You don't have to hit the drive-thru to get your fill of hot and crispy fries. All you need to do is try one (or more!) of these five tricks to make your next batch of at-home fries taste just like your favorite fast food joint.
1. Brine the potatoes before cooking.
Part of what makes McDonald's and Wendy's fries so dang amazing is that they are super generous with the salt shaker. If salty fries are your thing, these fast food fries are top of the class. Here's the thing, though — you don't get that superb salty goodness from salting after cooking alone.
To make a batch of well-seasoned fries, you'll want to brine them before cooking. Cover the potatoes with a mixture of water and salt (as a rule of thumb, use about one tablespoon of salt per pound of potatoes) and then drain, rinse, and pat the fries completely dry before cooking. Once they're done cooking, you'll also want to hit the fries with a little more salt while they're still piping hot.
Another benefit of brining (or even just soaking the cut potatoes in plain water)? It removes some of the starch, which in turn helps the fries cook more evenly.
2. Consider the double fry.
Are your dream fries cooked up golden-brown and ridiculously crispy all around with a pillowy center, like the ones from Burger King, Wendy's, and Five Guys? A fun trick to help you get there at home is frying your spuds twice. There is a time and a place for baked fries, but if you want french fries reminiscent of a fast food joint at home, there is no way around it — you must fry them.
Here's how it goes. The first time around you'll fry the potatoes in a pot of hot oil (375°F is a good temperature) for about a minute to a minute and a half, just until they take on a light golden color. Remove them from the oil and let them cool at room temperature for 10 to 15 minutes. Then return the fries to the hot oil to fry again for about four to five minutes until they're golden-brown.
Flashing the fries in the hot oil and then cooling them is the key to more even cooking and a supremely crispy exterior. This method allows the fries to cook through without burning the outside.
3. Salt as soon as they're done frying.
Just as important as how you season your fries is when you season them. Waste no time here! Whether you're a fan of BK fries or the ones from Arby's or Wendy's, one thing all fast food joints have in common is that they season their fries as soon as they come out of the fryer. To be sure the grains of salt adhere to your fries, shower them with salt when they're still piping hot and glistening with oil.
4. Get some help from your spice cabinet.
Salting fries is a given, but for some fast food joints — I'm looking at you, Arby's and Five Guys — that's just the beginning. Look to your spice cabinet to give your fries a big boost of flavor. This can be as simple as shaking a jar of Cajun seasoning over the fries as soon as they come out of the fryer.
McDonald's does this by not just adding salt, but also natural beef flavoring to their fries. A smart, simple hack to replicate this at home is mixing about 1/8 teaspoon powdered beef bouillon with every teaspoon of salt, then sprinkling it over the hot fries.
5. Change the cut of your fries.
Change the cut of your fries and it will change your perception. Shoestring fries and thicker-cut boardwalk fries are well and good, but I think we can all agree that curly fries have a fun factor that is off the charts. It's one reason so many people are crazy for Arby's fries.
If you already have a spiralizer, there's your curly fry solution. And if not, I think this just might be the very best reason to pick one up.
What are some ways you make fries at home?