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Frozen Straight-Cut French Fries
Homemade fries are not usually an option for weeknight cooking—but was there a frozen brand good enough to earn a place in our freezer?
Published June 1, 2013. Appears in Cook's Country June/July 2013, Cook's Country TV Season 7: Oklahoma Onion Burgers and Louisiana Meat Pies
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What You Need To Know
Frozen French fries are not a promising food group, but get real: Making homemade fries is a project. So do any frozen fries deserve a passing grade? We sought the answer by tasting four straight-cut frozen French fry products with a side of ketchup. (We left crinkle cuts and steak fries for another day.)
Before you bake them at home, frozen fries that come in bags have already been cooked—twice. In the factory, the potatoes are blanched in hot water and then fried in vegetable oil. One product we tried uses only Yukon Gold potatoes; the rest rely on russets or a combination of russets and other yellow potatoes.
The standout fries had a “savory,” “potato-y” flavor and a “creamy,” “fluffy” interior. They were not peeled, which probably contributed to the “earthy” flavor. This product also had the fewest ingredients: just the potatoes, oil, sea salt, and citric acid (to preserve color). By contrast, two fry products that use sodium acid pyrophosphate, also a color preservative, tasted “packaged,” and a product with no added salt tasted “bland” even after we added enough salt to level the playing field. This no-added-salt product uses apple juice concentrate to promote browning; the fries browned, yes, but they were “oddly sweet.”
From now on, when we don’t have time to peel, cut, blanch, and fry potatoes, we’ll be reaching for our winning frozen French fries.
Everything We Tested
These “most potato-y” fries were “nice and crispy” with a “fluffy,” “creamy interior.” “This feels like a fry, not a mushy stick of starch,” one taster said. This organic product also earned plaudits for the “earthy” taste of potato skin on the ends.
Our second-favorite fries were thicker-cut, “potato-y”-tasting sticks that were also “buttery,” “crisp,” and “very flavorful.” They lost a few points for a “mealy interior” that some found “almost bready” and “starchy.”
Recommended with reservations
The thinnest fries in our lineup were nice and “crunchy” but had “almost no interior.” Some praised their “potato flavor”; others found them “bland,” with one taster complaining, “These don’t taste like anything.”
A few tasters liked the “almost cheesy/buttery flavor” of these thick fries, but many rated them “starchy” and “limp.” A few of us picked up on a “fake” aftertaste, “like a processed baked potato.” Caramel coloring accounted for the orangey hue and possibly affected the flavor, too.
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