We sure do love a good french fry. Not only are french fries truly the best accompaniment to your juicy, fresh-off-the-grill burger but they can also be enjoyed on their own as a yummy snack or a full-fledged comfort meal. We’re looking at you, chili cheese fries. There are so many different ways to go about making fries depending on your preferences (and timeframe) but one thing is for sure: You have to cook them right to make them taste the absolute best.
French fries first started gaining popularity back in the 1870s, notes National Geographic, but it was in the 1900s when the love for them boomed. Fast forward to the 1940s and the frozen french fry was invented by Olof P. Pierson, reports the LA Times.
When many of us think about making frozen french fries, we usually consider opening the bag and popping them right in the oven. Sure, that can work, but since Pierson went through so much to give us these frozen fries, don’t we owe it to him to make them the best they can be? There are a few easy tricks you can use to take your frozen fries from decent to downright fantastic. We rounded up some of the best advice on amping up your frozen fries so you master them at home in your kitchen and barely even crave the ones from your fast food joint again. Here are the best frozen french fry tricks you’ll wish you knew sooner.
Salt after cooking
We know salt can do wonders when helping to emphasize a food’s particular taste. When it comes to mastering french fries at home, salt pretty much goes hand in hand in terms of seasoning them. However, it’s important to go about salting these fries the right way. When you add too much salt, your fries, like any other food, will simply taste way too salty. In this case, you’re not really enjoying the actual flavors of the dish you’re preparing. However, if you salt too little, you could miss out on creating some extra flavor — so you’re left with something bland at best (and no one wants that). But did you know it makes a difference when you salt your fries? Well, it can.
When to salt your fries depends on how you are cooking them. If you’re baking your fries in the oven you can usually salt them before or after they are fully cooked, but when you fry them, you should stick to salting after, says Boss the Kitchen. The reason is when the fries come out of the fryer the oil is still hot and therefore, the salt will stick better so you get that flavor you’re craving.
Use an air fryer
If you’re one of the many who are on the air fryer kick, you likely know what this incredible kitchen appliance can do. Between cooking bacon to mastering stuffed chicken, an air fryer can pretty much get any job done right. Also, there’s usually minimal clean-up involved and you get your food ready so much faster than other cooking methods. No wonder so many people are on this new cooking trend. We say, it only makes sense why you’d want to cook your frozen french fries in the air fryer.
If you haven’t tried this technique yet, we definitely think you should, and here’s why: The french fries taste deep fried without being deep fried. When cooking fries in the air fryer, they can also come out a lot more crispy than in the oven and can also take less time than other cooking methods. Who doesn’t want to enjoy golden, warm fries that taste as if they came from your favorite fast food joint from the comfort of your own home and with very little clean-up? We didn’t think frozen fries could taste this good, either, but we are now on the air fryer bandwagon.
Coat fries in oil before baking
Oil can come in handy when cooking in the kitchen as it can help prevent sticking but also heighten the flavor of some foods. If you’re sticking to baking your frozen french fries in the oven (which is still a popular choice for good reason because, well, it works!) you’ll want to remember the oil (but for different reasons than the norm). Grab that olive oil and toss your fries with it before placing them in the oven so they come out golden and crispy just like we all crave them to be.
To do this without making any type of mess in the kitchen, simply place the fries in a plastic bag and then add olive oil directly to the fries. Toss them by shaking the bag so each fry is evenly coated with the oil. Then, take the fries out of the bag and place them on a baking sheet before putting them in the oven. Once they are finished, you’ll pull out a sheet of perfectly baked fries that have a nice texture and incredible flavor.
Try using a toaster oven
A toaster oven comes in handy when making so many things. We love baking a pizza or muffins in there, but there’s so much more that can be done. We also love how versatile it is, too. Case in point: You can use a toaster oven to simply reheat a takeout item from the previous night or to broil and roast a dish you’re making from scratch. It’s a pretty impressive little machine, and it’s one we think is worth having in every kitchen. We also think you’ll believe us when we say you should try making your french fries in it.
The reason this cooking method works so well is all in the convection fan. That’s right, the toaster oven’s convection fan is the magic of the machine, as it helps keep any extra and unwanted moisture from your fries so they aren’t coming out soggy. Instead, you’ll find crispy fries with a fluffy and warm interior, just how you want them.
Add lemon juice to fries
There’s a lot we add lemon to to help enhance flavor. Take our drinking water for example. Just a simple squeeze of lemon can turn ordinary water into something citrusy and extra refreshing. Other typical items we put lemon on usually range from chicken and fish to lemon squares and pies. While those items are common to use lemon, other dishes aren’t — for example, french fries.
When we say you should use lemon juice on fries, you might wonder why in the world that would work. We’re happy to tell you. Lemon juice can actually help your fries maintain that golden color, notes Markets Shrewsbury. Instead of your fries turning brown once they are exposed to the oxygen in the air, the acid from the lemon juice helps lock in the color and prevents any browning to occur. So while lemon juice may not be used to help with the flavor, it still plays a crucial role in helping with the cooking process and the overall presentation of your fries.
Add the right seasoning
When seasoning your fries, there’s a good chance you already have the old reliable salt on hand. We’ve already touched on how important salt is to cooking fries, but that is not the only seasoning that will help bring the flavor to a whole other level. Adding the right seasoning is one of the best frozen french fry tricks you’ll wish you knew sooner.
