Let’s cut to the chase: Olive Garden hacks are all about saving money and time so you can get right to the breadsticks for a whole heck of a lot less money.
You’re going to be shocked to see how many ways there are to save. Don’t forget to download the KCL app to find out when Olive Garden offers a deal you cannot miss.
Here we go!
1. Sign up for Olive Garden eClub and get a free appetizer.
Srsly. You have to sign up for Olive Garden eClub emails before you do anything else.
You’ll receive a coupon for a free appetizer or dessert (up to a $10 value) with the purchase of two adult entrees. The coupon expires in two weeks.
Once you get your emailed coupon, simply choose the “save to my phone” option and the server will scan the QR code on the coupon.
Be aware — this coupon takes almost a full 48 hours to receive, so don’t expect to sign up while you’re at the restaurant and then use the coupon on that trip.
Now you just have to decide between bruschetta and tiramisu. #dohardthings
2. Split your meal with your partner in order to use two coupons at once.
One coupon per purchase is the rule at Olive Garden. But the rules of Olive Garden hacks kindly suggest that you find a way to use two coupons.
Try this: If you and your partner’s money all lives in the same account anyway, the secret is to have them pay for half the meal with their card (and redeem one coupon) and you pay for the other half with yours (and redeem another).
3. Order Family Style Bundles for takeout and save almost 50%.
Olive Garden is pushing their Family Style Bundles (they say serves 4-6 but the portions are ginormous, so I’d say serves six easily) for take-out during the pandemic, and it turns out this is a great deal. They include house salad and breadsticks.
Here’s the math:
Compare to single portion entree $15.29 per serving
Save $7.13, or 47%
Compare to single portion entree $12.99 per serving
Save $6.41, or 49%
Compare to single portion entree $$16.99 per serving
Save $7.50, or 44%
4. Be sure to grab a $5 Take Home Entree for lunch the next day.
It’s gonna be cheaper than eating lunch out with your coworkers tomorrow!
Olive Garden will package up your Take Home Entree so it’s ready to go into the refrigerator.
Only downside? Salad and breadsticks aren’t invited to this party.
5. Best time to eat at Olive Garden is Monday through Thursday, 3 – 5 p.m.
This tip applies only if your local Olive Garden is open for dine-in.
Two words: Dinner Duos!
If you can get to Olive Garden early during the week, you’ll be rewarded with an $8.99 entree (including never-ending salad and breadsticks, like normal).
And I mean, we’ve all had to stand in that lobby for an hour (or longer!) waiting for a table at 6:30pm. Why not just skip that part if you can?
6. Use your Olive Garden gift cards at six different restaurants.
Olive Garden is a Darden restaurant, which means if you have an Olive Garden gift card, you can spend it at any of the six Darden restaurants.
- Longhorn Steakhouse
- Bahama Breeze
- Seasons 52
- The Capital Grille
- Eddie V’s
- Yard House
7. Even better, pay with a discounted gift card from Raise to save up to 6%.
Here’s the best little sneaky Olive Garden hack around.
Don’t ever buy full-face value gift cards from Olive Garden! Buy Olive Garden gift cards at a discount from Raise instead.
And even then, buy a gift card to whichever of the Darden restaurants have the best discount. Remember, they all take each other’s gift cards!
Right now, I’d buy an Olive Garden gift card. Check it out:
- Seasons 52: 4% off
- Olive Garden: 6.25% off
- Bahama Breeze: 4% off
- Eddie V’s: out of stock
- Longhorn Steakhouse: 5% off
- Yard House: 4% off
- Cheddar’s: 5% off
Use these gift card hacks to be sure you’re getting the most out of your gift cards.
8. Never pay full price for your kids to eat at Olive Garden!
About once every 2-3 months, Olive Garden runs week-long promotions where kids can eat for only $1.
Unless you just gotta have those breadsticks NOW, I recommend waiting for these promotions.
And since you’re now an eClub member, you should receive an email announcing the promotion.
9. Don’t buy the wine! Bring your own (cheaper) bottle instead.
Another secret hack for saving money at Olive Garden includes saving on wine.
Many Olive Garden locations allow you to bring in your own bottle of wine to enjoy with your Chicken Parm.
They charge what’s called a “corkage fee,” which can range from free to $7. This can save you a ton of money on your glass of wine. For example:
One bottle of Columbia Crest Merlot
- At Olive Garden: $33, $8.50 per glass
- Average price: $10.99, $2.75 per glass
Even if the corkage fee is as high as $7 (the highest I’ve found), you’re still saving $15 per bottle on this wine.
Be sure to call your local Olive Garden to check on this before you show up with your wine. Unfortunately, some restaurants won’t allow it. Ours does, though!
10. Sample up to three wines for free.
You’re allowed to sample up to three Olive Garden wines for no extra charge.
These samples tend to be generous, about a 3-ounce pour, so if your server doesn’t automatically offer to let you sample wines, just ask!
