Olive Garden Vegan Guide: Meal Options to Consider

Olive Garden Vegan Guide: Meal Options to Consider

If there’s one vegan-friendly restaurant famous worldwide, it’s no other than the Olive Garden.

With over 900 locations open across the US, Italy, Mexico, Ecuador, and even the Philippines, there’s probably no vegan that isn’t familiar with this Italian restaurant. 

Generally, Italian cuisines are not very much vegan-friendly.

And that’s one of the reasons why Olive Garden has become one of America’s most popular restaurant chains.

At Olive Garden, vegans can try more vegan Italian dishes (or, more appropriately, vegan American-Italian cuisines). 

In this post, we will dive into Olive Garden’s vegan menu and find out more options for you to try.

What are Vegan Meal Options to Try at Olive Garden?

While vegan options at Olive Garden are pretty limited, you will be surprised at how dedicated they are to catering delicious vegan dishes to plant eaters.

They have dedicated an entire page to the vegan menu and have allocated a space on their website to answer frequently asked vegan questions.

It truly is fantastic to see a restaurant that is committed to providing for the needs of the vegan community.

And if you want to check out one of their branches, here is the list of vegan options to try.

  • Breadsticks
  • Minestrone Soup
  • House Salad
  • Make Your Own Pasta
  • Vegan Sauces
  • Beverages

The Best Olive Garden Vegan Meal Options

Now, let's look at each vegan food option we listed above to ensure that they are plant-based, dairy-free, and don’t contain other controversial ingredients.


Let’s start with the best vegan appetizer, aka Breadsticks. For non-vegans, breadsticks are a less popular menu item at Olive Garden. But this appetizer is a hit in the vegan community. After all, it’s challenging to find breadsticks that are not made from eggs, milk, or coated with butter.

Yes, you read it right. Breadsticks at Olive Garden contain no eggs, cheese rennet, milk, and other dairy products. They are 100% vegan, thanks to their soy-based garlic topping, making these breadsticks supremely delicious.

Their piping-hot breadsticks are not only vegan, but they are also fluffy and light on the tummy. Try dipping it with marinara or tomato sauce to experience a more zing and flavorful appetizer. A regular order comes with 4 pieces of breadsticks while a large one comes with 8. Most vegans order this appetizer along with vegan pasta to fuel themselves throughout the day.

Minestrone Soup

Unfortunately, Minestrone is the only vegan soup at Olive Garden. But you won’t regret ordering this popular vegan option because they are worth the hype. This classic dish is popular in Italy, and did you know that it has become famous in the US because of Olive Garden? Try googling the recipe for this dish, and you will see many copycat Olive Garden recipes.

The thick, hearty, and healthy Minestrone version of Olive Garden is as delicious as the classic Italian-Minestrone soup. It contains pasta, fresh veggies (carrot, celery, onion, and zucchini), and beans in a tomato broth. It is truly comforting, filling, and perfect for cold winter days.

You don't need more modifications when ordering this dish at Olive Garden. You can savor this hearty soup right off the bat. This comforting bowl pairs well with breadsticks and salad combo. They are well-known as the classic combos at Olive Garden! They are perfect for fueling up oneself on healthy veggies without feeling unsatisfied.

House Salad

How can we forget house salad when it’s the most delectable vegan option at Olive Garden? You can order an unlimited salad and pair it with breadsticks to complete your meal. Their salad contains tomato, lettuce, pepperoncini, olives, and red onion.

However, note that salad in this place is not entirely vegan. It comes with croutons, Italian salad dressing, and parmesan cheese, all non-vegans. Ask the server to replace these ingredients with Balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Olive Garden is used to this request, so don’t hesitate to modify your salad.

If you want a satisfactory meal, you can order salad, breadsticks, and soup for one price. These options are even included on their weekday lunch special, allowing you to save more dollar bills!

Make Your Own Pasta

Italian-themed restaurants are packed with more vegan pasta options. Is a restaurant even Italian without a wide selection of pasta dishes? The restaurant offers dried pasta, so you don’t need to worry about hidden meat ingredients. Your best bet for 100% vegan pasta is to avail of their “create your own pasta” option.

