I get asked a lot of questions about eating gluten free at McDonald's - and the good news is there are options here in the UK!
McDonald's may not serve gluten free burger buns in the UK (scroll down for some places where they do serve them) but you can buy several options.
Of course, getting a gluten free meal may not be the same as walking in and ordering a 99p cheeseburger.
In the UK, the buns at McDonald's are not gluten free, but some of the fillings and sides are.
Please be aware, however, if you're reading this in the US or any other country, what is gluten free will be completely different.
This guide to eating gluten free in McDonald's was updated in September 2020, but it's always wise to double check with each individual restaurant.
Does McDonald's have a gluten free menu?
Unlike many restaurants, McDonald's doesn't specifically have a gluten free menu.
However, there are allergen menus available in each restaurant and online.
The allergy menu lists each of the 14 allergens in its individual products.
The McDonald's allergy menu does have a section at the start on cross contamination, which does not mention gluten apart from where the bread/bagels/muffins are concerned.
On it's website, McDonald's states it "cannot make a claim any of our food is gluten free in the UK. This is because we're not able to guarantee the prevention of cross contamination with gluten, when preparing gluten free food."
However it does state there are options on the menu which have no gluten containing ingredients.
When it comes to options, a lot of the fillings are gluten free if you take away the bun.
The red pepper and pesto goujons are gluten free (coated in a rice flour crumb) and the beef burgers are also gluten free. (Although currently due to some manufacturing issue, they're temporarily out of stock)
The Big Mac sauce and the cheese are also gluten free - so you can order this without the bun too.
Personally, I always bring my own gluten free bun and then just compile my own burger.
It's not quite the same but no-one has ever told me off for doing it.
Are McDonald's fries gluten free?
McDonald's fries in the UK do not contain any gluten containing ingredients.
The allergy menu states they can be cooked in the same oil as the red pepper and pesto goujons (aka Veggie Dippers).
However, the good news is that these McDonald's veggie dippers are also gluten free!
In most UK stores, the McDonald's fries are cooked in a dedicated fryer but it's always worth checking with the manager as I understand some stores use filtered oil instead of fresh.
Most restaurants I've been in have been perfectly safe but it's always really important to double check in a new store.
For anyone reading this in the US, it's important to be aware that this only stands in the UK.
In the McDonald's fries in the US are NOT gluten free as they are coated in a wheat flavouring (found this out the hard way once!)
This is why it's super important to check with each individual store, especially if it's an international chain!
Is there a gluten free burger bun in McDonald's UK?
The simple answer is no - McDonald's in the UK does not offer a gluten free burger bun.
But why is the UK so far behind all the European countries which do offer them?
According to the McDonald's website, the company has no plans to introduce gluten free buns to its menu any time soon.
They claim the kitchen set up cannot guarantee there will be no cross contamination.
The company's official line says: "The kitchen layout and equipment available in our restaurants located around the world vary.
"To offer gluten-free buns, we would need separate storage and toasting equipment in place to prevent cross-contamination, which many of our U.K. restaurants kitchens do not currently have the capacity to provide."
So, I wouldn't hold your breath on that one. Until then, I'll keep bringing my own bun...
What about McDonald's gluten free breakfast options?
There are quite a few items on the McDonald's breakfast menu which are gluten free.
Important things first - the McDonald's hash browns do NOT contain any gluten.
The bacon, eggs and pork sausage sausage patties are also all free from gluten.
So there are quite a few options you can make up here if you're desperate for a Maccy's breakfast.
You won't be able to eat any of the muffins, buns or bagels, but you can order any of the options minus the bread item.
My personal favourite is to order a bacon and egg McMuffin meal, minus the muffin, and then an extra hash brown.
Then I can use the hash browns as a 'bun' - it's a bit greasy but my God, it's good!
Items which are not gluten free include the pancakes, all breads, porridge and muffins.
Are McFlurries gluten free?
The good news is the base ice-cream of a McFlurry IS gluten free - but the real deal breaker is the toppings.
The Cadbury's Dairy Milk and Flake McFlurries ARE both gluten free.
However, at the time of writing, McDonald's is offering a Malteasers, Oreo or Smarties McFlurry.
Unfortunately, none of these toppings are gluten free as they all contain wheat, so they would not be safe to eat.
When it comes to the other desserts and sweets, most of them contain gluten.
All of the cakes, as well as the apple pie, are all off limits.
Oh - but of course the fruit bag is fine. And we know how much people with coeliac disease love a fruit salad for pudding, right!?
Are McDonald's milkshakes gluten free?
According to the McDonald's website and its allergy menu, all of its milkshakes do not contain any gluten.
This means the McDonald's milkshakes, which come in banana, chocolate, strawberry and vanilla flavour, are all gluten free.
As well as this, none of McDonald's fizzy drinks contain gluten so they are all safe to drink.
All of the McDonald's coffees, tea and hot chocolate are gluten free.
The McDonald's iced latte is gluten free, as is the caramel iced frappé, the frozen strawberry lemonade and the mango & iced pineapple smoothie.
You can find a full updated list of all the drinks on their allergy information document here.
Are McDonald's chicken nuggets gluten free?
Sadly, McDonald's chicken nuggets are not gluten free.
The only 'breaded' item on the menu that is gluten free are the red pepper and pesto goujons.
These veggie dippers are coated in a rice crumb - and are gluten free and vegan.
You can order them as part of the Vegetable Deluxe meal (minus the bun) or just on their own.
And of course, the side salad is gluten free, so you can bulk up your meal with that.
The following dips and sauces are also gluten free: Tomato ketchup, sweet curry dip, smoky BBQ dip, sweet chilli dip, sour cream & chive dip, balsamic dressing.
Where can I get a gluten free McDonald's burger bun?
Although you can't get a gluten free burger at McDonald's in the UK, you CAN find gluten free burgers in quite a few European countries!
So if you're heading on holiday and can't decide on the destination, this may help you out.
In Europe you can get a gluten free McDonald's in the following countries:
- Czech Republic
There may also be some other places you can grab a gluten free McDonald's so this list is by no means inclusive.
So there you go - if you're desperate for those burgers and fries, you better book a flight somewhere in Europe, pronto!
More tips for eating out on a gluten free diet
Hopefully one day I can update this post to say that gluten free buns have arrived in the UK.
But until that day, always remember to double check when you do place an order.
All restaurants will have different procedures in place with regards to cross contamination and often menus change.
I'll try to keep this post updated as much as I can but definitely always keep double checking so you don't get caught out.
If you're looking for more coeliac tips, you may find some of the following posts helpful:
- What's gluten free at Wetherspoon?
- 18 things that happen when you eat out on a gluten free diet
- 10 of the best gluten free cookbooks
- My coeliac disease FAQs