Are Potatoes Gluten-Free?

You'll be happy to know potatoes aren't off-limits on a gluten-free diet

If you're following a gluten-free diet, you may feel like most of your favorite starchy foods are off-limits. But since potatoes aren't a grain, you may wonder if they fall in the gluten-containing or gluten-free category. Here, we break down what exactly gluten is and what foods contain it, whether or not potatoes and potato products (like potato chips and mashed potato products) are gluten-free, and how to incorporate potatoes into a healthy gluten-free diet.

Pictured recipe: Garlic Mashed Red Potatoes

What Is Gluten?

Gluten is a type of protein found in wheat, rye, barley and triticale (a cross between wheat and rye). It helps food maintain its shape and structure, and it gives many doughs their stretchy texture.

To determine if a product has gluten, look for wheat, rye, barley or triticale on the ingredients list. Wheat is often present in bread, pasta, baked goods, some sauces and dressings, seitan, cereals and even canned soups. Wheat is also present in many whole grains, such as wheat berries, semolina, spelt, farina, farro, Kamut and einkorn. Barley is commonly found in beer, brewer's yeast and food coloring. Rye is present in beer, bread and some cereals. Triticale is a newer grain and is often in bread, pasta and cereals.

Although gluten has received some negative scrutiny, there is no research to show that it's harmful to health for those without gluten intolerance. As a matter of fact, eating whole grains that contain gluten has been linked to lower cardiovascular disease risk. However, celiac disease is an autoimmune condition that causes damage to the small intestines after eating gluten. People who have celiac disease need to follow a gluten-free diet.

Are Potatoes Gluten-Free?

Potatoes are a naturally gluten-free starchy vegetable. The only ingredient in a potato is, well, potato. Potatoes are plucked from the ground, cleaned and sold in their original form. They do not contain any wheat, rye, barley or triticale.

Some processed foods that contain potatoes may have other gluten-containing ingredients. For example, if boxed mashed potatoes are thickened with flour, they are not gluten-free. Most potato chips are made with potatoes, oil and salt and are also gluten-free. Some frozen potato products may contain sauces or seasonings that have gluten. If you're unsure whether or not a potato product has gluten, check the ingredients list for wheat, rye, barley or triticale. If those items are not present, it's likely that the food is gluten-free.

Also, unless stated on the package, many processed foods are made in facilities that may have housed other products that may contain gluten. For those who have celiac disease, any exposure to even small amounts of gluten can be dangerous. It's best to avoid these foods unless they are specifically labeled gluten-free.

Garlic Mashed Red Potatoes
Will Dickey

Tips for Eating Potatoes If You Avoid Gluten

Since potatoes are gluten-free, the preparations for gluten-free potato dishes are endless. Here are some simple ways to make potato dishes from scratch at home.

  • Toss baby potatoes in olive oil and your favorite seasoning, like garlic powder or chili powder, and roast in the oven or cook in the air fryer.
  • Make homemade mashed potatoes or au gratin potatoes.
  • Bake a potato and load it with your favorite toppings, like black beans, cheese and salsa.
  • Whip up your favorite potato salad recipe for a backyard gathering.
  • Thickly slice potatoes into wedges and bake up crispy homemade fries.

If you're out at a restaurant and worried that a potato dish may not be gluten-free, ask your server to clarify with the kitchen staff. To make it as clear as possible, ask them to list the ingredients that are present in the dish.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can you eat potatoes on a gluten-free diet?

Yes, potatoes are naturally gluten-free and can be part of a gluten-free diet. Some processed potato foods may contain gluten, so be sure to read the label.

2. Are potato french fries gluten-free?

Most of the time french fries are made with just potatoes, oil and salt and are gluten-free. However, some french fry products may contain ingredients that have gluten. Read the ingredients to ensure they do not include wheat, rye, barley or triticale.

3. Does rice have gluten?

Rice does not have any gluten. It's a naturally gluten-free grain that is a great base for many dishes.

The Bottom Line

Potatoes are naturally gluten-free vegetables. If you're following a gluten-free diet, you can feel good about consuming potatoes regularly. When making potato dishes at home, the possibilities are endless. Just be sure that you don't mix potatoes with any ingredients that contain gluten, such as flour or certain sauces.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles