Are sweet potatoes gluten-free? Find out if sweet potatoes are safe for a gluten-free diet, and when you should be cautious.
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If you follow a gluten-free diet or are just getting started with one, you may be wondering what foods are safe to enjoy. There are so many naturally gluten-free foods, but it’s not always obvious which foods make the cut.
In this post, we’ll be talking all about sweet potatoes and how they fit into a gluten-free diet. Learn if sweet potatoes are gluten-free, when they should be avoided, and if sweet potatoes prepared certain ways are safe for a gluten-free diet.
Before we answer the question “are sweet potatoes gluten-free?” we first need to be sure we’re on the same page. We need to know what gluten is in order to avoid it.
What is gluten?
Gluten is a protein found in most wheat products, and acts as the “glue” that helps to hold wheat, barley, kamut, spelt, farro, durum, bulgur, rye, and semolina together to maintain their shape.
Gluten is naturally occurring, yet many people have a hard time digesting it as well as having immune responses to it when it enters their system. Many people who experience side effects from eating gluten have either celiac disease or a food intolerance, and choose to avoid gluten entirely in their diets.
Are sweet potatoes gluten-free?
Sweet potatoes when prepared without other gluten ingredients are also gluten-free. Enjoy sweet potatoes baked, steamed, shredded, boiled, and mashed without having to worry about gluten being present.
The times you’ll want to be aware of gluten in sweet potatoes is when you are buying a premade product with extra ingredients. Any additional ingredient in the packaged food will need to be reviewed for gluten in the ingredients list.
If you’re at a friend’s house or a potluck and there is a dish with sweet potatoes, you may want to find out what other ingredients or seasonings have been added to understand if there is a possibility of gluten being incorporated into the dish.
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Can you have potatoes on a gluten-free diet?
Sweet potatoes are naturally gluten-free as they don’t contain any grains with gluten. These are safe to enjoy on a gluten-free diet as long as no other gluten ingredients have been introduced to the dish.
When sweet potatoes are baked, roasted, mashed, boiled, or steamed, they are almost always gluten-free.
When sweet potatoes aren’t gluten-free
Sweet potatoes may not be gluten-free if ingredients with gluten have been introduced to them.
Sweet potatoes contain no gluten themselves, so if there was gluten in a dish, it would likely be from a seasoning or other ingredient that was added to a recipe making it unsafe for us gluten-free folks.
If sweet potatoes have been seasoned with spices or seasoning packets from the store, they may not be gluten-free as gluten is often present in these premade packets and seasoning blends.
If sweet potatoes have been added to a soup or a sauce, they might not be gluten-free. Sometimes flour is added to soups and sauces to thicken them, and this might be a place where gluten gets incorporated into a naturally gluten-free dish making it unsafe for folks following a gluten-free diet.
Especially if you’re buying a packaged food with sweet potatoes, do your due diligence in looking at ingredients lists before purchasing to find hidden gluten ingredients.
One of my little secrets is that I carry around a copy of my GFDF Take Along Cards so that I always have a point of reference when I can sneak a peek at the ingredient list of a food.
Are sweet potatoes cooked and served in different ways always gluten-free?
Sweet potatoes when eaten with no other added ingredients are naturally gluten-free. The way we sometimes serve them or cook them can introduce gluten into the dish making them not safe for folks on a gluten-free diet.
Let’s go over some of the popular ways that we cook and serve potatoes to get a clear picture on when these delicious potatoes are gluten-free.
Are baked sweet potatoes gluten-free?
Baked sweet potatoes are gluten-free when they don’t have anything on them. You can top them with butter or vegan butter for a gluten-free option.
Be aware that other spreads, sauces, and toppings that you put on sweet potatoes may contain gluten, so do your research before piling them high with toppings!
Are roasted sweet potatoes gluten-free?
Roasted sweet potatoes when made at home are naturally gluten-free. To be sure you don’t add any gluten to your potatoes before roasting, use an oil or dairy-free butter to create the crispiness you’re looking for and try to stick with single ingredient herbs and spices.
Herb and spice blends tend to have more opportunity for hidden sources of gluten in the form of “natural flavorings” or preservatives.
If you get roasted sweet potatoes from a restaurant, these sometimes contain gluten. When restaurants roast vegetables, they often use seasoning blends that contain gluten or they may even use some flour to make the potatoes crispy before roasting. Ask a server how they are prepared before ordering.
Try this recipe: Easy One-pan Chicken Sausage, Sweet Potatoes & Corn
Are mashed sweet potatoes gluten-free?
Most mashed sweet potatoes are going to be gluten-free. Butter, vegan butter, milk, cream, and dairy-free milks are all gluten-free, so whether you follow a dairy-free diet or can tolerate dairy, this dish is most likely going to be gluten-free.
Are sweet potato chips gluten-free?
Depending on the brand, sweet potato chips may or may not be gluten-free. You’ll want to review ingredients lists if you’re buying a packaged product from the store.
Read on: Are Potato Chips Gluten-free?
Are sweet potato fries gluten-free?
Depending on the brand or restaurant, sweet potato fries may or may not be gluten-free. Your best bet is to make your own sweet potato fries at home to avoid any opportunity for gluten cross contamination, however I know that sometimes it’s easiest to buy them at the store.
If you’re buying sweet potato fries from a restaurant, be sure to ask if the fries are made in a dedicated gluten-free fryer. If they aren’t, there will be some gluten cross contact.
If you’re looking for sweet potato fries from the store, be sure to look for a gluten-free label and review ingredients lists of each package you buy. Some brands offer some gluten-free French fry products, but not all their options are gluten-free so it’s best to review before you decide on a packaged option from the store.
Read on: Are French Fries Gluten-free?
If you love sweet potatoes, I hope that this post has helped you get the information you’ve been looking for as it relates to keeping this food in your gluten-free diet.
Remember that sweet potatoes are naturally gluten-free, but gluten can always find its way into a dish, especially if it’s fried or has any seasoning blends added to it.
Do your due diligence to research every product you buy and talk to servers at restaurants to get a clear picture of what you’re ordering. Your best bet is to make your own at home to ensure your dish is 100% gluten-free.