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Easy Homemade French Fries

Updated on July 11, 2014
Crunchy crisp homemade fries photo by LynnKK
Crunchy crisp homemade fries photo by LynnKK

Photo by LynnKK

The Secrets to Perfect Home Cut French Fries

Before I found this incredibly easy method for making the very best french fries I had tried everything to prepare homemade fries. I soaked them in ice water as my mother did and fried them after drying them one by one. I did the two wave fry, cooking first till barely beige and limp and then frying a second time till crisp. I parboiled the potato strips in water, drying again and frying.

My tools were an electric frying pan, a FryDaddy, a generic deep fryer I got at a thrift shop. Nothing really worked well. My best efforts, and they were labor-intensive, were about 80 percent as good as a fresh fast food fry. I was about ready to give up.

I made one last purchase of a relatively high end deep fryer -- I am not going to reveal the brand -- and found the oil was only heating to about 250 degrees. Arrgh. Clearly it was defective but I was so disgusted I just stashed it in the basement and told the family we were baking frozen fries in the oven from that point forward.

Chance Purchase = Fry Nirvana

By chance I picked up a copy of Cooks Illustrated, the July 2009 issue. The scientific twist this magazine takes to cooking is always intriguing to me. Cooking is, after all, a tasty chemistry experiment. This issue had an article that advocated the unusual method of frying just-cut fries in peanut oil, starting with both the potatoes and the oil at room temperature. The method was attributed to French chef Jöel Robuchon.

I read through the recipe a few times. It seemed almost too simple to be true. But, as is typical with Cooks Illustrated, they had an explanation for every step. Since potatoes are cheap, although peanut oil not so much. I decided to give it a try even with the slightly pricey oil.

Key Ingredients

The success of this recipe depends upon two ingredients, the proper pan and patience. You will not get the best results if you do not have all of these ready to go at fry time.

Yukon Gold Potatoes -- this variety has the proper moisture content to withstand the longer frying time.

Peanut oil -- it can handle the high temperatures and can be reused a few times.

Heavy, preferably cast iron pan -- heats up evenly and retains the cooking temperature throughout the fry.

Patience -- from the time you turn on the burner until the fries are complete can take 25 to 40 minutes.

The Verdict

Yukon Golds cut up in their skins into about 1/4 inch square strips cooked up into magnificent fries when peanut oil was used. Varying the method with regular russets or other vegetable oil was not as successful. Using my heavy Circulon kettle worked well at keeping the heat rising gradually and then maintaining temperature. A less heavy kettle would work but you might need to keep an eye out for uneven heating.

Probably the hardest part is waiting -- first waiting without stirring for the first 15 minutes and then waiting an additional 10 to 20 minutes for the fries to crisp.

The Biggest Surprise

You can use the oil again so it can be strained and stored to await the next time. I replaced it in the bottle and found only about a quarter of a cup was missing. All that frying time and such a small amount absorbed into the fries was amazing, and a fair amount of oil was blotted up by paper towels in the serving bowl as well. Healthy, too? Not exactly, but much less oil was used than other methods I had tried.

Straightforward, Simple and Superb

Trust me, this is absolutely the easiest french fry recipe ever. The hardest part may be the waiting, followed by the slicing, which is simple. You can cook these while you make the main dish -- steak, burgers, chicken -- with little trouble as they practically cook themselves.

Try this method once and you will have the routine down.Then get ready to enjoy your reputation as the best french fry chef ever.

Looking for a More Elegant Potato Option?

Try some Hasselback Potatoes. Crispy, buttery goodness with your choice of toppings.

Need a Side for Fried Chicken or Other Picnic Food?

Here is the ultimate picnic potato salad.

Crispy Fries Plus a Juicy Lucy = Food Synergy

Discover the secret to making the best Juicy Lucy Cheeseburger.

