If you’re Paleo or have ever been Paleo, then you’ve probably experienced the struggle of eating out with friends. Depending on how strictly you follow the Paleo guidelines, your options are limited. Basically, no wheat, no grains, no soy, no beans, and no dairy.

Even though this sounds extreme, the focus is on eating whole, unprocessed foods. Unfortunately, that’s basically the opposite of eating fast food. But hey, sometimes you have zero choice. Sometimes, it’s “we’re stopping at this fast food restaurant and not anywhere else, so eat or go hungry.” And sometimes, you really just want that Shake Shack burger.

Whatever the reason is, despite popular belief, you can find Paleo options at fast food restaurants, though they definitely don’t cater to your diet (or really any food restrictions at all). Here are 12 meals that you can get at your favorite fast food restaurants, though sometimes it means getting a little creative (and sometimes it means a lot of salad).

#SpoonTip: Since the Paleo diet also encompasses no gluten, people who are gluten free can eat these meals as well. Just be aware that if you have Celiac’s or a severe gluten allergy, many of the fast food restaurants cross contaminate their fryers and preparation surfaces with gluten products.

1. Shake Shack: Bunless double burger with bacon


Photo courtesy of Nom Nom Paleo

Shake Shack is just as good on a bed of lettuce as it is in an actual burger. And since you’re forgoing the bun, why not add some extra bacon?

#SpoonTip: Nom Nom Paleo has a ton of good Paleo tips for eating out, even at fast food restaurants.

2. Chipotle: Burrito or salad bowl with no beans and rice, double meat, and guacamole


Photo courtesy of @chipotlemexicangrill on Instagram

This is basically a meat bowl with guac. And not going to lie, I’ve definitely done this before. Who needs rice and beans anyway? They just fill up your stomach; let’s be real — it’s all about the guac.

3. Burger King: Fries


Photo courtesy of @burgerking on Insgtagram

Though Burger King has a gluten sensitive list online, the only way to really eat anywhere close to Paleo here is to get their fries. Unless you really like fries, pass.

4. Starbucks: Nuts, smoothies, and part of the protein bistro box


Photo courtesy of @starbucks on Instagram

Starbucks > Dunkin’, especially since it has healthy snacks. Nuts are your friend at Starbucks. They’re perfect for grabbing and going, and are full of healthy fats that will help keep you full.


Photo courtesy of @starbucks on Instagram

If you’re feeling hungrier, try out a custom smoothie or the protein bistro box. Just take out the bread and cheese and give them to a friend.

5. Panera: Basically any salad


Photo courtesy of @panerabread on Instsagram

Panera might not be a “fast food” restaurant per se, but it’s a favorite stop for many people, which means the chances that you’ll go here are pretty high. Good thing they have a big variety of salads and bowls — just make sure to remove any non-Paleo items and opt for the simplest dressing they have (or no dressing at all).

6. Five Guys: Burger wrapped in lettuce


Photo courtesy of @phamschottler on Instagram

Though it’s not as common to see a lettuce wrapped burger here, it can be done. Bonus — you can still add all the toppings your heart desires.


Photo courtesy of @msnikkibell on Instagram

Don’t forget to enjoy their fries, which are, in my opinion, some of the best fast food fries out there.

#SpoonTip: Five Guys uses peanut oil to fry things, so those with peanut allergies beware. Those who are strict Paleo and don’t eat legumes, take that into consideration.

7. Chick-fil-A: Grilled chicken nuggets and a variety of sides


Photo courtesy of @chickfila on Instagram

Another reason to love Chick-fil-A — they actually have a ton of things you can eat on their menu. Let’s start off with these grilled chicken nuggets. You don’t even need a sandwich because the chicken is truly the star. Plus, if you’re ok with eating soybean oil (let’s be honest, if you’re eating at any fast food restaurant, there’s zero way to avoid it), you can enjoy all the Chick-fil-A sauce you want.


Photo courtesy of @chickfila on Instagram

But there’s more. There’s a huge variety of salads (just take out any ingredients that aren’t Paleo, like cheese and granola), but more importantly, there’s a superfood side salad with kale and broccolini that is actually 100% Paleo (figures, since it’s called a “superfood salad”).

And let’s not forget about those waffle fries.

8. El Pollo Loco: Grilled chicken and broccoli


Photo courtesy of @yelppersuasian on Instagram

This meal is fit for someone who lifts regularly – look at that veg and protein. Shout out to El Pollo Loco for having so many options of non-breaded chicken.

9. Subway: Chicken salad with oil and vinegar dressing or no dressing


Photo courtesy of @kira_swbridetobe on Instagram

Subway may be known for their sandwiches, but go the alternative route and get one of their salads. If you pretend real hard, you can almost imagine it’s Sweetgreen since you’re creating your own salad.

10. Pizza Hut: Traditional Wings


Photo courtesy of @tommyesco on Instagram

Honestly, the wings are much better than the pizza here. Plus much more satisfying to eat.

#SpoonTip: For gluten free people, Pizza Hut does have an entirely gluten free pizza made with Udi’s crust. 

11. Wendy’s: All salads (with customization)


Photo courtesy of @wendys on Instagram

Wendy’s has a surprisingly good selection of salad. You can customize each one to suit your restrictions, like taking out the cheese. A good bet, though, is the Asian chicken salad — just take out the edamame if you’re strictly Paleo.

12. In-n-Out: Double double protein-style with grilled onions and mustard, no sauce and no cheese


Photo courtesy of @hikimmytsai on Instagram

Californians who know In-n-Out’s secret menu have been in on this meal for ages. Protein-style is perfect for anyone looking to cut carbs or who does not eat gluten. Get it mustard-grilled for an extra kick of flavor, and add grilled onions; hold the sauce and hold the cheese for a true Paleo meal.

Disclaimer: Many, if not all, of these products are cooked with soybean oil, which is not strictly Paleo as it is a soy product. Eat at your own discretion.