Super Simple French Fries (Crisp & Crunchy in Just One Step)

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Super Simple French Fries at The Hungry Mouse

Oh, delicious French fry, how you elude me in my own kitchen. You’re so yummy, but you’re such a pain to make.

There’s the soaking in cold water. The first fry to cook your insides. Then the second fry to crisp you up. You’re so good when you’re fresh out of the oil. But, honestly? I’d rather just order you when I’m out.

You can imagine my surprise when I came across a one-step recipe for French fries in this month’s Cook’s Illustrated.

No soaking? Only one fry? Start the potatoes in cold (yes, cold) oil? Come on. I had to try it. And man, am I glad I did. Hands down, these are the easiest, most delicious fries I’ve ever made.

Super Simple French Fries at The Hungry Mouse

The Cook’s Illustrated article explains that, because of how starch interacts with the frying oil, this method will only work well with a less starchy potato, like the Yukon Gold.

Super Simple French Fries at The Hungry Mouse

I couldn’t wait. I hit the market for some spuds.

And whaddaya know? This method really does produce a crisp French fry that’s crunchy on the outside and creamy on the inside.

Super Simple French Fries at The Hungry Mouse

I’m a convert. I’ll never make double-fried French fries again.

Super Simple French Fries at The Hungry Mouse

Super Simple French Fries

2 1/2 lbs. Yukon Gold potatoes (about 4-5 large potatoes)
6 cups peanut oil
kosher salt

Line a sheet pan or large plate with a few layers of paper towels. Set it aside.

Then grab your potatoes. The skins are thin, so I didn’t bother peeling them. Just give ’em a good scrub and dry them well.

Super Simple French Fries at The Hungry Mouse

Cut out any eyes with the tip of a small, sharp knife.

Super Simple French Fries at The Hungry Mouse

Super Simple French Fries at The Hungry Mouse

Cut the round edges off the potato, so that you have a fairly solid rectangle.

Super Simple French Fries at The Hungry Mouse

Cut the long sides in three or four sticks.

Super Simple French Fries at The Hungry Mouse

Then cut the potato into fries.

Super Simple French Fries at The Hungry Mouse

Super Simple French Fries at The Hungry Mouse

Super Simple French Fries at The Hungry Mouse

You want them to be about a quarter-inch thick, which looks about like this (balanced on my 10-inch butcher’s knife).

Super Simple French Fries at The Hungry Mouse

Cut the rest of your potatoes into fries the same way.

Super Simple French Fries at The Hungry Mouse

Set a large, heavy-bottomed pot on the stove. Clip on a deep-frying thermometer, if you like—strictly for curiosity’s sake. (My oil hit about 325 degrees and held steady.) Pour in the peanut oil.

Super Simple French Fries at The Hungry Mouse

Put the cut potatoes into the cold oil. (That’s right, you heard me: Don’t turn the heat on yet.)

Super Simple French Fries at The Hungry Mouse

When all the potatoes are in the oil, wiggle them around with a pair of tongs so that they’re all submerged. (Feels wrong, doesn’t it? Just you wait.)

Super Simple French Fries at The Hungry Mouse

Now turn the heat on high. And wait. After about 3 or 4 minutes, small bubbles should start to appear in the oil. (Still feels kinda wrong, ya?)

Super Simple French Fries at The Hungry Mouse

After about 5 minutes or so, the oil should come to a rolling boil.

Super Simple French Fries at The Hungry Mouse

Fry the potatoes like this for 15 minutes, untouched. Don’t stir them at all. Just keep an eye on the pot.

Super Simple French Fries at The Hungry Mouse

After about 15 minutes, some of the fries should have floated to the surface of the oil. You should see them just starting to turn brown.

Super Simple French Fries at The Hungry Mouse

Give them a stir with a long set of tongs to loosen them up. If any are stuck to the bottom, give them a nudge to unwedge them.

Super Simple French Fries at The Hungry Mouse

Fry like this, stirring occasionally, for another 5-10 minutes, until crisp, golden, and done to your liking.

Super Simple French Fries at The Hungry Mouse

Super Simple French Fries at The Hungry Mouse

I yanked mine when they looked like this:

Super Simple French Fries at The Hungry Mouse

Fish them out of the oil with a spider or large slotted spoon. Let them drip for a sec over the pot to lose any excess oil.

