Potatoes are most certainly gluten-free. You might have read or been told you can’t eat French fries in restaurants because the fries are often times cooked in a fryer with battered fried foods that contain gluten. That means the oil is contaminated and nothing prepared in the fryer is considered gluten-free, regardless of what it is. Any gluten-free foods that are dumped into a gluten fryer are not gluten-free when they come out.
When I first read this information myself, I had a very hard time believing it. After several unscientific experiments of my own, which always resulted with me doubled over in pain, I realized that contaminated fryer foods were unsafe for me to consume. There are exceptions to this rule. Though it is not extremely common, some restaurants do have dedicated fryers.
Dedicated fryers can be dedicated for what ever the restaurant deems them to be used for. If they have one for French fries, unless the fries are coated with something that isn’t gluten-free, the fries would be considered gluten-free. In my experience, gluten coated fries are very rare, but I have run across them on occasion. If an establishment has a gluten-free fryer, they likely have gluten-free fries and will be able to confirm that for you.
There is such a thing as gluten-free battered fried foods, but restaurants that serve them are far and few between. Some places use cornstarch batters and others use rice flour or other gluten-free flour blends. Some fish fry places use gluten-free corn meal batter but fry the fish in gluten fryers. Other places use dedicated fryers, which keeps the fish gluten-free.
Some Mexican restaurants use one fryer for corn products and another for wheat. Assuming the corn products are gluten-free (yes, corn tortillas can contain wheat, though they rarely do in restaurants), and they are cooked in a corn product fryer, they would be considered gluten-free. Many Mexican restaurants use the same fryer for both corn and wheat foods so you’ll need to ask before consuming anything from a fryer when dining out for this cuisine.
Below are some of the national restaurant chains that offer gluten-free French fries in some or all of their locations -
- Ted’s Montana Grill – *rolling out to all locations
- McDonald’s -*despite the controversy that surrounds fries from this chain, the fries and hash browns are considered gluten-free
- Five Guys Burgers
- Cheeseburger in Paradise
- Margaritaville – *not all locations
- Outback Steakhouse – only the Roswell, GA location
When it comes to eating anything cooked in a fryer when dining out, it’s always best to ask the right questions before ordering fried foods.
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