The Best Homemade French Fries. Ever.

how to make french fries

I have a deep, dark confession to make today…

As I’ve progressed along in my read food journey, I’ve noticed that my taste buds have changed. I’ve gradually lost my cravings for many of my once-loved processed food favorites, and I’m pleased to report that my palette has happily adjusted to fresh ingredients and flavorful whole foods.

However.

There is one “junk food” that I still love just as much as ever.

French fries.

And not just any french fries– I still adore the ones that come from America’s favorite fast-food chain (you know, the one with the big yellowish arches…)

But those delicious sticks of potato-perfection are fried in a canola/soybean oil blend… And I definitely try to avoid processed vegetable oils…

Thankfully, french fries don’t have to be junk food if you make them with the proper ingredients. Wanna know the secret to perfect fries?

Beef tallow.

In fact, that certain fast-food chain referenced above used to cook their fries in beef tallow, until they sadly switched to the icky vegetable oils in 1990.

Did you know that, contrary to popular belief, beef tallow is actually a “good” fat? More and more evidence is popping up, showing us that animals fats (like tallow) are actually better for us than modern industrial oil alternatives. Lard is back, baby!

(You can easily render your own tallow at home– check out my beef tallow tutorial for all the details.)

Now, I like oven fries too (the kind you stick on a cookie sheet and bake in the oven). BUT. Sometimes only a true-blue fried French fry will do, and that is where these babies come in.

How to Make French Fries at Home

Ingredients:

(There aren’t really precise measurements for this– you’ll just have to eyeball this one according to what you have on hand.)

  • Potatoes (You can use any kind, but I particularly love using my homegrown Yukon Golds. I usually use 4-6 potatoes for my small family.)
  • Cold water (optional)
  • Beef Tallow OR Lard (see my note below for other fat options)
  • Sea Salt

Instructions:

homemade french fries

Cut the potatoes (peeled or unpeeled– your choice) into sticks or wedges. Keep in mind that the thicker they are, the longer they will take to fry.

Place the potato sticks in a bowl and cover with cold water. Allow the potatoes to soak for about an hour.

Once you are ready to fry, place the beef tallow in a deep stockpot (enough for there to be 3-4 inches of liquid fat once it melts) and heat it to approximately 350 degrees.

Remove the potatoes from the water and pat them dry. (I usually just use a clean kitchen towel to do this, although paper towels work as well.)

Carefully place the potato sticks into the hot oil. Do not fry the entire batch at once– you’ll need to do several, smaller batches for the best result.

homemade french fries

It takes anywhere from 5-10 minutes per batch, depending on how crunchy you prefer your fries and how thickly they are cut. (I like softer fries, while my hubby prefers them nice and crunchy.)

Stir them occasionally and watch for them to turn that lovely shade of golden brown. If you aren’t sure if they are ready or not, taste-testing is best way to check. (And it’s also one of the perks of being the cook…)

Once they are finished, remove them from the hot oil and place on a paper-towel lined baking sheet. Generously toss with sea salt and serve immediately.

how to make french fries

Kitchen Notes:

  • If you don’t have lard or tallow, I’ve heard that palm shortening is another healthy fat that is stable at high temperatures (although it won’t have the lovely “beefy” undertone of the tallow….)
  • It’s thought that soaking the potatoes in water helps the end result to be crispier. (I think it has something to do with the starch.) I’ve had great results using this method, but it’s not absolutely necessary. If you find yourself short on time, just skip that step.
  • I’m sure a home-fryer like this one would work for this recipe. However since I don’t have one, I’ve found that a deep stockpot works just as well.
  • I also don’t have a frying thermometer, so I just experiment until I find the right temp. I’ll often place one “sacrifice” fry in the oil as it heats up. Once it starts sizzling, I know it’s ready.
  • Be careful not to overload the pot– stick with smaller batches. A crowded pot takes forever to fry, and they are more prone to be soggy.
  • These do not store well– you’ll have to eat them all right away. (I’m so sorry. ;))
  • I hope you have better self-control than I do, because I usually can’t stop myself from devouring them while I wait for the remaining batches to finish…

french fry recipe

Enjoy your homemade fries with some grassfed burgers (or even some homemade fish sticks) and a generous side of ketchup. Who says healthy food has to be boring?

The Best Homemade French Fries. Ever.

Ingredients

  • Potatoes (I use 4-5 Yukon Golds for my small family)
  • Cold water (optional)
  • Beef Tallow OR Lard
  • Sea Salt

Instructions

  1. Cut potatoes (peeled or unpeeled) into sticks or wedges
  2. Place potato sticks in a bowl
  3. Cover with cold water
  4. Allow potatoes to soak for about one hour.
  5. When ready to fry, place enough beef tallow in deep stockpot to equal 3-4 inches when melted
  6. Heat to approximately 350 degrees
  7. Remove potatoes from the water
  8. Pat dry (a clean kitchen towel works)
  9. Carefully place some of the potato sticks into hot oil
  10. You'll need to do several, smaller batches for best results
  11. It takes 5-10 minutes per batch, depending how thickly cut they are and how crunchy you like them (I like softer fries, hubby prefers crunchy)
  12. Stir occasionally and watch for that lovely shade of golden brown
  13. Taste-test
  14. Once finished, remove from hot oil and place on paper-towel lined baking sheet
  15. Generously toss with sea salt and serve immediately
http://www.theprairiehomestead.com/2013/03/the-best-homemade-french-fries-ever.html

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Jill Winger

Owner/Blogger at The Prairie Homestead
Hey! I'm Jill. I'm all about cooking from scratch, getting dirt under my fingernails, hoarding mason jars, and trying not to kill stuff in my garden. I firmly believe that anyone can be a homesteader. Stick around, and I'll show ya the ropes!

