you don’t have to spend too much time finding vegan-friendly options on Denny’s menu, I am going to list them all here for your convenience.
Vegan options at Denny’s include:
- Grits – requires customization
- Baked Potato – requires customization
- Hash Browns
- Bread or Toast – a few varieties
- Buns – a few varieties
- English Muffin – Regular
- Plain Bagel
- Skillets – require customization
- Seasoned Fries
- Wavy-Cut French Fries
- Tortilla Chips
- Garden Side Salad
- Extra Vegetables
- Whole Grain Rice Blend
- Beyond Burger – requires customization
- Mixed Fruit Cup
- Vegan Toppings, Sauces, and Condiments
Now that we know what can vegans eat at Denny’s, let’s briefly discuss each of these items to find out if they contain any non-vegan or controversial ingredients, what customizations some of them require, and if there’s anything else you need to be careful about when eating vegan at Denny’s. I will also address any questions and concerns that may remain unanswered during the article in the last section.
So, keep reading to learn all about how to eat vegan at Denny’s.
It’s important to note that this Denny’s vegan menu is prepared using the restaurant’s allergen menu and a few other reliable online sources, including PETA. However, chain restaurant’s menu may differ slightly across various locations, so you may not necessarily find all these vegan options at your local Denny’s, or perhaps find some more customizable options.
Denny’s Vegan Options – A Detailed Breakdown
Let’s begin our discussion with vegan breakfast options at Denny’s. First off, we have oatmeal, the classic healthy breakfast option. While it’s not something you would prefer to order at a restaurant, it makes a great option for having breakfast on the go.
On days when you don’t have time to cook breakfast or don’t feel like making it, make a quick stop at Denny’s and grab oatmeal for a healthy, filling morning meal.
Oatmeal at Denny’s is vegan, according to the restaurant’s allergen guide. However, it’s always recommended to tell your dietary preferences at the time of order to make sure they are careful while preparing it, and no dairy makes its way into your oatmeal.
Want a healthy vegan breakfast option but not in the mood for oatmeal? Try Denny’s grits!
The corn porridge makes another good option for health-conscious vegans. It tastes fine too.
Grits is made vegan at Denny’s; however, they add a butter blend to it after cooking. Therefore, when eating vegan at Denny’s, make sure to order it “without dairy.”
▪ Baked Potato
Unlike many other restaurants, Denny’s doesn’t coat their baked potatoes in animal fat. They do, however, come standard topped with a couple of non-vegan ingredients, i.e., sour cream and cheese. You can order it plain, though. Just make sure to specify your dietary needs while ordering so they refrain from adding any non-vegan ingredients.
Pair your baked potato with a vegan sauce (options listed below) for some spice and flavor.
▪ Hash Browns
If you’re like most people, you will find it hard to settle for any other potato breakfast side when there is Hash Browns on the menu, unless you’re strictly health-conscious or watching calories.
Hash Browns are typically vegan. Those available at Denny’s do not seem to be any different. However, we don’t know if they are cooked in separate fryers or the same ones that are used for meat and other non-vegan foods. If you’re concerned about this, confirm with the server while ordering vegan at Denny’s.
If this isn’t something that bothers you, get yourself the Hash Browns at Denny’s. You can also order a salad or veggies on the side to balance things out and/or to put together a quick filling vegan meal at Denny’s.
▪ Denny’s Vegan Breads, Buns, Muffins, and Bagels
Denny’s offers a good variety of breads, and quite a few of them are vegan-friendly. If you’re a bread person, it’s good to know your options.
Here are all your vegan bread options at Denny’s:
- Potato Bread
- Hoagie Roll
- Split Top Bun
- Texas Toast
- Brioche Bun
- English Muffin – Regular, not the gluten-free one
- Flour Tortilla
*The bread that they use for French toast is also vegan-friendly, but the French toast batter is not. So, you may get the bread separately.
Denny’s also offers Rye and 7-Grain breads. However, Rye bread comes with the warning that it may contain milk or is prepared in the shared equipment/facility. The 7-Grain bread also comes with a similar warning for milk and eggs.
Order your favorite bread from these with peanut butter and jelly sides to make your own PB&J vegan breakfast sandwich or some veggies along with a vegan sauce to put together a savory sandwich for a quick vegan lunch at Denny’s.
Denny’s breakfast skillets were quite a big hit among vegans. But, they don’t seem to be available nationwide anymore. PETA and several other online vegan resources still mention them, though. So, I am going to follow their lead and list down Denny’s breakfast skillet options below, along with instructions on how to make Denny’s skillets vegan.
Before I do that, it’s important to mention that Denny’s clearly states in the allergen guide that they use vegetable oil from the fryers and bacon to season their grills. They may be doing the same with skillets. So, make sure to confirm at the time of ordering.
Let’s get to the main point and discuss how to get Denny’s skillets made vegan:
- Supreme Skillet
Denny’s Supreme Skillet comes standard with three non-vegan items – eggs, sausage, and cheese. Ask to hold these ingredients when ordering vegan. You’ll get a skillet filled with a healthy mix of pan-fried vegetables, including seasoned red-skinned potatoes, spinach, grape tomatoes, onions, bell peppers, and mushrooms.
