Are you following a gluten-free diet and wondering if you can still eat French fries? I’ve got the full scoop on what restaurants offer gluten-free French fries and which frozen French fries are gluten free and safe for you. This post contains affiliate links. Please see my disclosures.
If you know me, you know French fries are my love language.
French fries, as is, are naturally gluten free. They’re made from sliced potatoes deep fried in oil.
When you make fries at home with fresh potatoes and oil, your fries will be 100 percent gluten free with no worry of gluten in sight.
However, when you want to enjoy French fries at a restaurant, or frozen fries from a bag, you will need to do a little more work to figure out if they’re gluten free or not.
Many restaurants cook their fries in dedicated French fry fryers, while other restaurants use shared fryers that are also used to cook breaded foods like mozzarella sticks, chicken tenders and corn dogs. This means bits of gluten are commingled with the fries in the deep fryer, rendering the gluten-free items no longer free of gluten.
When a food that is naturally gluten free comes in contact with food that isn’t, it’s known as cross contamination. Anyone following a strict gluten-free diet, like those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, know that cross contamination can sabotage any meal, leaving the person holding the fork quite literally sick to their stomach.
One March 2021 study tested French fries from various restaurants cooked in shared fryers.The researchers found “quantifiable levels” of gluten in fries cooked in a shared fryer, noting that 25 percent of fries cooked in shared fryers would not be considered gluten free; they noted that 75 percent of the fry orders would be considered gluten free even though they were cooked in a shared fryer.
A few things to note about this study:
- The researchers noted that the ELISAs tests may “underperform when analyzing for gluten that has been heated.”
- The researchers made no note of what other products are cooked in a “shared” fryer. Is it being used to cook other GF items, or breaded items or what? There was no control for what items were cooked in the fryer besides fries. Therefore, I deem this a highly flawed study and it should be taken with a grain of salt.
Further, many brands of frozen gluten-free fries do not contain gluten ingredients, but few are labeled gluten free nor are they certified gluten free by a third party. Gluten-free eaters must check labels carefully.
Restaurants with Gluten-Free French Fries
I have researched far and wide to identify restaurants with French fries that are safe for you to eat. Please note a few things before you put full faith in this list.
- Restaurant policies and procedures can change at any time. Just because a restaurant at one time offered gluten-free French fries doesn’t mean it still does. It also doesn’t mean every restaurant (i.e., every Red Robin) has a dedicated fryer. Always ask. The most accurate information about any restaurant will be at the restaurant itself.
- When ordering, ask your server, “Are your French fries cooked in a dedicated fryer or shared fryer?” This question will signal to your server that you are knowledgeable and serious about eating gluten free.
- This is by no means a comprehensive list. If you know of a restaurant with gluten-free fries (chain or local restaurant), please leave a comment or contact me to let me know. I will keep this list up-to-date as I receive and learn new information.
The following restaurants offer gluten-free French fries:
- Chick-fil-a: The restaurant’s signature waffle fries are cooked in a dedicated fryer in peanut oil. Read more about what’s gluten free at Chick-fil-a.
- Five Guys: Five Guys’ hand-cut fries are cooked in a dedicated French fry fryer in peanut oil. Learn more about Five Guys’ gluten-free options.
- Honest Burger: Honest Burger is a popular fast-food chain based in the UK. Both the French fries and onion rings are cooked in a dedicated fryer.
- Hopdoddy Burger Bar: The restaurant’s French fries are gluten free and cooked in a dedicated fryer.
- In-N-Out Burger: The popular fast-food chain offers gluten-free French fries cooked in a dedicated fryer using sunflower oil.
- Larkburger: Larkburger is a small fast-food chain based in Denver, Colorado. It serves gluten-free French fries and onion rings, all cooked in a dedicated gluten-free fryer. Learn more about the gluten-free items at Larkburger.
- Red Robin: The restaurant’s famous steak fries are cooked in a dedicated gluten-free fryer, by request. Learn more about how to navigate Red Robin’s gluten-free menu.
- Sonic Drive-Thru: Some, not all, Sonic restaurants have a dedicated gluten-free fryer for cooking both French fries and tater tots. Inquire within. Learn more about Sonic’s gluten-free menu.
- Ted’s Montana Grill: Ted’s Montana Grill makes tasty fresh-cut fries, and yes, they’re cooked in a dedicated fryer.
I’ve tested many of these restaurant fries for hidden gluten using my Nima Sensor, a portable gluten-detecting device. Learn more about the Nima Sensor in this article.
