Are French Fries Gluten-Free?

Potatoes are gluten-free, but that doesn't mean French fries always are

French fries

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

When it comes to French fries you order at a restaurant or buy from the frozen aisle, whether or not they're gluten-free comes down to ingredients and preparation.

For example, beer-battered French fries are out, since beer contains gluten, and many seasoned and "extra crispy" coated varieties also include some wheat flour in their ingredients list. Preparation-wise, when you cook otherwise gluten-free fries in a fryer that's also used for breaded items such as chicken fingers and onion rings, that oil will contaminate your fries.

Fortunately, you do have multiple gluten-free 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 places 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 (Not all locations have a separate fryer.)
  • Chick-Fil-A
  • Five Guys Burgers & Fries
  • In N Out Burger
  • Wendy's (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. Also, some restaurants serve fries coated with flour, which makes them crispier but unsafe if you can't have gluten.

Red Robin is one of the nationwide chains with gluten-free options and dedicated fryers for items like their steak fries. 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 waitstaff 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.

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

Their fries are produced in a shared facility, although they are produced on dedicated lines, according to a customer service representative. Therefore, the company does not label its fries "gluten-free," even though it states that none of its potato products use gluten ingredients. Always check the label, as Alexia will call out gluten-based ingredients on the label. 

Cascadian Farms

Cascadian makes frozen crinkle-cut, shoestring, straight-cut, and wedge-cut fries, all with organic potatoes. The fries have no gluten ingredients, but they are not specifically labeled gluten-free.

McCain Foods

A top supplier to the restaurant industry, McCain 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 fries—which span classic-cut, crinkle-cut, smiles, and steak-cut fries—contain no gluten ingredients. The seasoned, however, 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

Ore-Ida labels most of its frozen French fries in bags as gluten-free. It also labels many of its tater tot 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.

A Word from Verywell

French fries can be surprisingly tricky on a gluten-free diet, even if they're made with naturally gluten-free potatoes. Fortunately, you do have some options, both in fast food outlets and at the grocery store—and don't forget the gluten-free ketchup.

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