Learn the secrets of how to make the best homemade French Fries! This easy-to-follow recipe yields perfect crispy results. Fried in a cast iron skillet directly on the stove with the perfect seasonings for any taste buds. And using tips directly from a multi-generational Idaho Potato Farmer!
Being from a small farming community in Western Wyoming called Star Valley, I grew up with potatoes being a common staple of our daily meals. We grew them, cooked with them, and ate them. I thought I knew everything there was to know about potatoes. But when I went to college in Idaho, I quickly learned that there was still so much more to learn. Idaho is the potato state, and they take their potatoes very seriously! I learned a lot about potatoes from my Idaho potato-farming friends and roommates.
I’ve been making homemade french fries for as long as I can remember. Oven-baked, in a deep fryer, in a skillet, in a Dutch oven, and even air fried. I’ve done it all. I’ve tried all kinds of different methods. But I always go back to a simple method taught to me by an Idaho farmer, because it always produces the most delicious crispy french fries.
❤️ Why it works
- Simple – it only takes a few common ingredients.
- Easy – once you get the method- it is really easy to cook up the best french fries you’ve ever tasted, easily in your own home!
- Secrets from a multi-generation Idaho Potato Farmer – In 2019 I was able to have a personal interview with Jill from Sun-Glo of Idaho. She belongs to a multi-generation Idaho Potato Farming family. She shared her family secrets for the best cast iron french fries and why some popular methods really aren’t the best. I’m sharing those with you!
- Big Crowd Pleaser! These homemade french fries are a crowd-pleaser! They’re crispy, golden brown, and perfectly seasoned. Everyone will love them!
- Fried in Peanut oil – which has a high smoke point and neutral taste.
🥘 Ingredient Notes
Best Potatoes For French Fries
The best potatoes for making homemade french fries are Russet or Idaho Potatoes. These potatoes are high in starch, low in moisture, and have a light and fluffy texture.
- The Starch helps them hold their shape when fried and become crispy on the outside.
- The low moisture content helps to prevent them from becoming soggy.
- The light, fluffy texture offers the best texture when you bite into the freshly fried French Fry.
Other types of potatoes can be used for french fries like Yukon Gold, or White Rose potatoes. But these potatoes have a lower starch content than Russet and Idaho potatoes, so they will likely not produce the same crispy shell with a light and fluffy center that is ideal for french fries. Red potatoes are not the best choice for making french fries because they are waxy and have a low starch content.
The Best Oil For Frying
Peanut oil is a great choice for frying food because it has a high smoke point, which means it can withstand high temperatures without burning. This is important for frying food because it prevents the food from absorbing too much oil and becoming greasy.
Peanut oil also has a neutral flavor, which means it doesn’t impart any unwanted flavors to the food being fried.
Additionally, peanut oil is a good source of monounsaturated fats, which are considered to be healthy fats.
If you have a peanut allergy, you can also use any light vegetable oil, canola oil, corn oil, sunflower oil, and safflower oil. These all have a high smoke point to withstand temperatures around 400-450 degrees. Although some are more likely to transfer flavor than peanut oil.
What Else Do I Need To Fry Potatoes?
- A 12″ cast Iron pan or deep skillet pan for frying. Or a deep fryer.
- Cutting board
- French Fry cutter or a Chef Knife
- Wire mesh skimmer
- Paper Towels
- Large plate or cookie sheet for draining.
- Salt and Seasonings. I prefer Himalayan Pink Sea Salt extra fine grain. Paprika is another popular seasoning for French fries, especially in Germany. It adds a subtle flavor and a nice color to the fries. Just be careful not to add too much, as it can overpower the other flavors.
🍟 How To Make French Fries
Should You Soak Potatoes In Water Before Frying?
Soaking potatoes in water before frying is a controversial topic. Many believe soaking potatoes in water before frying removes some of the sugars and starch from the potatoes, which prevents the sugars from browning before the potatoes are cooked. Which they believe makes them crispier and better.
Although from a personal interview, I had with Jill from Sun-Glo of Idaho, a multi-generation Idaho potato farmer, she said this is often a misconception. While the science is technically accurate, her family firmly believes that it is the starch on the potato that helps make the fries cook evenly and is also what makes the French Fries taste so good. So soaking the potatoes in water and removing the starch actually hinders achieving the perfectly crisp french fries you are trying to achieve.
Through many generations and years of trial and error, they discovered that the potatoes’ sugar and starch content would cool the oil enough to cook evenly without burning. The fresher the potato is, the better it will fry. So it is recommended to cut them up from a fresh, whole potato and put them into the hot oil immediately.
