Most McDonald’s fries are gluten-free, but some locations may cook gluten-containing items in the same fryer oil. Those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity should ask about dedicated fryers to ensure gluten cross-contact does not occur.
Fries Typically Gluten-Free
McDonald’s states their fries are gluten-free in most regions, including the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia. The ingredients contain potatoes, vegetable oil, and a small amount of dextrose (a sugar derived from corn). None of these contain gluten.
Additionally, McDonald’s fries are prepared without wheat or wheat derivatives, barley, rye, oats, or their cross-contact grains. This covers all sources of gluten.
The Nutrition Information page on the McDonald’s website for U.S. restaurants states their fries are “Suitable for gluten-free diets.” The allergen information guide for Canada and UK restaurants also designate their fries as gluten-free.
Therefore, the fries themselves do not contain gluten. However, gluten cross-contact is possible depending on restaurant procedures, which is a concern for those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.
Risk of Cross-Contact
The main risk of gluten exposure in McDonald’s fries comes from shared fryer oil. If gluten-containing foods like breaded chicken nuggets or fried fish are cooked in the same oil, traces of gluten can get transferred to the fries.
McDonald’s Canada acknowledges this cross-contact risk, stating:
“We have procedures in place to avoid cross-contact between ingredients for our gluten-free menu items. However, due to open kitchen environments, we cannot guarantee 100% allergen-free preparation. There is also a possibility of trace amounts of gluten from oil used to prepare menu items that may contain gluten.”
Not all McDonald’s restaurants have dedicated fryers for gluten-free items. It depends on the individual location.
Locating Dedicated Fryers
To find a McDonald’s with dedicated fryer oil, there are a few options:
- Check the McDonald’s allergen information online for your country. This may indicate if dedicated fryers are used.
- Call your local McDonald’s ahead of time. Ask to speak with a manager to inquire about dedicated fryers.
- When ordering, request fries from a dedicated fryer. Staff should be able to check and accommodate this if possible.
Being informed and asking questions is key for those with celiac disease or who are highly sensitive. With dedication fryer oil, McDonald’s fries can be safely consumed on a gluten-free diet.
The availability of gluten-free fries at McDonald’s varies globally. Some countries do not designate their fries as gluten-free on menus:
- Australia: Fries are labeled gluten-free, but restaurants caution about potential cross-contact.
- Canada: Fries are labeled gluten-free, but restaurants caution about potential cross-contact.
- UK: Fries are labeled gluten-free, but restaurants caution about potential cross-contact.
- USA: Fries are labeled gluten-free, but restaurants caution about potential cross-contact.
- Hong Kong: Fries contain a wheat-based anti-caking agent so are not gluten-free.
- Singapore: Fries contain a wheat-based anti-caking agent so are not gluten-free.
- Malaysia: Fries contain a wheat-based anti-caking agent so are not gluten-free.
Those visiting McDonald’s internationally should check allergen guides for the country they are visiting. The ingredients and preparation may differ.
Gluten-Free Dips and Condiments
When ordering gluten-free fries, the choice of dip or condiment also matters. Some McDonald’s dips and sauces contain gluten or wheat warnings, while others are labeled gluten-free:
|Sweet ‘N Sour sauce
|Honey mustard sauce
|Chipotle BBQ sauce
|May contain wheat/gluten*
*Salsa ingredients vary regionally. Check allergen information for country.
For other dipping sauces not listed here, check allergen guides or ask restaurant staff about gluten-free status.
French Fries at Other Fast Food Chains
Those following a gluten-free diet have various french fry options at popular fast food chains. A few examples include:
- Burger King: Fries are gluten-free in the U.S. but may vary internationally.
- Wendy’s: Natural-cut fries are gluten-free but coated in shared fryer oil.
- Chick-fil-A: Waffle fries are gluten-free but cooked in shared fryer oil.
- Arby’s: Curly fries are gluten-free but cooked in shared fryer oil.
