How to Make Homemade French Fries Just as Crispy and Salty As a Fast-Food Joint

Who knew only three simple ingredients could be such a crowd-pleaser?

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Move over, frozen french fries. You may be convenient, but let’s be honest, you have nothing on homemade french fries.

While we may always love our favorite drive-thru fries, there’s something satisfying about being able to make them ourselves at home. If you’re new to slicing and frying your own potatoes, it’s important to learn the secret technique for getting crispy oven-baked fries or how to make the best pan-fried french fries. Once you’ve gotten the hang of it, you’ll be making everything from poutine to steak and fries salad to Texas chili fries.

Ready to dig in? You’ll only need three ingredients.

How to Make Homemade French Fries

Ingredients

  • 1 pound russet potatoes
  • Oil for deep-fat frying
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt

Directions

Step 1: Cut and soak potatoes

Homemade French Fries step 1 Cut And Soak PotatoesTMB Studio

Cut potatoes into 1/4-inch julienned strips. Then soak in cold water for 30 minutes. Drain potatoes; pat dry with paper towels.

Step 2: Fry the potatoes

Homemade French Fries step 2 Fry The PotatoesTMB Studio

In an electric skillet or deep-fat fryer, heat oil to 340°F. Fry potatoes in batches until lightly browned, three to four minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon; drain on paper towels.

Step 3: Fry a second time and salt

Homemade French Frstep 3 Fry A Second Time And SaltTMB Studio

Increase the heat of the oil to 375°. Fry potatoes again in batches until crisp and golden brown, one to two minutes, turning frequently. Drain on paper towels; sprinkle with salt. Serve immediately.

The Best Potatoes for Homemade French Fries

When it comes to fries, not all potatoes are created equal. Choosing a high-starch potato—such as Idaho or Russet—is crucial, because they are dense and have less moisture. That means you won’t be stuck with soggy fries in the end.

Also, check these best frozen sweet potato fries when you’re looking for an easy side to go with weeknight dinners.

The Best Frying Oil for Homemade French Fries

Select a neutral oil (so that it doesn’t impart unwanted flavors) with a smoke point at or above 350°—the smoke point is the temperature at which the oil begins to break down and smoke, which can negatively impact the taste of your finished product. The best oils for frying include peanut, canola, vegetable and safflower.

How to Season Homemade French Fries

It’s important to season your fries as soon as they come out of the frying oil, as that’s the key to getting the salt to stick. But you don’t have to stop at salt when it comes to seasonings—you can also add fresh ground black pepper, garlic powder, freshly minced or dried parsley or a little grated parmesan cheese. Or play around with fancy flavored salts, like black truffle.

How to Bake French Fries

Not feeling the fryer or want to limit your oil intake? You can also bake the fries in your oven or air fryer. For the oven, preheat to 425°, and toss the previously soaked and dried fries in some oil and seasonings. Then, spread the fries evenly across a parchment-lined baking sheet, and bake until crispy (25 to 30 minutes).

For an air-fryer version, preheat your air fryer to 380°, toss the soaked and dried fries in oil and salt, and work in batches (you want one even layer, with no fries overlapping). Cook them for about 14 to 16 minutes, turning halfway through, until they are golden brown and crisp.

How to Store and Reheat Homemade French Fries

In the off chance you have any leftovers, place the fries in an airtight container for one to two days. When you’re ready to reheat them, allow them to return to room temperature (about an hour) so that they heat evenly. Then, place them in a single layer (work in batches if needed) in a lightly oiled skillet on medium heat. Toss and turn occasionally, until crisp.

Homemade French Fries Tips

Homemade French FriesTMB Studio

Do you have to soak the potatoes when making french fries?

Technically, you don’t have to. But you’ll want to, because the cold bath removes the starch outside the potatoes, which will result in a crispier fry. Plus, this makes them less likely to stick together.

How thick should fries be cut?

Aim for 1/4- to 1/2-inch thick slices. And do your best to keep them uniform in size, so they cook at the same rate. You can make thicker fries, but you’ll need to increase the cooking time accordingly.

Can you skip double-frying the french fries?

It’s always best to double-fry because this method is how you ensure a soft interior and a crispy exterior. The first fry is done at a lower temperature to cook the inside, then the higher-temp second fry crisps the edges.

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Jill Schildhouse
Jill is an award-winning writer and editor with more than 20 years of experience. She covers a range of topics like health and wellness, food science, travel and healthcare for sites like Taste of Home, Reader’s Digest, Travel and Leisure, Fodor’s and USA Today. She loves tracking down the best sources possible to back up her writing, such as medical professionals, registered dietitians and scientists. An avid traveler, Jill has eaten her way through 38 countries—some of her favorite experiences include making gelato in Italy, catching and eating Dungeness crab in Alaska and pub-hopping in Ireland.