I have tried both soaking potatoes in water before frying and frying them straight after cutting them up. In my experience, there is not a significant difference between the two methods. If you are making a large batch of french fries for a large crowd, soaking them in water may help to prevent them from browning before they are fried. However, if you are just making a small batch for your family, there is no need to soak the potatoes.
Ultimately, the decision of whether or not to soak potatoes in water before frying is up to you. I suggest doing one batch fresh and one batch with the soaking method and seeing which one you prefer for yourself.
How To Cut A Potato For Fries
- Wash the potato thoroughly.
- Peel the potato, if desired.
- Cut the potato in half lengthwise.
- Cut each half into quarters.
- Cut each quarter into thin slices.
- Stack the slices and cut them into sticks about 3/8″-1/2″ thick
How to Fry French Fries
Gather all of your ingredients and utensils before you even begin.
Fill the Cast-iron Skillet with enough oil to barely cover the fries, not too much. Approximately 1-1 1/2″ deep in the skillet.
Preheat the oil in a cast iron skillet on the stovetop or on the grill, campfire, or cache cooker. Or you can use a deep fryer if you are lucky enough to own one. For the first batch, you want the oil to be around 375-400 degrees. For each remaining batch, you want the oil to stay around 350-375 degrees. I recommend using a candy or frying thermometer to monitor the oil’s temperature.
Wash, peel, and cut the potatoes into 3/8″- 1/2″ thickness. Most restaurants go 1/2″ thick, but I prefer 3/8″ thickness myself. The thicker the cut, the longer it will take to cook.
Fry the potatoes. Carefully add about 1/2 of the large potato to the hot oil and cook for 5-7 minutes per side or until golden brown and crispy.
Drain the fries. Use a slotted spoon to remove the fries from the oil and drain them on a paper towel-lined plate or cookie sheet.
Season with salt and any other seasonings you prefer.
Serve immediately. Serve the fries hot and enjoy!
📝 Important Tips
Use Room Temperature Potatoes! The internal temperature will change the sugar content of the potato. Which also affects how they cook. Room temperature potatoes cook more evenly, absorb less oil, and are more flavorful. Cold potatoes cook faster on the outside thus making the fries darker before the center is cooked.
Don’t overcrowd the pan when frying the fries.
Fry the fries in batches to prevent the temperature of the oil from dropping too low.
Drain the fries on paper towels to remove any excess oil.
To make the best french fries, use a candy or frying thermometer to monitor the oil’s temperature.
🔪Other Cooking Methods
There are so many different ways to cook french fries. That is one reason why they are so fun to cook and enjoy! And you can cook them at home or even up in the mountains camping. Some of these methods include:
- Cooking over a camp fire with a cast iron pan or Dutch oven
- Cooking on a cache cooker with a cast iron pan or Dutch oven
- Deep fryer
- Fried in a skillet on the stovetop
- Air Fry
- Oven Baked
But the classic way is still frying french fries in peanut oil. This is usually done in a cast iron skillet on the stovetop or in a deep fryer.
Now if you really want to mimic the extra crispy texture you find in restaurants you may want to try out the double-fry method.
The Double-Fry Method
The double-fry method, also known as oil blanching, is a technique of cooking french fries twice.
The first round of cooking is done at a lower temperature to cook the inside of the potato, while the second round is done at a higher temperature to make the fries golden brown and crispy.
- Fry the potatoes at a low temperature of 325 degrees Fahrenheit for 6 to 8 minutes, or until they are soft and slightly golden brown.
- Use a wire mesh skimmer (sometimes called a spider spoon) to transfer the fries to a paper-lined pan to drain.
- Allow the fries to rest until they are cool.
- Heat the oil to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Return the fries to the oil and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes, or until they are golden brown and crispy.
- Drain on clean paper towels
- Salt generously and serve right away.
If you don’t care about making the fries extra crispy, you can just fry them once. Try both methods and see which you prefer.
💭 Tips & FAQs
Start with room-temperature potatoes and do not overfill the pan or fryer. There should be enough room for the potatoes to be covered in oil and not piled on top of each other. I found that cooking about half a potato at a time works well in a pan or cast iron. If cooking in a fryer, you can cook more at a time, but it will depend on the size of your fryer.
It is best to fry potatoes that are as fresh as possible. The best way to do this is to cut the potatoes up just before frying them. This will help to prevent the potatoes from browning and will also result in fries that are crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside.
There are many ways to make crispy french fries. The thickness of the fries is one of the most important factors. Fries that are too thick will take longer to cook through, and they may burn on the outside before they are cooked through. I personally find that fries that are 3/8-1/2 inches thick are the best. For a restaurant crispiness try the double fry method mentioned above.
