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Fries are often regarded as the ho-hum side of fast food. They’re the quintessential pairing to burgers, chicken tenders, hot dogs, and just about every other drive-thru item you can think of. Most places give them the basic treatment: strip, fry, salt, that’s it. But some fast food spots give potatoes the attention they deserve and elevate the fast food Robin into the Batman role they deserve. No side piece is more perfect for on-the-go eating, and a great fry is key to a solid fast food experience. Out of all of those fries out there, these are definitely the 10 best that stand out, nationwide.
In considering which crispy spuds belonged on this list, sole fries were opted for rather than the whole fry experience (which is the only way In-N-Out makes it on here, sorry y’all). Tater tots, zucchini fries, and onion rings were not included, since they are not single cuts from a whole potato. Apart from that, all seasonings and types of fries (curly, criss-cut, wedge, etc.) were considered. Polling data, previous rankings, and our own tastings were used to make these rankings happen.
10. Potato Wedges, KFC
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Kicking off this list is KFC’s tried and true wedges, which people tend to either love or hate. They’ve got a crispy, seasoned exterior that provides plenty of crunch. The inside, however, can vary. It’s great when you get the perfectly fluffy, soft interior, but every now and then, there’s a potato slab that was just too big to be properly cooked and is still rock hard. Always a bummer when that happens.
9. Seasoned Fries, Taco Bell
This is the newest contribution to the fast food fries game, and it’s a worthy one for sure. The Bell sells these with nacho cheese on the side as part of their nacho fries, making them more than just a humble side. The seasoning may be a bit strong at times, but when it comes to crunch, these fries are not lacking at all. They may have just become Taco Bell’s biggest launch in history, but like The Last Jedi, we’ll have to wait and see if they can stamp out a legacy.
8. Cajun Fries, Five Guys
Five Guys brings more literal heat than anyone else on the list with their Cajun fries, and servers always load up the bags more than they should, which is a plus. That kind of is a drawback, though, because all of the fries steam each other and lose their crunch as a result. But hey, they’re still pretty tasty.
7. Crinkle Cut Fries, Del Taco
Crinkle cut fries will always have a special place in our hearts. Those little edges add tons of opportunities for extra texture, and it creates a unique experience for a French fry. Del Taco doesn’t get every single fry perfect, and many that come out in a order tend to be more on the soggy side. But the crunchy ones that you do get are worth milling through the wet ones to enjoy.
6. Cajun Fries, Popeyes
Popeyes stands a cut above the Cajun spuds of Five Guys for one key reason: the crunch. Because the fries are battered, it all but guarantees that every individual piece shatters like glass between your teeth. You do lose some of the creamy interior, though, since the fries need to cook a bit longer. Nonetheless, these fries pack both flavor and texture, and are overall an underrated side in the fast food world.
5. Natural Cut Fries, Wendy’s
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Wendy’s switched to their natural cut spuds a few years back, and the fries have quickly become a favorite. They’re bigger than your typical fry, but the potato inside retains its fluffiness. It doesn’t have the same crispy edge that the other top sides have, but with the size of Wendy’s fries, I’m not sure if we want them to have that extra crisp.
If experiences counted here, Wendy’s would be higher up on this list, because it’s the combo of hot fries and cold Frosty that makes these spuds special.
4. Crinkle Cut Fries, Shake Shack
Shake Shack is hands-down the best producer of crinkle cuts out there. There’s never a soggy fry when they come out, allowing Shake Shack’s side to get every extra crispy bit it can possibly get. The salt they use is a little stronger than your typical fast food chain, which detracts a little from their role as a burger sidekick since the entire meal can feel like a salt lick at times. Nonetheless, on their own, they’re a great fry to consume on the road.
3. Curly Fries, Arby’s
Curly fries, especially when you get the perfect tight spiral, are the best when it comes to texture. Combine that with the seasoning blend Arby’s uses for their potatoes, and you get one of the top fries in the fast food game. I just wish that every single piece of potato that came out of the fryer had that perfect spiral. The ones that don’t are the same as regular fries, to be honest.
2. Waffle Fries, Chick-fil-A
Waffle fries, like curly fries, provide great texture to your side dish. Chick-fil-A, like Arby’s, also uses a pretty solid seasoning blend. But Chick-fil-A gets the nod over Arby’s for the runner-up spot because of their consistency. Every fry has the waffle textural experience, so you get to enjoy both texture and flavor on every single fry. It’s what sets Chick-fil-A apart from the rest of the pack… save for a classic French fry that just can’t be topped.
1. Classic Fries, McDonald’s
That classic is, of course, the fries at McDonald’s. Sure, they have a little bit of an advantage by incorporating a little bit of dairy into their coating to boost flavor. Aside from that, though, each of Mickey D’s spuds has the right amount of crispiness and is salty just to the point where it starts to be a little too much. That level of salt balance, flavor, and texture makes McDonald’s fries a favorite amongst all who try them. Now if McDonald’s could just find a way to retain their tastiness while being vegan… that would be clutch.