Frozen Straight-Cut French Fries
How we tested
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.