Here, Have A French Fry Ranking
Posted on February 3, 2021 Posted by Athena Scalzi 93 Comments
The other day, I went to Culver’s with my friend, and there I saw it: The Crinkle Cut fry, the second worst kind of french fry in existence. This disgustingly-cut french fry gave me the grand idea to make a post ranking all the French fries. It’s not like I haven’t already had them ranked accordingly in my head for years, so why not share my list with all you lovely people?
I wanted to see if a post like this had been done before, which, it totally has. But in my research I found this image from Food Republic:
I figured this was a pretty good base to start with. I will essentially be re-ranking the potatoes that are shown here, and also removing some. Basically I’m just going to fix this list, because, look at how wrong it is!
First, let me tell you which ones I’m cutting from the ranking list entirely.
Tater tots and the potato tornado: Not french fries. Obviously.
Garlic fries, cheese fries, and chili cheese fries: Except for shakable seasonings (salt being the usual), you can’t add anything. This is a purist french fry ranking. If you add something completely different like chili, you’re not just judging the fries anymore. And you could just put the chili on top of any type of fry so the kind of fry doesn’t really matter anyway.
Chips, pommes soufflés, and Belgian fries: Chips are just another name for fries, I’ve never tried pommes soufflés (obviously I’m very uncultured), and I’ll just throw out the other European style while I’m at it.
Okay, now that you know what not to expect to see on the list, let’s get started!
1. Curly fries. The obvious choice. They’re unique, have a fun design, and are by far the crispiest and most well-seasoned type of fry.
2. Waffle fries. Again, fun shape and are almost always well seasoned and crispy. Their reliability to come through on the crispiness is less so than curly fries, so it gets second place.
3. Sweet potato fries. Like regular fries but better. Plus you can put like, cinnamon honey on these bad boys.
4. Regular/standard cut fries. Nothing wrong with ol’ reliable.
5. Shoestring fries. Pretty much never crispy and you have to eat like five of them to equal one regular fry, but not bad by any means. If you’re going to put cheese on top of any fry on this list, make it shoestring and eat it with a fork.
6. Steak fries. Too thicc. Can’t get properly crispy as a result. And steak fries are always the kind they give you at fancy restaurants. They think they’re so high and mighty. Steak fries just seem like they’d be snobby.
7. Smiley fries. Okay, I adore the shape of these and all the nostalgia behind them, but based on taste and texture alone they’re only seventh on this list. If you have some ketchup with them, though? They’re pretty great. Definitely didn’t deserve to be last on Food Republic’s list.
8. Cottage fries. Exactly like the smiley fries but without the smile. Boring. I do like the name, though.
9. Crinkle cut. They’re always either so soft that they break upon being handled or dipped in condiments, or they’re like, rock hard for some reason. Like specifically the stupid pointy ends are always hard. And always severely under-seasoned.
10. Potato wedges. Literally just a slice of a potato. Not even really a fry in my opinion, definitely the worst type of potato dish in existence. How they managed to be 13th out of 18 on Food Republic’s list is beyond me. They’re awful and mushy and flavorless and the skin is on them! Fuck potato wedges.
(Side note, there is a potato dish called home fries that I really like, but despite having fry in the name, I don’t really consider them fries at all since they’re just like, cubed potatoes so they did not make this list. But they are good.)
So, yeah, there’s the correct ranking of french fries. Feel free to be wrong in comments if you disagree with this list. And have a great day!
The best fries are the ones my daughter makes. But sue me, I’m biased.
They are actually chips – chipped potatoes, and calling them anything else is some colonial perversion.
Until you have had chips served from an actual (in England) fish and chip shop, your pronunciations on “fries” as you call them are simply a ranking of poor quality imitations.
Curly fries are delicious but they are good for about 5 minutes after they have been removed from the deep fryer.
The best french fries are the battered type. They are crispy thanks to the delightful, light batter and good potato-y goodness inside.
All fries are improved by properly cooked. So many are served limp and sad!
I agree that real chips are not the same as regular fries and, when done right, are far superior. I respect your hatred for potato wedges without sharing it. Again, when done right, they are crisp and tasty, though not a favorite.
