Homemade French Fries

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Some things are best learned the hard way.  Actually, the hard way seems to be the only way I learn.

I’ve been learning things the hard way for decades… literally.

It turns out that it’s easier to just study for the spelling test rather than try to wrap your 3rd grade brain around right, wrong, and Catholic guilt.  Plus… cheating is really hard when you’re in 3rd grade and cell phones don’t yet exist.

If I have to ask and lightly beg a dude to take me to the prom, I’m probably going with a fellow that doesn’t want to take me.  This dating lesson is hard learned and often repeated countless times through dating life.

I’ve learned what it takes to keep lights on, heat running, and food in the fridge.  The hard way… bills.

I’ve learned the hard way what it’s like to take someone for granted, to lose love that I’m still grasping for, to cut unfortunate bangs, and insist of fashion heels out of pure vanity.

I’ve learned the hard way what it’s like to make my own French Fries.  Hard.  Ok… not hard, just time-consuming.  The sweet consolation?  There’s hot fries at the end.  Actually, hot fries are a running theme as I lick my wounds through all of my hard lessons learned.  That’s called emotional eating…The fries, however, were never hand-cut and home-fried.  Time consuming, yes…. but and a hard lesson I’ll teach myself (and enjoy) several times over.

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Yes.  I’m openly bringing you a recipe that is somewhat time-consuming and involves oil at high temperatures.  Not everything needs to be as easy as Spinach and Potato Breakfast Hash.  Let’s enjoy the process.

At its base, this recipe is a potato preparation.

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I start with a sporadic peel of the potatoes.  The little bits of skin left on the potato lend an earthy and rustic feel to the potatoes.

A good starchy potato is important.  Think:  Russet or Idaho potatoes.

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Slice off about 1/4-inch of the underside of the potato.  This will help the rounded potato have a firm place to sit as I cut it in to planks.

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You guessed it!  This is the plank stage!

As the potato rests, facing me vertically, I slice the potato lengthwise into planks.

Wait… are you already feeling overwhelmed.  Pause!  Serious Eats has a video on how to cut french fries in case you’re a more visual person.

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Stack planks 2 to 3 high and slice them vertically once again.  Fries should be 1/4 to 3/8-inch batons.

Yea… 3/8-inch.  Bust out your rulers!  I’m kidding.

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These starchy potato batons need to be soaked in clean, cool water for about 10 minutes.  This will help wash clean some of the starches, helping the fries not to stick to one another during the frying process.

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It’s possible that I haven’t told you why making French Fries is so time-consuming.

The very best French Fries are deep-fried, not once… but twice!  I found this an essential step in creating a tender and crispy fry.

The first fry is done at a low heat (about 250 degrees F) and works to cook the potatoes through evenly.

The second fry is done at a higher heat (about 350 degrees F) and works to make the fries glisten in gold, crisp up, and become utterly and completely irresistible.

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It’s possible that by now you’re asking yourself this question:  is it really worth it to make my own fries, or should I just go to McDonald’s?  Only you have the answer to that question.  I will tell you this:   most everything good takes tiiiiime.   These fries are no exception.  They’re bonkers delicious and so satisfying to fry up and eat hot out of the oil.  Frying my own French Fries helped me appreciate (and totally not binge eat) really good fries out in the world.  They take time, a bit of sweat, and a generous amount of salt and homemade curry ketchup.

Oh!  You’ll need a fry thermometer for this recipe.  It’s important.  Rest easy.  They’re easy to come by and totally an awesome investment.

Homemade French Fries

serves 2 to 3 people

Print this Recipe!

3 large Russet or Idaho potatoes, peeled

1 quart vegetable or canola oil

salt, pepper, and ketchup

Wash potatoes and peel as much or as little as you’d like.

With the potato facing you lengthwise, slice off about 1/4-inch of the bottom of the potato, creating a stable surface to continue to slice to potato.

Slice the potato lengthwise into 1/4-inch planks.  Stack two or three planks on top of one another and slice planks into 1/4-inch batons, or strips of potato.  These are our fries!  Continue until all of the potatoes are sliced into fries.

Place fries in a  large bowl of cool water.  This will help wash some of the starches off the surface of the potatoes, so they don’t stick together during frying.

