It's hard to find anyone who doesn't love crispy gluten-free french fries, but if you have celiac disease or a gluten sensitivity you may wonder, are frozen french fries gluten-free? Get a quick answer, dive deep into what to look out for, and find out the best gluten-free brands, all in this article!
Frozen french fries are undoubtedly one of the most popular frozen food items at the grocery store. They make a quick and easy side dish for many meals.
French fries are simply sliced potatoes fried in oil and potatoes themselves are one of many naturally gluten-free foods, so one might assume frozen fries would also be a gluten-free product.
Unfortunately, frozen French fries can often contain wheat flour, which would mean they are not gluten-free. If you are on a strict gluten-free diet, you've likely already learned even the most unassuming foods can contain gluten and why it's so important to read labels and research every product before purchasing.
Are Frozen French Fries Gluten-Free?
The simple answer is, it depends. Ore-Ida is an especially good brand to look for, as most of their products are in fact gluten-free and labeled as such.
On the other hand, some frozen french fries, especially seasoned varieties, are coated with wheat or other gluten-containing ingredients. For this reason, it is best to always check the ingredients list and allergen statements before purchasing.
How are Frozen French Fries Made
Frozen french fries go through quite the extensive process before they make it to the grocer's freezer.
- First, potatoes are washed, peeled, and cut up into their desired shapes.
- Potatoes are then blanched to inhibit enzyme activity and produce a uniform fry color.
- Next, potatoes are partially fried and pre-cooked. That way when you cook them at home you end up with a perfect blend of textures, a soft interior and a crispy exterior.
- Lastly, the frozen french fries are frozen, packed, and shipped to their final destinations.
How Do I Know If Frozen French Fries Have Gluten?
The only way to know if frozen french fries have gluten is to read the ingredient label. This is because often times frozen french fries have more ingredients than just potatoes and oil.
Every brand makes their fries differently and sometimes recipes change, so it is important to read the ingredient label each time before purchasing.
The ingredients in french fries could be just potatoes, vegetable oil blend, and preservatives, but sometimes they add caramel color or annatto, and they may add even more ingredients as seasonings or crisping agents.
While wheat can be added to any of these french fries, it is most often seen in the seasoned or extra crispy varieties.
There could also be other gluten-ingredients, so it's best to make a judgement based on the ingredients label of each specific product.
Frozen french fries could also be subject to cross contamination during the manufacturing process. The fries could be made in facilities with wheat so you may also see an allergen statement on the label.
The allergen statement could claim the product contains wheat, may contain wheat, or was made in a facility with wheat.
In any case, it's a good idea to read the label and make a judgement as to whether the product is safe for you to consume based on what the label actually states.
Safe Gluten-Free Brands
Ore-Ida is one of the few brands you'll find that actually labels their potato products gluten-free. They have many different types to choose from, including seasoned varieties, steak-cut fries, waffle fries, tater tots, hash brown patties, and sweet potato fries.
Ore-Ida is part of the Kraft-Heinz company. According to the company, their products are produced and labeled in compliance with the FDA. Products are labeled for wheat and all sources of gluten in levels over 10 ppm. If added to the product, it will be listed in the ingredient statement. If an item has been labeled gluten-free, it has been analytically tested and validated to contain less than 20 ppm gluten.
The Ore-Ida Fast Food Fries are a personal favorite because they are so are crunchy and delicious! They definitely remind me of McDonald's French fries when cooked in the air fryer! They are made with rice flour and corn starch, instead of wheat flour, to achieve their crispy texture.
As far as other brands go, it is hard to find one that readily labels items gluten-free.
Here's some examples from French fry brands common in grocery stores:
- McCain: Many of the McCain products, especially the seasoned and crispy varieties, do contain wheat. Other products have allergen statements that claim may contain wheat, showing they are made in shared facilities. Consumers are encouraged to review each product’s ingredient statement to make a determination.
- Alexia: Alexia claims products may contain gluten, notably their onion rings, while many of the fries do not. If they do, it will be called out on the packaging after the ingredient list. They suggest checking the packaging each time you purchase it for the most recent list of ingredients and information.
- Grown in Idaho: This brand does not validate the level of gluten in the finished products so they do not label them gluten-free. However, they claim items are developed without added gluten ingredients. Should there be a situation where the cleaning or segregation requirements cannot be fully met, they would include a “May Contains” statement on the label.
- Red Robin: The frozen Red Robin french fries found in the freezer aisle do not contain wheat or an allergen statement indicating wheat. These fries are not labeled gluten-free, even though the french fries in the restaurant are considered gluten-free. Little information can be found online about them.
- Arby's Seasoned Curly Fries: Contain wheat.
- Great Value: Most have an allergen statement for may contain wheat. Some of the seasoned varieties actually do contain wheat flour.
- Simple Truth: Appear to not contain gluten-ingredients but are not labeled gluten-free.
- Kroger: Most of the seasoned varieties contain wheat. The plain fries don't contain wheat ingredients.
The Bottom Line
If you want truly gluten-free fries, your best bet is Ore-Ida brand. They readily label items gluten-free and they have many options. Even their seasoned varieties are made without gluten-containing ingredients.
The next best option is to look for unseasoned French fries, but be sure to always read labels first! Look for wheat flour as an ingredient or a may contain wheat allergen statement and avoid those products.
Gluten-Free Frozen French Fries FAQ
Yes, Ore-Ida labels many of their french fries gluten-free. Check the list of ingredients and look for the gluten-free claim.
No, not all. Some varieties do contain wheat and are made in shared facilities. McCain suggests checking ingredient and allergen statements for the most accurate information.
Likely, no. McDonald’s French fries in the US are coated in natural beef flavor that contains wheat. Many other fast food French fries are made in shared fryers, which means the French fries are not gluten-free.
The best gluten-free options for fast food French fries made in a dedicated gluten-free fryer can be found at Chick-Fil-A, Five Guys, In-N-Out, or Red Robin.
Yes, potatoes are a starchy vegetable that is naturally gluten-free. They do not contain gluten which is a type of protein that comes from the grains of wheat, barley, and rye.
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