Are IHOP Pancakes Gluten Free?

Are IHOP Pancakes Gluten Free?

No. Even IHOP Gluten-Friendly pancakes are not gluten free!

Did that answer your questions?

But seriously, do not go to IHOP and expect truly gluten-free pancakes. The vast majority of their menu is gluten-containing. Even their omelettes are not safe for those with celiac disease or a gluten sensitivity IHOP uses traditional gluten-containing pancake batter to make their omelettes more fluffy. While their pancakes are delicious (I still remember them), they are not safe for those with celiac.

And that brings me to my next point – why did a restaurant that prides itself in the amount of gluten-full items introduce a “gluten friendly” pancake without retrofitting their kitchens or training their staff to avoid cross contact? No idea.

Image of IHOP Gluten Friendly Menu with a caption asking if IHOP Gluten-Friendly Pancakes are Really Gluten Free

Are IHOP Gluten-Friendly Pancakes Safe For Celiac Disease?


In 2019, IHOP launched their “gluten friendly” pancakes. If you didn’t catch on by the use of the term “gluten friendly” instead of the FDA-regulated term “gluten free,” good for you. IHOP is hoping that this catch-all phrase “gluten friendly” convinces you that they’re attempting to make a safe breakfast for those that have to be gluten free. Nope!

IHOP’s Facebook Response to Cross Contact

Are IHOP Gluten-Friendly Pancakes Gluten Free?


Words matter, especially to the FDA, and especially to those of us eating gluten-free for a medical necessity. “Gluten Friendly” is not a regulated term and would be better stated “Gluten Reduced” or “We really wanted to capture a percentage of the market that is going gluten-free for perceived health benefits but without a medical necessity.”

Gluten Friendly is a term used by restaurants to attempt to accomodate those that are gluten-free from a trend, or those avoiding gluten, but can deal with cross contact (perhaps those avoiding FODMAPs for IBS? Then why not call them a FODMAP friendly pancake?!?!). However, this does not fit the medically necessary gluten-free diet for those with celiac.

“IHOP defines gluten-friendly as menu items prepared without gluten-containing ingredients based on information from our approved suppliers. We do not claim that items marked as gluten-friendly are “gluten free” because we cannot confirm that they meet the FDA’s definition of “gluten free” (< 20 parts per million of gluten).

Because we have multiple sources of gluten in our shared cooking and prep areas, including common fryer oil, we are unable to guarantee that any menu item can be completely free of gluten or allergens.”

If you’ll notice, this is more than the cover-your-ass statement that most restaurants make per their legal team. IHOP is admitting that it cannot conform to the FDA standards of 20ppm and thus using the term “friendly.” While I appreciate their honesty, my fear is that:

  • People with celiac who are new, or just not aware of what questions to ask restaurants, will eat here all the time (I mean, who doesn’t want to feel normal and have pancakes like everyone else – sigh).
  • Friends and family who see the advertisements will beg their celiac friends to go with them, and then we have to explain the entire FDA ruling, cross-contact in restaurants, and our friends will never ask us out again.

So If IHOP Gluten-Friendly Pancakes Aren’t Safe, Why Did They make Them?

So why did IHOP create gluten-friendly menu items? They said it themselves – for a “lifestyle trend.” Check out this article from Baking Business.

“Gluten-friendly pancakes are one of the most requested menu items from our guests, and it was really important to us that we got the recipe just right,” said Alisa Gmelich, vice-president of marketing at IHOP, a Dine Brands Global, Inc. subsidiary.

“Our culinary team outdid themselves coming up with a gluten-friendly batter that addresses this growing lifestyle trend without trading off on the hot, fluffy, deliciousness that only IHOP pancakes deliver. We’re proud to be the first national restaurant chain to put a gluten-friendly pancake on the menu, further demonstrating how we’re innovating to meet changing guest food preferences.

VP of Marketing, IHOP

What about the people on Facebook groups saying they ate there without issues? Remember, just because you don’t feel something doesn’t mean it isn’t well above 20ppm and capable of causing long term damage if eaten regularly.

To reiterate, IHOP’s Gluten-Friendly Pancakes are not safe for those with celiac due to cross-contact in their preparation and handling.

Is Anything at IHOP Gluten Free?

If you absolutely have to eat at IHOP, like you’re at a truckstop and there is no other safe food for miles, stick to eggs made any way but omelette style (remember their omelettes contain pancake batter), their salads without grilled meat, or plain meat asked to be prepared in a separate pan and not on the griddle. Remember to ask all the cross-contact questions and alert them that you have an allergy.

Comments: 12

  1. Johnny August 28, 2020 at 5:11 pm Reply

    What a skewed joke of an article. The percentage of people that have a truly dangerous level of Celiac disease is very low in percentage to others that are gluten intolerant. These are the people this item is made for. Even people who have zero issues with gluten can benefit from rice-based products. Quit trying to railroad.

    • Erica Dermer August 29, 2020 at 2:40 pm Reply

      Bullshit, celiac disease affects 1:100 people. 1%. But it’s a legal thing, if you’re going to call something gluten free it needs to be safe for those with celiac disease. Gluten Free – it’s a medically necessary diet and not for those that choose to eat rice flour.

  2. Al December 20, 2020 at 7:23 am Reply

    Johnny, you need to chill and be respectful to those who need articles like this to keep safe and healthy. Personally I get Ill when eating cross contaminated food and eating gluten containing food causes a severe reaction, high fever, lethargic and highly nauseous.