Super Simple French Fries at The Hungry Mouse

Transfer to your paper-towel lined pan or plate.

Super Simple French Fries at The Hungry Mouse

Sprinkle with kosher salt when they’re hot out of the oil. (This helps the salt stick better.)

Super Simple French Fries at The Hungry Mouse

Super Simple French Fries at The Hungry Mouse

Serve and enjoy (and gobble and inhale)!

Super Simple French Fries at The Hungry Mouse

Super Simple French Fries at The Hungry Mouse

Super Simple French Fries at The Hungry Mouse

Super Simple French Fries at The Hungry Mouse

Super Simple French Fries (Crisp & Crunchy in Just One Step)

Here's how to make crispy, golden brown French fries at home with just one fry. The secret? You start them in cold (yep, cold!) oil.

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Ingredients

2 1/2 lbs. Yukon Gold potatoes (about 4-5 large potatoes)
6 cups peanut oil
kosher salt

Instructions

  1. Line a sheet pan or large plate with a few layers of paper towels. Set it aside.
  2. Grab your potatoes. The skins are thin, so I didn’t bother peeling them. Just give ’em a good scrub and dry them well.
  3. Remove any eyes with the tip of a small, sharp knife.
  4. Cut the round edges off the potato, so that you have a fairly solid rectangle. Cut the long sides in three or four sticks. Then cut the potato into quarter-inch thick fries.
  5. Cut the rest of your potatoes into fries the same way.
  6. Set a large, heavy-bottomed pot on the stove. Pour in the peanut oil.
  7. Put the cut potatoes into the cold oil. (That’s right, you heard me: Don’t turn the heat on yet.)
  8. When all the potatoes are in the oil, wiggle them around with a pair of tongs so that they’re all submerged.
  9. Now turn the heat on high. And wait. After about 3 or 4 minutes, small bubbles should start to appear in the oil. After about 5 minutes or so, the oil should come to a rolling boil.
  10. Fry the potatoes like this for 15 minutes, untouched. Don’t stir them at all. Just keep an eye on the pot.
  11. After about 15 minutes, some of the fries should have floated to the surface of the oil. You should see them just starting to turn brown.
  12. Give them a stir with a long set of tongs to loosen them up. If any are stuck to the bottom, give them a nudge to unwedge them.
  13. Fry like this, stirring occasionally, for another 5-10 minutes, until crisp, golden, and done to your liking.
  14. Fish them out of the oil with a spider or large slotted spoon. Let them drip for a sec over the pot to lose any excess oil. Transfer to your paper-towel lined pan or plate.
  15. Sprinkle with kosher salt when they’re hot out of the oil. Serve immediately!

Notes

This one-step method will only work well with a less starchy potato, like the Yukon Gold.

http://www.thehungrymouse.com/2009/07/01/super-simple-french-fries-crisp-crunchy-in-only-one-step/


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Jessie Cross is a cookbook author and creator of The Hungry Mouse, a monster online food blog w/500+ recipes. When she's not shopping for cheese or baking pies, Jessie serves as an Associate Creative Director at PARTNERS+simons, a boutique ad agency in Boston. She lives in Salem, Massachusetts with her husband and two small, fluffy wolves.

58 COMMENTS

    • They’re SO easy! Seriously! 😀

      I fry just about everything in my giant Le Creuset cast iron dutch oven. I’ve had the thing for years. It holds heat well (and evenly), and it’s deep enough that I don’t really worry about splatters. They’re kind of pricey, but it was an investment I’m definitely glad I made. I’ll likely have the thing for the rest of my life.

      That said, any decent cast-iron pot works well for frying like this. I have a lot of Lodge cookware–it’s well made and super inexpensive.

      Cheers!
      +Jessie

  1. Homeenade is best! When i was little, I never realised how good my mum’s fries were, the potatoes were from the garden….

    Great post 🙂

      • That’s the Tuscan method: cold olive oil to start, but also with a sprig of fresh rosemary. I had them in Italy and they’re fantastic, but I’m too chicken to fry a branch.

  2. Those look soooo good. I never make homemade fries, because it’s such a pain. I usually just pan fry Ore-idas in 1/2 cup of veggie oil. I think i’ll give these a try when I get back from vacation.

