If you’ve ever spotted ginormous deep fryers in restaurant kitchens, you might think a great homemade french fries recipe is something only experts with high-end equipment can pull off. Not so! If you have a deep fryer, that’s great—but owning one is not a necessity. We’ll show you how to make french fries at home using minimal kitchen tools. In fact, all you need to make the best homemade french fries is a good chef’s knife like this Wusthof Gourmet Chef's Knife ($84.99, Bed Bath & Beyond), a cutting board, a heatproof slotted spoon, a heavy flat-bottom pan, and a deep-fat thermometer.
How to Make French Fries at Home by Frying
Go ahead and gather the ingredients (potatoes, oil, and salt is all!) and follow these simple steps to make four servings of crispy french fries in minutes.
Related: How to Fry Just About Anything
Prepare the Potatoes
It doesn't take much, just some straight-as-possible cuts for fries that will fry evenly.
- Start with 4 medium baking potatoes (or sweet potatoes), or about 1½ pounds total. Peel potatoes if desired. To prevent peeled potatoes from darkening, immerse them in a bowl of ice water.
- For uniform fries, cut the potato into a rectangular shape. First cut off both ends; discard the ends.
- Next, cut straight down one side to make a flat surface. Repeat on the other three sides so you end up with a rectangular potato. Cut the potato into ¼- to ⅜-inch strips.
- Soak strips in a bowl of ice water while you heat the oil.
Heat the Oil for Frying
Yes, you need to preheat oil for frying just like you'd need to preheat an oven. Here's all you need to do.
- In a heavy, deep 3-quart saucepan, like this Farberware Heavy 3-Quart Saucepan ($20.99, Amazon), heat peanut oil—canola is really the only oil substitute for frying—to 365°F (the pan should be no more than half full). If using a deep fryer, heat the oil according to manufacturer’s directions. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 300°F.
Fry the Potatoes
- Drain the potato strips well. Using paper towels, pat the potatoes to thoroughly dry.
- Fry the potatoes, about one-third at a time, until tender in the center and edges are just beginning to color and blister, about 7 to 9 minutes.
- Using a slotted spoon like this Rada Cutlery Heat-Resistant Slotted Spoon ($11.10, Amazon), carefully remove the fries from the hot oil and transfer to clean paper towels to drain. Sprinkle with salt, if desired. To keep fries warm, transfer drained fries to a baking pan and keep them in the oven while frying remaining potatoes.
How to Make French Fries in the Oven
It’s true: The taste and texture of deep-fried homemade french fries can’t be beat. But an easier (and healthier) alternative is to bake your fries in the oven, like these No-Fry Fries. Make them from scratch, and you’ll find them so much fresher and tastier than anything you could pull from the freezer!
Here’s how to make four servings of french fries from scratch in the oven.
- Preheat the oven to 425°F. Lightly coat a 15x10x1-inch baking pan, like this Nordic Ware Jelly-Roll Sheet ($13.99, Bed Bath & Beyond), with cooking spray.
- Cut 2 large baking potatoes (about 1 pound total) into thin wedges.
- Place potato wedges in a resealable plastic bag. Spray the potatoes with nonstick cooking spray.
- Combine ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese, ½ teaspoon paprika, and ⅛ teaspoon pepper in a small bowl. Add the seasoning mixture to the potatoes in the bag; close the bag. Shake to coat the potatoes with seasoning mixture.
- Arrange the potatoes in a single layer on the prepared baking pan. Bake for 30 minutes or until crisp and tender when poked with a fork, turning once. If desired, sprinkle the potatoes with salt.
You can also use these same directions to make sweet potato fries in the oven.
How to Make French Fries in an Air Fryer
If you adore homemade french fries but don’t always want to go the deep-fried route, consider investing in an air fryer like this Phillips XL Airfryer ($299.95, Amazon) to try Air Fryer French Fries (and also these Air Fryer Pickle Chips). These small appliances cook by circulating ultra-hot air around the food; think of them as mini convection ovens. Air fryers use a fraction of the oil that traditional fryers need, yet they can still be counted on to make the kind of crisp-on-the-outside/tender-on-the-inside homemade french fries we love.
Related: How to Use an Air Fryer
Ready to give this method a try? Here’s how to make french fries in air-fryer appliances. This recipe serves six.
- Start with 4 medium baking potatoes (6 to 8 ounces each); peel if desired. To prevent darkening, immerse peeled potatoes in a bowl of ice water until ready to cut.
- Preheat oven to 200°F.
- Cut potatoes into ½-inch-wide strips. Return strips to ice water.
- When ready to fry, drain potatoes and place on paper towels; pat dry.
- Place in a large bowl; toss with 1 tablespoon vegetable oil.
- Place half of the potatoes in the basket of the fryer. Set to 400°F. Fry for 12 to 15 minutes or until tender and of desired browning, shaking basket once.
- Place air-fried potatoes in a shallow baking pan. Sprinkle with salt. Keep warm in a 200°F oven while frying remaining potatoes.
Tips for the Best Homemade French Fries
The ideal homemade french fries recipes have a crisp, golden exterior and a light, mealy interior. How to attain such perfection? Before you get started, brush up on how to make french fries the best they can be.
- Choose the right potato: Russet or Idaho potatoes (aka high-starch potatoes) will make the best homemade french fries. However, Finnish yellow, Yukon gold, or other all-purpose potatoes can be used. Low-starch potatoes, such as round red or white or new potatoes, are the least preferable.
- Choose the right oil: It’s important to use an oil suitable for deep-frying when making homemade french fries by frying. Some oils, such as olive and flaxseed, are not appropriate because they have low smoke points (325°F and below) which means you'll be dealing with smoke in the air and discolored fries. Oils with a higher smoke point (396°F to 414°F) that work well for deep-frying include canola and peanut.
- Keep an Even Temperature: Once you’ve heated the oil, it’s important to keep it at a constant high temperature. This is best done by using a heavy, flat-bottom pan and a fry thermometer—try this Long-Stem Fry Thermometer ($9.99, Amazon)—to monitor the oil temperature. Other thermometer types may work if they clip on the side of your pan and read accurately to the temperature your oil needs to reach for frying.
- Season Appropriately: A generous sprinkling of salt makes homemade french fries all the more irresistible. No need to stop there—also try herb and spice blends as well as grated dry cheeses, such as aged Asiago, Parmesan, or Dry Jack.
No matter your method, homemade french fries served up hot and fresh will always beat the drive-through options. They make a fun side dish for family-favorite meat-and-potato meals or even an easy snack recipe. Now that you know how to make crispy french fries at home, whip up some DIY ketchup for dunking!