As for curly fries, nope. 90% of the time they are not hot enough to begin with, and even when they are, they don’t stay hot long enough unless you stuff them in your face within five minutes. Steak fries also need to be hot and crisp to be edible.
I sort of liked tater tots when I was a kid, but not since. I agree on home fries, which can be excellent but are not fries. And yes, I like sweet potato fries way more than just a plain sweet potato, which…mush.
I see Abrahm agrees with me on curly fries.
Like @MichaelT, I was also going to say you forgot about poutine, but since you’re a purist, nevermind.
My least favorite fry is the curly fry- I don’t like the seasoning.
I worked for McDonalds in the late 1980’s-early ’90’s. Lot of health concerns in the media at the time, which led to employees not salting the fries sufficiently. We actually had a training program to get people to salt the fries ‘enough.’ This was also around the time we switched from beef tallow to vegetable oil in the restaurants, but apparently the real issue for people saying ‘these fries are good’ was the salt.
Aussie chips with a sprinkle of chicken salt. Heaven.
I’ve tried most of those listed and they are so far short of real chips. Eaten chips in UK, New Zealand and Australia.
Chips are bigger and crispy when cooked properly.
Also close is Belgian frittes.
Please don’t dismiss the belgian fries out of hand like that.
The most important part of them is the double frying.
They are fried in beef tallow, at two different temperatures, specifically to optimise both tenderness and crispiness.
God I miss real belgian fries since moving away from northern France close to the belgian border… :)
Long story short : if you ever see them somewhere, give ’em a try and we will see if they get to go on the list !
I would definitely recommend trying the double-frying approach, even if you threw them out as excessively European. You can do it pretty readily in a good cast-iron skillet with a reasonable amount of oil, no deep-fryer required. Don’t know how it would go in an air fryer.
Otherwise you are Completely Correct, especially with curly fries on top. I’d give sweet potato the edge over waffle, but you can do nachos on waffle fries, which is just wonderful ridiculousness.
Vous porcs anglais! Les croustilles sont une mauvaise imitation de vraies pommes français frites. Nous sommes solidaires de nos amis américains contre votre tyrannie impériale britannique!
Until you have had chips served from an actual (in England) fish and chip shop, your pronunciations on “fries” as you call them are simply a ranking of poor quality imitations.
I have had chips many times from actual English fish and chip shops and I would place them middle of the pack. One of those things the British think they do better than anyone, when they really don’t (see also: tea)
As above, poutine! Picky with this, as all fries. Poutine in Bar Symon in PHL, to die for. Other, meh.
I’m basically not a fry fan. Yes unAmerican. AND I don’t like ketchup either! The only exception are McDonald’s fries, hot. Pretty much only eating them on my way home hot. Or real pomme frites. Which I’ve found taste just like really expensive McDonald’s.
Dominc sez: “They are actually chips – chipped potatoes, and calling them anything else is some colonial perversion.”
Mais non! Ce sont des FRITES, so they are fries. Pommes frites, the original fry from Belgium, perfected to a fine art so that you can buy them from the cart (a la carte) and eat them in their delicious crispy glory while walking the streets of Antwerp. The chips bit? Who knows where that came from, since they are obviously not chipped from anything.
What we call French Fries were actually created in Belgium. They later moved to England. So the index fry is the Belgian pommel frites.
When the plague ends, find your way over there and have the real thing. Try it with mayonnaise, the way god intended. Then look back at your list with a wry grin, and note that with age comes wisdom.
I generally agree with you that crinkle cut fries tend to be sub-par to the point of uneatable.
The exception (in our area at least) is the ones from Portillo’s. They’re astonishingly good.
I totally did not know Smiley Fries were A Thing.
I may never recover.
I happen to like crinkle fries, but only when I have a craving for ketchup.
While I would generally agree that Steak Fries, by themselves are too thick and generally are insufficiently crispy, they really shine with the right condiment or dipping sauce. For instance, Copper Blue in Milford Ohio serves them as an appetizer with dipping sauces of a home made, very thick ranch, jalapeno ketchup, and, IMO, the real star of the show, the best garlic aioli in the known universe. I would probably eat them until physically sick so long as the aioli holds out.
