Vegan Guide to Applebee’s: The Best Menu Options, Swaps, and More

While choices are slim, making a vegan meal at Applebee's is easier than you think.

vegan applebees

Treehugger / Photo Illustration by Catherine Song / Applebee's

Applebee’s serves classic American bar food with many main courses centered on meat and seafood. It can be challenging to find hearty vegan meal options because Applebee’s doesn’t offer any exclusively vegan main courses. Even their pasta menu, often a reliable plant-based option, can’t be modified for vegans.

With a little creativity, however, you too can enjoy a plant-based meal out at Applebee’s. Here are our top tips and favorite menu items.

Treehugger Tip

Skip the breadsticks, which have been brushed with a garlic butter sauce that isn't vegan. Except for the Tuscan Garden Chicken Salad and the House Salad, all salads come with a breadstick, so be sure to ask the waiter for salad and salad only.

Our Top Picks

Need a quick recommendation? Here are our top two Applebee's menu items that are sure to satiate:

Southwest Chicken Bowl

If you’re looking for a hearty meal with a complete protein, a modified Southwest Chicken Bowl is a satisfying option. Note: The Southwest Chicken and Steak Bowls have the same vegan ingredients as the Tex-Mex Shrimp Bowl, if ordered with the modifications listed here.

Remove the chicken, then add additional black bean and corn salsa, chimichurri sauce, guacamole, tortilla strips, and a lime wedge.

Strawberry Balsamic Chicken Salad

This sweet and savory salad features a vegan-friendly balsamic dressing. Just be sure to hold the chicken and the breadstick to make it truly vegan. You can dress up your salad by adding extra strawberries, tomatoes, almonds, and onions. Applebee’s croutons are vegan, so pile them on for an extra crunch.

Vegan Appetizers

If you’re looking to snack, Applebee’s has a few options for vegan appetizers that the whole table can enjoy. 

  • Classic Dip Trio (Make it a duo and hold the white queso.)
  • Neighborhood Nachos Beef or Chipotle Lime Chicken (Hold the beef/chicken, queso blanco, cheddar cheese, and sour cream. Add black bean and corn salsa to give it some oomph.)
  • Brew Pub Pretzels & Beer Cheese Dip (Hold the beer cheese dip and honey Dijon mustard.)

Vegan Salads

With several options featuring different flavor profiles, vegans can customize these salads for a healthy and tasty meal. Make sure to order one of their two vegan dressings—Fat-Free Italian and Lemon Olive Oil Vinaigrette—if your salad doesn’t already come with a vegan-friendly dressing.

  • Tuscan Garden Chicken Salad (Hold the chicken, then add more onion, diced cucumber, and bruschetta mix.)
  • Caesar Salad (Hold the shrimp/chicken, caesar dressing, and parmesan cheese, then add extra croutons and your vegan dressing of choice.)
  • Grilled or Crispy Chicken Tender Salad (Hold the chicken, breadstick, cheddar cheese, and honey mustard, then add extra diced tomatoes and your vegan dressing of choice.)
  • Oriental Chicken Salad (Hold the chicken, Oriental vinaigrette, and breadstick, then add your vegan dressing of choice.)
  • House Salad (Hold the breadstick and cheese, then add your vegan dressing of choice.)

Vegan Sandwiches and More

Although Applebee’s doesn’t offer a truly vegan burger or sandwich, you can make a simple veggie sandwich with the vegan ingredients available. All of their burger buns and breads are vegan (breadsticks being the exception!), so order your favorite without the meat, cheese, or sauce, then ask your server to pile on the lettuce, tomato, pickle, and onion. 

For more than veggies on dry bread, consider ordering one of Applebee's wraps:

  • Order the Chicken Fajita Rollup and swap the chicken for black bean and corn salsa, then add extra lettuce and pico de gallo.
  • Order the Oriental Chicken Salad Wrap without the chicken or dressing, then add extra lettuce, almonds, rice noodles, and your choice of vegan dressing.  

Vegan Burgers

Hopefully, more Applebee’s will be offering Impossible Burgers in the near future, but in the meantime, you can modify their Classic Burger to make it vegan-friendly. (The other burgers on the menu don’t have additional vegan ingredients, so Classic is best.) Hold the beef patty, then add extra lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, and onions.

Vegan Irresist-a-Bowls

Unfortunately, because of limited nutritional information available, the only vegan recommendation for this menu category is a modified Southwest Chicken Bowl.

Vegan Sides

Several of the sides on the Applebee’s menu are made with dairy that can’t be removed. Still, you’ve got a few options to enhance your vegan meal—including their beloved fries.

  • Basket of Fries
  • Crunchy Onion Rings (Hold the BBQ dipping sauce.)
  • Side Steamed Broccoli
  • Baked Potato (Hold the sour cream and butter.)
Frequently Asked Questions
  • Is Applebee's pastas vegan?

    No. Because all of the available sauces have cheese, none of the pasta dishes can be made vegan.

  • Does Applebee’s have any vegan soups?

    All of the soups include either an animal stock base or cream, so they can’t be prepared vegan.

  • Are there any vegan desserts at Applebee’s?

    Since all of the desserts offered contain dairy, there are no vegan-friendly dessert options on the menu.