Gluten Free

Is Cava Falafel Gluten Free? + Cava Gluten Free Options

Mediterranean restaurant chain Cava is well-known for its nutritious salads and bowls. One thing I love about Cava is that, just like Chipotle, you can customize your meals and decide what I want or don’t.

However, if you are on a dietary restriction, ensure to always make your order in person, let their staff know you need a gluten-free dish as per your dietary restrictions, and they will take all necessary steps to ensure your meal isn’t contaminated.

A plate filled with golden-brown, crispy falafel accompanied by that tantalizing skhug garlic dressing will excite any palate, but is cava falafel gluten free? Here is everything you need to know.

Is Cava Falafel healthy?

This can be a tricky question, as with every other chain, Cava could have secret recipes that may not sit well with individuals with certain dietary restrictions, and other factors such as preparation methods and the size ordered could determine if it is healthy or not.

Traditional falafel is derived from fava beans or chickpeas, which are healthy and will provide you with proteins and fiber. However, Cava could possibly include fats as filers, which is why you should always make known what you want and how you want it. The good news is that they are always ready to make your dish just as you want it.

Another aspect to look into is the accompanying sauce. Sauces such as tahini have a high fat and calorie content. But Cava usually uses a Middle Eastern sauce, skhug, paired with garlic dressing. The skhug is healthy, with 80 calories per serving, zero cholesterol, and a gram of saturated fat.

Fire-roasted falafel or air-fried falafel is always better than fried falafel as it will contain less oil, which equates to fewer calories.

What Is in Cava Falafel? And what is their gluten status?

Depending on the falafel ordered (spicy falafel or crispy falafel), you could find the following:

Ingredient Gluten Status Used in Crispy Falafel Used in Spicy Falafel
Chickpeas or Fava Beans Typically gluten-free Yes Yes
Herbs and Spices Typically gluten-free Yes Yes
Onions Typically gluten-free Yes Yes
Baking Soda Typically gluten-free Yes Yes
Hot peppers (for the spicy version) Typically gluten-free No Yes
Gluten-Containing Binders (e.g., breadcrumbs) Contains gluten Possible, check Possible, check

Is Cava falafel Gluten Free?

Unfortunately, cava falafel is not gluten-free, including the spicy falafel and the crispy falafel. The pita bread used in making the crispy falafel contains wheat, which is a known gluten allergen. The binders used in cava falafel contain gluten, and it is clearly stated on cava’s website that both variations of falafel contain wheat.

Beyond the ingredients that are not gluten-free, there is a high risk of cross-contamination as a kitchen and fryers are shared. Both gluten-containing and non-gluten-contained foods are made in the same place by the same people, who may not change their gloves or clean their countertops or pieces of equipment properly.

From my personal experience at Cava, the staff are quite knowledgeable about celiacs. And at the mention of gluten sensitivity, they will refer you to their nutritional guide to show you their gluten-free menus. Also, they change their gloves, wash their hands, and clean up utensils at request, but again, it is not 100% guaranteed that your meal may be free from gluten.

Cava Gluten Free Options

In truth, it is hard to tell what could be gluten-free in a chain since utensils are shared. However, in accordance with Cava’s allergen guide and my personal experience of eating at Cava, I will be highlighting gluten-free dishes.


The following greens and grains options don’t contain wheat or other gluten allergens:

  • SuperGreens
  • Romaine
  • Arugula
  • Black Lentis
  • Saffron Basmati Rice
  • Baby spinach
  • Brown rice
  • SpledidGreens
  • RightRice

Curated Bowls

The following CAVA’s curated bowl options are gluten-free:

  • Chicken and RightRice
  • Greek Salad
  • White Sweeet Potato and Feta
  • Harissa Avocado


These are the toppings that don’t contain wheat or other gluten constituents:

  • Cabbage Slaw
  • Persian Cucumber
  • Shredded Romaine
  • Tomato and cucumber
  • Tomato and onion
  • Pickled Onions
  • Crumbled Feta
  • Kalamata Olives
  • Salt-Brined Pickles
  • Lentil Tabbouleh


  • Roasted white sweet potato
  • Grilled Chicken
  • Harissa Honey Chicken
  • Spicy lamb meatballs
  • Grilled Meatballs
  • Braise Lamb
  • Roasted  Vegetables

Dips and spreads

  • Hummus
  • Harissa
  • Crazy Feta
  • Tzatziki
  • Red Pepper Hummus
  • Roasted Eggplant


  • Strawberry Citrus
  • Horizon Chocolate Milk
  • Unsweetened black tea
  • Classic Lemonade
  • Jasmine Tea
  • Spindrift Lemon
  • Spindrift Cucumber
  • Sweet Tea
  • Horizon 1% Milk
  • Maine Root Soda
  • Honest Apple Juice
  • Spindrift Grapefruit
  • Spindrift Raspberry Lime
  • Cucumber Mint Lime
  • Spindrift Blackberry
  • Blueberry Lavender


  • Hot Harissa Vinaigrette
  • Tahini Caesar
  • Preserved Lemon Vinaigrette
  • Skhug
  • Yogurt Dill
  • Garlic Dressing
  • Greek Vinaigrette
  • Lemon-Herb Tahini


All the sides are free of gluten.

Final thoughts

The primary reasons why Cava’s falafel is not gluten-free are the use of wheat-containing pita bread in the crispy falafel and the inclusion of gluten-containing binders. As a result, Cava’s falafel dishes pose a risk for those with gluten-related dietary restrictions.

Despite the efforts of the knowledgeable and accommodating staff who are willing to make your meal to order, change gloves, and clean utensils upon request, there remains a high risk of cross-contamination in the shared kitchen environment.

However, that’s not to say you can’t enjoy a gluten-free meal at Cava. Cava offers a range of gluten-free options as covered above. Have points we didn’t cover? Feel free to let us know!

Cortiso Davids

My culinary adventure began at an early age when I would stand on a chair to help my mom stir pancake batter. Over the years, I've honed my skills and knowledge, drawing inspiration from family recipes, celebrated chefs, and the vibrant food cultures that make our world so diverse and fascinating.

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