I'm a sucker for a French fry. I love a good fry hot off the fryer with a starchy inside and a crispy, salty coating. Who doesn't?
Up until recently, I indulged my craving for the popular side with a quick pass through the McDonald's drive-thru or late-night delivery order of cheese fries from my local diner. I never tried making them at home, convinced I wouldn't be able to achieve a crispy enough or tasty enough result.
Well, after a mountain of research and tests, I'm pleased to say that I was very much mistaken. With a few essential techniques, you, too, can achieve a satisfying and crispy fry at home.
How to Make French Fries at Home
Homemade French fries involve a three-step process.
- Soak the potatoes: Soak your cut potatoes in cold water for at least 2 hours up to overnight to remove excess starch. Just before frying, dry them thoroughly.
- Fry: Fry the potatoes at a low temperature of 300°F until they are tender. Let them drain on a paper towel or kitchen towel for at least 30 minutes.
- Fry again: Fry the potatoes at a higher temperature of 375°F to create a crispy, golden-brown crust. Let the excess oil drain on paper towels, season with salt, and serve immediately.
Why Soak the Potatoes?
Soaking potatoes is critical to achieving a light golden-brown crust on your fries. Soaking removes excess starch from the potatoes and prevents excess browning. Otherwise, the exterior of the potato will brown too quickly before the inside cooks.
Why Fry Twice?
A double fry helps eliminate excess moisture that sogs up the outside of the fry and evenly cooks the inside while browning the outside properly. Some recipes involve a single fry (cold oil method). However, after testing, I found that the double-fry process consistently yields crispier fries.
The Best Potatoes for French Fries
In most cases, russets are the best option for frying because of their high starch content (yielding a fluffy interior) and lower moisture makeup (drier potatoes will crisp more quickly).
Depending on your preference, you can either peel the potatoes or leave them unpeeled. Both options will yield delicious fries.
And What About the Size of the Fries?
Even cuts are most important. For thickness, anywhere between 1/4-inch and 3/8-inch thick is great. I prefer 1/4-inches as I find they stay the crispiest.
Tips and Tricks for Making Homemade French Fries
- Add 2 tablespoons vinegar to the soaking liquid to help slow down browning.
- Use a thermometer when heating the oil for the most consistent results.
- Thoroughly dry your potatoes after soaking. Removing excess moisture will yield a crispier texture (and avoid splattering).
- Gently lower your potatoes into the oil when frying to avoid further splattering. You can also use a splatter shield.
- For the crispiest fries, drain on a paper towel then transfer to a wire rack just before serving.
Seasonings and Sauces for French Fries
While I'm all for a classic sprinkling of salt on my fries, you should feel free to experiment as you wish with fun seasonings and sauces. I love tossing fries with Cajun seasoning, Old Bay seasoning, or even a little bit of garlic salt and freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
For sauces, aside from ketchup (obviously!), I like mixing a little bit of hot sauce into my ketchup, making a mixture of mayo and sriracha, or serving with an extra garlicky aioli.
How to Reheat Leftover Fries
Leftover fries can be reheated in a few different ways depending on your preference.
- Fry: If you saved your leftover frying oil, reheat the oil to 375°F and re-fry the leftover fries to warm them.
- Bake: Preheat your oven to 400°F and reheat the fries on a wire rack set over a rimmed baking sheet for 5 to 10 minutes until warmed.
- Air fry: Set your air fryer to 350°F and reheat the fries inside the fryer basket for 3 to 5 minutes.
Enjoy Your French Fries With Burgers, Steaks, and More!
Homemade French Fries
2 1/2 pounds Russet potatoes (4 medium potatoes)
2 tablespoons distilled vinegar
1 to 2 quarts peanut oil
Prep the potatoes:
Fill a large bowl with cold water and set aside. If desired, use a vegetable peeler to peel the potatoes. Use a mandolin or a knife to cut fries into 1/4-inch to 3/8-inch thick cuts, depending on your preference. I prefer 1/4-inches as I find they stay the crispiest.
To cut by hand, slice the edge off one side of the potato to create a flat surface. Place the flattened side down, then cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch to 3/8-inch thick slices. Cut each slice into 1/4-inch to 3/8-inch sticks.
Rinse the fries:
Place the cut fries into the water, then drain them into a sieve. Rinse the potatoes under cold water for a few seconds to help remove any excess starch.
Soak the fries:
Place the fries back into the bowl and fill with cold water until they are fully submerged. Add in the white vinegar. Let the fries soak for at least 2 hours at room temperature, up to overnight (if soaking longer than 2 hours, store in the fridge).
Drain the potatoes and arrange on baking sheet:
Line two large baking sheets with two layers of paper towels or clean kitchen towels. Drain the potatoes using a strainer, then transfer them to the baking sheet.
Arrange them evenly on the baking sheet and place another kitchen towel or paper towel on top to blot any excess moisture. Let the fries drain and air-dry for at least 15 minutes up to an hour—the drier the potatoes, the better the result.
Fry the potatoes:
Line a baking sheet with paper towels or a kitchen towel to drain excess grease from fries after frying.
Meanwhile, set a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add at least 2 inches of oil to the pot. Use a thermometer to heat oil to 300°F.
In batches, cook the fries for 3 to 5 minutes or until the fries are tender. You may need to cook them in 2 -3 batches. Use a slotted spoon or kitchen spider to remove the fries from the oil and drain on baking sheet with paper towels or a kitchen towel.
Repeat with the remaining fries, making sure the oil is at 300°F between batches when frying.
Drain the potatoes:
Let fries drain on the baking sheet lined with paper towels for at least 30 minutes. Meanwhile, reheat the oil on medium heat to 375°F.
Fry the potatoes:
Place 2 teaspoons of salt in a small bowl for easy access. Line a large baking sheet or plate with paper towels.
In batches, cook the fries once more for 3 to 5 minutes, or until they are a light golden brown. Fries should also feel crispy (and not soggy).
To test this, use a slotted spoon or spider to remove a fry from the oil and place it on the paper towel. Let cool slightly, then taste the fry—if it's still soft, continue frying.
Once done, remove the remaining fries with a slotted spoon or spider and drain on the paper towel lined baking sheet.
Immediately season with salt, to taste. Repeat with the remaining batches and serve while hot.
Store leftover French fries wrapped in aluminum foil or an airtight container in the refrigerator. In the fridge, cooked fries will last up to 3 days.
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|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 0g||0%|
|Saturated Fat 0g||0%|
|Total Carbohydrate 46g||17%|
|Dietary Fiber 5g||17%|
|Total Sugars 3g|
|Vitamin C 20mg||101%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|