(Not) Recipes

How to Make Very Crispy Classic Fries (Without a Recipe)

May  2, 2016

Everyone has their own Platonic ideal of the fry. Whether you like yours shoestring or hefty, baked or fried, you don't need a separate recipe for every iteration. Just pick out some good—preferably Russet—potatoes, and get to it:

Zoom in if you need—or right click on the image to print! Photo by Fries! by Blake Lingle

So that's the how, but what about the why? Must we freeze fries, and what's with the blanching? Every step has a purpose:

Why do you soak the potatoes in water?

Soaking sucks starch from the center to the skin of the tater, helping fries get crispy and preventing them from sticking together. Some claim just a few minutes in lukewarm water works. Others claim overnight in cold water is best. I prefer the latter.

Why add vinegar to the water?

It speeds starch extraction and delays browning—helps make fries crispier, in other words.
 Why blanch the fries?

Why blanch?

Blanching precooks and removes the bite of the starch flavor.

Why freeze the blanched cuts?

This is, technically, part of the blanching process: heating and then immediately cooling. Cuts can be cooled on a tray until they’re
room temperature, in a fridge until they’re cold, or in a freezer until they’re frozen.

Photo by James Ransom

Excerpt from Fries! by Blake Lingle, published by Princeton Architectural Press (2016)

Are you more of a shoestring, steak, or curly fry kind of person? Tell us in the comments!

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Wilfred Caisse
    Wilfred Caisse
  • Karin Ward
    Karin Ward
  • Aliwaks
  • Kinhaven
  • Taste of France
    Taste of France
Author of Fries! Co-founder and co-owner of the Boise Fry Company


Wilfred C. September 1, 2018
Rinse and pat dry. Add Cold potatoes to COLD cooking oil and heat until browned. Don't waste your time preheating the oil. These fries will come out crispy and not oily. From me, the Frenchman.... enjoy.
Karin W. May 11, 2016
Thank you for the detailed diagram! I can't wait to try this.
Aliwaks May 2, 2016
When I worked in a pro kitchen and made LOTS of fries --- we'd have about a day each week for fry prep- hand cut - kept them in water a couple of hours maybe-if we got slammed and still had some in freezer we'd stick'em in fridge till we had time to blanch - then we'd blanch them in the fryer and then we'd freeze them and fry from frozen- they were great fries-- If time allowed I would have done 3 fries but it just wasn't that kind of place.
Kinhaven May 2, 2016
I also soak before frying, the luke-warm method. No blanching however. But I only fry them for a short time (choose whatever oil you like, IMO), then finish in duck fat to crispness.
Taste O. May 2, 2016
?!?!?! Belgians (the experts) get great results from frying twice, in beef fat (blanc de boeuf). You fry, let them rest two minutes, then finish the frying.