What Are the Vegan Options at Golden Corral? (2020)

Golden Corral can be a frustrating place as a vegan. Most days, there will actually be quite a few vegan items at the buffet, but nothing is clearly labeled, so it’s hard to confirm anything.

The vegan options at Golden Corral vary depending on the location and day you visit. There should be a large variety of fruits and raw vegetables available at least. The flour tortilla, some beans, some cooked vegetables, and some pastas and rices are also vegan. You may need to ask staff about the details of preparation.

Below I’ll include long lists of vegan options you may see at Golden Corral (taken from their website). I’ll also share the patterns I noticed as far as which preparations contain animal fat and which ones don’t.

That said, this is one of the harder restaurants to pre-plan as a vegan. In the end, you’ll probably need to ask staff some questions if you want to be certain what you’re eating.

What to Avoid at Golden Corral (as a Vegan)

I noticed some patterns when looking through the Golden Corral’s nutrition info. There are different types of recipes they repeatedly use. Beans or veggies may appear as “Seasoned,” “Kettle Cooked,” or “Southern Style.”

Kettle Cooked” and “Southern Style” preparations contain dietary cholesterol, which clues me into the fact that they likely contain animal fat. Avoid these.

The Seasoned dishes, in contrast, do not contain dietary cholesterol. So together with being listed as dairy- and egg-free, they’re probably fully vegan.

Golden Corral Vegan Menu

One of the things that makes it hard to create (or use) a full vegan menu for Golden Corral is that they produce many similar dishes. Using the allergen guide on their website, I saw multiple green bean dishes, for example. Some contain milk, but others do not.

It was also hard to confirm 100% if any menu item is vegan. The website doesn’t have full ingredients lists, and they didn’t respond when I reached out. So the items below are my best estimate of what is vegan, based on the allergen guide, nutrition info, and my 13 years experience as a vegan.

Don’t expect to see everything below being served when you visit Golden Corral. This list should just be taken as an approximate guide to the kinds of vegan options you may find when you go to Golden Corral.

Bread

Most of the bread options at Golden Corral aren’t vegan, but we do have one option:

  • Flour Tortillas

Sides

  • Baked Potatoes
  • BBQ Baked Beans
  • Charro Beans
  • Fries, Seasoned Wedge
  • Fries, Steakhouse
  • Homestyle Stuffing
  • Linguini
  • Lo Mein
  • Okra, Fried
  • Onion Rings, Fresh Battered
  • Pagoda Rice
  • Penne Pasta
  • Plantains, Fried
  • Potato Chips, Homemade
  • Potato Chips, Homemade BBQ
  • Potatoes, French Fried
  • Spaghetti Noodles
  • Spring Rolls
  • Sweet Potato Fries
  • Taco Shells
  • Tater Tots
  • Tortilla Chips
  • White Rice
  • Yellow Rice

Crackers

  • Captain’s Wafers
  • Oyster Crackers
  • Saltines

Breakfast Items

  • Apple Topping
  • Applesauce
  • Blueberry Syrup
  • Cherry Topping
  • Cocoa Krispies Cereal
  • Corn Pops Cereal
  • Frosted Flakes Cereal
  • Fruit Loops Cereal
  • Grits
  • Maple Syrup
  • Oatmeal
  • Peach Topping
  • Pineapple Topping
  • Raisin Bran Cereal
  • Rice Krispies Cereal
  • Strawberry Syrup
  • Strawberry Topping
  • Sugar-free Syrup

Note: Some of the cereals listed may contain vitamin D that was sourced from lanolin (from sheep’s wool). I wrote this article about why I am personally okay with this as a vegan—but if you’re not, I’d advise you to avoid the cereals.

