Ordering By Allergen


See our sample menu to discover where your allergens are commonly found. Search below by allergen to discover even more hiding places and tips for eating out with food allergies.

ordering by allergen at a restaurant

Peanuts   |   Tree Nuts   |   Sesame   |   Milk   |   Egg   |   Soy   |   Wheat/Gluten   |   Fish   |   Shellfish


peanut allergen 101

Menu Hotspots:

  • Peanut Oil: Ask what type of oil is used to fry and if there is a chance of cross-contamination in the fryers. French fries, chicken nuggets and other fried foods are sometimes prepared with peanut oil or fried in oil that has been used to prepare other dishes with peanuts.
  • Pad Thai: Peanuts are commonly used in in Thai food and other stir-fries – even the presence of these dishes on a menu increases the risk of cross-contamination.
  • Chili: Peanut butter is often the secret ingredient in chili and other spicy stews.
  • Egg rolls: Can be sealed with peanut butter.
  • Desserts: Scan the dessert section to see if there are any dishes with peanut butter or peanut topping.
  • Cakes + Crusts: Keep an eye out for desserts with a graham cracker crust. Peanut butter might be included to hold the crumbs together.

Common hiding places: Mole, Food Fried in Peanut Oil, Curry, Salad Dressing, Pad Thai, Crumb Toppings, Graham Cracker Crust, Egg Rolls, Marzipan

Cuisines that often contain peanuts:
Chinese, Thai, African, Bakeries

Tree Nuts

tree nuts 101

Menu Tips:

  • Salads: Salads are often garnished with nuts or incorporated into dressings.
  • Pesto: Avoid dishes with pesto, which typically contain pine nuts.
  • Marinades: Thick sauces, rubs and seasonings can get their nutty flavor from chopped almonds, walnuts, etc.
  • Desserts: Tree nuts are commonly used in baked desserts like muffins, breads and cookies and often used as a topping.
  • Drinks: Nut-flavored coffees and cocktails with almond flavoring are just a few places tree nuts can hide in drinks.

Common hiding places: Pesto, Deli Meat (Mortadella), Salsa, Marinades, BBQ Sauce, Gluten-Free Dishes, Cocktails

Cuisines that often contain tree nuts:
Chinese, French, Indian, American


sesame allergen 101

Menu Tips:

  • Bread: Buns and bagels often have seeds.  Even if the seeds aren't visible, some breads contain some type of seed. 
  • Hummus: Check the ingredients in Mediterranean dips like hummus, which often contain tahini, made from sesame seeds.
  • Asian Cuisine: Pad Thai, sushi, sesame chicken and other popular Asian dishes typically use sesame and sesame oil as ingredients.
  • Vegetables: Ask for any cooked veggies to be steamed separately without oil as there is a chance the oil may contain sesame.
  • Salad Dressing: Sesame seeds or sesame oil are common ingredients.

Common hiding places: Hummus, Salads and Dressings, Bread, Sushi, Frozen Food, Bread Crumbs, Processed Meat, Falafel, Margarine, Stir-fry, Soups

Cuisines that often contain sesame:
Japanese (sushi), Greek, American, French, Middle Eastern


milk in jug

Menu Tips:

  • Soup: Make sure any soup is dairy-free and chicken broth can contain milk.
  • Pasta: Ask for any pasta to be tossed only in olive oil to avoid butter or other creamy sauces.
  • Breads and Buns: If ordering a sandwich or hamburger, ask for a plain bun to prevent any butter coating.
  • Hot Dogs and Chicken Nuggets: Dairy is almost always found in beef hot dogs and occasionally in chicken nuggets.
  • Butter: Ask for any stir-fries or veggies to be steamed separately to avoid any butter cross-contamination.
  • Desserts: Look for vegan desserts or items without chocolate or caramel as milk is a common ingredient.

Common hiding places: Soups, Salad Dressing, Cheeses, Tomato Sauce, Curry, Steak Grilled With Butter, Hot Dogs, Fish Sticks, Chicken Nuggets, Potato Chips, Bread, Bread Crumbs, Crackers, Meat Substitutes, Non-Dairy Whipped Topping, Pudding, Caramel, Custard, Granola, Cocktails, Breath Mints

Cuisines that often contain milk:
Ice cream shops and bakeries, Mexican, Italian, Indian


egg allergen 101

Menu Tips:

  • Mayo: When ordering sandwiches or burgers, ask for no mayonnaise, which contains eggs.
  • Pasta: Noodles made in-house will often contain egg.
  • Shiny Bread: Buns or bagels with a shiny glaze potentially had an egg or butter wash.
  • Meringue: Any desserts with meringue are made with egg whites.
  • Fried Food: Ask if french fries are fried in a separate or dedicated fryer – any cross-contamination with breaded foods increase the likelihood of egg sneaking into fries.

