Olive Garden Vegan Options 2023: What can You Order?

Dining out is (still) a hit-or-miss experience for vegans at most places. However, some cuisines are notorious for their non-vegan friendliness. Italian cuisine is one of them.

For this reason, eating at an Italian restaurant can feel overwhelming if you don’t know your options.

To make sure you don’t feel the same when eating at Olive Garden – America’s popular restaurant chain that specializes in Italian (or more appropriately, Italian-American) food – today, we’re going to dive deep into the restaurant’s menu and find out all about Olive Garden vegan options.

Does Olive Garden Have Vegan Options?

Keeping in view that Italian cuisine is infamous for being not-so-vegan-friendly, it may come as a surprise to many that Olive Garden actually offers vegan food options.

Not only does it have plant-based food, but the restaurant also provides a distinct vegetarian and vegan menu and has even dedicated an entire page on its website to answer some common questions plant-eaters ask about their food.

Even though there are very limited vegan options at Olive Garden, it feels incredibly amazing to finally see a restaurant taking its consumers’ needs so seriously. Kudos to Olive Garden for setting a great example. I just hope other restaurants follow Olive Garden’s lead soon.

What are the Vegan Options at Olive Garden?

Here are all the vegan options available at Olive Garden:

  • Breadsticks
  • House Salad – on a custom order
  • Minestrone Soup
  • Make Your Own Pasta
  • Vegan Sauces and Dressings
  • Beverages

Please note that this list is prepared using the official vegan guide provided by Olive Garden. To eliminate the chances of mistakes or confusion, I cross-checked all the items with Olive Garden’s allergen menu.

Olive Garden Vegan Options – A Detailed Breakdown

Let’s look at each of the plant-based food options listed above to make sure they do not contain any non-vegan or controversial ingredients and discuss how you can place custom orders for the salad and vegan pasta at Olive Garden.

Keep reading to get all the information you need about eating vegan at Olive Garden.

Olive Garden Vegan Appetizers

▪ Breadsticks

Olive Garden vegan breadsticks

If you have been vegan for any length of time, you would know how despairingly difficult it can be to find breadsticks that do not contain milk or aren’t coated in butter. But Olive Garden does it and how (brownie points for this).

Not only can you find vegan breadsticks at Olive Garden, but they are also supremely delicious. Moreover, you do not have to hold the garlic topping because that’s vegan too. Isn’t it amazing? While they taste great on their own, you can also get a vegan dipping sauce on the side for an extra burst of flavor.

I wouldn’t mind going to Olive Garden just for their vegan breadsticks. But, they have more plant-based food options.

▪ House Salad

Olive Garden vegan salad

How can we talk about vegan food options at an American restaurant and not have House Salad on the list? House Salad, an old fellow of vegans, has been saving plant-eaters from starving at restaurants since forever. And it still does the job at quite a few places.

Appearing with the name of Famous House Salad on Olive Garden’s menu, the salad comes standard with Italian dressing and croutons, both of which are non-vegan. Skip the croutons and get the dressing replaced with Olive Oil & Balsamic Vinegar to enjoy a vegan salad at Olive Garden.

While Olive Garden’s vegan menu doesn’t mention it, online sources stated that the salad also contains parmesan cheese. To be on the safe side, confirm it with your server at the time of ordering. Needless to say that if it does contain parmesan, you’ll have to skip that too.

▪ Minestrone Soup

Olive Garden vegan soup

The thick, hearty, traditional Italian minestrone soup packed with vegetables, beans, pasta, and powerful flavors is a bowl full of delicious goodness. It’s healthy, filling, comforting, and oh so delicious. But, it’s not always vegan. Thankfully, it is at Olive Garden.

When eating vegan at Olive Garden, you can order the minestrone soup right off the menu (yes! with no customization requests).

Sadly, it is the only Olive Garden vegan soup; no other soup varieties can be made vegan, even upon request. But, hey, we at least have one vegan soup option. So, make the most of it and enjoy a rich, delicious, comforting bowl of minestrone soup on your every Olive Garden visit.

Olive Garden Vegan Entrées  

▪ Create Your Own Pasta

Olive Garden vegan pasta

The only vegan entrée option at Olive Garden is a pasta dish that you can create by choosing your favorite pasta variety from the five vegan options available and a sauce. It’s not going to be a very exciting main dish, but it won’t be the worst as well.

Vegan pasta options at Olive Garden include:

  • Angel Hair Pasta
  • Fettuccine Pasta
  • Small Shell Pasta
  • Rigatoni Pasta
  • Spaghetti

Vegan pasta sauce options at Olive Garden are very limited. There are only two varieties, and both of them are quite similar. Your options include:

  • Marinara Sauce
  • Tomato Sauce

Not in the mood for placing custom order? Get Spaghetti with Marinara Sauce – it appears on Olive Garden’s entrée menu and comes standard as vegan.

Pro Tip: Order the House Salad with entrée, toss it into your pasta to add more flavor, nutrients, and make it more filling.

Olive Garden Vegan Dressings and Sauces

Olive Garden vegan dressings and sauces

Olive Garden, sadly, doesn’t offer any vegan dressing. The only thing you can top your salad with is the classic Oil & Vinegar combo.

The situation isn’t much different for sauces either. The vegan sauce options at Olive Garden only include tomato and marinara sauce. Whether you want a dipping sauce for breadsticks or a pasta sauce for your vegan entrée, you will have to choose from these two options.

