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Top 9 Oils for French Fries

Make French fries with these ideal oils for frying.

Choosing the correct oil when making french fries at home is essential. Using the appropriate cooking oil ensures your fries look and taste like some of the best french fries in America. 

French Fries

One-third of all potatoes grown in the United States turn into frozen foods. Most of those become french fries for home cooks and some of your favorite fast-food restaurants. But making your own french fries is simple once you know the best oil for french fries.

Take your recipe to the next level by using the double-frying technique. This method places the oil center stage, so be sure to choose the correct variety. 

Best Oil for Making French Fries

Continue reading to learn about the best oil for making french fries, from peanut oil and vegetable oil to the more obscure rice bran oil. This underrated ingredient holds the key to your new favorite french fries.

Peanut Oil

Peanut oil delivers various nutritional benefits, making it a popular oil for cooking and making medicines.

This oil works best for high-heat cooking because of its very high smoke point. The smoke point refers to the temperature a cooking oil starts to burn or produce smoke.

Peanut oil’s smoke point is 450 degrees Fahrenheit, a very high temperature. Choose peanut oil for high-heat methods like stir-frying or deep-frying, or when making foods that require extremely hot oil, such as popcorn.

Because of its high smoke point, peanut oil is one of the best oils for french fries.

Peanut allergy sufferers must avoid peanut oil, as this oil is made from the peanut itself.

Restaurants like Five Guys Burgers and Fries make their fries exclusively in peanut oil for a signature “buttery” taste.


Tallow

Tallow is rendered beef fat or mutton fat, so it adds a lot of flavor to fried foods. It is essentially cow lard – but despite how that sounds, it’s healthier than many other cooking oils.

At room temperature, tallow is a solid, but when heated it turns into an oil that is perfect for frying french fries. Because tallow is a natural fat and not a processed oil, it’s often considered the healthier option despite the fat content.

Prior to 1990, McDonald’s used tallow to fry their french fries! It has a high smoke point of 400 degrees, and the fat adds lots of extra flavor to your fries.

For the best results, get grass-fed beef tallow – or even try wagyu beef tallow!


Vegetable Oil

Vegetable oil ranks as the most ordinary oil on this list. Choose this versatile oil for many applications, from baking to sauteing.

This simple oil, made of a blend of soybean oil and other refined oils, serves as the frying oil of choice for the experts at Bon Appetit magazine for everything from pan-fried fish to french fries. 

This oil holds a very high smoke point, although not as high as peanut oil. Vegetable oil starts to burn at about 400 degrees Fahrenheit, depending on your variety.

Vegetable oil imparts no flavor into your meal and is among the most inexpensive choices available for cooking oils.


Duck Fat

If you haven’t tried duck fat French fries, you’re missing out.

Duck fat offers a great flavor when used as a cooking oil, and much like tallow it is a natural fat that isn’t processed like many cooking oils.

When you make your French fries with duck fat, the outside of the fry ends up crispier and more flavorful. With a high smoke point of 375 degrees, you can cook your fries quickly to the perfect crisp.

Duck fat is expensive, so you won’t find duck fat fries everywhere, but when you do it’s a delicious treat.


Sunflower Oil

Sunflower oil also reaches a very high smoke point: 450 degrees Fahrenheit.

This tiny seed makes a powerful cooking oil rich in antioxidant vitamin E and healthy fats.

Sunflower oil is not flavorless and leaves behind a faint, nutty flavor similar to the taste of the seed.

This oil fetches a higher price than any of the oils discussed in this article so far. Sunflower oil is a more delicate cooking oil, too, needing to be stored in a cool, dark place and used within one year.

French fries cooked in sunflower oil deliver a crunchy treat with an interesting nutty flavor.


Canola Oil

Canola oil and vegetable oil share many similarities.

Each delivers versatile uses, from baking to making salad dressings, and as one of the best oils for french fries. The only difference is the purity of the oil. 

Canola oil sold in stores contains 100 percent canola oil, oil produced from pressing the rapeseed plant’s seeds.

However, vegetable oil offers a blend of oils, with some canola most likely included. Some cooks prefer to know exactly the ingredients they are using and reach for canola oil over vegetable oil.

There is no other difference in smoke point or kitchen use between these two options. Canola oil is a versatile cooking oil; as such, it is an excellent oil for cooking french fries. 


Avocado Oil

Avocado’s healthy fats remain one of the best assets of this trendy food.

Avocado oil delivers the benefits of this highly monounsaturated fat combined with an extremely high smoke point of 520 degrees Fahrenheit. This is a healthier cooking oil to choose.

This oil produces a slightly sweet, buttery flavor for grilling, searing, sauteing, and drizzling over a finished meal.

Home cooks can use avocado oil to make french fries for a heart-healthier spin on this treat. 

However, the price of avocado oil can disqualify this oil from a deep-frying technique.

Avocado oil ranks as one of the most expensive oils, making filling up a deep-fryer simply too costly.


Corn Oil

Corn oil became the healthier option during the transition to healthier oils in 1990s fast-food restaurants.

This oil represents a very affordable option, including many institutions like Wendy’s, which buy in bulk. Corn oil is flavorless and does not influence the flavor of your french fries.

Corn oil must be refrigerated, making it more challenging to store than other oils.

Because corn oil is normally sold in gallon-size containers, it can often be unrealistic to buy, use, and store large quantities of corn oil. These factors make this oil a less popular choice for at-home french fries. 


Rice Bran Oil

Rice bran oil contains many qualities similar to avocado oil. 

This expensive cooking oil holds a very high smoke point, at 490 degrees Fahrenheit.

Rice bran oil works great for stir frys and also contributes a mild and nutty flavor to light, heart-healthy salad dressings.

Using this cooking oil to make fries is possible but may not be the best oil for french fries. The cost of rice bran oil makes filling a deep-fryer impractical.

Consider combining rice bran oil with vegetable or peanut oil to diversify the flavors and add healthy unsaturated fats and various antioxidants. 


Best Oil for Making French Fries

  1. Peanut Oil
  2. Tallow
  3. Vegetable Oil
  4. Duck Fat
  5. Sunflower Oil
  6. Canola Oil
  7. Avocado Oil
  8. Corn Oil
  9. Rice Bran Oil

Final Thoughts

The best oils for french fries include peanut oil, canola oil, and vegetable oil. All of these varieties have a high smoke point and are affordable.

Avocado oil, rice bran oil, and sunflower oil will work, but their high price makes using these oils for deep-frying impractical. While corn oil is very affordable, its large quantity and need to be refrigerated reduces its popularity.

Many cooking oils make homemade french fries possible for any home cook. Look for oils with a smoke point of about 325 degrees Fahrenheit and are budget-friendly, as you use a large quantity of oil. 

If you don’t want to deep fry your French fries, check out our favorite fast food fries instead!

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Written by Erin Elizabeth

Erin lives in East Passyunk and enjoys checking out the local restaurants in South Philly and beyond. Her favorite restaurants are those with spicy food and outdoor seating so that she can bring along her dog, Miss Piggy.