Definitely suggest you try Pommes Soufflés, they are quite the treat. The second frying is done in oil just below ignition temperature, and flash-boils some of the water to cause them to puff. A lot of effort, but worth the risk of burning down the house once in a while.
As mentioned above, the Food Republic list is obviously sus because it included “cheese fries” as a type of French fry and then didn’t mention poutine. So you’re already off to a better start.
I have had Belgian fries once, and chips a few times, but all those occasions were here in Indianapolis, so I can’t tell whether they were chips, “chips”, or something in between. Neither were particularly impressive to me, but to be fair, I strongly dislike mayonnaise, fries that are designed to be eaten with condiments (looking at you, steak fries) aren’t really on the list, and I don’t like vinegar on fries either.
The thing that helps to make waffle fries and curly fries tasty is having all that surface area … the same thing that makes properly-cooked tater tots delicious. Plus, you can really cheat and have stuffed tater tots. A bar around here used to serve cheesy jalapeño tater tots during happy hour and they were amazing, possibly the best bar food I’ve ever had. But toppings = not on the list.
Which is too bad, because garlic fries are also delicious, if they’re shoestring fries. (Shoestring fries are nice because the high ratio of surface area to volume means more places for seasoning.) You do have to eat them before you eat the rest of your meal, though, because burgers tend to overwhelm garlic on fries.
Potato wedges, and also the US version of chips (also usually found at places serving bar-type food) – smooth-cut cottage fries – tend to be meh mostly because they’re rarely cooked enough, and fries that aren’t crispy are basically just ordinary potatoes. When was the last time you were served butter and gravy with fries? Exactly.
Isn’t a waffle fry just a two dimensional crinkle cut?
I’m totally with Carol on this one: the best fries are to be found in Belgium. Just make sure to avoid the all-too-obvious tourist traps, as always. And now I’m really craving fries – it’s exactly one year since my last trip to Brussels (as per my tickets).
The thing that makes or breaks a good deep fried french fry is the frying medium.
Any animal fat is the BEST.
#1 Shmaltz (Chicken/goose fat)
#2 Beef Fat (tallow)
#3 Lard (pork fat)
“Except for shakable seasonings (salt being the usual), you can’t add anything. ”
“Like regular fries but better. Plus you can put like, cinnamon honey on these bad boys.”
Ahem…This is almost like Fox News Trump/post-Trump. You can’t have it both ways.
Duck fat is supposed to be super tasty.
Shoestring fries are the best if done right. Steak fries are also really good but hard to get right.
Next up for discussion. What to dip your fries in?
Objection: Cinnamon honey is a condiment, like ketchup or (shudder) mayo. It’s post-preparation.
So, cheese and chili are pre-preparation?
No Pommes allumettes, seriously? Small as matches. You should try them.
And let’s point out again that the best place to eat french fries is North of France/Belgium. Une fois.
I don’t like “curly fries” as they usually aren’t crisp and have some kind of disgusting powdery spiced salt mixture on them.
My favorite local fry is at Steak Escape, where they double fry the potatoes. You can get them with cheese or chili on, but I don’t like that as they can’t be crispy with soupy toppings on them. I’m not crazy about ketchup out of the bottle,, but Steak Escape has malt vinegar, which I put a big dose into the ketchup for more tart flavor.
You left out potato latkes, too, which are shredded (with a grater by hand) potatoes fried crisp in an iron skillet in bacon fat. Sometimes I also grate an onion into the potatoes for the flavor.
This may be my favorite fried potato of all — Polish stype, and I learned how to make them from Ms Kranansky next door. Garlic also works with these. Some people add an egg, bread crumbs, flour… I find that just grated potatoes maybe with onion or garlic works just fine.
Don’t like Mayo on my fries either.
Hard agree with this list, 100%. My favorite curly fries are from Arby’s, dipped in their Horsey sauce, naturally.
Yeah, Belgian fries are the best.
In a cornetto.
With some salt, and a free choice of mayonnaise, cocktail sauce, ketchup, andalouse, pickles, béarnaise, samurai, aïoli,… :-)
If it’s not twice-fried, it’s not the best.
The only twice-fried choices on their list are Belgian fries and (sometimes) steak fries, which makes it an inadequate list.
Regular-cut, twice-fried are the best. Paper cones are irrelevant, but mayo is nice.
