Potatoes are a type of starchy vegetable, and so they're naturally gluten-free. Plus, sweet potatoes and purple potatoes are in the gluten-free club, too.
Gluten is a protein in wheat, rye or barley and derivatives of these grains, according to the Celiac Disease Foundation. So, any foods made with these grains (like bread or crackers) will also contain gluten.
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But just because potatoes are OK for people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity to eat, that doesn't mean that the potato-based food you're ordering at brunch is necessarily safe.
Potatoes are Gluten-Free — but Cross-Contact Is a Risk
Cross-contamination happens when foods or ingredients come in contact with gluten during preparation or manufacturing, according to the Celiac Disease Foundation.
If you order potatoes or a potato-based dish at a restaurant, you'll want to ask your server to confirm that the dish is free of any wheat, rye or barley ingredients and prepared with separate utensils to avoid gluten contamination.
In some cases, restaurants may prepare french fries, tater tots or potato wedges in the same friers or oil used to prepare wheat-flour breaded meats. For people with celiac, even trace amounts of the protein can cause digestive issues or abdominal pain, says Lisa Moskovitz, RD.
If you decide to buy prepared potato dishes or foods at a supermarket, look for a Gluten-Free label on the package of the food you're buying. This mark is regulated by the FDA and confirms the food you're buying contains less than 20 parts per million (ppm) of gluten, which is generally safe for people with celiac to eat.
Or, choose foods that are certified gluten-free by the trusted third party, Gluten-Free Certification Organization (GFCO). The GFCO tests and certifies hundreds of products, verifying that they contain less than 10 ppm of gluten.
If the package doesn't have a gluten-free label, check the ingredient list for any hidden gluten foods. Or take a look at the allergen listing to confirm the product is free of wheat or gluten.
Are Baked Potatoes Gluten-Free?
When you make baked potatoes at home, you can take several precautions to ensure they're safe to eat.
Avoiding cross-contact is your top priority. Make sure that you prepare your baked potatoes on a clean surface. And when you put them in the oven, use a freshly washed rack or tray that hasn't touched any gluten foods.
In a restaurant, ask your waiter how the establishment prepares their baked potatoes. Especially if a restaurant is busy, they may re-use trays or surfaces without properly cleaning between each use. This can put your potatoes at risk of touching gluten.
Your best bet is to ask your server to prepare your potatoes in their own aluminum foil to guarantee they're okay to eat.
- The Little Potato Company Creamer Potato ($5.18 for 5 pounds, Samsclub.com)
- The Little Potato Company Gluten-Free Savory Herb Microwavable Vegan Potatoes ($4.19, Target.com)
- Baby Yellow Potatoes ($3.97, Walmart.com)
Are French Fries Gluten-Free?
Whereas baked potatoes are pretty straightforward when it comes to gluten, french fries are a little trickier. When you make french fries at home, make sure you use gluten-free ingredients, surfaces and utensils.
When you buy frozen fries in the store, check the packaging for a gluten-free label or read the ingredient list to make sure it's free of any gluten ingredients.
But in a restaurant, cross-contamination is a big risk, especially in fast-food restaurants where oil is re-used from dish to dish. Some restaurants also make specialty french fries, which may contain gluten ingredients. To stay safe, check with your server or look at the restaurants' online menu.
Gluten-Free French Fries
- Strong Roots Mixed Root Vegetable Fries ($4.47, Walmart.com)
- Ore-Ida Frozen Golden Crinkles French Fries ($2.96, Amazon.com)
- Ore-Ida Gluten-Free Frozen Golden Waffle Fries ($3.19, Target.com)
Are Mashed Potatoes Gluten-Free?
When you make mashed potatoes at home from scratch, you can avoid cross-contact by using clean surfaces and utensils. Also, make sure that the recipe you use calls for no gluten ingredients (or use gluten-free alternatives).
In a restaurant, ask your waiter how their mashed potatoes are prepared. In some cases, they may have unique recipes that involve gluten ingredients. Or, some restaurants may prepare their potatoes on surfaces alongside wheat flour.
If you decide to buy pre-made or easy-prep mashed potatoes from a store, look for a product that's labeled gluten-free to guarantee there's no potential wheat, rye or barley.
Gluten-Free Mashed Potato Products to Try
- Edward & Sons Organic Mashed Potatoes ($2.69, Vitacost.com)
- Edward & Sons Organic Mashed Potatoes Roasted Garlic ($2.40, iHerb.com)
- Hungry Jack Mashed Potatoes ($10.10 for 10 packs, Amazon.com)
Are Tater Tots Gluten-Free?
When you order tater tots at a restaurant, double-check that they are prepared without gluten-based ingredients. Also, make sure that the server verifies that your tater tots are prepared on clean surfaces using clean utensils. This can help guarantee your dish is gluten-free.
If you decide to buy frozen tater tots from a grocery store, find a bag that's labeled gluten-free to guarantee there's no unwanted wheat, rye or barley.
Gluten-Free Tater Tot Products To Try
- Ore-Ida Gluten Free Frozen Mini Tater Tots ($3.19, Target.com)
- Ore-Ida Frozen Golden Tater Tots ($2.96, Amazon.com)
- Ore-Ida Extra Crispy Tater Tots Seasoned ($2.96, Amazon.com)
A Gluten-Free Potato Recipe
If you prep them at home in your own kitchen, using your own utensils and surfaces, you can rest assured that the potatoes you're baking are free of potential gluten contaminants. Give this gluten-free sweet potato egg recipe a try — yep, eggs are gluten-free, too.
Twice Baked Sweet Potato and Egg Recipe
- Calories: 207
- Protein: 7 grams
Sweet potatoes for breakfast make for an excellent way to start the day. These starchy veggies are loaded with nutrients, like beta-carotene, fiber, vitamin A and vitamin C, according to Harvard Health Publishing.