Are there any vegetarian or vegan options at Golden Corral?

5 minute read | Published: March 09, 2024

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If you’ve been to a Golden Coral buffet, you’ll agree that it’s a gastronomic experience unlike any other. There are so many dishes to choose from, and there’s always something for everyone.

For those with a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle, this restaurant is a great choice as well. I know it can be difficult looking for plant-based options in a buffet price, but with Golden Corral, it’s not.

Here’s what Golden Corral has to say about the matter:

At Golden Corral reservation, we support the freedom to eat what you love, or quite possibly, what you need. From meat and potatoes to plant-based diets, our buffet of almost 150 items accommodates almost every nutrition plan, helping you stay within your health goals and leave feeling satisfied with your meal.”

A Quick Discussion About Vegetarian and Vegan Diets

Many people are familiar with a vegetarian diet – it does not include any meat or seafood. But it’s not really straightforward. Some vegetarians may eat dairy foods and eggs, while others may avoid dairy, or eggs or both.

A vegan diet is a form of vegetarianism wherein the individual will only eat plant foods and stay away from foods coming from animals like meat, seafood, eggs, dairy, gelatin and in some cases, honey.

While ‘vegetarian’ usually translates to ‘plant-based’ there are several types of vegetarian diets. The main types are:

1. Lacto-ovo-vegetarian

People who do not eat any seafood and meat but consume dairy foods, eggs and plant-based foods.

2. Lacto-vegetarian

Those who do not consume seafood, meat and eggs, but eat plant foods and dairy.

3. Ovo-vegetarian

They do not eat seafood, meat and dairy foods, but include eggs and plant foods in their diet.

4. Vegan

Vegans avoid all animal foods and solely eat plant foods.

While not strictly vegetarian, there are two other types of diet that still focus on limiting or reducing the amount of animal products consumed. They are:


People who consume seafood, dairy foods, eggs and plant foods, but not meat.


Those who have a plant-based diet but at times may consume small portions of seafood and meat. Others refer to them as ‘semi-vegetarian’.

Now going back to the original question for this post – Are there any vegetarian or vegan options at Golden Corral?

One reddit user shares:

“I went to a Golden Corral restaurant for the first time and I was pleasantly surprised. It was my mother’s birthday yesterday and she wanted to eat at Golden Corral buffet, here deep in the southern U.S.”

She continues:

“I had never been to one before and, as a vegetarian, I had pretty low expectations. Didn’t expect much more options than the salad bar.

There was actually a wide variety of food to eat and I left full and happy. In addition to a nice salad and some fresh fruit, there was one veggie soup (tomato and okra soup over rice), a variety of steamed and sauteed veggies, baked, mashed, and fried potatoes, baked beans that actually didn’t have bacon in them (and green beans that did), various bread, sweet potato casserole, mac n cheese.

Then there were all kinds of deserts. I had apple cobbler, ice cream and coffee.”

So to answer the question of whether or not there are vegetarian and vegan options at Golden Corral, the answer is a big YES.

Let’s list some of the options you’ll find in the buffet spread. Take note however that, according to Golden Corral’s website, they change their menu items often so there may be times when some of the items we’ll list below are unavailable. Also if you’re not sure of a particular item, I recommend that you ask your server about it.


The hot buffet offers an impressive array of vegetarian and vegan selections, yet it’s crucial not to mistake the “seasoned” beans and veggies for the “southern style.” Opting for the latter may inadvertently introduce ham hock into your meal. Moreover, be mindful that the sautéed and steamed vegetables may incorporate dairy ingredients.

  • Seasoned Black-Eyed Peas
  • Seasoned Northern Beans
  • Seasoned Pinto Beans
  • Rice
  • Mexican Rice
  • Refried Beans
  • Seasoned Wedge French Fries
  • Spaghetti Noodles
  • Spring Rolls
  • Squash, Tempura Battered
  • Steak House Fries
  • Sweet Potato Fries, Cinnamon Sugar
  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Green Beans
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Corn
  • Cabbage
  • Beans
  • Taco Shells
  • Tortilla Bowl
  • Tortilla Chips
  • White Rice
  • Yellow Squash
  • Zucchini, Tempura Battered


  • Apple Fruit Topping
  • Cherry Fruit Topping
  • Grits
  • Homemade Strawberry Jam
  • Maple Syrup
  • Peach Fruit Topping
  • Pineapple Fruit Topping
  • Strawberry Fruit Topping
  • Sugar Free Pancake Syrup


  • Candied Orange Slices
  • Chopped Nuts
  • Cherry Cobbler
  • Chocolate Syrup
  • Cotton Candy
  • Mini Pie, Strawberry
  • Mini Lemon Cream Tarts


  • Saltines
  • Baked Potatoes
  • Oyster Crackers
  • Baked Sweet Potato
  • Captain’s Wafers

Making the Most of Your Vegetarian/Vegan Buffet Meal at Golden Corral

Clearly, with the abundance of vegetable-based options available at Golden Corral, creating a satisfying and nutritious meal is more than possible. But before you head to the restaurant, take a look at some tips on how you can make sure your meal is not only healthy, but also filling and well-balanced.

