Quick answer: Yes, French fries are usually vegan. However, there are some situations in which you'll need to exercise caution. But don't worry—we'll tell you what to look out for.
Let's learn a bit more...
At a Restaurant
For the most part, you can assume that the fries at a restaurant are vegan, as in not made with dairy, eggs or other animal products.
That is, plain fries shouldn't contain animal products—if they're seasoned, battered or come with a sauce, check to see exactly what the ingredients are.
There are other caveats, too. You'll need to be wary of fast food restaurants, which is probably not surprising. For example, McDonald's is known to use beef flavoring (i.e., beef fat) in the French fries.
But if you're going out for a casual dining experience at a typical restaurant, you probably won't be finding beef in your fries.
You should know, however, that there may be cross-contamination in restaurant fryers with seafood and breaded meats that are deep-fried.
This happens when restaurants don't have two separate fryers for vegan and animal menu items, and it's not a particularly uncommon thing.
If you're trying to avoid cross-contamination or you're not totally sure that the restaurant doesn't use some kind of animal product for seasoning or frying, asking is the best way to determine whether the fries are vegan-safe or not.
Frozen From a Bag
It's not so much that you should expect to find frozen French fries seasoned with animal-based ingredients, but you may see milk products in some frozen fries.
Staying away from Parmesan-flavored frozen fries won't necessarily guarantee that you're getting the dairy-free kind, though. Sometimes dairy products can be used as anti-caking ingredients.
But that doesn't mean you can't find frozen French fries that are completely plant-based. Brands like Alexia and Ore Ida make vegan fries you can pick up at major supermarkets.
Always read the ingredient lists on the bags, or look for a vegan certification, which will tell you right away that the product is plant-based.
Made at Home
The best way to know whether your French fries are vegan is to make them at home. This is easily done with any type of potato, oil, salt and pepper.
You also have the opportunity to make a healthier version of French fries in the oven rather than in the deep fryer. They'll turn out just as crispy and delicious, and you'll feel a little better about indulging in them.
The video below is going to show you how to make fries super crispy with cornmeal and breadcrumbs. They're fast, easy and 100 percent vegan.
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Most of the time, French fries are vegan. What makes some fries unvegan is usually either the frying oil or preservatives, like some that are used in frozen fries.
When eating out, you can ask if the fries are vegan or potentially cross-contaminated with seafood and meat, which does happen sometimes.
If you make French fries at home, you'll know for sure that they're vegan, and they'll be fresh and delicious.
Remember to try oven-baking for a healthier version of one of your favorite vegan side dishes, and get creative with seasonings like paprika, oregano and nutritional yeast for the best fries ever.