Restaurants that have been Nima Sensor tested (and approved) include Chick-fil-a, Five Guys, Larkburger, Red Robin, Sonic Drive-Thru and Ted’s Montana Grill. You can purchase a Nima Sensor on this website.
Avoid ordering fries at these restaurants; they are not gluten free:
- A&W: Fries cooked in a shared fryer. Avoid.
- Arby’s: Fries are cooked in a shared fryer. Avoid.
- Burger King: Fries cooked in a shared fryer. Avoid.
- Carl’s Jr. Fries cooked in a shared fryer. Avoid.
- Culver’s: Fries cooked in a shared fryer. Avoid.
- Hardee’s: Fries cooked in a shared fryer. Avoid.
- KFC: Short of a few sides, avoid pretty much everything at KFC if you can’t eat gluten.
- McDonald’s: Fries contain wheat and are cooked in a shared fryer. Avoid.
- Popeye’s: Short of a few sides, avoid pretty much everything at Popeye’s if you can’t eat gluten.
- Raising Cane’s: Fries cooked in a shared fryer. Avoid.
- Shake Shack: Fries are processed with shared equipment used to process products with gluten. Avoid.
- Smashburger: Fries are cooked in a shared fryer. Avoid.
- Wendy’s: Fries are cooked in a shared fryer. Avoid.
- Whataburger: Fries are cooked in a shared fryer. Avoid.
- White Castle: Fries cooked in a shared fryer. Avoid.
Brands of Frozen Gluten-Free French Fries
When shopping at the grocery store, you may be wondering if you can purchase frozen French fries to make at home in your oven or air fryer.
The answer is yes, you can absolutely enjoy frozen fries, but you must first be sure to read ingredient and disclosure labels carefully. You might be surprised seeing how easily gluten sneaks into packaged foods these days.
To help you decode frozen French fry labels, I’ve looked up what the most common French fry brands say about gluten.
Are ‘Alexia Foods’ French Fries Gluten Free?
Alexia Foods says, “Our products may contain gluten, [and] if they do, it will be called out on the packaging after the ingredient list. If you have an allergy or sensitivity, we’d suggest checking the packaging each time you purchase it for the most recent list of ingredients and information.”
Are ‘Cascadian Farms’ French Fries Gluten Free?
Cascadian Farms frozen French fries are not labeled gluten free, but they do not contain any gluten ingredients. You can see the full ingredients list on the company’s website.
Are ‘Grown in Idaho’ French Fries Gluten Free?
The Grown in Idaho statement on gluten is as follows:
“We understand that wheat is a major food allergen. Because we currently do not validate that the level of gluten in our finished product is below 20 parts per million, we cannot label them “gluten free”. However, we have developed our items without added wheat ingredients.
“Should there be a situation where the cleaning or segregation requirements cannot be fully met, we would include a “May Contains” statement on the label indicating that the food may contain low levels of an allergen. It is always advised to check the ingredient panel on the back of the bag upon purchase to validate the ingredients if you have any sensitivities as formulas may change from time to time.”
Are ‘McCain’s’ French Fries Gluten Free?
McCain’s says some of its products contain gluten, while others do not. The company explains on its website, “Consumers are encouraged to review their dietary restrictions with each product’s ingredient statement. It is always important to read the ingredient label each time you purchase the product to determine if the product has been reformulated with different ingredients.”
Are ‘Ore-Ida‘ French Fries Gluten Free?
Ore-Ida is a Kraft brand and recommends you check the ingredients statement on the back of each package.
The company says on its website, “Please note our products are produced and labeled in compliance with the FDA. When labeling products, we consider – and label for – all possible sources of the 8 major allergens recognized by the FDA. These are eggs, fish, crustacean, shellfish, milk, peanuts, soy, tree nuts and wheat.
“Kraft Heinz also labels for additional allergens or substances of interest including celery, mustard, lupin, mollusks, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, poppy seeds, cottonseed, all sources of gluten, and sulfites in levels over 10 ppm. If any of these substances are added to the product, they will be listed in the Ingredient Statement.”
What about Privately Labeled Store Brands?
Many grocery stores, including Kroger, Safeway/Albertsons, Sprouts, Trader Joe’s and Aldi, make their own privately labeled frozen French fries. I do not have information on each store-brand frozen French fries, but as you know, the best and most accurate information will always be directly on the package.
To learn how to decode product labels for hidden gluten, and understand the FDA’s gluten-free labeling laws, please read my comprehensive article titled, Learn How to Decode Food Labels.
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