Once you’ve committed to a vegan diet, you’ve made your mind up. Unfortunately, this can mean a big adjustment when it comes to eating out. Many restaurants have started catering to those on a vegetarian diet, but vegan isn’t always as easy to find, especially when it comes to pizza. Let’s look at some of the vegan-friendly options available at the popular California Pizza Kitchen (CPK) restaurant.
CPK establishments don’t currently cater to those on a vegan-friendly diet. However, they do have many dishes that can be made vegan-friendly, such as their Roasted Veggie Salad, Dakota Smashed Pea & Barley Soup, Bahn Mi Power Bowl, Plant-Based BBQ Chicken Pizza, Tomato Basil Spaghetti, and Half Grilled Veggie Sandwich, along with a select few sides and starters.
Now that we know it’s possible to have some vegan options at CPK restaurants, let’s take a deeper look at some of these options available and the modifications needed to make them fit a vegan lifestyle.
- Tips & Tricks for Ordering Vegan at California Pizza Kitchen
- Non-Vegan Foods to Avoid at California Pizza Kitchen
- Vegan-Friendly Options at California Pizza Kitchen
- Salads & Soups
- Main Dishes
- Find a California Pizza Kitchen Near You
- Similar Restaurants to California Pizza Kitchen
- Related Questions
Tips & Tricks for Ordering Vegan at California Pizza Kitchen
Although it may seem like an unnecessary challenge to try to order vegan food at a restaurant that is dedicated to pizza, a few small adjustments can open a lot of options on CPK’s menu. Below are some tips and tricks for ordering vegan at California Pizza Kitchen.
- Most items available at CPK can be made vegan-friendly by simply ordering them sans cheese and/or meat.
- CPK’s gluten-free pizza crust contains cheese and is not considered a vegan-friendly option.
- CPK has recently come out with a vegan and vegetarian-friendly plant-based chicken, dubbed “Don’t Call Me Chicken” that you can find on their Plant-Based BBQ Chicken Pizza or add as an add-on to other pizzas or salads.
- When it comes to salads, be sure to choose oil and vinegar as most of CPK’s salad dressings are not vegan. Some CPK dressings might be listed as dairy-free or egg-free but contain honey.
- CPK also offers pasta varieties that can be modified to fit a vegan-friendly diet by cutting out the cheese and using their tomato basil sauce and adding in some veggies.
Non-Vegan Foods to Avoid at California Pizza Kitchen
Although most items can be ordered without meat, cheese, or salad dressing to be vegan at CPK, not all their meals can be modified to be vegan-friendly. For example, those plates where the meat is the star of the show or when removing the meat and/or cheese will completely change the dish. Below are a few items you want to avoid ordering or attempting to alter if on a vegan diet.
- Szechwan chicken dumplings (chicken cannot be removed from dumplings for plant-based option).
Soups & Salads:
- Baked Potato Soup (made using cream and cannot be altered) and Sedona Tortilla Soup (contains milk for its base)
Main Dishes: (anything with meat as the main ingredients)
- Fire-Grilled Ribeye, Cedar Plank Salmon, Chicken Piccata, Crispy Fish Tacos, Chicken Tequila Fettuccine, Garlic Cream Fettuccini, Bolognese Spaghetti, Kung Pao Spaghetti, Jambalaya Linguini Fini, Shrimp Scampi Zucchini, Mac N’ Cheese, or any of their sandwiches as they would be essentially made into the Grilled Veggie sandwich.
- Currently, none of CPK’s desserts are vegan-friendly (Red Velvet Cake, Salted Caramel Pudding, and Key Lime Pie) or can be modified to be vegan-friendly however, you can substitute dessert for a side of fresh fruit from the kid’s menu.
Vegan-Friendly Options at California Pizza Kitchen
Below are some options that are vegan-friendly on their own or that require minimal adjustments to fit into a vegan diet. Keep in mind these recipes and ingredients may be altered by CPK at any time and it’s always best to confirm the ingredients in these foods before ordering.
Smashed Avocado Focaccia
Typically focaccia bread is already vegan-friendly if it does not contain any added cheeses for seasoning. CPK’s recipe includes fresh olive oil and herbs for seasoning. Topped with fresh avocado, greens, and herbs, this appetizer is light yet indulgent.
- Fresh avocado
- Baby greens
- Fresh basil
- Toasted sesame seeds
Vegetarian Lettuce Wraps
Choose the vegetarian option, which is also vegan-friendly, or add CPK’s plant-based chicken to make this appetizer a little more filling. These wraps also come with a spicy ginger soy sauce that is not vegan-friendly, consider swapping this out for oil and vinegar.