So say I, anyway.
Duck fat or goose fat make insanely good roast potatoes (put a roasting pan, melt in a hot oven, add potatoes, roast).
You’d need a lot to deep fry potatoes. But less if you sauté the potatoes. Serve with garlic and parsley. Look for “pommes de terre Sarladaises”: ridiculoulsy good. But not French fries/chips/frites.
JR in WV
Couldn’t resist! ;) Potato latkes in bacon grease? Lol. Wouldn’t go over very well at most Chanukkah dinners. Schmaltz, or any neutral oil.
But good addition to the list!!!
Crinkle-cut or not, culver’s are the best fast food fries I have ever eaten. Not every time, but often enough.
As much as I like some of the options here (especially waffle cut), I’d have a hard time calling anything a clear winner over a plain old standard cut fry that’s cooked properly. Curly fries I’d have to rank somewhere in the middle – not bad tasting but they’re usually soggier than I like.
The only think I know for certain is that shoestring fries are the absolute worst. If given the option I’d choose some other side instead.
Add my name to those who say that Belgian frites are the standard against which all other fries should be judged. I could live on moules-frites, if given the chance!
However, I am a fan of the crinkle cut fry because the crinkles are conducive to good condiment coverage. Whether your condiment of choice is plain ketchup or something fancier or more regional (hello, comeback sauce), crinkle cut fries are perfect dipping fries.
Waffle fries, however, are an abomination. I come from the land of Chick-Fil-A (which I don’t eat at for other reasons) and for some reason people rave over their waffle fries. I don’t get it. They’re usually unevenly cooked (too dry on the edges and mushy in t he middle) and get cold and mealy way too fast. They’re not even good for dipping because the condiment of choice drips between the waffle cuts and gets everywhere.
Give me a good old average standard french fry (a la McDonalds) any day
“‘Until you have had chips served from an actual (in England) fish and chip shop, your pronunciations on “fries” as you call them are simply a ranking of poor quality imitations.'”
“I have had chips many times from actual English fish and chip shops and I would place them middle of the pack. One of those things the British think they do better than anyone, when they really don’t (see also: tea)”
As an ex-pat American living in Yorkshire for over a decade, I concur wholeheartedly with David. I still can’t discern the difference between a steak fry and a chip, and one of the best chip shops in the country is down the street from me (they are good). What I can tell you is that double frying any kind of fried potato is essential (triple frying seems pointless to me, however). Lower heat first fry to cook, higher heat second fry to crisp. Then salt the shit out of those bad boys when they come out (or as my father says, “when they’re vulnerable.”).
Otherwise, any of those slathered with chili, garlic, cheese, or poutined is fine in my book. And I like the idea of nacho-ing waffle fries…
Generally agree, including honey-cinnamon on sweet potato fries. Yum. On the other hand, I was pretty amazed that Red Robin actually has steak fries that I like, and they’ll give you as many as you want (it’s one of their signature things). No idea how they do it, since most steak fries are awful IMO.
There are three elements to french fries: the fry medium (oil, fat, etc.), the seasonings, and the shape (allowing for more/less coating with seasonings).
If what you really want is that soft potato goodness, lightly fried straight-cut options like In-n-Out fries will give you that. Steak fries can also work here, but they require more work.
On the other hand, if you crave that paprika-pepper-crunchy-coating, then the curly/waffle/crinkle cut gives you more surface area for those flavors to accumulate.
My only real wish for fries is that they’re at least warm – past a certain temperature I just don’t care for them. (Interestingly, tater tots hold up better here, although they too are better hot/warm.)
Yay! An impassioned conversation about something that we all care about but in the end doesn’t really matter!
Personally, I like a straight cut fry, and I find the ones that have been cooked twice (either fried twice, or par-cooked and frozen before being shipped to the fryer) to be the best because you get a good crispy outside and fluffy inside. I also find these tend to hold up better when no longer super-hot.
As someone who prefers a crispy fry, I agree that crinkle-cut fries are the worst (but also the most likely to be served baked rather than actually fried, which really doesn’t help their case).
I dislike steak fries so much that when I go to Red Robin (in the Before-Times) I would get the steamed broccoli instead of the fries, because the broccoli was a better vehicle for ranch. (Sorry Jeff Darcy, more fries for you!)