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Comments

  1. Farmlife Chick says:

    They look delicious!!! Homemade fries are the best!:)

  2. Cesum Pec says:

    A suggestion for crispier, better tasting, less oily fries: Cook the fries as instructed above for about 2 -3 minutes, then take them out and allow the oil to drain back into your fryer for 5 minutes while keeping the oil at cooking temp. After the 5 min wait, drop the fries back into the oil and finish cooking.

  3. Anna Webb says:

    Hey!
    It’s nice to see fries done right! I would like to mention that the way we get good crispy fries is to fry them for about 5 minutes, remove and drain and then when they have all gone through once, re-fry them for another 5 mins and they will be nice and crispy on the outside and soft and grainy in the inside. They can also be frozen after the initial frying, that’s how it’s done commercially, just not with good fat.
    Thanks again, it’s a nice post.

  4. Yum! I love good french fries with a cheeseburger. Grass fed isn’t an option for us yet, pricewise, but I’m working on it. :)

  5. These look amazing! I usually bake our fries, but I think I need to try this sometime with the lard we have. I’ve never tried soaking the potatoes but heard about that recently. Worth a shot! I’m sure the family won’t mind being guinea pigs. Might try the refrying technique, too. Looks like a popular suggestion!

  6. Allison says:

    If this is in a pot/pan you use often, what do you do with the lard/oil that you’ve just soiled with potatoes? That’s my big problem. I don’t want to waste the oil but not sure what to do with the used stuff.

    • Good question Allison- I meant to mention this in my post. I will pour my “used” tallow back into a jar while it’s still warm and re-use it next time.

  7. Those look absolutely DELICIOUS! Wow! Thank you for sharing how you do this. I don’t know how to make homemade fries… that actually taste as good as the ones you eat out.
    And this is totally off topic, but did you ever do a post about your finished kitchen cabinets that you painted? I’ve been wondering! :)

    Blessings,
    Janet

  8. These look so good! And they remind me about the lard I’ve been planning to render…must get on that!

  9. The big yellow arches used to fry their french fries in beef tallow. They stopped in 1983. Their fries used to be out of this world until then. They took the bad advice to stop using animal fat because IT WAS UNHEALTHY> Boy people sure did fall for that lie.

  10. Animal fat can be “washed” when it gets dirty from cooking. Add water and boil, allow to cool. Clean tallow/lard hardens on the top. Scrap off dirty underside and discard.

    • Good tip Edith– thanks for sharing!

    • Awesome idea! And obvious now that you mention it :) Lol. I had been told that if you plan on saving any oil/fat/grease then pour it through a filter (many layers of cheesecloth or a coffee filter) to remove food particles, which can go bad causing bacteria growth and the oil to go rancid faster. Also, we always refrigerate used oil/fat/grease as an extra precaution.

  11. You are very welcome.

  12. Just to let you know that while fries like these do not keep well, if you DO have leftovers put them in a frittata with ham and a good cheese, and they will make that spanish dish a wonderful thing. Keep it organic. If you want some pointers I will be happy to tell you how I do this.

  13. I have TONS of home-rendered tallow I use for soap, but I never thought of using it for french fries! What a great idea! : )

  14. Awesome direction and I’m going to try and make some fries tonight!

  15. Good post. Homemade French fries may not be considered junk food. Thanks for the post.

  16. David J Cottrell says:

    Just came across this web site. There is a difference between cultures here. Born in London, England, I now reside between Toronto and Bangkok. We have chips, not the thin crispy things in bags for snacks, which are slightly different from your French fries, which are much thinner. French fries and chips can be cooked only once and that is traditional. At fish and chip shops, traditionally, beef fat, known as :suet” was used. Now, regretfully many now use “other” stuff. As an ex-chef, may I say comments and suggestions are generally good. I, though. still make many goodies from suet, such as cakes, puddings, pies, etc. It has a higher melting point than most other products and produces great food. (I never use lard due to personal preference and beliefs.) Why am I giving so much information? Well, I have attached a recipe that is even better than the one(s) suggested. Give it a try, although it does take longer that the usual “fast” style developed in your country and now around the world. Thanks for reading and hopefully trying.

    ‘nuf sed. Plamuk aka travellingchef

  17. David J Cottrell says:

    Put the cut chips into a bowl under running water for 5 minutes to wash excess starch off. Place 2 litres/2 quarts (Imperial measure) of cold tap water into a large saucepan and add the potatoes. Place the pan over a medium heat and simmer until the chips are almost falling apart (approximately 20–30 minutes)
    Carefully remove the potatoes from the water and place them on a cooling rack to dry out. Place the rack in the freezer for at least 1 hour to remove more moisture. Heat a deep-fat fryer or a deep pan no more than half filled with oil (to a depth of around 10 cm/4”) to 130C/265F. Add in the chips in small batches and fry until a light crust forms. Remove from the oil and drain on paper towels. Put the potatoes on a cooling rack and place in the freezer for at least 1 hour. (If you do not want to cook and serve immediately, cover the chips after they are frozen and they will keep for 3 days.)

    Heat the oil in the deep-fat fryer or deep pan to 180C/356F and fry the chips until golden. Drain, sprinkle with salt and serve.

    plamuk aka travellingchef

  18. You can make your fries ahead of time, and freeze them. Before cutting the potatoes, bake them, until they are about 3/4 of the way done, then refrigerate for 24 hours. After 24 hours peel and slice into fries, then put them. On a cookie sheet in the freezer until they freeze up a bit, after that just bag them up to store them, then just take out the amount needed and fry them up, the fries are awesome this way, i have been told they will keep for months this way, but I dont know for sure, ( they don’t last that long in our home)