Is it possible to bring leftover French fries home and reheat them?
Common wisdom says that French fries must be eaten right away; old, cold fries are fit only for the trash bin. But is this really true? We hoped not. We brought in French fries from a few local restaurants, let them cool, and tried several methods of reviving them with a goal of crisp, hot fries that, if they didn’t taste exactly the same as those straight out of the fry basket, came close.
Microwaving them, unsurprisingly, resulted in soggy fries. And even at a variety of temperatures, the oven left fries dry, leathery, and decidedly uncrisp. We turned our attention to the stovetop. We tried heating the cold fries through in a dry skillet, in 1/2 inch of oil, and in a lightly oiled skillet. In a side-by-side tasting, this last method worked especially well. To use our method, heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet until nice and hot (it should just start smoking). Add the fries in a single layer just covering the bottom of the skillet and stir frequently until they darken slightly in color and are fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Drain them on a paper towel–lined plate to absorb any excess oil. If you’d like, sprinkle them with a little salt for extra seasoning.
When using a 12-inch skillet, we were able to effectively reheat 6 ounces of fries, or about the amount in a large order of McDonald’s fries. This method worked well for standard, shoestring, and steak fries.
THE BOTTOM LINE: Reheating restaurant French fries in a preheated, lightly oiled skillet yields the crispest results.