  3. Jerry Sutfun January 23, 2021 at 12:03 pm Reply

    As I’m sitting here in an IHOP right now, the ironic thing is that virtually the entire menu is not marked GF. Almost the only thing marked GF are the waffles and pancakes, which are not, truly. Big fail on the IHOP; guess I’ll remove it from my list again. And I am celiac, not “trendy”.

  4. Alex Nilsson April 12, 2021 at 7:03 am Reply

    In fact, this is a very sneaky deception. My son turned out to be gluten intolerant and I would not want to buy him any dish or sweets and it turns out that he needs medical help after that. I understand that they are trying to please everyone and earn as much as possible from it. BUT you cannot earn money for the health of people, it is terrible and illegal. This should be punishable. Don’t you think so? I have always trusted such labels on the packages, but it seems that now I will start to doubt everything written.

  5. Susan Luna Marino April 26, 2021 at 5:33 am Reply

    I went away for the weekend, and was trying diligent to stay away from gluten. We went to IHOP, and I was so happy to learn they had gluten free pancakes, I was so happy, because I could eat one of favorite breakfasts again, so I ordered them, and they were simply delicious! I got sick on my getaway weekend and could not understand why because I had thought, I stayed away from gluten. This weekend? I went to IHOP again, and the exact thing happened. I goggled what kind of ingredients are in IHOP’s gluten free pancakes, and to my dismay discover that they are “Low Gluten” not gluten free, thus my symptom after I ate them. This is false advertising and I’m really upset. My husband was not happy either. I will be contacting IHOP’s corporate department!

  6. Sonia June 5, 2021 at 7:23 pm Reply

    I’ve just become aware of the difficulties that people with celiac and gluten intolerance endure. It would be nice if more restaurants would produce actual gluten free foods so that individuals can have a meal with their families once in a while. Can it be that hard to mass produce a single gluten free dish per restaurant?

  7. Rebecca Medina September 1, 2021 at 1:22 pm Reply

    If this were only an IHOP thing, I could see all the uproar. But gluten friendly Isa teen used on many foods items and in many places–I am gluten and wheat sensitive– not celiac– and so I have learned the difference. I can only imagine true celiac sufferers are even more aware and careful–I guess what I’m saying is, let’s not try to make it out like IHOP the oddball here in using this term. Or trying to trick people. If I am smart enough to know the diff– why not others to whom it matters more?

  8. Liz Solera March 2, 2022 at 1:05 pm Reply

    100% agree with Rebecca Medina!!! I know this is a celiac-oriented site, but it was one of the first results on Google when I was simply searching “IHOP” and “gluten free,” so I did not expect such a charged article that is quite frankly offensive to anyone who needs to avoid gluten for any reason other than celiac disease. There are MANY medically motivated reasons to avoid gluten specifically (not all FODMAPS), and even if someone goes gluten free without a specific medical goal in mind, I think it’s more beneficial to the gluten free and celiac communities to educate kindly instead of gate keeping. Plus, if you have any medical condition that makes it dangerous or highly unpleasant for you to ingest gluten, then you should understand the ins and outs of cross contamination as it relates to your specific level of sensitivity. I personally know people with celiac disease that cannot use any forks, plates, or cookware that have ever been used for glutenous foods, but I also know others with celiac disease who can handle a fair amount of cross contamination. Sensitivity levels are too varied for gluten-free individuals to safely navigate gluten free options at restaurants or social gatherings without having a basic understanding of their own cross contamination limits and how to converse with food staff about them. Gluten is a sticky protein, and it’s everywhere. Nothing is going to be 100% gluten free above the molecular level. This article was actively unhelpful, and it made me think that IHOP actually put gluten-containing ingredients into the pancakes until I looked at their statement from 2019. YES, THE PANCAKES ARE GLUTEN FREE. They are, however, cooked in a common kitchen, so NO, THE PANCAKES ARE NOT CELIAC FRIENDLY for the majority of the celiac community. Pro tip for anyone new to this: if you ask restaurant staff if something is celiac friendly, most will know the difference between that and gluten free!

  9. Thea March 6, 2022 at 7:04 pm Reply

    My husband has Celiac Disease. He tried the gluten-friendly pancakes. They were delicious. We brought a short stack home for him to have the next morning. Several hours later….yep, you guessed it…the gluten monster raised its ugly head. No sleep that night!!! I tested the GF pancakes we brought home with our EZ Gluten home test. Test showed high positive for gluten!

  10. Megan Hess May 16, 2022 at 6:46 pm Reply

    That’s fucked up because I got gluten-free pancakes at IHOP tonight and let me tell you what it messed me up I am sick as a dog I had surgery a month ago and ever since my stomach hasn’t been very well and I ate there pancakes I have three bites of it and I got sick and I’m still sick

  11. Angela January 12, 2023 at 9:06 pm Reply

    Liz’s comment shows why it’s so hard to get taken seriously as a celiac since she seems to believe that some celiacs can eat cross contaminated foods with no problems. Even if someone like myself (silent celiac) experiences absolutely no digestive symptoms when eating something cross contaminated, the damage from gluten is still occurring in the small intestine. That is a fact if you’re celiac, regardless of symptoms or lack thereof. There are not levels of severity for celiac, there are only levels of symptom severity. And the pancakes are not gluten free if there’s gluten residue on them. Maybe that doesn’t matter much for those who aren’t celiac, but they’re still not GF. If a celiac person you know says they can handle it, that’s their personal choice – but they’re still damaging their small intestine by doing so.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *