Gluten Free at Motorway Services

Gluten Free at Motorway Services

Even been stuck on a motorway services and just can't find anything except chocolate and crisps? I know I have. But there are some options out there, just not always easy to get.
Travelling Gluten Free isn't easy. On motorways it is for some reason doubly hard, despite there being multiple food outlets so many just don't cater to Coeliacs, so we thought we would do a quick guide of where you can eat on motorway services.

The first one that comes to my mind is Roadchef's own venture into cafes, Fresh Food Cafe, there are only 10 up and down the UK motorways but these cafes are one of few that cater very well to Coeliacs with their own allergy menu and they seem to understand cross contamination, at least the one we went to did. They do a range or wraps, sandwiches and main meals as well as the odd snacks. You can find a Fresh Food Cafe at these services:-

Gluten Free sandwich from Fresh Food Cafe
Gluten Free sandwich from Fresh Food Cafe
Chester M56 (J14)
Clacket Lane M25 (between J5 and J6)
Northampton M1 (J15a)
Norton Canes M6 Toll (between JT6 and JT7)
Rownhams M27 (between J3 and J4 Westbound only)
Sandbach M6 (between J16 and J17 Northbound only)
Strensham M5 (between J7 and J8 Northbound Only)
Taunton Deane M5 (between J25 and J26 Southbound Only)
Tibshelf M1 (between J28 and J29)
Watford Gap M1 (between J16 and J17)

You can read our review of Tibshelf Fresh Food Cafe here. We found them very helpful when we went and it has a better choice that most Motorway outlets can offer, so if you are near one we can highly recommend.

If you are not near a Fresh Food Cafe there are some other options, most services have either a Costa or a Starbucks, now they don't have much choice but if you are desperate there is at least something. Costa usually have a wrap, as do Starbucks, however if you are late in the day you will find it virtually impossible to get one as they don't tend to stock many. Costa have a choice of cakes for a quick snack, these are always by the till wrapped, Starbucks will usually have brownies and if you ask they will give you one wrapped. When it comes to drinks the majority at both are gluten free, but there is a few to be weary of, hot chocolate mostly. Take a look at this blog, if you want a bit more info about these outlets.

Waitrose and M&S have also started popping up in many services, honestly, they are small outlets and don't do much of the gluten free range that the bigger stores offer. We have found in some of the M&S's that you can get their Made Without Wheat sandwiches with the regular take away sandwiches. Waitrose tend to do a few bits of their GF range but it is usually limited to rice cakes and a few odd bits though. We did get a salad in Waitrose though at a few services so that at least is an option. Always beware that they are small outlets on the services and don't offer many options and tend to run out fast.

McDonalds burger with no bun
McDonalds burger with no bun
Another choice if you are desperate is McDonalds, however they are very busy at the services so cross contamination is more of a risk than normal, if you are prepared to risk if you could have a big mac without the bun (which they usually serve in a breakfast tray),and usually chips are fine but always ask as some branches fry other items in the fryers too. Just be aware of the cross contamination and that not all outlets take nicely to being asked for burgers without buns, we have heard of many people not being served as they wouldn't sell without the bun!

If you are very lucky, check in WH Smiths, they have been known to stock the odd gluten free Urban Eats wrap, but it's rare, worth a check though if you are starving.

If you are travelling to Cumbria you might have a bit of luck at Tebay Services, (J38 of the M6) they have a little farm shop which has some gluten free available, it also has a cafe which doesn't offer much but does usually have a cake available. If you want breakfast they do have an option or two, and for lunch there is soup and other options available, but remember they will be catering to the majority, which unfortunately for us is people without dietary issues, so remember they may not have too much to offer.

Ed's Diner are due to open 3 outlets on motorways soon, M1 at Peterborough, M1/M25 at South Mimms and A14 at Cambridge. Ed's have a full gluten free menu with burgers and hotdogs and are fab in terms of cross contamination knowledge.

Unfortunately many times I have had to take a pack lunch in case I couldn't get anything, so this is probably the best way to go if you know you are going on a long journey, of course you could strike gold and find somewhere suitable to eat but always go prepared!

If you know of anywhere else you can get some food on the motorway feel free to drop a comment!

Your Comments

I tried the 'Fresh Foods' at Sandbach North recently and asked what they could provide Gluten Free and th response I received was like I'd come from a different planet! Ended up in Costa instead for an overpriced underfilled Turkey & Cranberry wrap!

David L Finnis - 30th January 2016

Welcome Break services have Starbucks at all services with a gluten free range and most have a Subway again with gluten free options ... Their staff are really helpful with their allergen advice ... If you go to Fleet, Birchanger, Oxford and Mimms services they also have a brand called Tossed who serve really tasty gluten free salads and jacket potatoes - chicken chipotle salad is to die for !

Helen - 30th January 2016

As lm a lorry driver I find it very hard to find gluten free food any where .

clwud jones - 30th January 2016

The Cobgam Services on the M25 are excellent. They have an Indian outlet and one that does does noodles and rice. Both have gluten free options (couldn't have the noodles but had at least 3 choices of sauces to go with the rice).

Kate - 30th January 2016

If you go into the main cafe at Tebay and ask for a gluten free sandwich they will make you one . Never failed too disappoint me yet .

Alan Wright - 30th January 2016

Tebay services in Cumbria have a new (well new to me....) services on the M5 close to Gloucester.
Well worth a visit. The butchers is wonderful...proper meats.
The important they do indeed appear to understand the Coeliac lifestyle....which is always a bonus...

May you always be safe...

Janet Woodward - 15th March 2016

Great to see the Fresh Food Cafe at Taunton Deane mentioned. However, back in January at gone 9 pm on a sunday night it was a no go. We had been visiting some members of the family who had recently been bereaved and left Bristol later than we ought. We were very hungry and stopped at Taunton deane. I got really excited when I spied a big board saying gluten free available and bounced up to the counter, to be greeted by a cheery (not) 'We're closed!!'. Apparently, fixated on the menu board that said gluten free I had not seen that the baby high chairs strategically placed at intervals was actually their way of shutting their doors. Lol. Disappointing. The coffee shop did have a wrap but wanted something more substantial and there was no choice but to have a burger without bun from McDonalds which basically filled a hole but was in no way enjoyable. Would love to know what I could have had if we had arrived perhaps even 15 minutes earlier.

Sue - 22nd March 2016
Alison @ Coeliac Sanctuary replied to this comment on 24th March 2016

Oh that's unfortunate Sue, they were very good when we went one in Derbyshire, we actually reviewed Fresh Food Cafe a fair while back now -

Having read your helpful page and comments we turned up at Cherwell service station on the M40 with our 8 year old coeliac and little hope. However, the M & S was amazing. 5 different fresh gluten free sandwiches/wraps including jer absolute favourite - prawn! Also 2 stands full of gf bread, crisps, biscuits. She was jumping up and down with the excitement of having a choice! My only worry is that there were quite a few sandwiches left at 7pm so they may not stock them for long :(

Katherine - 15th October 2017

Having been recently diagnosed and someone who regularly travels up and down the country, I did an internet search for ‘gluten free Motorway Services’, which brought me here. I was initially disappointed to find how poorly catered for we are (but now realise that’s just how it is in most places)....
Anyway, heading north late last night I was due to pass Northampton Services so decided to check out the Fresh Food Cafe. I was impressed!
Although at first I only spotted a few gf cakes, I mentioned to the member of staff that I’d read that they were good for gf and she immediately reached for their ‘menu’ but also said that she could make any of the sandwiches ‘on the top shelf of the chiller’ on gluten free bread for me! I mentioned cross contamination and she told me that they have a separate prep area for gf. I ordered a sandwich and had it freshly made....!
Excellent service and the bread was pretty good too. This will be a regular stop for me in future.

Chris - 13th January 2018

Just been to Road Chef’s Fresh Food Cafe at Tibshelf on the M1 - no gluten free options at all. In fact the server handed me their allergens list and said ‘by law this is all we’re required to do, you have read through this to see if there’s anything you feel you can eat’. There wasn’t anything. So the only GF hot food option on the M1 this week is a chicken and pesto panino at Starbucks. However services with a Waitrose or an M&S Simply food have good GF sandwiches and Costa has a GF veggie wrap.

George King - 11th August 2018
Alison @ Coeliac Sanctuary replied to this comment on 14th August 2018

I have reviewed Tibshelf one in the past, granted it has been a while since I last went. They did do gluten free bread and wraps and the boards outside state they do gluten free (or did last time I was there a few months ago). Their website still states they offer gluten free bread. Sounds like staff have changed since I last ate there, they were really good, handed an allergen menu with a range of options I could have and happily made it. Shame some staff aren't as good, sounds like they have changed.

Just stopped at Sandbach services and no gluten free options very disappointing and perhaps worth updating the above info as we only stopped in that one due to this recommendation.

Mrs Hills - 3rd August 2019

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