Vegetables

  • Asian Stir Fry Vegetables
  • Baked Sweet Potatoes
  • Black Beans, Seasoned
  • Black-eyed Peas
  • Broccoli, Steamed
  • Campfire Vegetable Medley
  • Cauliflower, Steamed
  • Collard Greens, Seasoned
  • Corn-on-the-Cob
  • Fried Jalapenos
  • Fried Mushrooms
  • Fried Pickles
  • Green Beans
  • Green Chilies
  • Machaca Beans
  • Northern Beans, Seasoned
  • Pinto Beans, Seasoned
  • Sauerkraut
  • Spinach
  • Spinach, Sauteed Fresh
  • Squash, Tempura Battered
  • Turnip Greens
  • Vegetable Trio
  • Zucchini, Tempura Battered

Salad Bar

  • Artichoke Hearts
  • Baby Carrots
  • Beet and Onion Salad
  • Beets
  • Black Olives
  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery Sticks
  • Cherry Peppers
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Chickpeas
  • Chopped Peanuts
  • Cucumbers
  • Diced Onions
  • Diced Tomatoes
  • Dill Pickle Spears
  • Dried Cranberries
  • Dried Onions
  • Fresh Onion Strips
  • Fruit Cocktail
  • Fruit Salad
  • Green Grapes
  • Green Olives
  • Green Peppers
  • Iceberg Lettuce
  • Kidney Beans
  • Lettuce
  • Lettuce Wedge
  • Mandarin Oranges
  • Marinated Garden Salad
  • Marinated Vegetable Salad
  • Mushrooms
  • Onions
  • Pasta Salad
  • Pecan Pieces
  • Pepperoncinis
  • Pickled Beets
  • Pico de Gallo
  • Red Grapes
  • Rice Noodles
  • Romaine Lettuce
  • Sesame Sticks
  • Sliced Almonds
  • Sliced Jalapenos
  • Soy Nuts
  • Spinach
  • Spring Lettuce Mix
  • Squash
  • Strawberries
  • Strawberry Spinach Salad
  • Summer Salad
  • Sunflower Seeds
  • Sweet Pickle Chips
  • Three Bean Salad
  • Tomato and Onion Salad
  • Tomato Slices
  • Tomato Wedges
  • Water Chestnuts
  • Zucchini

Fruits

  • Apples
  • Bananas
  • Blueberries
  • Cantaloupe
  • Fresh Grapefruit
  • Grapefruit Sections
  • Honeydew Melon
  • Kiwi
  • Lemon Wedges
  • Lime
  • Mango
  • Orange Slices
  • Papaya
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Pineapple
  • Pineapple Tidbits
  • Watermelon

Desserts

You may want to check with staff about some of these to see if they contain gelatin or lard. But most of them should be vegan:

  • Cherry Pie
  • Chocolate Cookie Crumbles
  • Chocolate Syrup
  • Cinnamon Imperials
  • Cookies ‘n’ Cream
  • Cotton Candy
  • Fruit Shaped Candy
  • Ice Cream Cones
  • Rice Krispies Cereal Topping
  • Sliced Candy Oranges
  • Sprinkles
  • Toasted Coconut

Sauces and Condiments

  • BBQ Sauce
  • Brown Sugar
  • Cocktail Sauce
  • Cranberry Sauce
  • Grape Jelly
  • Jelly, Reduced Sugar
  • Olive Oil
  • Salsa
  • Strawberry Jelly
  • Vegetable Oil

Beverages

  • Apple Juice
  • Barq’s Root Bear
  • Coca-Cola
  • Cherry Coke
  • Coke Zero
  • Coffee
  • Cranberry Juice
  • Diet Coke
  • Diet Dr Pepper
  • Fanta
  • FUZE Tea
  • Ginger Ale
  • Gold Peak Tea
  • Grapefruit Juice
  • Hi-C
  • Hot Tea
  • Lemonade
  • Orange Guava Juice
  • Orange Juice
  • Powerade
  • Sprite
  • Tomato Juice
  • Vitamin Water

Whole-Food Plant-Based Options

With each of my vegan guides to restaurants, I like to include a section on the whole-food plant-based (WFPB) options, too. This for those of you who are vegan for health reasons and trying to strictly avoid fried and processed food, too.

Golden Corral has a lot of raw fruits and veggies at the salad bar, so you can count on that, at least. This arguably actually makes Golden Corral better for WFPB than most chain restaurants.

You can just make a big salad, add fruit, add some seeds or nuts, and maybe add some unseasoned beans. If you want to dig into any of the hot dishes, you may need to ask about the preparation, though, as stated for the general vegan advice above!

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