Cook Time

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 40 to 50 minutes

Serves: 5

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 5 medium Yukon Gold potatoes
  • Enough peanut oil to cover the potatoes -- have a couple bottles on hand
  • Your favorite fry condiments -- ketchup, mayonnaise, mustard, sour cream, hot sauce -- you decide

Instructions

  1. Mix sea salt, pepper and garlic powder together and put in a shaker if you have one or otherwise in a small bowl. Set aside.
  2. Line a large bowl with paper towels.
  3. Scrub the potatoes. No need to peel.
  4. Slice each potato in half the long way.
  5. Then make 1/4 to 1/3 inch slices the long way.
  6. Stack the slices and cut into sticks that are about 1/4 to 1/3 inch square and the length of the potato.
  7. Place all the potato sticks in a large, heavy pot. The pot should be large enough to leave at least three to five inches above the top of the potato stick pile to the top edge of the pot.
  8. Pour enough peanut oil in to just cover the potatoes.
  9. Turn the heat on under the pot to high and then set a timer for 15 minutes.
  10. Keep an eye on the pot but do not touch it for the fifteen minutes.
  11. After 15 minutes take a wooden spoon and gently stir the potatoes. The oil should be boiling vigorously and the potatoes should be limp but not browned.
  12. Continue to let the potatoes boil on high. Using a metal tongs gently stir and redistribute the strips every two or three minutes.
  13. As the potatoes continue to cook you will notice they begin to color and start to feel more rigid.
  14. After a total of 25 minutes of cooking start stirring and lifting with the tongs every minute.
  15. What you want to see is a medium brown color and a crunchy feel to the potatoes.
  16. If they are not quite there at 25 minutes give them five to ten more minutes, checking often.
  17. If your potatoes have a lot of moisture -- really fresh from the backyard or farmers market -- they may take up to 40 minutes total.
  18. When they are crisp, golden brown and separated from each other turn off the heat and use the tongs to transfer gently to the bowl.
  19. Sprinkle with a little topping mixture after each tong-full. Once all the fires are in the bowl toss with the tongs to distribute the salt, garlic, pepper mixture. Add more topping if needed to taste.
  20. Serve with your favorite dips.
  21. Enjoy!
  22. NOTE: Allow the oil to cool completely and strain back into the bottle/bottles. Store in a cool dry place and use again for future batches. Discard when the oil becomes darkened, usually after 3 or 4 uses.
Lodge EC6D43 Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven, 6-Quart, Island Spice Red
Lodge EC6D43 Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven, 6-Quart, Island Spice Red

The key to these crispy fries is a steady buildup of heat and then maintenance of the temperature as the fries complete cooking, This heavy cast iron dutch oven is just the answer.

 
Chicago Cutlery Walnut Tradition 3-Piece Prep Knife Gift Set
Chicago Cutlery Walnut Tradition 3-Piece Prep Knife Gift Set

I have used my Chicago Cutlery knives for 25 years. All my fries are cut with the chef's knife.

 
LouAna 100% Pure Peanut Oil, 128 Oz
LouAna 100% Pure Peanut Oil, 128 Oz

The oil choice really does make a difference. My homemade fries are made exclusively with this oil.

 

When you eat french fries how do you season them? Are you a ketchup dipper or do you go for something more exotic? Share your favorites.

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    • Lynn Klobuchar profile image
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      Lynn Klobuchar 3 years ago from Minneapolis, Minnesota

      @Cesky: Thanks! Hope it works out well for you. Just made some a couple of days ago and they were great as long as I am patient.

    • Cesky profile image

      Cecilia Karanja 3 years ago from Nairobi

      A great lens. I love making fries but they end up either too soggy or brown. I'll follow your recipe.

    • Lynn Klobuchar profile image
      Author

      Lynn Klobuchar 3 years ago from Minneapolis, Minnesota

      @cdotthought: Hope it works out for you! Be patient.

    • cdotthought profile image

      cdotthought 3 years ago

      This is great, I have yet to make a perfect french fry at home but I am looking forward to trying this recipe, thank you for the tips!

    • Lynn Klobuchar profile image
      Author

      Lynn Klobuchar 3 years ago from Minneapolis, Minnesota

      @ideadesigns: Thanks for the visit. Give these fries a try. I am sure Cajun seasoning would be awesome on them.

    • profile image

      ideadesigns 3 years ago

      Such great tips for potato fries. We made some last night. I hadn't thought of the quality, just ate it as food. I should pay more attention! We used cajun season salt which was ok, but I like your seasonings that sound worth a try.

