Better than McDonald’s

A couple months back I set out to make shoestring fries at home. As anyone who’s attempted this can tell you, it’s frustrating. Homemade fries, especially McDonald’s style shoestring fries are very hard to do well at home. There’s a reason for that. McDonald’s and others’ french fries are made in a factory, and created by food scientists using equipment and ingredients the home cook doesn’t have access to. Most homemade fries lack the crispness and golden color of chain restaurant fries. They come out limp, dark brown, have an overcooked taste, and lack the lightness of processed fries.

I started doing research and stumbled upon a technique that works. I used my harshest critic, my wife, as a taste tester and after eating a few, she said to me, “These are better than McDonald’s.”


Making these fries are a process, and they’re somewhat of a pain. But, the result is nothing short of spectacular. They’re very crisp, with a golden color, a light fluffy interior, and great flavor.

I start with Russets. I buy the longest potatoes in the bin. Then I cut them into shoestring shape on a mandolin. Next, I brine them in a salt and white vinegar brine for two hours. The salt and vinegar brine help to pull startch and moisture out of the potatoes which helps to create crispness. Next, I fry them at around 275-300 for three to four minutes until they’re just cooked through. It’s important not to get any color on them, we’re essentially blanching them in the oil. Then I lay them out single file on a sheet pan and freeze them. Once they’re fully frozen I put them in a ziploc bag until I’m ready for the final cook. Freezing is important. The ice crystals that form in the interior help to create that light fluffy texture that’s so pleasant to eat. Lastly, I fry the frozen fries at 375 degrees for about 3 minutes until crisp, being careful to not let them get too much color.

These fries are just as good, or better than McDonald’s. And really, all of the work is done ahead of time. I make a big batch and can pull as many fries as needed from the freezer to have amazing fries in just a few minutes.

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