Plant-based patrons may choose from the following vegan pasta, toppings, and sauce options:


  • Spaghetti
  • Fettuccine
  • Angel hair
  • Rigatoni
  • Small Shells
  • Whole Grain Linguine
  • Cavatappi
  • Zoodles


  • Garden Veggies


  • Tomato
  • Marinara

If you don’t like a custom order, you can have spaghetti with marinara sauce. It is vegan and can be found on the restaurant’s entrée menu. Also, Olive Garden offers a special menu and promotional items for its pasta dishes. If you want to try those, you can request that the dairy and meat ingredients be substituted with fresh veggies.

However, modifications would depend on the availability of their ingredients. So, you better be ready when dining at Olive Garden. Some vegan customers bring their veggies, sauces, or toppings, while some avail of the “create your pasta” option to ensure they are consuming vegan food.

Vegan Sauce

Unfortunately, there is no vegan dressing at Olive Garden. While their salad is packed with veggies, they also contain cheese and eggs. So, you need to advise the server to remove these ingredients and substitute them with oil and vinegar.

As for the sauce, you also have limited options. You can choose between marinara and tomato sauce. Whether you want pasta, breadsticks, or both, these two sauces are your only options.

Olive Garden also has vegan raspberry sauce. However, there’s no dish that you can pair it with. So, technically, this sauce is useless unless you want to dip your breadsticks in it.


Fortunately, there are many vegan beverages at Olive Garden. Their drinks come with non-alcoholic and alcoholic options. Selections may vary by branch, so better check the menu for a more accurate choice.

Non-Alcoholic Beverages

  • Classic Lemonade
  • Raspberry Lemonade
  • Freshly Brewed Iced Tea
  • Bellini Peach-Raspberry Iced Tea
  • Mango-Strawberry Iced Tea
  • Strawberry Passion Fruit Limonata
  • Ginger Ale

Alcoholic Beverages

  • Italian Margarita
  • Italian Rum Punch
  • Spiked Strawberry Lemonade
  • Strawberry Bellini
  • Peach Bellini
  • Amaretto Sur
  • Blue Hawaiian
  • Berry Sangria
  • Watermelon Moscato Sangria
  • Green Apple Moscato Sangria

Vegan Tips and Tricks at Olive Garden

Some menu items at Olive Garden may look vegan (like Eggplant Parmigiana, Gluten-free Rotini, Italian Salad Dressing, etc.), but the truth is, they are not. We don’t want you to end up ordering non-vegan food and regret it later, so you better keep these things in mind.

Bring Some Protein

There’s not much protein in Olive Garden’s vegan options. Be creative and bring a few vegan meatballs, beans, and other plant-based protein food. You can pair them with your pasta meal.

Be ready with your Vegan Dressing

If you’re not a fan of olive oil and vinegar, we suggest you bring your own vegan dressing. The house dressing at Olive Garden has animal-based ingredients, so it’s best to come ready.

Check-in With Your Favorite Vegan Cheese

Can’t you eat pasta without cheese? Well, sad to say, Olive Garden cheese is not vegan-friendly either. They are made from eggs or cow’s milk. Hence, before coming here, check in with plant-based cheese.

Choose a Fruity Flavored Drink as a Dessert

Vegans are not lucky with desserts at Olive Garden. The restaurant is yet to veganize their bunch of dessert selections. While we wait for them to veganize their brownies, lasagna, or tiramisu, you can end your meal with a sweet beverage or sneak in some snacks before checking in here.

Go for raspberry lemonade, mango-strawberry iced tea, or alcoholic drinks like the Strawberry Bellini, Spiked Strawberry Lemonade, and other cocktails. You can also order the raspberry sauce if it’s enough as a dessert.

Feel Free to Make Requests

Before ordering at this restaurant, ask the server whether the dish is vegan. If not, you ask them to remove non-vegan ingredients and substitute them with vegan-based ingredients. This is a well-known hack among vegans dining at Olive Garden. You don’t need to feel ashamed when making requests.

The Bottom Line: Can Vegans Dine at Olive Garden?

Olive Garden is not the most vegan-friendly restaurant out there, but they are vegan-friendly. They have plenty of vegan options that are worth trying. While most of the menu items are non-vegan, the fact that they are inclusive for those who want a compassionate vegan lifestyle makes this restaurant worth visiting.

So, yes! Vegans can dine at Olive Garden. The restaurant cares for its vegan customers. They highlight vegan options on their menu, provide exceptional space for vegans on their website, and allow you to customize your order to make it vegan. These facts are just enough to make up for their limited vegan options.

Already tried dining at Olive Garden? Did you leave the place satisfied or the other way around? Let us know in the comments below!


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