How to Make Delicious French Fries

Three Methods:Frying Restaurant Quality FriesMaking Super-Easy Stovetop FriesOven-Frying French Fries

A delicious french fry is a work of artistic beauty -- crispy yet tender, lightly salted and totally addictive -- yet most chefs struggle to imitate their favorite fast food joint at home. The three recipes here provide ways to get over the hump and start beating McDonald's at its own game -- the perfect french fry.

Ingredients

Perfect Fast-Food Fries

  • 2lbs (1kg) Russet Potatoes
  • 2 quarts (slightly under 2 liters) water
  • 2 tablespoons (30ml) salt + more for seasoning
  • 2 tablespoons (30ml) white vinegar
  • Oil for frying (Vegetable, Canola, Safflower, Peanut)

Simple "Slow-Fried" Fries

  • 2lbs (1kg) Russet Potatoes
  • Oil for frying (Vegetable, Canola, Safflower, Peanut)
  • Salt, to taste

Oven-Fried Fries

  • 2lbs (1kg) Russet Potatoes
  • 2 quarts (slightly less than 2 liters) water
  • 2 tablespoons salt (30ml) + more for seasoning
  • 2 tablespoons (30ml) white vinegar
  • 1 1/2 (.35 liters) cups buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) vegetable oil
  • 1 cup (250ml) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon (5ml) baking powder
  • Seasonings, to taste

Method 1
Frying Restaurant Quality Fries

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    Chop your potatoes into fries, roughly 1/4" (.6cm) thick. Try to keep all the fries all the same width so that they cook evenly together. This helps them cook at the same rate, instead of some burning and some undercooked.[1]
    • Peel the potatoes.
    • Cut each potato lengthwise in half.
    • Lay each half cut-side down, then cut parallel to the cutting board to cut in half once more.
    • Cut these planks into your fries.
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    Leave the potatoes in cold water until ready to cook. Simply keep them here to prevent moisture loss while you keep chopping and heat the oil up. Some cooks even soak the potatoes overnight.[2]
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    Fill a large pot with potatoes, 2 tablespoons (30ml) vinegar, 2 tablespoons salt, and 2 quarts (≥ 2 liters) water. Want to know how McDonald's gets perfect fries every time? They cook them three times, starting with a "parboil," or vinegar bath. Throw everything in a large pot, cover with the 2 quarts water, and set the stove to high.
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    Parboil the potatoes for 10 minutes over high heat. They should be tender and easily pierced with a fork, but not falling apart. Start checking after about 8 minutes.
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    Drain the potatoes and pat dry with paper towels. Let the potatoes cool on a paper towel-lined baking sheet for about five minutes as they cool down. As they do, get start heating up the oil in the next step.[3]
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    Fill a deep pan or wok with 3" (7.5cm) of oil, and heat to 400F (205C). A large dutch oven, wok, or a deep-fryer will have the best results. While fries can be cooked without a thermometer, it will be impossible to get McDonald's-besting fries without one.[4]
    • If you don't have a thermometer, but want to go for it anyway, you'll want medium-high heat. Not quite the highest setting, but pretty close. You drop one small potato in to test -- it should bubble up quickly[5]
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    Fry the potatoes in batches, covering completely in hot oil for 1 minute. These are not completely cooked yet, and that's a good thing! They should be pale and floppy. Note that, as the potatoes hit to oil, the temperature should drop to roughly 360F (180C).[6]
    • Return the oil to 400F with each new batch, ensuring all the fries cook.
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    Cool fries to room temperature on a paper towel-lined baking sheet. Remove the chips from the hot oil and drain them on a plate full of paper towels. Don't move forward until they have at least cooled to room-temperature. This is key for your second fry! It should take about 30 minutes.
    • Wondering why you double-fry fries? Potato water molecules are caught up in the starch, and there is less water in the outer edges (as they "air dried" when cut) than the centers. During the first fry, this outer edge water escapes, but the water in the center just makes it to the edge. Luckily, as this water cools it forms a starchy, oily crust, which the second fry turns into the perfectly crisp exterior of a good fry.[7]
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    Optionally, freeze the cooled, half-cooked fries overnight for an even crispier final fry. McDonald's doesn't just freeze their fries to store them -- the process of freezing actually makes crispier final fries! This is because water expands as it forms ice, creating jagged little ice crystals in the potato. These internal "cuts" provide more room for the rapidly melted water to escape once you fry it, removing more moisture for a crisper fry.[8]
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    Heat your oil back up to 400F (205C) for the final fry. This recipe requires little more than smart fryer skills. If you want to use the same oil as before, this is perfect -- simply strain out or remove any bits of potato that may have stayed in the oil.
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    Fry the potatoes for 3 1/2 minutes, until crisp and golden-brown. You'll likely need to do this in two batches to fit everything -- don't try to crowd the pan. The oil will again drop to about 360F (180C), and adjust the heat if needed to keep it there
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    Remove the fries and drain on a bed of paper towels, seasoning immediately with salt. The paper towels remove excess oil, and the salt provides the best, most even flavor when allowed to dissolve on the still-hot fries. Serve immediately!
    • If you're working in two batches, the fries can be kept warm and crisp on a wire rack in the oven set to 200F.[9]