- Shiitake mushrooms
- Water chestnuts
Salads & Soups
Roasted Veggie Salad (Omit Dressing)
This delightfully light salad is 100% vegan-friendly however, the dressing is not. This salad comes with a Dijon balsamic vinaigrette originally. A simple swap from this to a simple oil and vinegar makes this a great vegan option.
- Warm artichoke hearts
- Red and yellow peppers
- Sundried tomatoes
- Romaine lettuce
Dakota Smashed Pea + Barley
A simple recipe made with green peas, barley, carrots, onions, herbs, and scallions, CPKs’ Dakota Smashed Pea + Barley soup is a winner on those cold winter days. This is one of the only soups CPK makes that does not contain meat or a dairy base.
- Green peas
- Savory herbs
Plant-Based BBQ Chicken Pizza (Omit Cheese and BBQ Sauce)
This pizza can be made vegan if ordered without cheese and BBQ sauce. All other vegetarian pizzas on their website can be vegan if ordered without cheese except for those with a cauliflower crust (wild mushroom, 5 cheese and fresh tomato, California veggie, and Margherita.) Instead of BBQ, you can substitute CPK’s marinara sauce which is 100% vegan friendly.
- Pizza crust
- Plant-based imitation chicken made from wheat and soy
- Red onions
- Fresh cilantro
Tomato Basil Spaghetti (Omit Cheese)
An easy option for those who enjoy pasta, drop the cheese and it’s 100% vegan. You can also add plant-based chicken to this dish to give it more protein.
- Pizza crust
- Spaghetti noodles
- Marinara sauce
- Sautéed garlic
- Fresh basil
Half Grilled Veggie Sandwich (Omit Cheese)
Another option off the vegetarian menu that can be ordered without cheese to be vegan-friendly. Although other sandwiches can be ordered without the cheese or meat to fit the criteria for a vegan diet, the Half Grilled Veggie Sandwich offers the most vegan-friendly ingredients.
- Grilled bell peppers
- Cremini mushrooms
- Baby greens
- House-made sun-dried tomato aioli
Bahn Mi Power Bowl (Omit Chicken and Sauce)
Ordered sans grilled chicken and chili lime vinaigrette dressing, CPK’s Bahn Mi Powder Bowl is a light, healthy vegan option. You can also sub this bowl with plant-based chicken for a closer alternative to the original.
- Baby kale
- Fresh cilantro
- Fresh mint
- Watermelon radish
- Fresh avocado
- Bean sprouts
- Sesame seeds
Made with seasonal fruit, this side is found on the kid’s menu and is 100% vegan-friendly.
Mediterranean side salad (Omit Cheese)
Order this light Mediterranean-style side salad with no feta or mustard herb vinaigrette, instead substitute with oil and vinegar and you have a vegan-friendly and highly nutritious side.
- Crisp romaine
- Roma tomatoes
- Garbanzo beans
- Black olives
- Red onions
Find a California Pizza Kitchen Near You
For those who are interested in trying some of the vegan options available at CPK, you can find their nearest restaurant here.
Their menu will differ slightly by location, especially for those restaurants located in Hawaii. CPK’s menu is constantly changing. If you are not familiar with this restaurant, consider looking at their menu before visiting so you know what your options are. Don’t be afraid to order items with substitutions or adjustments as people request these all the time and they are trained to make these adjustments.
Similar Restaurants to California Pizza Kitchen
For those who love CPK and are looking for other similar restaurants to try, below are a few popular options that provide similar-style foods. Each of these restaurants has an Italian-style menu that includes pizza.
Is CPK Marinara Sauce Vegan?
CPK’s marinara is considered a vegan-friendly sauce. Avoid their Bolognese, Jambalaya, Kung Pao, and Chicken Tequila sauces as these all contain meat, seafood, or dairy products. If ordering their marinara sauce, be mindful of what you choose to put it on. CPK’s tomato basil spaghetti is a vegan option, however, if added to their gluten-free cauliflower crust pizza, it is not. There are a lot of hidden animal products in CPK’s sauces and dressings. If you are ever unsure, always ask your server to clarify.
Are CPK’s Pasta Noodles Vegan-Friendly?
Not all CPK’s pasta noodles are vegan. Their multigrain penne and ravioli pasta contain eggs and should be avoided on a vegan diet. Their spaghetti noodles are vegan-friendly and can be enjoyed with their tomato basil marinara.
Why is CPK’s Tortilla Soup Not Vegan-Friendly?
CPK’s Sedona Tortilla Soup may appear vegan-friendly at first glance as it does not contain any chicken, however, their base uses dairy to add a creamy texture. Like their Baked Potato Soup, which uses cream in their base, these cannot be made or modified without the milk or cream. Currently, CPK’s only vegan-friendly soup is the Dakota Smashed Pea + Barley.