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Exploring Vegetarian Options at Dairy Queen

Jennifer Hanes MS, RDN, LD

Hey there, fellow foodies and vegetarians! Are you craving Dairy Queen but find yourself wondering what options are available for a vegetarian?

Well, you’re in luck! In this tasty blog post, we’re exploring the Dairy Queen menu in search of vegetarian-friendly options!  Depending on your location, you may be pleasantly surprised!

Disclaimers

Menu options of any large restaurant chain can vary by location.

In fact, in Texas, Dairy Queen has a completely separate site from the rest of the company. Apparently, this has to do with some weird series of selling and then buying DQ locations in Texas.

All this is to say that while I do my best to go through the company’s website (in this case, 2!) and various forums or even call them when things don’t match, there is always a possibility that an individual location has different prep methods and menu items.

Be sure to call ahead to verify if there are any concerns or questions. 

Breakfast

It appears that individual restaurants are hit or miss in regard to breakfast offerings.  Their main website doesn’t even mention breakfast.

It doesn’t even seem to be based on state, as only “some” newer locations are built with bigger kitchens and are thus able to add breakfast to their menu. 

The main menu page on both their main and Texas websites doesn’t include breakfast. You have to dig all the way into their nutrition information to get an idea of what they may have.

I was able to find a random “East Texas DQ” site that looked official and listed their breakfast options.  What a mess!

Moving on…

By now, you should have recognized a pattern that breakfast is generally the best bet for a vegetarian option. That being said, it does not appear that locations that offer breakfast offer it all day.

Vegetarian options include:

  • Country Breakfast plate – specify no sausage, or replace with more eggs
  • DQ Biscuit Sandwiches – specify no bacon or sausage
    • note: the breakfast plate is essentially the Biscuit Sandwiches, deconstructed and with gravy to dip it in.
  • DQ Breakfast Sandwiches – specify no bacon
    • This is a Biscuit Sandwich but with a hot dog bun instead
  • Taquitos – specify no bacon. Also, these seem to be specific to Texas.

Note: the gravy does not appear to have any meat or meat by-products in it, but DQ is frustratingly tight-lipped about its ingredient list. Traditionally, even without sausage, country gravy contains chicken fat. I would ask before ordering.

Note: none of these options are vegan.

Sandwiches

Dairy Queen doesn’t have any vegetarian burger patties. Your best bet if you want a sandwich is getting the kid’s grilled cheese.

Or, you could order a burger with no meat. Maybe some extra cheese and vegetables.

Salads

Again, not every location offers salads. 

There’s pretty much one salad, with the option of grilled or fried chicken. Order it without chicken, and you’ll have lettuce, tomatoes, shredded cheese, shredded carrots, and shredded red cabbage.

Tex-Mex (Texas only)

In locations that offer a Tex-Mex menu, you can also get a taco salad, which is pretty much the same as above, with chicken or beef, but served in a taco shell bowl. 

Or try their Nachos Deluxe or Texas T-Brand Tacos. Again, specify no meat.

Sides

Remember, cross-contact with meat is always possible, as the fryers are shared among different menu items. Dairy Queen uses a vegetarian-friendly fry oil.

Vegetarian-friendly sides everywhere include:

  • Fries
  • Jalitos (not vegan) – fried jalapeno sticks – batter contains milk
  • Onion rings (not vegan)

Outside of Texas, it appears there are more options.

  • Side Salad – vegan, depending on the dressing you choose.
  • Cheese curds – fried
  • Pretzel sticks with Queso – for a vegan option, get without queso dip and request that they don’t brush the pretzel with butter.
  • Poutine – The brown gravy is vegetarian-friendly (Thanks, DQ Canada, for actually disclosing ingredients; too bad they don’t seem to have the white gravy)

Additionally, you should be able to request fruit since it’s utilized in their desserts.

Dairy Queen Orange Julius

Orange Julius menus are exclusive to Dairy Queen nowadays, though they are not available at every location.

Where available, they do give you some more options if you are vegetarian.

For those unfamiliar, Orange Julius offers premium fruit smoothies. The original recipe was a frothy orange smoothie, but they have since branched out to include many different fruit flavors.

However, none of their recipes are vegan friendly, as the allergen disclosures report they contain both egg and dairy.

Desserts

Pretty much all of their desserts, including the famous Blizzard, are vegetarian-friendly.  I didn’t even see any toppings or fillings that weren’t vegetarian, but pay attention to promotional items as they come and go. 

In addition to the various Blizzards, they have various other ice cream offerings, such as dipped cones, parfaits, and banana splits.

Vegan options for dessert are pretty slim.

Select locations have a no-dairy Dilly Bar and a vegan ice, the Star Kiss Frozen treats.

Making Balanced Choices

Remember to fit foods like those at Dairy Queen into an overall balanced diet.  Consider stopping in for a treat rather than an entire meal. 

Or, if you want to eat a whole meal, plus a dessert, try to fit in the side salad and maybe some fruit, if you can get it, along with the fried and sweet items.

You can also make sure that your other meals and snacks that day feature protein and produce so your nutrition needs are met throughout the entire day.

So, there you have it, folks! The next time you’re craving a sweet treat or a savory snack at Dairy Queen, remember that there are at least a few vegetarian options waiting for you to explore, even a couple of dairy-free desserts! 

Cheers to happy eating and discovering new flavors!

Like this type of content and want to see more?  Check out my exploration of vegetarian menu items at PF Changs, Arby’s, and more!

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