- Santa Fe Skillet
This Denny’s breakfast skillet comes standard with eggs, chorizo, fire-roasted bell peppers, seasoned red-skinned potatoes, mushrooms, onions, and cheese. Skip the eggs, cheese, and chorizo to enjoy a vegan skillet at Denny’s.
- Hearty Breakfast Skillet
Denny’s Hearty Breakfast Skillet comes with a mix of seasoned red-skinned potatoes, onions, fire-roasted bell peppers, and sautéed mushrooms, with sausage, two eggs, and cheese. Hold the last three ingredients to make this Denny’s breakfast skillet vegan.
- Fit Fare Veggie Skillet
This Denny’s skillet comes with seasoned red-skinned potatoes, onions, bell peppers, broccoli, and mushrooms topped with egg whites scrambled with grape tomatoes and spinach and served with a side of salsa. Simply skip the eggs to make this breakfast skillet vegan.
According to PETA, you should also request these skillets to be made without margarine or butter when eating vegan at Denny’s.
Order flour tortillas (they are vegan) and a vegan sauce with your favorite veggie skillet to make your own vegan tacos at Denny’s.
▪ French Fries
Vegans’ best friend at most chain restaurants, French fries come in two varieties at Denny’s – the classic Seasoned Fries and Wavy-Cut Fries. Both are cooked in vegetable oil and do not even contain any other non-vegan ingredients. However, like at most other restaurants, they are likely cooked in shared fryers. If you’re concerned about it, make sure to confirm at your local Denny’s at the time of ordering.
▪ Tortilla Chips
Denny’s offers Zesty Nachos; however, it contains too many non-vegan ingredients. Instead of getting that customized, a better option is to get corn tortilla chips with a side of salsa to enjoy the classic Mexican appetizer before your meal. You can also get a few different veggies (listed below) with salsa to make your own vegan nachos at Denny’s.
▪ House Salad
Just like French fries, House Salad often comes to vegans’ rescue at non-vegan-friendly restaurants. Not only is it available at most places, but it is also easier to customize. All you have to do is to skip the cheese and croutons and choose a vegan dressing (listed below). It’s the same at Denny’s too.
When made vegan, Denny’s House Salad comes with salad greens, grape tomatoes, cucumbers, and your choice of dressing. Not the most exciting food option, but definitely a healthy one!
▪ Extra Vegetables
Denny’s also offers a number of vegetables as side options that are truly a blessing for vegans and health-conscious diners alike. Pair up your food with as many veggies as you want to make your meal healthy and filling.
While the exact vegetable options may vary across different locations, the options typically available at Denny’s include the following:
- Seasoned red-skinned Potatoes
- Caramelized Onions
- Fire-Roasted Bell Peppers & Onions
- Zucchini and Squash
- Sweet Petite Corn
▪ Whole Grain Rice Blend
Another great option that Denny’s offers for health-conscious diners is whole grain rice. These are plain rice (nothing interesting happening here), but make a good side for plant-eaters.
Denny’s whole grain rice is vegan-friendly. However, according to some online sources, they come with the optional parmesan sauce, which you’ll obviously have to skip on when eating vegan at Denny’s.
▪ Beyond Burger
As mentioned at the beginning of the article, Denny’s partnered with Beyond Meat in 2019 to incorporate a meatless burger into its menu, becoming the first family dining restaurant in the US to do so. However, it may come as a surprise to many that Denny’s Beyond Burger doesn’t come standard as vegan-friendly. It contains dairy cheese.
You can, however, get it made vegan simply by ordering it without cheese and with a vegan sauce. You’ll get a Beyond patty with lettuce, onions, tomatoes, and pickles. Although it comes in a vegan-friendly bun at most locations, it’s recommended to confirm it at your local Denny’s while ordering.
Another way to get a vegan burger at Denny’s, just how you like it, is to choose the Build Your Own Burger option. Choose the brioche bun, Beyond patty (of course) and your choice of veggie toppings and sauces.
While there seems to be a consensus among all online sources on the vegan status of most Denny’s menu items, there is a discrepancy over the All-American Sauce that is often recommended for burgers. According to several online sources, including PETA, Denny’s All-American Sauce is vegan. However, I came across one reliable online source that asserted that the sauce is not vegan and should be avoided.
If you’re choosing the All-American sauce for your vegan burger at Denny’s, make sure to confirm if its vegan or not with your server before ordering.
▪ Mixed Fruit Cup
Whether you’re looking to add some fruits to your breakfast or craving for some sweet after a vegan meal at Denny’s, you can get this mixed fruit cup to enjoy a great mix of natural flavors and textures. The contents of the fruit cup will vary according to the location and season, but it will likely include apple, melon, orange, grapes, and/or berries.