  3. Thanks for your reply! Another silly question – do you throw out the oil after each time you deep fry something or can you keep it? how long? etc.
    I really want to get into deep frying but I don’t want to buy a deep fryer and I am so lost when it comes to this type of cooking. Thanks again.

    • Hi again!

      Sorry for the delayed reply. OK. Cooking oil. (Not a silly question at all!)

      Basically, you can reuse it a bunch of times. Like most things in the kitchen, use your eyes and sense of smell to tell you if the oil has gone off or absorbed too many flavors. (i.e. I usually don’t save oil that I’ve fried fish in, just because it really does wind up tasting kind of fishy.) If it looks or smells funky, toss it.

      To save oil, strain it once or twice through a colander lined with a coffee filter or some cheesecloth (or even paper towels). You do that to fish out any bits of food.

      Here’s the deal with frying oil. Usually, you want to fry in an oil that has a high smoke point–like peanut or vegetable oil–so you can fry at a high temperature. You want to fry at a high temperature because your food absorbs less oil (and is less greasy). Each time you heat the oil up and fry with it, it breaks down a little bit, which lowers the smoke point.

      So eventually, if you keep reusing the same oil, you won’t be able to get the oil super hot, which means you’ll wind up with greasier food because you can’t get the oil super hot.

      Oh, and I wouldn’t necessarily shell out for a deep fryer. You can do really well with a deep cast-iron pot with a deep frying thermometer clipped to the side. If you’re a gadget-y type person, you might like one, just because they’re more contained (so the oil won’t really have the chance to splatter on your stove).

      Let me know how else I can help!

      +Jessie

  4. That method does feel kinda weird. I guess it’s because we’re so used to deep frying when the oil is hot. The most important part is it works!

  5. Cook’s Illustrated is the best. These fries look great. I will have to get Lisa to try these at home. We’ve been so disappointed with the fries we have made ourselves. I wonder if this would work for sweet potatoes as well.

  6. Nice! I’ve been looking for a decent fry recipe and I think this sounds like a good one. Though, I will be using the olive oil (good to know it’ll work well) as I’m allergic to the peanut.

    And nice blog, too, by the way. This is my first time stopping by. I found you via foodgawker.

    Thanks!

    ~ Annie

  7. Hi There,

    First off apologies for contacting you through the comments but couldn’t spot an email address. Am loving the home made chips and the step by steps! I have to say I am a big fan of the thin chips like these rather than the big greasy ones we get over here in the UK

    Would really love to get a few of these photos featured on http://www.foodandfizz.com our new photo sharing website and hopefully send you a bit of traffic over 🙂

    Cheers

    Ben

  8. Oh my gosh. My wife made these the other night. I have developed an obsession with well made french fries. And these were fantastic.

    • Yep, yep! That’s my giant red Le Creuset pot. I got it on sale years ago. It still cost a small fortune, but it’s one of the best investments I’ve ever made. I use it all the time, and it’s held up really well over the years.

      +Jessie

    • Ya know, you’d think so.

      I can tell you, though, they weren’t greasy at all. From what I gathered from the original recipe, it has a lot to do with using a less starchy potato (like the Yukon Gold).

      +Jessie

  9. WOW! These were completely awesome. I made them tonight after looking for a way to avoid the soggy, greasy ones I’ve been making. I read to soak them. I read to precook them. I read to toss them in flour. I read to cook them twice. Everything seemed like such a lot of work!

    Them I found this. I trust Cooks Illustrated and you gave such great directions and pictures. And most importantly it sounded so EASY. Almost too good to be true.

    But it was true. My fries were perfect. Perfectly crisp and not at all greasy. I’m never doing them any other way. I was lucky enough to have yukon gold on hand. I did not have peanut oil so I substituted canola with no problem. I’d be curious if anyone has ever tried it with another kind of potato?

    Thank you so much.

  10. Would this method work with a deep fryer? I just bought one today and tried the bake twice method. They were disappointingly not crisp. I’m wondering if it would be a problem after you put them in cold oil and then have to wait about 15 minutes for it to heat up to 375. I think I’ll try it. Thanks for your helpful info. Gail

    • Hi Gail….did you try this frying method in your deep fryer….I just purchased one and am not happy with the fries….so I googled and got this website…..I would like to use the deep fryer…..can you get back to me….thanks!

