How to Make Homemade French Fries

  • 01 of 09

    Step-by-Step Recipe for French Fries

    French Fries
    Bowl of Fries. Molly Watson

    Homemade French fries are crazy delicious. The best fries are double-fried, first at a lower temperature to cook them through, then drained and allowed to cool before being dipped into hotter oil to crisp them up to golden perfection.

    This recipe is very flexible—you can make as many or as few fries as you like. Plan on at least one large potato worth of fries per person, but you can certainly make do with less and people can eat many, many more.

    Consider balancing the inconvenience of doing...MORE several batches (and the counter space and time it demands) with doing enough to make the hassle of frying (what with the hot oil and the draining and what not) worthwhile. Many people will find 4 to 6 potatoes for 4 to 8 people do-able and worthwhile. Homemade fries are both the traditional accompaniment and a particular treat with perfect hamburgers, juicy seared steak, or steamed mussels.

    Besides potatoes, you'll need a large pot and enough vegetable oil, canola oil, or lard so you have about 2 inches deep in that pot. You'll want plenty of paper towels for draining. You may want a cooling rack over a baking sheet (to use to drain the fries in lieu of paper towels for a single batch, as an initial draining spot before transferring them to paper towels for multiple batches). You'll also need a slotted spoon or similar utensil for fetching the fries out of the hot oil. A thermometer to measure the temperature of the oil is a nice but not necessary tool to have. When it comes time to serve them, most people will also want to have some salt on hand.

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  • 02 of 09

    Cut the Potatoes

    Potatoes Cut for Fries
    Evenly Cut Potatoes to Fry. Molly Watson

    Whether you peel the potatoes or not is up to you.

    Peeled or not, the cut is absolutely key when making fries. If you have a kitchen mandoline, this is the time to break it out and use it. If not, cut each potato in half the long way, lay the cut side flat on the cutting surface and cut into 1/2-inch to 1/4-inch slices. Stack these slices and cut into the same width sticks. Repeat with remaining potatoes.

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  • 03 of 09

    Soak the Potatoes

    Soaking Potatoes for Fries
    Rinsing Potatoes for French Fries. Molly Watson

    Put the cut potatoes in a large bowl, cover with cool water, and soak for at least 20 minutes. This step gets rid of excess starch, resulting in fluffier and crisper fries.

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  • 04 of 09

    Drain & Dry the Potatoes

    Dry Potatoes for Frying
    Pat Potatoes Dry. Molly Watson

    Drain the potatoes and pat them dry with paper towels or a clean kitchen towel. Arrange them in a single layer to air-dry for a bit. The drier the better.

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  • 05 of 09

    First Fry

    Par-Cooking Fries
    French Fries Cooking. Molly Watson

    Bring at least 2 inches of oil in a large heavy pot to about 325F. Fry potatoes, in batches if necessary, at this fairly low temperature until the fries are cooked through but still as pale as they were when you put them in the oil, about 5 minutes.

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  • 06 of 09

    Drain & Cool Half-Done Fries

    Draining Par-Cooked Fries
    Half-Fried French Fries. Molly Watson

    Lift the fries out of the oil using a slotted spoon or frying basket. Drain them on a cooling rack (set over a baking sheet or pan to catch the drips) or on layers of paper towels. Let sit until completely cool—at least 30 minutes and up to several hours.

    Note: You can prepare the fries up through this step up to a day ahead of serving them.

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  • 07 of 09

    Fry Until Golden

    Frying Fries
    Frying Crispy Fries. Molly Watson

    Bring the oil up to the 350F-375F range. Use a thermometer or test the oil by dropping a fry in it – the oil should sizzle actively, but not violently, around the fry immediately. If it sputters and sizzles aggressively, bring the temperature down until you get an active yet steady sizzle when you add a fry to the oil.

    Add the fries, working in batches if necessary to keep them in a single layer in the oil, and cook until golden or starting to turn golden brown, depending on how well done you...MORE like your fries, about 5 minutes.

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  • 08 of 09

    Drain the Fries

    French Fries Draining
    Finished Fries. Molly Watson

    Lift the fries out of the oil with a slotted spoon or frying basket. Drain them, again, on a cooling rack set over a pan or on layers of paper towels.

    Continue to 9 of 9 below.
  • 09 of 09

    Serve Them Fries!

    French Fries
    Bowl of Fries. Molly Watson

    Most people will want to sprinkle their fries with fine sea salt while they are still laid out in a single layer draining.

    To serve: pile them onto a platter or into a bowl.

    If you've made a particularly large batch for a crowd, consider serving them on a layer of brown butcher paper in the middle of the table—it's heaps of fun.

    No matter how you serve them, be sure to serve the fries while they're still warm.