▪ Vegan Toppings, Sauces, Dressings, and Condiments
When ordering vegan at Denny’s, or anywhere else per se, make sure to get a couple of vegan sauces on the side to add make your plant-based meal more flavorful and exciting. Your options for Denny’s vegan sauces, toppings, and condiments include the following:
- BBQ Sauce
- Sriracha Sauce
- Green Hot Pepper Sauce
- Red Hot Pepper Sauce
- Mango Habanero Sauce
- Five Pepper Sauce
- Heinz 57 Sauce
- Sweet Grilling Spread
- Malt Vinegar
- Red Wine Vinegar (Straight Edge vegans may want to avoid it as it’s made from red wine)
- Low-Fat Balsamic Vinaigrette
- Italian Fat-Free Dressing
- French Dressing
- Salad Oil
- Fruit Flavored Jams & Jellies
- Peanut Butter
- Goldfish Crackers
- Oreo Cookie Pieces
- Confetti Sprinkles
- Strawberry Topping (not the sauce)
- Powdered Sugar
- Cane Sugar Syrup
- Pancake Syrup
- Chocolate Syrup
- Vanilla-Flavored Shot
*Cinnamon Crumb comes with the warning that it may contain egg and dairy or is prepared in the shared equipment or facility.
▪ Vegan Beverages at Denny’s
Denny’s vegan beverage options are pretty standard. But, they are not bad too.
Here’s what you can pair your vegan meal with when dining at Denny’s:
- Diet Coke
- Root Beer
- Minute Maid Orange Juice
- Apple Juice
- Tomato Juice
- Ruby Red Grapefruit Juice
- FUZE Raspberry Tea
- Decaf Coffee
Denny’s Menu Items That May Look Vegan, But Are Not
There are quite a few items on Denny’s menu that may appear to be vegan-friendly at first glance. But, they actually contain non-vegan ingredients. Take a look to make sure you don’t end up consuming any of them mistakenly when eating at Denny’s.
- Dinner Rolls – contain milk.
- Gluten-Free English Muffin – contains milk and eggs
- Sourdough Bread – contains milk
- Wheat Bread – contains milk
- White Bread– contains milk
- Garlic Toast – contains dairy
- Onion Rings – contain milk
- Red-Skinned Mashed Potatoes – These are different from seasoned red-skinned potatoes and are not vegan-friendly. They contain dairy.
- Tomato Sauce – contains chicken and pork
- Bourbon Sauce – Listed as vegan-friendly on some online sources. But, according to Denny’s allergen menu, it contains beef
- Nashville Hot Sauce – contains dairy
- Strawberry Sauce – contains dairy
- Gravies – contain meat drippings
- Pot Roast Vegetables – contain dairy
- Saltine Crackers – Listed as vegan-friendly on some online sources, but according to Denny’s allergen menu, they contain dairy.
- Flaxseed Streusel – contains dairy
- Apple Pie Crisp – contains milk/dairy
- Pies – All the varieties contain dairy and/or eggs
- Shortbread – contains dairy and eggs
Denny’s Vegan Items FAQs
Still, have some questions about Denny’s vegan options? I know what you may want to ask. Read on to find answers to all the questions that you may still be left with about eating vegan at Denny’s.
▪ Are Denny’s pancakes vegan?
Denny’s offers two varieties of pancakes. Sadly, both are non-vegan; they contain milk and eggs.
▪ Are Denny’s waffles vegan?
Like their pancakes, Denny’s waffles also contain milk and eggs, which are not suitable for vegans.
▪ Doe Denny’s have a vegan dessert?
Denny’s doesn’t offer any vegan dessert. However, if you’re really craving for a dessert when eating at Denny’s and don’t feel like driving to a vegan-friendly dessert place, you can put together a dessert on your own. You just need to use your creativity and make your way around Denny’s menu items.
Here are a few ideas that I could think of:
- Order a mixed fruit cup, top it with your choice of vegan syrup or strawberry topping, and some nuts
- Get a bowl of oatmeal, add mixed fruits in it, and top it with nuts, peanut butter, and chocolate syrup or strawberry topping
- Spread peanut butter and/or jelly on a bagel and top with your choice of vegan syrup
▪ Are Denny’s smoothies vegan?
Denny’s smoothies are made with fruits, juice, and yogurt. But, they do not offer non-dairy yogurt option, which means they are not vegan.
Conclusion – Is Denny’s Vegan-Friendly?
After digging into Denny’s menu, it can be said that it isn’t a bad place for vegans. There are quite a few options that are plant-based or can be made vegan upon request.
However, it’s important to mention here that Denny’s allergen guide clearly states, in the very beginning, that they cannot guarantee their menu items to be completely allergen-free due to the risk of cross-contamination, as all the food items are cooked in the same facilities. If this is a deal-breaker for you, you may prefer to avoid eating at Denny’s altogether.
But, if it doesn’t bother you much, as it’s almost impossible to eliminate the risk of cross-contamination, especially at chain restaurants, go ahead and enjoy the plant-based options at Denny’s, discussed in the article.
Did you find this article helpful? Interested to learn about vegan options available at other popular chain restaurants? Check out my article Burger King Vegan Options to find out if the leading burger chain has anything for non-meat eaters.