French Fries are simply sliced up potatoes that are fried in oil, baked in the oven or (more commonly these days) cooked in an air fryer.
How can French fries not be vegan?
Well, if you’ve been vegan long enough, you know that companies somehow find ways to mess up even the simplest plant-based foods. Somehow milk finds its way into everything and many items like fries and beans are cooked with animal fat.
More specifically with French fries, especially fast food French Fries, it’s not so much the fries themselves that are the issue. More often it’s what the fries are cooked with. Many fast food restaurants use shared fryers leading to fries sharing cooking oil with chicken, fish and dairy.
Having said that, vegans differ on how much cross-contamination they’re okay with. Some vegans like myself don’t mind cross contamination, but others like Jen draw a harder stance against it.
In this article, I’m going to cover many of the most popular fast food French Fries as well as many of the French Fry brands you’ll find at your local grocery store. I’m going to provide you with as many details as possible – how the fries are prepared, if they share a fryer and what they share a fryer with. This way you’ll be able to decide for yourself what you’re comfortable with.
Let’s start with fast food restaurants first and then we’ll tackle frozen french fries from the grocery store.
Fast Food Restaurants
Are McDonald’s Fries Vegan?
I’ll start with McDonald’s French fries because they’re one of the most popular fries in the US. They’re also one of the most controversial fries in the vegan community.
So controversial in fact that at one point in time McDonald’s was being sued by vegetarian and religious groups for misrepresenting their fries after saying they were no longer going to use beef fat.
You see, Mcdonald’s used to cook their fries in beef tallow up until the 90s. They don’t do this anymore, but they still use a ‘Natural Beef Flavor’ when they cut and prepare their fries. This ‘Natural Beef Flavor’ contains hydrolyzed wheat and hydrolyzed milk.
So no, McDonald’s fries are not vegan.
And in case you’re wondering, the same issues apply to their hash browns as well.
Are Burger King Fries Vegan?
Let’s look at one of the other fast food burger giants, Burger King. Burger King was one of the first big fast food chains to offer a vegan burger, the Impossible Burger. But, what about the fries?
Unlike McDonald’s, yes, Burger King’s fries are vegan. They are not prepared with any animal products and they even have their own dedicated fryers–according to their allergens guide and the multiple locations we have called.
Does this mean that cross-contamination isn’t still possible? No, of course it is. Any restaurant that is not 100% vegan opens up the possibility for cross-contamination, but that’s a risk you have to be willing to accept if you eat at any non-vegan fast food joints.
Are Wendy’s Fries Vegan?
Let’s round out the burger chain trifecta with Wendy’s. They famously changed (and improved in my opinion) their fries to Natural Cut Fries with Sea Salt.
Wendy’s fries are vegan-friendly, but how they are cooked can vary by location.
Wendy’s uses a Soybean oil to cook their fries, but when we called locations to ask about shared fryers we received different responses. Some locations told us that they had dedicated fryers for French Fries while others said they shared fryers with the crispy chicken and chicken nuggets (and fish when it’s on the menu).
This means out of all the chains listed here, Wendy’s is definitely one worth calling ahead and confirming.
Are Five Guys Fries Vegan?
Five Guys has arguably the best French fries in all of fast food. They come in two different varieties, Cajun and Regular.
Five Guys fries are cooked in peanut oil and have their own dedicated fryer! Yes, they are vegan.
Are Arby’s Fries Vegan?
Arby’s offers two kinds of French fries on their menu (three actually if you include the Homestyle Fries that are an Arby’s regional item), Crinkle Cut Fries and Curly Fries.
Arby’s fries are cooked in a vegetable oil that contains one or more of the following: Canola, Palm, Soybean and/or Sunflower.
Unfortunately, Arby’s fries do not have their own dedicated fryer and will share a fryer with animal products.
We still consider Arby’s fries vegan, but we do understand that sharing a fryer with animal products is going to be a deal-breaker for some vegans.
Are KFC Fries Vegan?
KFC fries do not contain any animal-derived ingredients, however, they do share a fryer with the chicken. We called multiple locations and it seems that all locations use the same oil to fry the chicken tenders, popcorn chicken and French fries.