Pour 1 quart of oil into a large, heavy bottom saucepan.  In the right pan, the oil should be about 1 1/2-inches deep.   Attach fry thermometer to saucepan, so that the thermometer touches the oil.  Heat over medium heat until oil reaches 250 degrees F.  In the meantime, line two large baking sheets with several layers of paper towel.

When oil reaches 250 degrees F, carefully drop small batches of potatoes to the hot oil.  I cooked about ten fries at a time.  Gently stir the fries to ensure that they don’t stick to the bottom of the pan or stick to each other.  Fry until cooked though, about 4 to 6 minutes.  Remove from the oil using a pair of tongs, or metal slotted spoon, and allow to cool on the prepared paper towels.  Continue until all of the fries are cooked.

Once fries have cooled to room temperature, heat the same oil to 350 degrees F.  Add once cooked fries, again in small batches.  Gently stir until golden brown, about 3 minutes.  Remove fries from the oil  and place on the remaining lined baking sheet.  Immediately sprinkle with coarse salt and black pepper.  Serve immediately.

106 thoughts on “Homemade French Fries

  1. Oh yeah, I forgot.
    In France we have a lot of looooong recipes, not difficult but very long. I bake often a cake from my region which take all the afternoon. :D

  2. Hmmm sounds delicious!
    Oh god, french fries in McDonald’s don’t deserve the title of frenc fries! :D
    But the french fries in Five Guys are really good!

  3. Hello!

    I’m Céline, a reader from Belgium. Here we make or own French fries every week! In fact, french fries are from Belgium, not from France.
    We bake or fries indeed twice! And instead of the soaking in water, we only wash or fries and dry them.

    Kisses from Belgium!

  4. I have to tell you…

    My fiance and I just moved into a new condo and the previous tenant left something in a bottom drawer… two fry baskets. I KID YOU NOT.

    I was meant to read this post. Nay… you were meant to post it before I went off to work today.

    Thank you thank you thank you.

    Lesson Learned: Always check the bottom kitchen drawer before you move out, or your predecessor will gain from your misfortune (or something flowery and thoughtful like that).

    -Kasey

  5. Deep frying in hot hot oil is something so terrifying to me that I have never done it. What do you do with the oil after? Can it spontaneously go on fire? Arg!
    Maybe I need to put it on my summer bucket list.

    1. It depends on what kind of oil you use, but you are generally safe with regular vegetable oil. Many people prefer peanut oil, but it is more expensive and can cause havoc with peanut allergies.

      You can save the oil and reuse it several times. Typically there are places that will take your used oil when you are done with it. (It can be used to make bio-diesel fuel for vehicles)

  6. Friendship is time consuming. Love is time consuming. Kids are time consuming. Cats are time consuming. Novels and movies are time consuming. Long walks in the woods are time consuming. Sleep is time consuming. But we need them, and we need their consuming our time in a wonderful way. This means that I’ll make french fries. ;-)

  7. I’ve had the best French fries in Belgium where I found out that they (the Belgians) invented deep-fried potatoes. Thus they should be called Belgium fries not French fries.
    Plus, that’s also where I’ve learned that the correct way to make fries is to deep fry them twice.
    I think that after this recipe you could ask to have a Belgium honorary citizenship and I’m pretty sure that your request will be granted in a heartbeat!

    1. Agreed! I live in Belgium (Brussels) and we are constantly debating which is the best place in the city for fries…still no clear winner but if I succeed in making these, there might not be the need to go out anymore!

  8. Ive made fries before but have added vinegar to the ice water to help pull out some of the starch- I’m gonna try your version this weekend with the curry ketchup. Yum. Oh and the Catholic guilt- lol I think we all carry that around with us the rest of out lives wether we’re practicing or not……funny I was just discussing this guilt with a friend as we walked thru the Vatican museum a few weeks ago…..

  9. I usually just roast wedges in the oven. Not as crispy but no stinky and oily house. The ketchup you have there, that’s the killer. :-) I’m gonna make it very very soon,

  10. Don’t forget to dry the fries before you put them in the oil. It will make even more crispier fries (and eliminate the risk to burn yourself because of the water and oil fighting each other).

  11. Even though it’s early morning here and I’ve just eaten a giant bowl of porridge I still totally want to dive in to those french fries. :)

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