Spicy Chicken Sandwich- Wendy’s Copycat (Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Paleo/Whole 30 Option)

by Living Freely Gluten Free

One of my biggest frustrations from having food allergies is eating out. This has been an issue from day one and almost 6 years later, I am still frustrated.

Don’t get me wrong, the options nowadays are so much better than when I first went gluten free. Every once in a while I come across dedicated gluten free facilities and they are AMAZING. The frustration comes from eating somewhere with a gluten free menu or reading what is listed as ingredients and feeling confident, to only get sick.

If you suffer from an allergy or celiac disease, I know you have all felt my pain. Traveling is the WORST. I live in fear when I travel, almost to the point that I don’t want to anymore.

I am a coffee addict. Coffee makes me a better person and I absolutely love it. It is something that I never plan on giving up, unless I have to. The hard part about this is that I am sensitive to coffee. I realized this a few years back. When I lived in California I exclusively drank Peet’s Coffee. It had always been a favorite of mine. I purchased the beans from my local Costco and that is what we drank at home. If I ever grabbed a coffee I would go to Peet’s or my local Raley’s that brewed and sold it.

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When I moved to Washington I switched to a Kirkland brand (Starbucks beans) because Peet’s is not up here. I immediately started having major stomach issues and it took me almost a month to realize it was the coffee. I found over time that the only beans I KNOW I don’t react to are San Francisco’s Bay Organic and Peet’s. That is what I stick to simply out of fear. My symptoms with coffee are very similar to gluten. I get bloated, cramps and gas. I don’t typically get skin issues with it.
So when I travel, coffee becomes an issue. My body is obviously addicted to it and trying to skip it makes me miserable. I usually only travel to and from California and there are Peet’s everywhere. That is convenient, however, sometimes I just want to grab a coffee at the hotel and get my day started or order a cup at breakfast but I can’t. I am afraid of what could happen.

I steer clear of mixed drinks, ALWAYS. Mixed drinks ruined my entire 3 day trip to Mexico with my husband. It was our only vacation since getting married and to celebrate 10 years of being married, we took a quick trip without the kids. Mixed drinks made me beyond sick and I spent my vacation in fear. Fear of what might make me sick again. It was horrible.
I recently just took a trip to California to go to a concert with my best friend. I had been waiting for this concert for a very long time and they are my favorite band. This was something I was really looking forward to. We went out for dinner before the concert to PF Changs. I have eaten there a lot of times and never got sick because they are excellent with their gluten free options. I always stay away from mixed drinks and just order wine but my best friend got a margarita and after reading the ingredients I decided to get one too. BIG MISTAKE. Halfway through I began to feel short of breath, bloated and sick. I only had lettuce wraps and some soup. I was so bloated that I felt like I ate way more.
About 15 more minutes went by and my friend mentioned my chest was getting red (I am a ginger so redness on my skin isn’t abnormal). She then said they were red blotchy spots and getting bigger. At that point, I felt really bad. We went back to the hotel to drop off our food.  I looked in the mirror and almost had a heart attack. I had HUGE hives all over my chest, neck, shoulders and upper back. I was legit having an allergic reaction. Along with the hives I had shortness of breath and weak knees. This was something new; I had not experienced this before.
I was terrified that I was going to miss this concert. I had spent so much money to get here and I had literally been dreaming about it for months. I was determined to get through the night and enjoy it. I popped a probiotic, drank a bottle of water and used a hair tie to keep my high wasted pants on. The hives went away about an hour later and I still didn’t feel 100%, but I trekked through.
I went to bed late and ended up waking every hour for a run to the bathroom. You know that lovely symptom. So, I basically got 3 ½ hours of sleep, drank WAY too much wine and had the gluten hangover. It’s been 3 days and I am still not fully recovered. Needless to say, I will never ever as long as I live order a mixed drink from anywhere. Wine is it, from here on out.

I am glad I made it through. I did have a moment where I thought I was going to miss it. All because of an allergic reaction to something I consumed the right before. As far as I know, I am allergic to wheat/gluten, as well as lactose intolerant. If I topically come in contact with wheat, my skin reacts. If I get glutened my skin reacts, but never in hives.

Sometimes, this allergy makes me want to never leave my house, or to never eat out again. That carefree life of trying new restaurants or just spontaneously eating anything is over. That is hard, it was hard in the beginning and it is hard today. However, today I have my health. I am thankful for that. I will focus on the positive and learn from my mistakes. Sometimes, I know I am an inconvenience and I know that people might not want to bring me along or have me over because of that. I struggled with that too for a while, but I am ok with it now.

So for now, all of those foods that I once loved, I try to recreate myself. Although, sometimes having to cook everything sucks. What sucks more is spending an entire night awake while your body tries to remove all of the poison you ingested.  This recipe is one of the fast food items I loved the most. A Wendy’s Spicy Chicken Sandwich was in my top 5 of take out. Until I went gluten free, I got this for dinner at least once a week.
It is the perfect amount of spicy and to keep it traditional you can serve it with mayo, lettuce and tomato. It is easily made Paleo and Whole 30 by subbing the rice flour for tapioca starch and wrapping it in lettuce instead of a bun. Feel free to load it with any other topping you would like. Onions and avocados go great!

Serves 4


¼ Cup Coconut Oil

½ Cup Rice Flour

½ Cup Tapioca Starch

1 tsp. Salt

1 tsp. Granulated Garlic

½ tsp. Pepper

1 tsp. Chili Powder

1 tsp. Red Pepper Flakes

1 TBSP. Crushed Pepper

2 Eggs Beaten

2 Chicken Breasts Fillet and Pounded (Cut in half)

Gluten Free Buns





Optional: Avocado


1.       You will need 3 shallow bowls. One will contain the eggs, one for rice flour and one for tapioca starch.

2.       Add your seasonings to the tapioca starch.

3.       Heat the oil in a skillet and cut the chicken to be the correct size for your buns.

4.       Dip the chicken in the rice flour, eggs and then tapioca starch.

5.       Put the chicken in the hot oil and cook 5-7 minutes on each side. You want it to be golden brown with a slightly crunchy exterior. You can check the middle of one to make sure they are cooked through.

6.       Once the chicken is cooked through, place it on a plate lined with paper towels for 5 minutes to soak up the excess oil.

7.        Prepare your buns with mayo, lettuce and tomato. Add your chicken filet and serve. Enjoy!

*Paleo Option

In place of rice flour use tapioca starch, use 1 cup of tapioca starch in total. In place of a bun, wrap in your favorite lettuce.

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