Vegetarian and plant-based foods offer a multitude of advantages, from being more environmentally friendly to providing essential nutrients for optimal health. Not only do they have a smaller carbon footprint, but they also tend to be rich in vitamins, minerals, fiber, and healthy fats.

Incorporating vegetarian dishes into your routine, even if just for occasional “vegetarian days,” can introduce you to a world of flavorful options beyond the usual fare. So don’t be surprised if you find some of the most delectable dishes hiding among the vegetarian offerings; they’re much more than mere side dishes!

According to the Finnravinto 2017 study, a staggering 80% of Finns fell short of the recommended half-kilo serving of vegetables. For those inclined towards vegetarian fare, meeting this goal becomes more attainable, with a positive impact on gut health, cholesterol levels, vitamin intake, and overall mood.

Choosing Plant-Based Proteins

While there are plenty of meat substitutes out there, they don’t always match up to their protein-rich counterparts. It’s essential, especially for vegetarians, to be able to identify protein powerhouses of the plant world. Complete proteins are important for maintaining a balanced diet.

Here are my top picks:

  • Tofu: Silky or firm, tofu is a versatile favorite among vegetarians, offering approximately 13g of protein per 100g serving.
  • Edamame: These vibrant green soybeans are not only tasty but also pack around 11g of complete protein per 100g serving.
  • Quinoa: With its nutty flavor and impressive protein and fiber content (4g protein and 3g fiber per 100g serving), quinoa makes for a nutritious base in salads and main dishes.
  • Tempeh: Made from fermented soybeans, tempeh boasts up to 19g of protein per 100g serving, making it a hearty addition to any meal.
  • Rice and Beans: This classic combination forms a complete protein when paired, offering a complementary mix of amino acids.
  • Pistachios: While less common, pistachios are a delightful source of complete protein, providing 20g of protein per 100g serving.
  • Buckwheat: As a gluten-free grain, buckwheat offers 13g of protein per 100g serving, making it a nutritious choice for bread or as a standalone dish.
  • Hemp Seeds: Rich in protein and essential fatty acids, hemp seeds contain up to 25g of protein per 100g serving, perfect for adding to smoothies or salads.
  • Chia Seeds: Though they require soaking, chia seeds offer a convenient source of protein (18g per 100g serving) and can be incorporated into various dishes, including desserts like chia pudding.

Enjoying a Vegetarian Meal at a Buffet

Buffets are a popular dining option and for many, Golden Corral is always one of the top choices. However, for vegetarians (and even more so for vegans), navigating a buffet can sometimes be tricky.

But the truth of the matter is that there are plenty of delicious and filling choices available, and the tips I’m about to share should help you choose options at the buffet with ease and confidence:

1. Go around before choosing.

When you first arrive at the buffet, check the food stations to see what’s available. You should find some steamed rice, stir-fried veggies, tofu, steamed veggies and more.

2. Load up on veggies

Look for options like broccoli with garlic sauce, sautéed green beans, etc. These dishes are not only tasty but also full of vitamins and minerals.

3. Go for noodles and white rice.

At Golden Corral you may find noodles and rice which are perfect for vegetarians. These go great with vegetable side dishes for a hearty meal.

4. Don’t be afraid to customize your plate.

If you don’t see a specific vegetarian dish you like, be sure to ask the buffet staff if they can create a custom dish for you. They usually accommodate special requests, so don’t be afraid to ask.

5. Save some room for dessert.

After enjoying a delicious and satisfying vegetarian meal, don’t forget the dessert. Golden Corral offers vegetarian or vegan-friendly sweets like candied fruits, cotton candies, pies and tarts.

With these tips, you can tailor your dining experience to suit your taste and dietary preferences. Although not necessarily a vegan or vegetarian buffet, you can find quality dishes at Golden Corral that will suit your vegan or vegetarian lifestyle. As their tagline goes, Golden Corral is “the only one for everyone.”

Category: Dietary Info