Note – Olive Garden’s vegan menu also lists Raspberry Sauce as vegan-friendly. But there’s nothing you can pair it with, so technically, it’s of no use for us.

Olive Garden Vegan Beverages

Vegan beverages at Olive Garden

The exact collection of beverages may differ across various restaurant locations, but here are the typical Olive Garden vegan drinks options you’ll likely find:

  • Coke
  • Diet Coke
  • Coke Zero Sugar
  • Sprite
  • Dr. Pepper
  • Classic Lemonade
  • Raspberry Lemonade
  • Fruit Punch
  • Ginger Ale
  • Freshly Brewed Iced Tea
  • Bellini Peach-Raspberry Iced Tea
  • Mango-Strawberry Iced Tea
  • Strawberry-Passion Fruit Limonata
  • Hot Coffee
  • Hot Tea
  • Italian Margarita
  • Peach Bellini
  • Strawberry Bellini
  • Spiked Strawberry Lemonade
  • Amaretto Sur
  • Italian Rum Punch
  • Blue Hawaiian
  • Berry Sangria
  • Green Apple Moscato Sangria
  • Watermelon Moscato Sangria

You will also find a collection of white and red wines and beer at Olive Garden. Check the local menu to know your exact options.

Olive Garden Menu Items That May Look Vegan, But Are Not

Unlike many other restaurants, there are only a few items on Olive Garden’s menu that can appear to be vegan-friendly at first glance. However, they actually contain non-vegan ingredients. These include:

  • Gluten-Free Rotini – It’s the only pasta variety at Olive Garden that is not vegan. It contains egg. It is suitable for vegetarians, though.
  • Pasta Fagioli Soup – The name of this dish can mislead some people. Moreover, it also doesn’t contain the common non-vegan culprits in most dishes; milk and eggs. This can make many people believe that it’s vegan friendly, only to realize later that it’s not (when they see it) as it contains beef.
  • Eggplant Parmigiana – It is vegetarian friendly, but not suitable for vegans as it contains dairy.
  • Italian Salad Dressing – It contains dairy and egg.

Olive Garden Vegan Items FAQs

I know that many of you will still likely have some questions about ordering vegan at Olive Garden, so let’s not leave you in confusion and answer some common questions about Olive Garden.

▪ Is Olive Garden chocolate vegan?

Loved the after-dinner chocolate mints they serve at Olive Garden during your pre-vegan days? Or have you heard a lot about them from your friends? Sadly, they are not vegan and contain dairy.

Fun Fact – Those after-dinner chocolate mints are custom-made by Andes for Olive Garden.

▪ Is Olive Garden zeppoli vegan?

Zeppoli, or the Warm Italian Doughnuts, that comes coated in powdered sugar, are not vegan-friendly. Neither is the chocolate sauce they are served with. Both contain dairy.

Craving some doughnuts? Make your own! Check out the following video for the vegan doughnut recipe

▪ Does Olive Garden have vegan desserts?

No. None of the dessert options available at Olive Garden is vegan-friendly. But, they all are vegetarian.

▪ What does Olive Garden cook its food in?

Olive Garden food is not cooked in animal fat or lard. According to Olive Garden’s allergen guide, they cook their food in 100% canola oil.

Conclusion – Is Olive Garden Vegan-Friendly?

Olive Garden is clearly not the most vegan-friendly restaurant out there. They do, however, offer a couple of good options (read breadsticks and minestrone soup), which makes this place worth visiting.

Moreover, the fact that Olive Garden actually cares for its non-meat-eating customers and has taken the extra step to highlight plant-based food options on its menu is highly appreciable. They surely deserve recognition for it.

Vegetarian Options at Olive Garden

Vegetarians have a better variety of choices than vegans at the Italian-American restaurant. Here’s a list of all the vegetarian food options available at Olive Garden:

  • Breadsticks
  • Minestrone Soup
  • House Salad – with croutons and dressing
  • Angel Hair Pasta
  • Fettuccine Pasta
  • Rigatoni Pasta
  • Small Shell Pasta
  • Gluten-Free Rotini Pasta
  • Spaghetti
  • Tomato Sauce
  • Marinara Sauce
  • Five Cheese Marinara Sauce
  • Creamy Mushroom Sauce
  • Alfredo Sauce
  • Fettuccine Alfredo
  • Spaghetti with Marinara Sauce
  • Eggplant Parmigiana
  • Cheese Pizza
  • Strawberry and White Chocolate Dolcini
  • Chocolate Mousse Dolcini
  • Warm Italian Doughnuts
  • Tiramisu
  • Seasonal Sicilian Cheesecake
  • Pumpkin Cheesecake
  • Raspberry Sauce
  • Chocolate Sauce

Did you find this article helpful? Interested to learn what vegan options make other popular restaurant chains offer? Check out my article Pei Wei Vegan Options to find out what does this Asian restaurant has in store for plant-eaters!

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Author Bio
Im Emma and I’m the creator of Vegan Calm. When I became a vegan seven years ago, I mainly did it for health and ethical reasons. To my surprise, it had another amazing benefit; I became a much calmer and peaceful person. This change inspired me to create Vegan Calm. Whether you’ve been a vegan for a long time or just want to learn more, this website will have something for you!

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