We all know Olive Garden proudly says, “we’re all family here,” but does the same hold true for all our vegan brothers and sisters?
Here at Kathy’s Vegan Kitchen, we’ll let you know the best Olive Garden vegan menu items.
Olive Garden: A Quick Overview
Olive Garden is the largest Italian-themed restaurant in the entire United States, with over 875 restaurants in just the country alone and 900 locations globally. It was first opened on December 13, 1982, as a unit of General Mills (manufacturing giant of branded consumer goods like Pillsbury, Cheerios, and Trix).
It is now owned by Darden Restaurants, Inc., the world’s largest full-service restaurant company. The company's other restaurants are LongHorn Steakhouse, Bahama Breeze, and Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen, among others.
Nowadays, the Italian restaurant Olive Garden is best known for giving away unlimited refills on pasta, soup, and their iconic breadsticks.
However, can you order vegan at Olive Garden? Let’s find out!
Vegan Options at Olive Garden
You’ll be surprised to see that most servers will be more than accommodating to make Olive Garden’s famous house salad vegan approved. Simply let the staff know not to include croutons when they assemble your salad and replace the house dressing with olive oil and balsamic vinegar dressing instead. Trust us; this is the best kind of Italian dressing in many Italian restaurants. If you'd rather stay at home, try this Asian Salad with Peanut Dressing recipe!
It isn’t easy to find breadsticks that are vegan-friendly. We’re happy to report that that’s not the case with Olive Garden’s breadsticks! Not only are the breadsticks vegan at Olive Garden, but the garlic topping is soy-based and made with absolutely no eggs, no dairy, and no cheese rennet. These warm, fluffy appetizers are great to dip in their vegan tomato sauce or marinara sauce.
If you want to try their bruschetta caprese, order it without the cheese. What you’ll have left is tomatoes, basil, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar, lying on a bed of crostini.
Spaghetti with Marinara Sauce
Speaking of marinara, Olive Garden’s lip-smacking marinara sauce is also 100 percent vegan. Their plain tomato sauce is also a great vegan option, so make sure you ask for extra pasta!
The creamy mushroom sauce and five cheese marinara are meat-free menu items, and so is their eggplant parmigiana (with parmesan cheese breading), so they’re vegetarian-friendly. Unfortunately, these have yet to be made vegan approved.
Did you know that Olive Garden makes their minestrone soup in-house? You can guarantee the freshness of this vegan food every day! Olive Garden’s Minestrone Soup is a delicious, hearty soup that is animal-free. It includes fresh vegetables, beans, and pasta small shells simmered in a light yet flavorful tomato broth. This warm soup pairs well with a salad and breadsticks combo.
Steamed Broccoli Side
Sadly, vegan-approved Olive Garden veggies have yet to be expanded. The only option we can suggest as of now is Olive Garden’s steamed broccoli, which is exactly that: steamed broccoli. You can add these healthful greens to your pasta or drizzle them with a little bit of lemon juice and some salt for a unique salad option that’s not on the menu.
Create Your Own Pasta
You don’t have to be limited to spaghetti and marinara when you are free to build your own vegan pasta in Olive Garden’s “Create Your Own Pasta” menu. Angel hair, cavatappi, fettuccine, gluten-free rotini, rigatoni, small shells, spaghetti, and whole-grain linguine are among your options for vegan-friendly pasta. Zoodles is a great gluten-free option if you’re on a vegan and gluten-free diet.
Coat your vegan pasta with two vegan sauces, marinara or tomato sauce, and top with Olive Garden veggies. That sounds like a delicious main course even just thinking about it!
Olive Garden’s drinks range from alcoholic to non-alcoholic, hot to cold, to cater to many people’s personal preferences.
Here are non-alcoholic drinks served at Olive Garden:
- Fountain Drinks
- Flavored Iced Teas
- Brewed Tea/Iced Tea
- Brewed coffee
It depends. Olive Garden answers this question on their website. As of writing, no, their standard pasta does not contain eggs. Having said that, though, their stuffed pasta, such as the Cheese Ravioli and Ravioli di Portobello, do contain egg and dairy.
Although there aren’t many vegan options at Olive Garden, we think their effort to make their iconic breadsticks inclusive for those living a compassionate lifestyle more than makes up for it. We’re extremely happy with the vegan options at Olive Garden, and the fact that they come with unlimited refills makes us confident that we’ll walk away from the place full and well-satisfied!