Are you following a gluten-free diet and wondering if you can still eat French fries? I’ve got the full scoop on which 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.
French fries are my love language. But sadly, they’re not always considered gluten-free.
Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, barley, and sometimes oats. While French fries are made from naturally gluten-free potatoes, they may be coated with non-gluten-free ingredients (hello, McDonald’s) or comingled in a fryer used to cook foods that contain gluten, like mozzarella sticks, chicken tenders, and calamari. This is known as gluten cross-contamination.
If you cut a fresh potato and cook the fries at home in your oven, they will be 100 percent gluten-free without the worry of hidden gluten.
However, when you enjoy French fries at a restaurant or frozen fries from a bag, you’ll need to do some investigative work to determine if they’re gluten-free and safe to eat. More on that in a bit.
What’s the Risk of Eating French Fries Prepared in a Shared Fryer?
Researchers attempted to assess the risk levels of eating gluten-free foods prepared in a shared fryer. They tested French fries from various restaurants using shared fryers and found varying results.
They purchased and tested 20 orders of fries from 10 different restaurants using gluten-free oil and shared fryers to cook other wheat-containing foods. The researchers sent the food samples to Bia Diagnostics and tested using the sandwich R5 ELISA and the R7021 competitive R5 ELISA. Here’s what they found:
- The sandwich ELISA found gluten in nine of 20 fry orders ranging from seven to >80 parts per million (ppm) of gluten.
- The competitive ELISA found gluten in three out of 20 fry orders ranging from 14 to >270 ppm of gluten.
Based on these test results, the researchers concluded that 25 percent of fry orders would not be considered gluten-free, and it’s prudent for people on a gluten-free diet to avoid foods prepared in a shared fryer.
Remember that the gluten level transferred to a French fry in a shared fryer can depend on several factors, including but not limited to other foods cooked in the oil, oil change frequency, filtration systems, and the time of day the product was purchased. For example, a fryer may be more contaminated by gluten at the end of the day than by fresh oil in the morning.
Restaurants with Gluten-Free French Fries
I’ve looked far and wide to identify restaurants with French fries that are gluten-free. Please note a few things before you put full faith in this list:
(1) Restaurant policies and procedures can change at any time. Just because a restaurant once offered gluten-free French fries doesn’t mean it still does. It also doesn’t mean every restaurant (e.g., every Red Robin) has a dedicated fryer. Always ask your server, as the most accurate information about a specific restaurant will be at the restaurant itself.
(2) When ordering, ask your server, “Are your French fries cooked in a dedicated or shared fryer?” This question will signal to your server that you are knowledgeable and serious about eating gluten-free.
(3) 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 the following list up-to-date as I receive and learn new information:
- The Buff: This Boulder, Colorado restaurant has gluten-free French fries and plenty of gluten-free options. The owner has celiac too. Visit The Buff online to see the full menu.
- 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.
- Hat Creek Burgers: This Texas burger chain not only has gluten-free French fries, but also gluten-free tater tots, onion rings, and fried pickles. View all the gluten-free options at Hat Creek Burgers.
- Honest Burger: Honest Burger is a popular fast-food chain in the UK. Both the French fries and onion rings are cooked in a dedicated fryer.
- Hopdoddy Burger Bar: The restaurant’s gluten-free French fries are 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 (CLOSED): Larkburger is a small fast-food chain based in Denver, Colorado. It serves gluten-free French fries and onion rings cooked in a dedicated gluten-free fryer. Learn more about gluten-free foods found at Larkburger.
- Lion’s Choice: Lion’s Choice offers gluten-free burgers and fries cooked in a dedicated fryer. Locations are found throughout Missouri. Learn more about the gluten-free options at Lion’s Choice online.
- Red Robin: By request, the restaurant’s famous steak fries can be cooked in a dedicated gluten-free fryer. 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. 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.
- Wahlburgers: If you’re searching for gluten-free fries and tater tots, you can eat ’em at Wahlburgers because they use a dedicated fryer for their fries and tots.
I’ve tested many of these restaurant fries for hidden gluten using my Nima Sensor, a portable gluten-detecting device. Learn more about Nima in my article, What You Need to Know About Nima Sensor Before You Buy.
Restaurants I’ve tested with my Nima Sensor (and are Nima approved) include Chick-fil-a, Five Guys, Larkburger, Red Robin, Sonic Drive-Thru, and Ted’s Montana Grill.
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 almost everything at KFC if you can’t eat gluten.
- McDonald’s: Fries contain wheat and are cooked in a shared fryer. Avoid. Read about what happened when an influencer mistakenly tested the fries with her Nima Sensor.
- 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 using shared equipment 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
If you’d rather skip the restaurant and make gluten-free French fries at home, I’ve got the full scoop on which grocery-store brands offer gluten-free fries.
Be sure to read labels carefully. The latest information about any brand will always be on the label itself. Check labels every time you purchase a product because brands may change ingredients without notice.
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, crustaceans, 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 make their own privately-labeled frozen French fries, including Kroger, Safeway/Albertsons, Sprouts, Trader Joe’s, and Aldi. I don’t have information on each brand, but the best and most accurate information will always be 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, What Gluten-Free Labeling Laws and Certifications Really Mean.
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