Method 2
Making Super-Easy Stovetop Fries

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    Peel and cut your potatoes into 1/4" (.6cm) thick fries. If you have a v-blade or mandolin, this is easy, but you can pull it off with a sharp knife and cutting board, as well:
    • Peel the potatoes (optional -- if not, rinse and scrub skins).
    • Cut each potato lengthwise into two halves.
    • Lay each half cut-side down, then cut parallel to the cutting board to cut in half once more.
    • Cut these potato planks into your fries.[10]
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    Rinse the potatoes and pat dry. For the absolute best fries, keep the cut potatoes in a bowl of cold water until you're ready to cook them. When prepped, drain the water and pat dry.
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    Place potatoes in two layers at the bottom of a large, deep pot. You want a pot with a good, heavy bottom, like a dutch oven or large cast-iron. This retains heat well, which will be essential for good, crispy fries.[11]
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    Cover the potatoes by at least an inch of your oil. Use safflower, vegetable, or peanut for the best results. Note that this oil is cold -- the beauty of these fries is that they slow cook on their own in cold oil. No complex frying required!
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    Turn heat to medium and cook for 15 minutes. At this point, the oil should start to gently bubble. If it isn't, turn the heat up slightly. If the oil is going nuts or smoking, lower it immediately.[12]
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    Stir the fries lightly, unsticking from the bottom, and cook for another 25 minutes, until tender. The fries should be easily pierced with a fork, though they won't exactly be golden brown. This is okay, though. The browning comes in the next step.[13]
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    Crank the heat to medium-high, getting the oil to bubble even more, and crisp for 15 minutes. At this point, you can take the fries out once they hit your desired darkness and level of crispiness.
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    Cool fries on a paper-towel lined sheet, seasoning immediately with salt. Salt will provide the bit of perfect flavor for your fries, and it works best when it can dissolve on the still-hot fries. Pat with paper towels to remove any excess grease.[14]

Method 3
Oven-Frying French Fries

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    Peel and cut your potatoes into 1/2" (1.2cm) thick fries. You'll want these fries to be thicker than the other two methods, as this helps them avoid drying out.
    • Peel the potatoes (optional -- if not, rinse and scrub skins).
    • Cut each potato lengthwise into two halves.
    • Lay each half cut-side down, then cut parallel to the cutting board to cut in half once more.
    • Cut these potato planks into your fries.
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    Combine potatoes, vinegar, water, and 2 tablespoons (30ml) salt in a large pot and boil for 10 minutes. This vinegar boil is called "parboiling," and the vinegar helps to keep the potatoes nice and firm. Put everything into the pot cold, then crank the heat up to high until it boils for 10 minutes.
    • When pierced with a fork, each fry should be tender but not falling apart.[15]
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    Drain parboiled potatoes, then toss with the buttermilk and let sit for 5 minutes. The buttermilk will form the crust needed to get a nice, crispy fry. Normally this comes from the deep-frier, but you won't be deep-frying this time. The buttermilk is a perfect substitute.
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    Place the oil in the rimmed baking sheet and heat at 400F (205C). The potatoes will need to cook in the oil, but you want the oil to be hot to avoid soggy, greasy fries. Heating up the oil in the oven ahead of time is the perfect solution. While you could check the temperature, it should be good to go after 2-3 minutes, and will quickly rise to the right heat if the oven is pre-heated.
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    Combine flour, cornstarch, and baking soda with desired seasonings. Whisk together these dry ingredients -- they are the second half of your DIY oven french fry crispy-crust. This is also a great time to whisk in any desired flavors or seasonings, like a teaspoon (5ml) of any or all of:
    • Thyme
    • Black Pepper
    • Garlic Powder
    • Paprika
    • Cayenne Pepper (only 1/2 teaspoon (2.5ml), unless you want spicy fries).
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    Drain buttermilk from fries and toss with flour. Pour the buttermilk/potato mixture through a sieve, then dust the potatoes with the flour mixture. Leave it in the sieve, shaking to coat evenly and remove any excess dry ingredients. You want light and evenly coated potato sticks.
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    Let the potatoes sit for 5 minutes, then layer onto hot oil and place in oven. The waiting period helps your lovely crust develop, and then it's right from here to the oven. Remove the hot oil carefully and layer the potatoes down so they don't overlap.[16]
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    Cook for 10 minutes, then flip the potatoes. The face-down side should be a beautiful golden brown. Use a set of kitchen tongs to flip each potato over.
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    Cook the other side for another 10-15 minutes, until potatoes are tender and golden brown. Once they are pierced with a fork and an appealing color, they're ready to come out.
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    Drain and cool fries on paper towels, salting immediately. Your potatoes are ready to serve! Blot with paper towels to remove excess oil, and salt to taste as soon as they come out of the oven.[17]

Tips

  • Don't cut the potatoes too small, or they'll burn easily and consume more oil.
  • Cook with long sleeves to prevent burns from splattering oil.
  • You can strain the oil out after using and save it to fry again later. Simply run it through a fine mesh strainer and save in a cool, dark place.

Warnings

  • Don't stay too close to oil, because if it touches you, you could get burned.

Things You'll Need

Restaurant Quality:

  • Thick-bottomed pot or deep fryer
  • Cooking oil
  • Slotted spoon or spatula
  • Paper towels
  • Metal mixing bowls

Quick and Easy:

  • Thick-bottomed pot
  • Cooking oil
  • Slotted spoon
  • Paper towels

Oven Fried:

  • Rimmed baking sheet
  • Cooking Oil
  • Oven
  • Tongs
  • Paper towels.

Article Info

Categories: Party Snacks