I’m not sure I’ve ever had plain curly fries; they’ve always got some seasoning on them I never like.
Reflecting on the whole spectrum of fries, I realize that the ones I like best are the ones most similar to McDonald’s fries, probably because those were the only fries I had as a kid, and they were a very rare, special treat. (Yay the fat-free ’90’s.)
Now if someone could just manage consistently crispy sweet potato fries…
My first trip to Brussels I saw lots of street vendors selling the cones of fries along with mayo to dip them in. Cool, I though, just like the hot chestnut vendors I used to see in Philly.
And then I saw an equally large number of street vendors selling cups ‘o snails. Yes, I thought to myself, we’re not in Kansas anymore.
Don’t be a snob about pomme frites, aka “Belgian Fries” — they are the Platonic Ideal of the French Fry. Double fried to get that extra-crispy outside with a soft inside, and eaten with aoli (ideally freshly-made, what Mayonnaise is supposed to be!) usually seasoned with garlic or some sort of spicy sauce like chipotle, and served piping hot, they are truly delicious.
Sorry. If you’re just going to throw out Belgian fries, you are not fit to judge fries. Nobody makes “French” fries like the Belgians!
So first I see the post and see an image with crinkle cuts way too far down. Then I see the text above the image saying you got it from somewhere and am relieved. Then I see the text above it where you slam crinkle cuts and I’m back where I started. Crinkle is the best cut of fry, and always will be.
Do jo-jos count as fries? Thicker than steak fries, and more highly seasoned than how potato wedges are described here. Very few dinners beat fried chicken and jo-jos.
My favorite fries are the ones with the very thin shattering batter crust and tender insides. I think they’re a Sysco good services product? The crust holds more salt on than a standard fry.
Various casual and fast food restaurants are adding tater tots to their offerings, and I’m totally there for that, whether they are technically french fries or not. (I think of them as an alternative to french fried.)
I worked at McDonald’s in the 70s, and their fries then were the best french fries I’ve ever eaten in my entire life. McDonald’s fries are still pretty good, but not nearly the same since they stopped frying them in beef tallow.
Surely someone has commented this already, but the Belgians invented fries. I recommend dropping by someday when the pandemic is done and giving them a shot.
Perhaps it would be a better idea to judge fry types with the same seasoning ,skill in preparation, and the same selection of condiments (every fry can use every condiment). Your list seems to be based off personal experience with specific restaurants whose chefs have varying levels of skill. This way, the next list could perhaps be based on less opinion.
IMHO, you like grease and don’t care about potatoes. You rank highly all the models where the potato is really skinny, so the grease penetrates from all the surfaces until the potato is saturated.
Of course, most Americans seem to agree with you.
As a mutant-American, I find the best to be steak fries, when done properly. You can really experience the potato AND the crispy outside.
Curly fries: the seasoning ruins them. I would be curious to try a batch of unseasoned curlies, but I’ve never seen them made that way.
Steak fries: Too thick. Might as well be eating wedges. And the “too thick” problem is the reason that crinkle cuts are so awful; a thinner crinkle cut might be pretty good.
Shoestrings: If your shoestrings aren’t crispy, then they aren’t being cooked correctly. A well-cooked shoestring is the perfect fry; it doesn’t even need salt. Standard cut is an acceptable runner-up.
Respectfully, any list of “the best [Any Food]” will be based primarily on opinion. Once you pass the outside boundaries of edible food (raw/burnt/rotten), what tastes good to an individual is deeply subjective.
Some of it is physical/genetic: is this person a supertaster? What is the condition of this person’s mouth/tongue/teeth today? How hungry are they? How is their stomach feeling? Do they have a stuffed up nose? Do they have an ear infection?
All of those things can impact a person’s experience of eating a food.
Then there is personal history. Does this food remind you of a happy memory? (Think of the scene in Ratatouille when the critic eats Remy’s ratatouille.) Is it the style you grew up with? Alternatively, is it new and different and interesting?
Culture plays a huge part in what we expect and want from food. Everyone here extolling the virtues of Belgian fries is a great example (and something that most Americans won’t ever have a chance to experience).