- Jack in the Box: Regular fries are gluten-free but cooked in shared fryer.
Similar to McDonald’s, the biggest consideration is finding chains that use dedicated fryers to avoid cross-contact with gluten-containing menu items. Calling ahead or asking in-store is the best way to check fryer procedures.
Making Fries Gluten-Free at Home
To eliminate any risk of gluten exposure from restaurant fries, homemade oven fries are a great option. Here are some tips for gluten-free fries at home:
- Use fresh potatoes and thoroughly clean/scrub them.
- Cut potatoes into fry shapes and rinse off excess starch.
- Dry potatoes thoroughly before baking for best results.
- Toss fries in oil (like canola, peanut, or avocado oil) and desired seasonings.
- Bake fries at 425°F for 25-30 minutes until crispy, flipping halfway.
- Use ketchup, BBQ sauce, or other condiments verified gluten-free.
Homemade fries let you control the ingredients and prevent any chance of gluten cross-contact. Pair them with a gluten-free burger or chicken tenders for a restaurant-quality gluten-free meal.
Are McDonald’s Fries Dairy-Free?
McDonald’s fries do not contain milk ingredients and are considered dairy-free. However, the vegetable oil used for frying may be processed at facilities that also handle milk products. So those with a milk allergy should exercise caution.
Why They Are Considered Dairy-Free
McDonald’s is transparent about the ingredients used to make their iconic fries. The fries contain:
- Vegetable oil (canola oil, soybean oil, hydrogenated soybean oil, natural beef flavor, citric acid, dextrose, sodium acid pyrophosphate added to preserve color)
No dairy ingredients like milk, cheese, yogurt or whey are listed. The cooking process also does not involve any dairy products according to available information.
There is always a possibility of cross-contact at a restaurant with shared equipment. But overall, the fries themselves meet dairy-free guidelines.
A Note for Those with Milk Allergies
People with a milk allergy or sensitivity should take some extra precautions with McDonald’s fries, even though they are dairy-free. Here’s why:
- The vegetable oil used for frying may be processed at facilities that also handle milk products.
- Restaurants handle multiple menu items with dairy and may use shared equipment.
- Errors could happen if staff are unaware of dairy allergies.
Those with severe milk allergies are advised to ask about the oil source and cooking procedures at their local McDonald’s. Most locations should be able to accommodate dairy-free requests, but it requires an extra level of care.
Dairy-Free Dips and Condiments
To keep a McDonald’s meal dairy-free, it’s also important to choose condiments and dips that are milk-free. Here are some options:
- Barbecue sauce
- Sweet n sour sauce
- Buffalo sauce (ask about dairy-free preparation)
These basic condiments do not contain milk or dairy ingredients according to McDonald’s allergen information. They should be safe choices for those avoiding milk.
On the other hand, some McDonald’s dips do contain dairy and should be avoided:
- Ranch sauce
- Sour cream
- Cheese sauce
- Creamy dill sauce
As always, reading labels and asking questions about ingredients can help identify dairy-free menu choices when dining at McDonald’s.
Other Gluten and Dairy-Free Options
In addition to fries, diners can build a gluten and dairy-free McDonald’s meal using these menu items:
- Hamburger patty
- Grilled chicken breast
- Egg McMuffin without the muffin
- Fruit cup
- Salads with gluten and dairy-free dressing
- Celery sticks
- Apple slices
- Carbonated drinks
With some creativity and special requests, those avoiding gluten or dairy can still enjoy McDonald’s. Being open about dietary needs with staff is key to a positive eating experience.
Most McDonald’s fries are gluten and dairy-free, but there is some risk of cross-contact depending on procedures at individual restaurants. Those with food allergies or sensitivities should check about dedicated fryers and equipment when ordering. With some adjustments, it’s possible to enjoy McDonald’s fries and other menu items on a gluten-free and dairy-free diet.