11. Employees get 50%-off meals after their shift.
This is one of the highest employee discounts I’ve seen.
Considering a career in the restaurant industry and you love pasta? You’re all set.
12. The healthiest menu item is the Minestrone Soup with House Salad.
Who says Olive Garden hacks are only for saving money? You can save calories too.
Olive Garden’s Minestrone Soup and a serving of House Salad without dressing comes in at only 310 calories.
Want something other than soup and salad?
Check out these other three relatively healthy menu items:
- Salmon Piccata: 470 Calories
- Chicken Piccata: 510 Calories
- Shrimp Scampi: 510 Calories
(Dear breadsticks: You may never be on this list, but we love you anyway! xoxo)
13. Olive Garden’s secret menu is basically whatever you want to eat.
Okay, within reason. “Secret” menu items at Olive Garden are essentially substitutions for menu items most people don’t know are possible.
For example, it’s technically still possible to get the discontinued Chicken Fettuccine Florentine. As long as the cooks have the ingredients on hand, you can order it.
Here are some things you can request that aren’t on the menu:
- Mixed alfredo + red sauce
- Extra sauce for no charge
- Raspberry dipping sauce for desserts
14. Get a gluten-free version of your pasta dish for no extra charge.
15. Ask your server to box up half your meal when they serve it to you. Voila! Two meals.
No judgment if you want to eat the whole darn meal!
Trust me because that’s the camp I live in.
However, if you’re looking to get more bang for your buck, ask your server to box up half your meal before it even arrives at your table.
Eat what’s on your plate, and fill up on free breadsticks and salad. It’s like you get two meals for the price of one, making each meal only an average of $6-$8 instead of $12-$16.
Bonus, they’ll also box up any leftover breadsticks and salad!
TIP: When you see the Never Ending Pasta Pass, buy it! While this deal sold out in minutes the last time Olive Garden offered it, if you’re one of the lucky ones, you can get unlimited pasta anytime you want over the course of nine weeks for just $100. In 2019, they created a Lifetime Pasta Pass for the first 50 people who purchased the Never Ending Pasta Pass. For another $400 you could get all the pasta, breadsticks and salad you want for the rest of your life. Crazy.
16. Get the best value with the never-ending pasta.
Even though it’s a limited-time promotion, at only $11.99 for all you can eat, Olive Garden’s never-ending pasta bowl is the best value for your money.
With six different pastas and six different sauces, there are enough combination possibilities to keep things interesting. (Toppings like veggies, meatballs or grilled chicken cost extra.)
17. Order “Half and Half” soup if you can’t decide which soup you want.
Olive Garden has four different kinds of soup — Minestrone, Chicken Gnocchi, Zuppa Toscana and Pasta e Fagioli.
But how do you decide? You mix and match. (Or you have four bowls in one sitting, but I digress….)
Ask your server to mix the Zuppa Toscana soup and Chicken Gnocchi together. Or enjoy the Pasta e Fagioli with the veggie-heavy Minestrone for less calories.
18. Buy $50 in gift cards during the holidays and receive $10 in bonus cards.
Mark. Your. Calendar.
Through the month of December and again in mid-April, Olive Garden gift cards are basically discounted. You can get a free $10 gift card when you buy a $50 gift card.
This deal is a must-do for all Olive Garden lovers during the holiday season, whether you give the gift card away as a gift or not. It’s essentially like getting an automatic 20% cash back in gift cards.
19. Make your own Olive Garden dishes at home with their free recipes.
Just go ahead and hack Olive Garden’s menu while you’re at it. They’re making it easy for you!
Olive Garden provides the exact recipes for several of their classic dishes.
This means if you’re craving Olive Garden Chicken Marsala, you can skip the Olive Garden prices and make it at home to taste just like the real thing.
20. You can order online and pick up in the store, but you won’t get the best value.
Part of getting the most bang for your buck at Olive Garden is filling up on bottomless salad and breadsticks.
21. Use the Olive Garden app to get on the wait list before you even reach the restaurant!
I have too many childhood memories of dying of hunger in the lobby of Olive Garden, waiting to be seated.
No more! Join the wait list at your local Olive Garden to get a head start on that wait. (Order a glass of wine while you’re waiting at the restaurant too!) With limited dining in most restaurants, this is a must.
This is by far the coolest reason to use the app.
22. Ask for an Italian soda even though it’s not on the menu.
Though no longer on the menu, you can still order an Italian soda with the flavors from the Olive Garden lattes.
A caramel Italian Soda will run you about $4.00.
23. Buy Olive Garden dressing in grocery stores.
If you’re making some of the authentic Olive Garden recipes, you can totally buy the salad dressing, cheeses and Italian seasonings actually used in the restaurants.
Most major retailers like Walmart and Target now carry Olive Garden products.
At only $3.50 a bottle, it might just be cheaper to make your own salad at home.