Taste is a deeply personal experience, and so once foods have passed the “safe to eat” baseline, there is someone who will love, and someone who will hate, every food that ever has been or ever will be.
See please, Scalzi-the-Elder’s burritos.
This post made me miss eating fries in restaurants. They are not the same at all when you get take out. I agree with you about the potato wedges — what’s up with that? I only know one place in town where they are not too bad and I think it’s because they double fry them. (And even then I’d take a sweet potato fry over them any day.)
Toss the sweet potato fries at the bottom and I’m with you all the way. Sweet potatoes are a disgrace, just lazy nomenclature–not a potato! And sweet potato casseroles with marshmallows on top…! Don’t get me started.
All hail the humble french fry.
Between the curly fry love and the varied burrito madness I am starting to think we should just quarantine the entire Scalzi compound.
Most crinkle cut fries are undercooked; they lack the crispiness that fries should have. Shake Shack somehow manages to get them right.
I also love me some Five Guys fries, with a major caveat. You must eat them immediately; open up the paper bag as soon as you get them and dig in. If you try to take them home you’ll get a soggy mess because the bag retains too much moisture that needs to evaporate away. In these days of COVID, taking them out to the car and eating them there is also acceptable.
Also, eat them before you eat the burger. Or just skip the burger and order a big bag of fries. Again, they must be eaten immediately.
Best French fast food fry pre 1990: McDonald’s without question!
My favorite today: In-n-Out (I’m always amazed at how many people don’t like them…)
Too bad I don’t live near In-n-Out anymore…
Personally, I’d put crinkle cut fries over shoestring any day. It might be because my two favorite fast food places (Culver’s and Runza) both use crinkle cut, or just because shoestring can go sailing past crispy into rock-hard if you look at them cross-eyed.
I am suprised that in all this discussion, no one has mentioned one important factor: The type of potato. This has a huge impact on which fry tastes the best! For example, a yellow potato like a Dutch Cream makes superior Steak Fries- crisp outside, fluffy inside. Whereas if all you have are white potatoes like a Sebago, you want something with a higher outside-to inside ratio like a french fry . (And of course if all you have are fingerling potatoes like a kipfler, you need to do roast whole or just give up and have potato salad) (Potato types are what is in AU, but if you look up the general description in your country you will get the drift). Shout out to all the beef tallow/duckfat comments-it really makes a difference. No, the McDs fries were Not All About the Salt. They have never been as good as they were…
There are few things on this Earth better than the carb/fat bombs found in an English/Irish chipper.
Salt, vinegar, and Lipitor.
Belgian style fries from Pommes Frites in NYC are the best. I’d give my left arm to be able to travel there right now to get a double cone of fries with dipping sauces.
I will only eat shoestrings. I hate the mealiness of potato, including the interior of fries. It has to be crisp all the way through.
KFC, or at least my local KFC, seems to have stopped making their potato wedges which are dipped in fried-chicken batter and fried. Grumble. As a vegetarian, they were as close as I get to fried chicken. (And while McD’s now fries their fries in vegetable oil, they still have beef fat on them, too much for me, not enough for the tallow-cooked-era McD’s fans.) My definitions of veggie aren’t quite the simple “Don’t eat anything with a face”, but I’ll apply that rule to smiley-face fries anyway.
In&Out’s Animal Style fries are kind of a Californianized poutine, but I agree it’s more about the toppings than the fries, as are garlic fries, which are a local specialty in the SF Bay Area. (In&Out’s fries are great, but only for the 10 seconds it takes them to cool down, so you have to eat them immediately.)
I dislike shoestrings – they’re mainly about soaking up the oil while minimizing the amount of actual potato (so the opposite of DB’s preferences.)
On potato varieties – look up one of Ursula Vernon’s angry potato goddess rants about the Burbank Russet near-monoculture.
To start with, they are FRENCH fries. They were popularized by a French pharmacist, Parmentier, in the 18th century. He came up with all sorts of ways to cook potatoes which he felt was a great food for the poor, with lots of nutrition for such an easy to grow plant. He introduced French fries to Benjamin Franklin, though it’s not clear Franklin brought the dish to the US. (It sounds like a Thomas Jefferson, or more likely a Thomas Jefferson’s slave cook thing.)
