Culver’s Gluten Free Bun Is Not Worth It

culver'sA few days ago, I had many after school activities going and I had just a short time in between my daughter’s speech team practice and her dance, so I decided to stop in at Culver’s ( a Midwestern burger franchise). We don’t usually eat here often because I have had cross contamination, but sometimes it is our only option.  Usually we order a cheeseburger with no bun and have them flag our order as an allergy. That day, as we walked in the door, I noticed a sign saying they offered Udi’s gluten free buns.  I was happy to see that the awareness of gluten free had finally reach a local fast food establishment. As I expected, there was an extra charge for the bun as there commonly is with gluten free foods.  I have used Udi’s before, but I still prefer my homemade.  So my daughter ordered her usual cheeseburger, pickles, ketchup, and onions but with a gluten free bun this time.  She was eagerly anticipating having a cheese burger with a bun.

udi's buns in a bag

 When the order came we were shocked.  It looked nothing like the picture which advertised the buns.  Now, I know because I am in food writing, that they take extreme measures to make the pictures look appealing.  But THIS was extreme!  I did not get a picture of the cheese burger, but the bun had to be at least 3″ thick.  It swallowed up the hamburger patty which was tiny in comparison to the bun. Unfortunately, this is common with commercial gluten free hamburger buns. They must have cut half of each bun off to take the picture in the ad, because this was ALL bun.  My daughter said she couldn’t taste any of the cheeseburger because it was all bun.

Udi's packaged

After the initial disappointment.  My daughter used the bottom bun as a plate and proceeded to finish the cheeseburger without a bun. Why do gluten free bread manufactures have to compensate  for lack of quality by making it bigger?  Just give me something that is similar to a normal bun. My homemade is more manageable in size.

I do have to give Culver’s credit as they did serve it as you see in the picture on the right, packaged, and we had to assemble the cheese burger. They even had a message on the sign that it was sealed for our protection and to limit cross contamination the cheese burger would need to be assemble by the customer. That was great, I loved that they thought of that. So they got a plus for taking cross contamination into account.

However, as for us, we will probably return at some point, our lives are super busy; but we will still keep to ordering our cheeseburger without a bun.

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Leave a Reply 7 comments

Michelle - April 8, 2015 Reply

Red Robin uses Udis buns, but they mysteriously come to the table soft, warm and of normal thickness. I find this baffling since my experience with Udis buns at home has been like yours- always end up throwing out the bun. I was hopeful that Culvers had also adopted the secret method for making them palatable…reading your post has me really bummed out. I have tried heating them in the microwave and oven, but they are still inedible. If somebody knows the secret, please share it with me. (and Culvers) I just found out about the buns and was pretty stoked at the idea of a gf butterburger.

Todd - April 19, 2015 Reply

I have to say, I couldn’t disagree with this post more. It is far and away the best gluten free bun I have had. Soft, pillowy…nothing like the dry inedible buns I’m used to. It is a little big. But I compensated for that by getting a double butter burger. And it was amazing!!!!!

    Leanne Overlander - April 19, 2015 Reply

    Thank you for your comment and being honest. I am glad you had a good experience, I just can’t eat that much food.

Paul Leer - April 23, 2015 Reply

I was just in a Culver’s a few day ago and on the counter was a sign “now serving Udis gluten-free buns.” I was pretty ecstatic since my son has Celiac. He wasn’t with me at that time but we went back today to try them. I’m not a huge fan of the buns you buy at the store. They are dry and way too big, too much bread, 1/2 of which generally gets thrown away (same with their hot dogs buns).

I also buy him the Udis bagels and generally use a bread knife to trim and thin them down just to fit in toaster. After reading the write up about the buns I actually took a bread knife with me to trim down the hamburger bun if necessary.

Have to say I was more than pleasantly surprised. The size seemed a bit smaller than the store bought, and heated in the sealed bag kept it very soft. He and I both thought it was very good with the burger. This was his first time at Culver’s. I am not a regular customer there, in fact have only been twice in the last 2-3 yrs, but with the new gluten-free bun I will be keeping them in a rotation from now on.

Now, if we can only get them to use a dedicated fryer for frys. :/ He ended up getting cole slaw as his side.

Frieda C - May 31, 2015 Reply

The gluten free bun at Culvers is the best ever. So much better than the smaller hard bun at Red Robin. Even the Udi bun purchased at grocery stores are not as good. They too are small and difficult to keep from being hard and dry. Culvers must have a special specification to get the Udi buns so soft and good.

Frieda C

Lee Bernstein - July 7, 2015 Reply

For me, it varies from Culvers to Culvers. I’ve learned that, in many locations, they only thaw four buns per shift. Then, when someone orders a gluten-free burger, they microwave the bun for 10 seconds.

I’ve always had a wonderful bun (and I’m not a fan of Udi’s otherwise), until my last visit. I came toward the end of a shift, and I ordered two gluten free hamburgers — one to have for lunch and another to save and have for dinner.

The lunch bun wasn’t good, but the dinner bun was fine. I can only speculate, but I bet they ran out of thawed buns and microwaved a frozen one in order to fill my order.

Also, I’ve noticed that the frozen custard varies from Culvers to Culvers, too. Has anyone else noticed this? At some locations, the custard melts quickly and is more watery than others. I wonder if they have a choice in what they offer. Not sure about now, but years back, Dairy Queen DID. Some would use a higher quality mix than others.

Thanks so much for this blog post. I enjoyed it.

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