How to Make Perfect French Fries

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So you wanna know how to make perfect French Fries, do you?  Yeah.  So did I.  For about the past 20 years.

I will tell you now, that I have tried every method, potato and oil temperature known to mankind in my quest to create THE PERFECT FRENCH FRY.  I’ve come close many times. In all that time I  had never succeeded in creating the perfect chip at home.

Until now.

To reiterate.  This is NOT a post on how to make easy french fries.  It is a post on how to make THE PERFECT FRENCH FRY.  If a single one of you complains this is too much work I’m going to punch you in the vagina.  Or maybe the spleen. I haven’t decided yet.

Before I get to the method for making the perfect french fry I want to go through the most common ways to make fries.

 

♦  The first way people make fries is to grab whatever potato they have in their cupboard, cut it up, turn the deep fryer onto “HOT AS HELL”, and throw them in.

This will not create the perfect french fry.

♦  The second way people try to make fries is by getting fancy and twice cooking the french fries.  First cooking them in oil, taking them out to cool.  And then cooking them again at a higher temperature.

This will not create the perfect french fry.

If you want to make perfect french fries, you need to use a method made popular by The Fat Duck’s Heston Blumenthal.  Thrice cooked french fries.

I’ve modified his technique slightly to work better for the at home fry cook, but basically the method is boiling the fries, frying them at a low temperature, then frying them at a high temperature.

 

You’ll need baking potatoes and a deep fryer plus a pot of cold, salted water.  You cannot under any circumstances create PERFECT french fries in the oven.  Cannot.  You can create slightly healthier fries in the oven but they will NOT be considered, referred to or hailed as perfect.

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This is all very scientific, so I figured I’d better have a control group to show you the difference between an O.K. fry and THE PERFECT FRY.

I’m even wearing rubber gloves and a lab coat.  And a stethoscope.

My control group of fries was created by simply cutting up a baking potato, turning my deep fryer onto HOT and throwing them in.

This method produced overly dark, slightly undercooked fries.

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They were limp.  And unappealing.  As limp things often are.

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So let’s make PERFECT FRENCH FRIES.  Peel your potatoes.  You CANNOT leave the skin on for perfect fries.  Yeah that’s where the vitamins and nutrients are blah, blah.  Perfect fries don’t have skin, because the skin won’t get crispy the way we need it to.  Off with the skin!

Plop your fries into a pot of cold, heavily salted water.

Cook until soft but not falling apart.

The easiest way to cook them to the right degree is to immediately remove the fries once the water shows its first big bubble.  If you make it to the rolling boil your fries will be overcooked and falling apart.

You should be able to pick up one of the fries without it breaking in half.

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Spread your fries on a cookie rack to dry.

You can dry them in the fridge, convection oven, or with a hairdryer.

The surface should be dry and leathery. Refrigerate until cool.

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Once the fries are dry and cold, fry at 325°f until a crust forms.

You don’t want the fry to colour.  It just has to form a crust.

Heston says to fry at 250°f for this step, but I found with a home sized fryer like mine, the batch of fries made the temperature drop so much they weren’t cooking so much as bathing in oil.

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Return your fries to the cookie rack and refrigerate until cool.

Fry again in hot oil of 385°f until golden brown and crispy.  Won’t take long.

 

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These fries are crispy good with no “limping” even after sitting out for several minutes.

The outer shell is crispy and crunchy, while the inside of the fry is hot, fluffy and salty.

 

Recap Quick Instructions

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PERFECT FRENCH FRIES

1. Cut baking potatoes into medium sized fries.

2.  Place in pot of cold, heavily salted water. Bring to boil.  Once  you see the first big bubble of a boil, remove fries. They will be cooked, but not falling apart.  Drain and run under cool water.

3.  Dry and cool fries in fridge, convection oven or with hairdryer until leathery.

4.  Fry at 325°f until a crust forms but no colour.

5.  Shake out oil and cool in refrigerator.

6.  Fry again at 385°f until golden and crispy.

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Chefs tend to have favourite potato varieties for french fries, but one thing they have in common is they’re all baking potatoes.  A baking potato has the right amount of starch and moisture to make a good french fry.  Different chefs have different favourites in terms of potato varieties, but since most of us live in places where grocery stores carry “baking potatoes” as opposed to “Kennebec variety baking potatoes”, I’ll stick with telling you to use whatever baking potato you can find.

I … on the other hand … have purchased a bag full of Kennebec seed potatoes.  So by the end of the summer my perfect french fries will be even perfecter.

See here for how to make Guaranteed Crispy Sweet Potato Fries.

 

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173 Comments

  1. Robin Dunne says:

    Thank you for this! Question: What is the optimal type of oil? Simple vegetable? (forgive me if you’ve already mentioned this and I’ve missed it)
    Best,
    R

    • Karen says:

      Hi Robin! Peanut oil is the best for frying but it can be hard to find and/or expensive. After that just a regular vegetable or canola oil works the best. :) ~ karen!

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