Personally, I love all sorts of potato fried in fat dishes, but so much depends on what you are eating them with. e.g. Steak fries are fat so they absorb the meat juices. Crinkle cuts can hold a lot more of the condiment. Shoe strings stay crisper for take out. Once you get the right kind of potato, usually a russet, it comes down to the oil. The kind of oil, how clean it is and how hot it is.
My ranking for the oils is duck fat, goose fat, beef tallow, olive oil, peanut oil and then at the bottom whatever garbage oil they tend to use at fast food chains. Canola oil is so bad it ranks below the bottom of the scale. BTW, duck or goose fat latkes are the way to go. In France, geese are called the Jew’s fowl.
The big problem with a lot of commercial fries is that they can’t keep the oil hot enough. There’s a temperature control, but at peak times, the temperature drops. If they don’t change, or at least filter, the oil frequently, the off flavors build up and dominate.
The really good fries are double cooked because the idea is that one should be able to taste the potato as well as the fried outside. Double frying lets you use a thick enough potato to cook the fry through, then blast its surface with serious heat. Since most Americans just want the crisp outside and mass market potatoes are bred to be flavorless, most American fries are single cooked. If nothing else it is more efficient.
Since you are the one who is doing the eating, your ranking is the only one that matters, but a lot of people have given the matter of frying potatoes a lot of though and have done a lot of experimentation. One thing I have learned about food over the years is not to dis a dish because I’ve had a crappy version. When eating, it pays to keep an open mind as well as an open mouth.
It doesn’t make sense to rank fries. There are fries that are good and fries that are emphatically not and curly fries are still the worst. That’s all there’s to know.
If you qualify the list by adding: “cooked properly”, crinkle cut easily rises into the top 3. A good crinkle cut is crispy on the outside, and deliciously soft and potato-y on the inside. It’s not the style’s fault that so many do it wrong.
And sweet potato fries are indeed an abomination. The tragic choice of amateurs and dilettantes. Admittedly, they start off good (in a very not-french-fry way), but the sweetness quickly becomes cloying. There always seems to be a pile left on the plate of the fool that ordered them, long after any properly cooked fries (of any variety) are long gone.
The worst are not listed. I live next to a small private school, I sometimes eat there, and sometimes they bake their French fries. A complete abomination. The very name is a clue: they are fries, not bakes.
If you can find actual crispy ones, shoestring fries are pretty awesome. Agreed they’re rarely that way though.
I went to Belgium recently and was shocked to find the frites not that good, most places. I even got served steak fries at one restaurant!!!
Great topic, Athena! Loved reading all the comments.
Kara Hudson: I only ate once at Chick-Fil-A some years ago, but agree about the waffle fries.
Jeff Darcy: Yes to Red Robin steak fries! Gosh, haven’t had them in over a year.
JustaTech: I love sweet potato fries when crispy, which for some reason are really hard to find.
And totally agree that any ranking of the best (or worst) of any kind of food is always opinion and will never be subjective.
FL Transplant : LOL, had never heard about selling snails in Belgium on the street!
Michelle: I so agree about missing eating fries in restaurants! I stopped getting them to take home since they were always lukewarm by the time I ate them.
Co2: Sorry, add me to the list of people who don’t like In-n-Out fries. Ate there once to see what all the fuss was about, and was not impressed!
Brent: I loved the Belgian style fries from Pommes Frites in NYC. Went on a food tasting tour of Greenwich Village. There were 7 stops (2 were pizza places) but my favorite was Pomme Frites.
Sorry, but I love the crinkle cuts from Nathan’s with a couple of dogs on a nice summer day.
McDonald’s are fine, but the secret is to order them with no salt. They’ll make a fresh batch, nice and hot, you add the salt. Don’t do this at the drive through, it takes 7-10 minutes.
most well-seasonedbest-seasoned [Ned]
using the right potato for a given dish is indeed key. Firm potato for your salad, « soft » (how do you translate « farineuses »?) potatoes for your mashed potatoes – and the bag labelled « frites » for your fries!
(We even have pictograms on the respective bags to make sure to select the right one ;-) )
as to the snails – that is mostly limited to Brussels in my experience, and it’s been a while since I have seen one of those carts on a street corner. A curiosity indeed, but would not rate it as a flag-item. Now, moules frites on the other side… (clam and fries). Or the shrimp croquettes.