    • Lynn Klobuchar profile image
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      Lynn Klobuchar 3 years ago from Minneapolis, Minnesota

      @Charito1962: I am with you. Made these with the Juicy Lucys the other day -- delicious!! And making the Juicy Lucys gives you something to do while the fries are cooking. We have this meal about every two weeks.

    • Charito1962 profile image

      Charito Maranan-Montecillo 3 years ago from Manila, Philippines

      Mmmm...I'll eat french fries anytime!

    • Lynn Klobuchar profile image
      Author

      Lynn Klobuchar 3 years ago from Minneapolis, Minnesota

      @DANCING COWGIRL: Ketchup is the classic!

    • DANCING COWGIRL profile image

      Dancing Cowgirl Design 3 years ago from Texas

      I love the with ketchup.

    • Lynn Klobuchar profile image
      Author

      Lynn Klobuchar 3 years ago from Minneapolis, Minnesota

      @Merrci: You are welcome! Patience, peanut oil and yellow potatoes.

    • Merrci profile image

      Merry Citarella 3 years ago from Oregon's Southern Coast

      I'll have to try this recipe. In the past they seem to come out soggy so I have reverted to frozen fries too. Thanks for sharing this!

    • Lynn Klobuchar profile image
      Author

      Lynn Klobuchar 3 years ago from Minneapolis, Minnesota

      @dwelburn: Your version is healthier for sure. Mine is good for the occasional treat. Thanks for stopping by.

    • Gypzeerose profile image

      Rose Jones 3 years ago

      Mayonnaise I am ashamed to admit. Doesn't that sound decadent?

    • profile image

      dwelburn 3 years ago

      These sound nice. I sometimes make french fries by coating the chopped potatoes in olive oil and baking them in the oven.

    • Lynn Klobuchar profile image
      Author

      Lynn Klobuchar 3 years ago from Minneapolis, Minnesota

      @Gypzeerose: I love mayo on my fries. In fact I have been toying with the idea of making an aioli to dip them in -- I usually just cheat with a little garlic powder. Give these a try! Thanks for stopping by.

    • Lynn Klobuchar profile image
      Author

      Lynn Klobuchar 3 years ago from Minneapolis, Minnesota

      @Zeross4: I was more into super sour things when I was pregnant, but I love some salty fries with a shake. Thanks for stopping by.

    • Zeross4 profile image

      Renee Dixon 3 years ago from Kentucky

      We make fresh cut fries at the family restaurant and everyone loves them! I like to dip mine in ice-cream, but that just might be a pregnant thing??

    • Lynn Klobuchar profile image
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      Lynn Klobuchar 3 years ago from Minneapolis, Minnesota

      @KimGiancaterino: There are no bad fries -- just bad times to eat them. :-) I agree, they are a treat!

    • KimGiancaterino profile image

      KimGiancaterino 3 years ago

      We seldom eat fries, but our local French bistro makes delicious fried potatoes for breakfast and lunch. They're made from scratch and are worth being "bad" for once in a while.

    • Lynn Klobuchar profile image
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      Lynn Klobuchar 3 years ago from Minneapolis, Minnesota

      @Johanna Eisler: Joie, you are so welcome. I really hope it works for your husband. It is so hard having everything in the world that you really want on the "nope" list.

    • Lynn Klobuchar profile image
      Author

      Lynn Klobuchar 3 years ago from Minneapolis, Minnesota

      I bet you could use this method for sweet potatoes, too. Just might need to watch carefully for burning because of the sugar content. Thanks for dropping by!

    • profile image

      julieannbrady 3 years ago

      I definitely do not put ketchup on my french fries - if anything, I will mix some mustard with mayo and use that. I am wanting to try sweet potatoes as french fries!

    • Johanna Eisler profile image

      Johanna Eisler 3 years ago

      These directions are just the ticket! As you know, my husband is sulfite-sensitive, so I can't buy anything pre-cut and frozen because of their having been treated with sulfites. Most restaurants serve fries he can't eat, either. These will be perfect. (I'm skipping the garlic powder, because it's almost always kept light-colored by sulfites, too, but he will never miss it. Thank you, thank you, thank you!