KFC does use a vegetable oil to fry their fries. According to their website it’s either Soybean, Canola, Cottonseed and/or Sunflower oil.
I know I’m probably beginning to sound like a broken record here but if that’s a concern for you I would either call my location to confirm or avoid the fries altogether.
Also, just in case you’re wondering, no, KFC does not carry their potato wedges any longer.
Are Chick Fil A Fries Vegan?
Yes, Chick Fil A’s waffle potato fries are vegan.
Chick Fil A famously uses peanut oil to cook their chicken, but the waffle fries are actually cooked in canola oil, not peanut oil. This means that you should never have to worry about the chicken and fries sharing a fryer, because they use two different oils.
The best part about the fries at Chick Fil A might not even be the fries themselves. It might be the vegan-friendly dipping sauces that you can pair with your French Fries. I highly recommend Polynesian sauce or even the Sweet & Spicy Sriracha Sauce.
Are Popeyes Fries Vegan?
Popeyes is perhaps one of the vegan-unfriendliest fast food restaurants in the US and that extends to their Cajun fries as well.
Popeyes fries everything in beef tallow including their French fries so, no, the fries at Popeyes are not vegan. (This would include their hash browns as well)
Are Taco Bell Nacho Fries Vegan?
Nacho Fries are one of the most popular ‘limited-time only’ menu items at any fast-food chain. And, as long as you order them without the nacho cheese dipping sauce, they are vegan-friendly.
According to Taco Bell’s ingredients statement, the fries are in fact, certified vegan.
Are Sonic Drive In’s Fries Vegan?
Sonic Drive-In’s Fries do not contain any animal-derived ingredients, but according to their Allergen Guide, none of their fried items have dedicated stations. At Sonic in particular, this is quite a bit of the menu.
Mozzarella sticks, tots, fries, ched ‘r’ peppers, onion rings, popcorn chicken and corn dogs are some of the menu items that you should assume are sharing the same oil.
Sonic uses peanut oil to fry its French fries.
If you prefer no cross-contamination, we suggest not eating here. If you do not mind, then Sonic’s Fries are ok.
Grocery Store Brands
Whether or not grocery store brand French Fries are vegan is much more cut and dry than at restaurant chains. After all, you get to decide what oil you want to fry them in when you’re making French fries at home. Or, skip the oil completely and drop your fries into an air fryer.
Let’s jump into some grocery store brands so I can save you the trouble of having to look at the ingredients list of a dozen different store brands.
Are Ore Ida French Fries Vegan?
Ore Ida is one of the most popular grocery store brands of French fries. I checked through the ingredients and allergen info of all the varieties of Ore Ida fries and all were vegan.
Here’s a list:
- Extra Crispy Crinkles
- Extra Crispy Fast Food Fries
- Extra Crispy Seasoned Crinkles
- Golden Crinkles
- Golden Fries
- Golden Steak Fries
- Golden Waffle Fries
Are Alexia French Fries Vegan?
Alexia is a brand of frozen French fries that has gained in popularity over the last few years. Many of their products are highlighted as being Non-GMO.
Many of their fries, like the Seasoned Waffle Cut and Sweet Potato fries, are vegan-friendly.
Arby’s Curly Fries… Again!
Arby’s Curly Fries have the distinction of being on this list twice. These absolutely delightful fries can be found at the grocery store.
This means that you get to dictate exactly how your Curly Fries get cooked and you don’t have to worry about them sharing frying oil with anything you don’t want them to!
Arby’s isn’t the only fast food chain whose French fries can be found at the grocery store. However, be aware that Checkers/Rallys fries contain milk!
Red Robin Fries in the Grocery
Red Robin is another restaurant whose fries you may stumble across while at the grocery store. Like Arby’s, these fries are vegan-friendly.
Hopefully, some of these examples above helped clear up the question, ‘are French fries vegan?’ I tried to cover the French fries that we get asked about the most at VeggL, but I’m also aware that there are many fries that I still left out.
If you have a question about French Fries at a chain that I’ve not listed here then I would encourage you to check out our Chain Restaurant Main Menu where we have Vegan Guides for over 175 chain restaurants. Each guide details the vegan options of each location and even shows you how to order modifications when needed.