Having had the pleasure of eating fries in Belgium, I am inclined to rate these as amongst the best.
All I know is, my sister thought your “Feel free to be wrong in comments” was funny enough to email me and spoiler your entire post. Also, she’s gonna steal that and so would I if I actually wrote posts with comments anywhere.
1) Culver’s fries can be good, but they need to be hot. Most fries for me (McD’s particularly) are good hot and not so good not hot. If they’re soggy, they’re a waste of calories. I don’t like steak fries much – if I wanted mashed potatoes, I would order or make them.
2) I don’t like curly fries nearly as much as I used to – they tend to be soggy and they’re not great soggy. They don’t have to be really hot to be decent for me, though.
I’ve always said that your dad is my more successful doppelgänger and now it seems you are my french fry soul mate.
Now about garlic butter fries…True they don’t belong on a list of french fry ranking but they are an awesome guilty pleasure.
It’s important that the chips be made by someone who would actually contemplate eating them, as I found out in Calcutta. Otherwise the quality can vary tremendously.
….. ya know, I really can’t argue your ranking. so, well done, you!
Have you had Cracker Barrel steak fries? I like them a lot. One fry, heck one bite is a mouthful. They have substance to them. Unlike say Steak n Shake fries where you pretty much have to shove the entire order in your mouth. Also, I like my fries softer so the fact Cracker Barrel fries fall on the soft side is a plus for me.
This is my favorite line: “This is a purist french fry ranking.”
If a fry is not good alone, what’s the point?
As everything else is to taste and the quality of preparation I’ll offer no judgement on your list.
Good curly fries are the way to go. but unlike nearly all commenters on this post, I’ve never had seasoned curly fries. (IMO, good fires need nothing but salt.) Usually they’re right out of the fryer and some salt, and that’s it. Crisp on the outside, fluffy on the inside…mmmm.
If you’re ever in Buffalo, NY, go to Anderson’s and get a beef on weck, curly fries and then a chocolate-vanilla twist frozen custard for dessert. Heaven.
I’ve had all but the last two variations – The Smiley’s actually are kind of creepy (why not actual skulls? That would be cool!). Generally, I’d have to say “It depends on the place.” I’ve had great versions of most, and very bad versions of most. The crinkle-cut is a standard at good hamburger places in Oklahoma – fresh and at a good place they are outstanding.
Hmm. Since the definition of “french fry” seems to be pretty broad here and includes a lot of regional variants, I cannot believe no one has mentioned jojos, which are undoubtedly the best fried-potato snack/side dish out there.
Jojos are NOT potato wedges. They are very specifically seasoned, battered, pressure-fried potato wedges. And they are awesome.
Not sure where you get your shoestring fries, but by their design they should be the crispiest if done correctly. I will rank sweet potato fries in the regular cut as my #1. Shoestrings will come second, from there basically take their size from smallest to largest and you have my rankings. What can I say I’m a simple man.
Your rankings are objectively more correct than the original graphic 😂
I have had some spectacularly good shoestring fries, but they’re easier to mess up than most of your higher ranked styles, so 5th seems fair as an overall ranking.
just different, I did mention jo-jos up thread but I always spell them with a dash. I’m not sure if there’s a standardized spelling? But you’re absolutely right now good they are.
After coming back to this thread, I think I might get some jo-jos delivered for “dessert.”
Anna, sorry! I somehow missed your comment as I scrolled through.
I guess I’ve seen “jojos” more often than “jo-jos,” but either way it spells delicious.
Sorry, fries or not the nobel tater tot is the highest level a potato can achieve. Grand-master; high-lord; god-king or ultimate supreamo. All else is mearly spuds.
Thank you for the Jojo history link just different! Excited to learn the story of a delicious potato.
I’ll be wrong in my own special way. I lament that the potato, a nutritionally dense foodstuff with a long and fascinating history, has declined in our culture to the point of being a mere delivery vehicle for fat, salt and (if you do ketchup) sugar.
The best chips aka Fries are covered in chicken salt.
Mmmm chicken salt but I think that’s a weirdly Australian/NZ thing.