Are French Fries Gluten-Free?

Can you count on fries being gluten-free? Not really.

French fries

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Most french fries served in restaurants are not gluten-free because they're fried in a fryer that's also used to cook wheat-coated items such as battered chicken fingers. Many brands of store-bought frozen french fries and tater tots are gluten-free, but some are not.

The problem with french fries can be the ingredients themselves (beer batter french fries are obviously out, since beer contains gluten, and many seasoned and "extra crispy" coated varieties also include some wheat flour in their ingredients list). Alternatively, the problem can be the fries' preparation: when you cook otherwise gluten-free fries in a fryer that also is used for breaded items such as chicken fingers and onion rings, that oil will contaminate your fries.

Fortunately, you do have multiple gluten-free french fry options, both to enjoy at home and to order when you're dining out. Here's a rundown of what's available.

Fast Food Outlets with Gluten-Free French Fries

There's no question that some fast food restaurants are better choices for the gluten-free diet than others. The following fast food restaurants feature french fries made in a dedicated gluten-free fryer. However, to be safe, always check with the individual outlet to be certain workers there are using a separate fryer.

  • Burger King (Note that not all locations have a separate fryer.)
  • Chick-Fil-A
  • Five Guys Burgers & Fries
  • In N Out Burger
  • McDonalds (Note that McDonalds' fries contain a wheat-based ingredient, but have tested well below the accepted less than 20 parts per million level of gluten content, so they're considered legally "gluten-free." Use your own judgement on whether to eat them or not—some people eat lots of them with no problem, while others report reactions.)
  • Wendy's (Note that not all locations have a separate fryer.)

Safe French Fries in Casual Chain Restaurants

Gluten-free options in casual chain restaurants are increasing rapidly, but the chains have been slow to move to dedicated fryers for their fries. This means most fries you encounter in casual restaurants are not going to be gluten-free, even if they don't include gluten ingredients (be aware that some restaurants serve fries coated with flour, which makes them crispier but completely unsafe if you can't have gluten).

Right now, there are only two national restaurant chains that offer gluten-free french fries at most or all of their locations: Cheeseburger in Paradise and Red Robin. Others may offer safe fries (it varies depending on location, demand, and the gluten-free awareness level of managers), but you'll definitely need to ask.

Be aware that when you ask whether a restaurant's fries are gluten-free, most will say "yes," since the wait staff and even the managers and chefs don't realize that frying them in a shared fryer means they're no longer gluten-free. You'll have to ask specifically whether the restaurant's fries are prepared in a separate fryer. Sadly, in most cases the answer is "no."

When it comes to independent eateries, the vast majority will not serve safe fries, but you'll find a few restaurants here and there that do fry their potatoes in a dedicated fryer, making them safe. Always ask, but be prepared to order something else.

Frozen Gluten-Free French Fries

The following companies make french fries that may be safe, depending on your level of sensitivity to trace gluten:

  • Alexia Foods fries are produced in a shared facility, although they are produced on dedicated lines, according to a customer service representative. Therefore, does not label its fries "gluten-free," even though the company states that none of its potato products uses gluten ingredients. Always check the label, as Alexia will call out gluten-based ingredients on the label. 
  • Cascadian Farms makes frozen crinkle cut, shoe string, straight cut and wedge cut fries, all with organic potatoes. The fries have no gluten ingredients, but they are not specifically labeled gluten-free. Cascadian Farms does not test for gluten cross-contamination and also makes gluten-containing products.
  • McCain Foods, a top supplier to the restaurant industry, boasts that it makes one out of every three french fries consumed in the world. The company makes two different lines of fries that are sold in grocery stores in the U.S.: plain and seasoned. The plain, which include classic cut, crinkle cut, smiles and steak cut fries, contain no gluten ingredients. The seasoned, meanwhile, all contain wheat flour as a top ingredient, and the beer batter fries also use barley. McCain does not label its products "gluten-free" and does not test for gluten, but states in its frequently asked questions that it will openly disclose any gluten-containing ingredients on the products' labels.
  • Ore-Ida labels most of its frozen french fries in bags as gluten-free. It also labels many of its tater top products as gluten-free. Since Ore-Ida products are readily available in grocery stores, this brand is your best bet for frozen gluten-free fries and tater tots. Ore-Ida is a Heinz subsidiary, and more than 20 Ore-Ida french fries and other potato-based products appear on Heinz' U.S. gluten-free product list, which means they contain fewer than 20 parts per million of gluten (the legal standard). However, the company warns that products still may be subject to cross-contamination in processing.

A Word from Verywell

As you can see, french fries can be surprisingly tricky on the gluten-free diet. You'd think they'd be gluten-free—after all, they're made of naturally gluten-free potatoes, right?—but many times, they're not safe for those with celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity.

Fortunately, you do have some decent options, both in fast food outlets and at the grocery store. Oh, and if you like ketchup on your fries, don't forget you'll need gluten-free ketchup, as well.

Was this page helpful?

Article Sources

Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial policy to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.