McDonald’s fries: gluten free or not gluten free?

A while back we wrote a blog post about the gluten free products you could enjoy at McDonald’s. One of the items we mentioned were the fries, which according to the McDonald’s website and forums were definitely gluten free.

However, a couple of our readers left messages in the comments section that they had become ill after eating McDonald’s fries and they had been led to believe that the fries were often cooked with gluten products.

I called McDonald’s UK to ask them if the fries were gluten free; are they ever cooked in the same vat as gluten products; and could there be any risk of cross contamination?

This is their reply:

Our French Fries and Hash Browns are gluten free, as are Fruit Bags, Carrot Sticks and the Garden Side Salad, our core McFlurry ice creams (i.e. not promotional) and our Chocolate and Strawberry Milkshakes, but not Vanilla.

I was sorry to read that one of your blog community members had concerns about cross-contamination of our French Fries. This should certainly not be the case as we make absolutely every possible effort to apply the highest quality measures throughout all procedures. We cook our French Fries in a dedicated vat and prepare them in a dedicated area. Whenever we cook a promotional side order containing gluten, such as Onion Rings, they are cooked in a separate vat some distance away from the Fry station. Gluten free promotional items are cooked in the same way as our French Fries and to the same standards.

Our menu is constantly being reviewed to create the most varied choices available for all customers. We also work closely with the Coeliac Society to provide them with updated information for their members’ booklet, but if your blog community have concerns about the available information please let me know and we can look at how we can better outreach on this issue.

Steve Heywood, Press Officer, McDonald’s UK

So it does seem McDonald’s are on the case when it comes to gluten free products and the care that needs to be taken when preparing them.

The concern, I guess, is that the odd individual restaurant is not adhering to these standards. Have you experienced this at all? Let us know in the comments.

For more information on allergens and the nutritional value of McDonald’s products visit the McDonald’s menu site.

Lovin’ it. Yes, it is possible to be gluten free at McDonald’s.

McDonald's french fries

McDonald's french fries. Image courtesy of cfinke

When you’re on the run, it’s tempting to dash into your local fast food joint and grab yourself a quick bite. But if you’re following a gluten free diet surely your local McDonald’s is off limits?

Not so. There are numerous foods which are gluten free at McDonald’s. (Although we recommend you don’t eat them every day.) Note: these apply to UK McDonalds’s restaurants only.

Meaty stuff
A McDonald’s hamburger, cheeseburger, Quarter Pounder®, and Big Mac® are all gluten free IF eaten without the bun. All McDonald’s burgers are made with 100% beef; so they’re not ‘beefed up’ with any cereal, rusk or flour.

And according to McDonald’s they’re happy to serve you just the burger minus the bun if you ask your server when ordering. Apparently, they don’t even mind if you bring your own gluten free bun in with you.

Potato things

  • French fries (Note: UK only. It seems that US french fries do have gluten.)
  • Potato wedges
  • Hash browns

Green stuff

  • Fruit bags
  • Carrot sticks
  • Garden salads


  • Cadburys Crunchie McFlurry andDairy Milk McFlurrys are both gluten free
  • But Aero McFlurrys are NOT gluten free


  • Strawberry sundaes are gluten free
  • But toffee sundaes are NOT gluten free


  • Regular coffee
  • Latte
  • But Cappuccinos are NOT gluten free. (The chocolate chips used contain gluten.)
  • Hot chocolate
  • Apple juice
  • Orange juice
  • Soft drinks
  • Milkshakes


  • Big Mac sauce
  • Heinz Tomato Ketchup
  • Mustard
  • Mayo
  • Spicy tomato salsa

What else to avoid
The obvious things to avoid are buns, wraps and anything in breadcrumbs. Fish fingers, chicken nuggets and onion rings are also off limits.

But if you’re not sure about any ingredients just ask your server. And if they don’t seem sure ask to speak to the manager. Don’t run the risk of being ill over a Filet-O-Fish®

Update: Following on from a number of queries we had regarding the fries, we contacted McDonald’s directly. See this post for their reply.