  11. Now that’s my kind of french fry! I’ve tried the baked variety too many times and they’re just not the same. Never made them like this before but I’m looking forward to a big batch of them this weekend. Now I’ll have to hide my wife’s cookie sheet.
    Mike

  12. I tried it and I must say it worked great. No more soggy fries! I used some yellow potatoes I found at the store not sure what kind and olive oil. My fries turned out great. Thanks never thought cold oil would work but it did.

  13. When I googled how to make fries at home, of course, many blogs and recipes came up. The Cooks Illustrated recipe really caught my eye so I altered my search to ‘cooks illustrated fries’ and once again many blogs and recipes came up. Your pictures and explanation sold me on this recipe and I tried it last night. We had awesome home cooked fries! Thanks 🙂

  14. I tried these tonight and they were great! Much easier than pulling out the deep fryer! Thanks for posting this. I pinned your post on Pinterest!

  15. i remember my little brother was 13 and wanted to do french fries

    he placed them in the cold oil and covered them and went to play his play station, mom asked him, what the heck are you doing, he was like i’m not gonna stand there and get burned, this is much easier and it will eventually cook through

    lol

    we looked at him like he’s crazy but it works!

    i just wonder how many other ideas do we putt down just because we are not used to it

    great post very yummy, but its 2 am in the morning and craving these fries lol

  16. Wow! Thank you for your advice. I own a small Cafe in Truro Nova Scotia Canada and we serve hand cut fries. I’ve been looking for a way to make our fries crispy. I read this tecnique yesterday, went to work and talked to my cook about this so we tried it. We have 4 fryers side by side and only use 2 at any one time. We cut buckets of fries at a time and leave them to sit in water. We dropped our fries in one of our not-used fryers for about a minute, lifted out the basket and let them sit until we were ready to drop them in hot oil.

    It worked beautifully. We did it the entire day and of course, tried one each time. This is the real deal. We will do this from now on. Thank you again.

  17. Peanut oil makes sense b/c it has such a high smoke point, but olive oil seems like it would not work. At home, we never deep fried in olive oil — always Canola, Corn, or Vegetable oil. We use olive oil to saute, on salads and to soften skin and hair!

  18. This recipie really worked. The fries were so good that I ate them all and left the burger for the next meal. Thank you
    I’m going to do it again to tonight

  19. I have a few questions please:

    1. How long do the fries need to sit in cold oil before starting the cooking process?

    2. Can I have another pot with hot oil which I can start the cooking in rather having to wait for
    the cold oil to warm up? Has anyone done this and if so, what are your results please?

    3. How will sunflower oil work instead of peanut oil? Has anyone experimented with other oils besides olive and peanut?

    4. Any other tip in how I can use this process and get good results (crispy, not oily product) within a commercial (cafe) environment where I need to turn out a good volume during rush time?

    Many thanks for all your helps.

  20. This is how I used to make my fries, except I used Russet potatoes and not Yukon golds! So now I just do the ol’ two fry method with Russet potatoes and it works great. But I’m going to have to try this method with Yukon golds sometime, because the double fry method does take a rather long time!

  21. I had Russet potato’s to use up and after trying many methods to get crispy fries and ultimately not hitting the mark; I tried this method. I used an electric deep fryer. I put the fries in the cold oil as directed and then set the heat for 335. The cooking time went as described in the instructions.

    Now, I have to tell you that I did not expect anything better than what I had gotten in the past. And well, they turned out far better than any other method I EVER tried. I can only image how good the recipe is using the prescribed Yukon Gold. And I will try it. Thank you for the fabulous idea! My homemade fries problem appears to be solved.

  22. How are these not oily? They are sitting in oil for almost 40 minutes? I love the idea of deep fried French fries, we have an electric fryer and get pretty good fries. But I am always looking for a better way.

    I just re-read the recipe and it really says they fry for a very long time. Does the type of potato and type of oil really make a difference? We usually use vegetable oil and Idaho baking potatoes.

  23. I’ll be trying these for supper tonight only I’ll use freshly rendered lard from our pastured pigs. Thanks for the post and great pictures!

  24. I want to try this. I’ve been nervous about deep frying, but this method makes me feel a lot less uneasy.

    Which size Le Creuset Dutch oven do you own?

  25. These are the best fries I’ve ever made at home… and the best thing is that they didn’t stink up the whole house (unlike the double frying method)! I used Yukon Gold potatoes and canola oil. Thank you for posting this!

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