The type of seasoning can come in all varieties and can be developed over time as you play around with your cooking. Using onion soup mix can help pump up some serious flavor in your fries by just adding the right amount of something a little different with a whole lotta yummy onion. However, Italian seasoning or chili powder works well to give some added flavor that is unique and fun. You could even add the beloved everything but the bagel seasoning. The possibilities are endless when it comes to seasoning your frozen french fries, so we say play around and have fun with it and see what sticks.
Choose the right brand
When it comes to the frozen french fries lined offered in your supermarket, there can be many different brands to choose from. While you may think one brand is the same as the next, we’re here to tell you that’s not always the case. Each brand comes with its own seasoning, so the flavor can vary and each texture can be different from the rest.
When put to the test, the most popular frozen french fries are not at all created equal. The frozen Red Robin steak fries are nothing like the restaurant offers with little to no seasoning and a way too dry texture after being cooked. If you’re looking for the best frozen french fries to cook up at home, stick to the traditional Ore-Ida. The company has been around since 1951 and has been going strong since with various flavors to try and crispy texture time and time again.
Add beef stock to fries
If you’re a fan of McDonald’s fries (who isn’t?) then there’s a good chance you know there is something extra special about the flavor. Yes, they are golden and crispy, but the flavor is truly everything that makes these fries as delicious (and popular) as they are. The reason why these fries are so tasty comes from using beef stock. That’s right, McDonald’s adds beef stock to the fries (not the oil) and that’s how they have such a unique and irresistible flavor.
If you’re trying to achieve this same taste at home, we say opt for adding in some unsalted beef stock. You’ll use this to make a brine that you’ll soak your fries in before frying them to perfection just like McDonald’s does. The end result will be just as delicious as when you grab your fries to go from the drive-thru. We promise.
Fry fries at the right temperature
There’s a science to frying your fries. You can’t simply just add them to hot oil and be done with it — although that sounds like a dream. You have to know the right temperature to cook these fries so that they come out crispy with lots of flavors and are, well, perfect. If the temperature is not hot enough, you could be looking at some soggy fries. On the contrary, your fries could get overcooked too fast if the temperature is too high without even giving the inside a chance to cook through.
The ideal perfect temperature is right around 325 F to 400 F, which is what the restaurants use — and you know they know what they’re doing. Frying your french fries at this temperature will help ensure that they come out golden, crispy, and flavorful without ever being too soft and bland.
Use a dark sheet pan when baking fries
There are so many genius ways to make awesome french fries at home from the frozen ones that come in the bag. While frying or air frying works well, many people still use the old standby baking method. It’s a great option, especially if you don’t want to deep fry and don’t have an air fryer. That being said, don’t just throw those frozen fries in the oven without giving some thought first.
If you want to have some hot and crispy fries come out of that oven, you’ll want to use a dark sheet pan to get the job done. When using a dark sheet pan, you don’t even need to add aluminum foil, either. All you need to do is oil the baking sheet and place the fries directly on that. After baking, you’ll enjoy snacking on crispy fries straight from the oven thanks to that dark sheet pan.
Add cheese to fries
Listen, we love our fries as is without any toppings (except for some standard salt and seasonings) but sometimes these crispy potatoes can use a little upgrade. What better way to do that than by dousing them with cheese? Cheddar cheese works well when you’re really craving something warm and gooey, or Swiss and pastrami when you’re craving something a bit more savory.
However, we’re also for sprinkling some Parmesan and mozzarella over our fries. The key to making this work is adding this cheese combo right after the fries are cooked and then cooking them for additional few minutes to help the cheese melt so the flavor is soaked in the fries. Once they are finished cooking, you’ll want to sprinkle a little more Parmesan over top to make sure they are as cheesy as possible. Trust us, you’ll be thinking you’re eating fries from your favorite gastropub.
Use ground meat as a topping
What’s just as good as fries? Nachos. We love the toppings that nachos hold, everything from the cheese to the guacamole and the sour cream. But you know what else we really enjoy on our nachos? Meat. Why not change up your regular fries to have them look more like nachos with all the meaty deliciousness? Plus, some added protein can turn your favorite snack into a tasty meal.
Once you bake the fries and cook the meat, you’ll simply top the fries with the meat on a baking sheet and pop it in the oven for a few minutes. This is also the time to add any other toppings you might want to melt and cook as well, including the cheese. After removing the fries from the oven, you can top them with anything from sour cream to guacamole or just leave them as is with the cheese and meat.
Add gravy as a topping
There are so many options when it comes to toppings for your frozen fries to make them taste their absolute best. As we’ve said previously, cheese is always a killer addition to french fries, but when you add gravy into the mix, it can be even better (as the Canadians know very well). If you’re a big poutine fan and head to all the best places around the country to find the perfect bowl of fries topped with cheese curds and gravy, why not try to master this dish at home?
To make this well-known Canadian dish, all you need to do is add some shredded mozzarella to the cooked fries, and then pour the gravy over the top. The hot gravy will melt the cheese pretty quickly and, before you know it, you’ll be grabbing for those messy fries without being able to stop until they are all gone.
Bake on open rack
When it comes to baking your frozen french fries, we’ve already established it can be done on a baking sheet. When doing so, you’ll have some great fries coming out of that oven. However, there is one other trick to make your fries come out even better. Honestly, we think this is the absolute best of the best frozen french fry tricks.
To get your frozen french fries to come out as real winners — and we mean as extra crispy — you’ll want to use an open wire rack when baking them. To do this right, put a wire cooling rack in the baking tray, then add the fries and seasonings. The result is really crispy fries because the baking tray helps keeps the fries from touching the baking tray so there is no steam hitting the fries and don’t come out all soggy. You have to love perfectly crispy fries!