Common hiding places: Salad Dressing, Bread, Buns, Crepes, Mayonnaise, Breading or Batter on Fried Food, Pasta, Meat Substitutes, Meatloaf or Meat Balls, Cream Puffs or Pies, Baked Goods, Meringue, Wine

Cuisines that often contain egg:
Breakfast Spots, Bakeries, Italian, Chinese, French


soy allergen 101

Menu Tips:

  • Asian Cuisine: Sushi, Pad Thai, and other Asian dishes will likely include soy or have come into contact with it.
  • Breads: Be careful with bread or baked goods in a restaurant, as soy is a common ingredient used in dough to make it easier to work with.
  • Desserts: Opt for non-chocolate desserts as soy lecithin is a common ingredient in chocolate. Oreos contain soy.
  • Sauces: Soy acts as an emulsifier to create creamy and gooey textures – mixed vegetables with thick sauce, marinades and many desserts will contain soy.
  • Processed meats: Foods that are heavily processed, including cheeses or meat substitutes, typically contain soy.

Common hiding places: Edamame, Salad Dressing, Tofu, Stir Fry, Miso, Margarine, Chips, Breakfast Meat, Processed Meat, Bread and Buns, Hamburgers, Meat Substitutes, PreMade Desserts, Cheesecake

Cuisines that often contain soy:
Chinese, Thai, Mexican, Italian

Wheat + Gluten

wheat and gluten 101

Menu Tips

  • Gluten-Free Menu: Ask if the restaurant has a gluten-free menu – with the popularity of gluten-free diets, many dining spots are offering gluten-free options.
  • French fries: Ask if fries are are prepared in a separate or dedicated fryer – anything breaded will most likely contain wheat/gluten, so there is a risk of cross-contamination in the oil.
  • Sauces: Ingredients in marinades and sauces may contain gluten as a thickening agent.
  • Meat substitute: Meat substitutes likely contains gluten, including imitation crab meat, veggie burgers and tempeh.
  • Desserts: Wheat is a fundamental ingredient in baked goods, but it can also hide in surprising sweets like custard and ice cream.

Common hiding places: Bread, Croutons, Bleu Cheese, Italian Dressing, Omelet (some chefs add pancake batter for more fluffiness), Gravy Hot Dogs, Flavored Potato Chips, Soy Sauce, Pasta, Some Rice, Pickles, Mustard, Pudding, Custard, Hot Chocolate, Beer

Cuisines that often contain wheat/gluten:
Italian, American, Bakeries, Greek


fish allergen 101

Menu Tips:

  • Salad Dressing: Caesar salad and any Caesar dressings typically contain fish ingredients.
  • Asian Cuisine: Dishes with complex sauces or marinades, especially in Asian cuisine, can use fish oil or sauce as an ingredient.
  • BBQ: Sauce can sometimes be made with Worcestershire sauce, which contains anchovies.
  • Soups: Soup, stew and especially gumbo can use fish or fish sauce as an ingredient.

Common hiding places: Caesar Salad, Salad Dressings, Soups, Sushi, BBQ, Stir Fry, Pad Thai, Bloody Mary, Worcestershire sauce

Cuisines that often contain shellfish: 
Seafood, Japanese (sushi), Chinese, Mexican, French, Italian



Menu Tips:

  • Fried foods: If fried calamari or shrimp is on the menu, be careful of other items potential made in the same fryer.
  • Curry: Indian dishes can easily hide seafood or be made in the same area as other shellfish dishes.
  • Shrimp: If the menu has shrimp cocktail or other fishy appetizers, ask if the shellfish is stored and/or prepared in a separate area.
  • Sushi: Opt for the California roll or any other vegetarian option and ask about cross-contamination.
  • Soup: Thick soups like gumbo can be hiding any number of shellfish ingredients.
  • Asian cuisine: Check ingredients for anything with a complex filling like dim sum or dumplings, which might contain shellfish.

Common hiding places: Gumbo, Dim Sum, Sushi, Shrimp Tacos, Dumplings, Egg Rolls, Shrimp Cocktail, Chowder

Cuisines that often contain shellfish:
Seafood, Japanese, Chinese, Indian, Mexican, French, Italian