Restaurants use two main methods to make crispy french fries: double frying and coating. Double frying involves frying the fries once at a lower temperature to cook them through, and then frying them again at a higher temperature to crisp them up. Coating involves using a clear coating on the fries called PenBind 190 that helps to keep the fries crispy and prevents them from absorbing too much oil. However, this coating is not something that you would want to use on homemade fries. Because of this coating, you may not be able to replicate the exact taste and texture of french fries from a restaurant.
You can reuse frying oil up to three to four times or for a total of six hours of cooking time. It is important to filter the oil after each use and store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator or a cool, dark, dry place. However, the oil can degrade faster than that, so it is important to check it before each use. If the oil has separated or has an off or acrid smell, do not use it.
👩🏻🍳 Cooking with Kids
If you’re familiar with Busy Creating Memories, you know that we’re passionate about creating memories with our kids. And one of the best ways to do that is to get them involved in the kitchen. Cooking and baking together is a great way to bond, learn new skills, and create lasting memories. That’s why we always include ideas on how to involve kids in our recipes.
Here are several ways that kids can be involved in making homemade french fries!
- Gather the kitchen utensils
- Gather the ingredients
- Wash the potatoes
- Measure out the oil with help
- Sprinkle the fries with salt and other seasonings
- Taste Test & Enjoy
Ages 6+ Any of the above tasks, PLUS…
- Peeling potatoes with a standard potato peeler.
- Cutting potatoes into 3/8″ or 1/2″ strips. We start our kids off with a knife designed for kids and a lot of supervision until they show competence using the tool.
- Read out & identify the recipe ingredients
- Be involved in cleaning up: putting ingredients away, wiping the counter, sweeping the floor, loading the dishwasher, or washing dishes by hand.
Ages 12+ Any of the above tasks, PLUS…
- Heating up the oil
- Adding the potatoes to the oil
- Rotating/flipping/stiring the french fries in the oil as they cook
- Removing the french fries from the oil when they are golden
- When the oil is completely cooled, using a funnel, pour the used oil into a container for the next use or to be disposed.
- Never leave your child alone while they are frying food: It is important to always supervise your child closely while they are frying food. This will help to prevent accidents.
Because hot oil can splatter and burn, we keep younger children away from the stove when frying. We assess each child individually to see if they are aware of the risks, careful enough, and ready to be responsible for frying before we allow them to participate. Most children reach this level of maturity around 10-12 years of age. But others may need more time before they are ready to handle the responsibility of cooking with hot oil. As the parent you know your child best and ultimately you should judge when it is the right time for them to be part of learning how to fry foods.
Please note: Every child is different, so it is important to use your own judgment when deciding which tasks are appropriate for your child. These are just suggestions, and you may need to adjust them based on your child’s individual abilities and needs. It is also important to remember that younger children will require more direct supervision than older children.
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- 2 Fresh large Idaho Russett Potatoes
- 1/2-3/4 cup peanut oil
- Seasoned salt/ sea salt
- 12" Cast Iron Skillet
- Heat oil on high heat in a cast-iron skillet to approximately 375-400 degrees
- Slice Potatoes into thin chips or fry strips 3/8"-1/2" thick
- Add sliced potatoes to the hot oil
- Fry for 5-7 minutes per side (until golden crispy)
- Remove from oil and place on a paper towel
- Sprinkle with seasonings of your choice (sea salt)
- Serve immediately
To make it go faster, I start by only cutting up one potato at a time. While it is frying I cut up the second potato.
Oil Temperature: don't let the oil temperature drop below 350 degrees. Optimally keep it between 350-375 for each batch.
Use a candy or frying Thermometer to monitor the temperature of the oil.
Use Room Temperature Potatoes. They cook more evenly, absorb less oil, and are more flavorful. And it helps to keep the oil at a steadier temperature.
Don't overcrowd the pan when frying the fries. I found cooking about 1/2 potato at a time worked well.
Fry the fries in batches to prevent the temperature of the oil from dropping too low.
Drain the fries on paper towels to remove any excess oil.
Frying time will vary depending on your preference. Thick cut or crispy outside will require a longer fry time than thin cut and softer outside.
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Hiware Extra Large Spider Strainer Skimmer Spoon for Frying and Cooking - Set of 3 Stainless Steel Wire Pasta Strainer with Long Handle, Professional Kitchen Skimmer Ladle - 13.8", 15" & 16.4"
Amazon Brand - Happy Belly Peanut Oil, 1 gallon (128 Fl Oz)
Lodge Cast Iron Skillet with Red Silicone Hot Handle Holder, 12-inch
Serving Size:1 potato
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 617Total Fat: 54gSaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 42gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 496mgCarbohydrates: 32gFiber: 3gSugar: 2gProtein: 4g
Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy and is an estimate only. This information comes from online calculators. Although Busy Creating Memories attempts to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates.