Are Potatoes Gluten-Free? All Your Questions Answered

Medically Reviewed By Katherine Marengo LDN, R.D.
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Potatoes are naturally gluten-free. However, some processing methods or additives to potatoes and potato dishes may mean that not all potato-based foods are free from gluten. Gluten intolerances, or other conditions such as celiac disease, can mean that eating gluten causes negative health effects that range from mild to severe. As a result, it is important to know the true gluten-free status of the food you are eating.

However, some ingredients that may naturally be gluten-free can undergo processing or have additives that affect their gluten-free status.

This article will explain whether different kinds of potatoes contain gluten, and when and how to check for gluten in potato-based foods.

Are potatoes gluten-free?

A person holds a dish of whole potatoes still with roots.
Harald Walker/Stocksy United

Yes, potatoes are gluten-free in their whole or natural form. This includes different types of potatoes and some potato products such as:

  • red, white, purple, and yellow potatoes
  • russet potatoes
  • fingerling potatoes
  • petite potatoes
  • sweet potatoes
  • potato flour
  • potato flour-based foods such as baked goods or gnocchi

How can I use potatoes in a gluten-free diet?

Potatoes can be a great ingredient or substitute for people who avoid eating gluten.

Ways to use potatoes in a gluten-free diet can include:

  • making baked goods with potato flour instead of wheat flour
  • using potato flour to thicken sauces or in batters
  • using potatoes as a pasta substitute, for example in lasagna

Dishes which use potatoes also include:

  • potato cakes
  • sweet potato pie
  • sweet potato pancakes
  • red potato salad
  • potato casserole
  • stuffed potatoes
  • potato buns

Read more tips for going gluten-free.

When might potato dishes contain gluten?

Although whole potatoes are naturally free from gluten, there are some cases when potatoes or potato dishes may not be gluten-free. This can make potatoes unsafe for people with intolerances to gluten or celiac disease.

Gluten contamination can occur in circumstances such as:

  • cross-contamination between potatoes and food that contains gluten, which may occur during processing or cooking due to:
    • using the same utensils, surfaces, or cooking resources such as water or oil
    • using the same porous surfaces that have not been properly cleaned
  • adding ingredients that contain gluten to potato dishes

Packaged foods or foods prepared in restaurants are likely to have additional ingredients that are not gluten-free.

Foods or ingredients that may contain gluten and commonly accompany or contain potatoes include:

  • certain foods made with wheat flour or other gluten additives, such as:
    • gravy
    • potato bread
    • potato chips
    • french fries
  • potato gratin, or potato dishes that contain roux or cheese sauces
  • instant or prepared potato meals that may have been made in environments containing gluten, such as instant mashed potatoes
  • any potato dishes prepared with uncleaned equipment, such as foods that may be fried in the same oil as flour-battered foods, for example:
    • french fries
    • other fried potatoes
    • baked potatoes

How do I check for gluten-free foods?

Not all gluten-free foods show that they are gluten-free on the packaging.

Additionally, food labels do not have to declare explicitly that they contain gluten. Some packages may declare that they contain allergens such as gluten, while others may not. As a result, just because a food does not have an allergen warning on it does not mean it is free from those allergens.

That’s why it can be hard to know what foods are safe to eat with a gluten intolerance.

Some strategies to try and avoid gluten include:

  • avoiding foods or drinks if you are not sure whether they contain gluten
  • searching or calling ahead of time to check whether restaurants offer gluten-free options
  • informing servers that you cannot eat gluten, and asking how the food is prepared
  • requesting that food be prepared with clean utensils and gluten-free ingredients
  • taking gluten-free snacks or meals to social gatherings, just in case there are no gluten-free options

There are also a few ingredients you can look out for when checking whether foods contain gluten. If labels include the following ingredients, the food may not be gluten-free:

  • wheat
  • barley
  • rye
  • oats
  • malt
  • brewer’s yeast

However, other ingredients can also contain gluten.

Gluten-free regulation

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) specifies that any food labeled with the words “free of gluten,” “gluten-free,” “no gluten,” and “without gluten” cannot contain more than 20 parts per million (ppm) of gluten.

This regulation also applies to restaurants labeling meals as gluten-free.

The FDA states that this limit is the lowest amount of gluten that clinicians can reliably detect scientifically, and is typically suitable for most people with celiac disease.

Foods can also claim to be gluten-free if they do not contain the following ingredients:

  • wheat, rye, barley, or crossbreeds of these grains
  • ingredients derived from wheat, rye, or barley that have not undergone a gluten removal process
  • ingredients that have had gluten removed, but still contain more than 20 ppm of gluten

It is important to note that “wheat-free” labels do not mean the food is free from gluten.

How do I avoid contamination?

You can avoid cross-contamination with gluten-free foods and foods by following steps such as:

  • washing food preparation utensils and surfaces properly between uses, by cleaning them with soapy water or in a dishwasher
  • avoiding the use of porous utensils such as wood or cutting boards
  • using fresh frying oil or boiling water when preparing different foods at once

Other frequently asked questions

Below are frequently asked questions about whether potatoes contain gluten.

Are sweet potatoes gluten-free?

Natural sweet potatoes are gluten-free.

However, some sweet potato dishes may undergo cross-contamination or have ingredients containing gluten added to them during processing.

Are red potatoes gluten-free?

Similarly to other kinds of potatoes, red potatoes are also gluten-free. However, processing or cooking in contaminated environments can expose them to gluten, which may make them unsafe for people with gluten intolerances.

Are mashed potatoes or potato buns gluten-free?

Mashed potatoes and potato buns can be gluten-free. However, as other people preparing mashed potatoes and potato buns may commonly add additional ingredients such as wheat flour or wheat flour-based gravy, many of these dishes may not be gluten-free.

Additionally, restaurants or manufacturers preparing mashed potatoes or potato buns may expose them to gluten contamination.

To avoid contamination, look for a gluten-free label when purchasing potato products in a shop or restaurant. You can also make gluten-free mashed potatoes and potato buns at home.

Are potato chips gluten-free?

Some potato chips may be gluten-free, and others may not be, as it can vary from product to product.

Potato chips can undergo processing in environments where there is gluten contamination, or may have ingredients that contain gluten, such as wheat flour or malt vinegar.

To check whether certain potato chips are gluten-free, look for the words “free of gluten,” “gluten-free,” “no gluten,” or “without gluten” on the packaging. If the product’s gluten-free status is not clear, avoid eating the product.

Summary

Potatoes are naturally gluten-free. This can include different types of potatoes, such as sweet potatoes, as well as some potato-based products such as potato flour.

However, there are cases when potatoes and potato dishes may not be gluten-free. This can occur if the product undergoes exposure to gluten during production or cooking, or the dish contains additional ingredients that do contain gluten. Use of the same cooking utensils or surfaces, or improperly cleaned tools, can also expose potatoes to gluten.

To be sure of the gluten-free status of potatoes and other foods status, look for the phrases “free of gluten,” “gluten-free,” “no gluten,” or “without gluten” on the packaging.

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Medical Reviewer: Katherine Marengo LDN, R.D.
Last Review Date: 2022 Sep 29
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