Savor a crunchy voyage into the world of French fries as we delve into their many delicious variants. Every variety, from traditional shoestring to substantial steak fries, has a distinct texture and taste. Savor the golden perfection of crinkle-cut treats, the robustness of steak fries that guarantee a satisfying crunch with every bite, or dive into the thin and delicate charm of shoestring fries. Come us on a delicious adventure as we explore the creativity that goes into waffle-cut wonders and the seductive appeal of sweet potato fries. You’ll be yearning a crispy, golden delight after reading this enticing investigation of French fry varieties, whether you’re a purist or an adventurous foodie.
Crinkle-cut fries are a slightly thicker variety of fry, about a half-inch thick. This variety’s main features are the fry’s sliced surface, which gives a unique, “crinkle-cut” shape similar to corrugated cardboard. The special cut is often called “ridges” or a “ridge-cut.” The fry’s profile is quite similar to wavy or ruffled potato chips. These fries are less crunchy than other fry types, such as shoestring or matchstick, but the distinctive crinkle shapes make them perfect for scooping up your favorite sauce. The potatoes are first sliced through a mandoline with a special wavy-cut attachment to create the crinkle-cut. The cut fries are then pushed through a second time to get the full crinkle-cut on the fries.
Curly fries are less common in fast-food and sit-down restaurants, which makes finding them that much more fun. These fries are long, as they are whole potatoes cut with a spiralizer. The single, curled fry will typically break into smaller pieces through the cooking process, but they are still far longer than the standard french fry. If you hold up a curly fry, it will spring up and down similarly to a coil due to its unique shape. In addition, curly fries are usually heavily seasoned, which means you get great flavor along with the fun form.
Home fries are often used for breakfast dishes, typically replacing hashbrowns. Unlike thin hashbrowns, home fries are a thick cut of potatoes. Potatoes for home fries are cut into one-inch chunks. The potato chunks are then pan-fried in a skillet, often using bacon grease. Because home fries are often a breakfast dish, it’s very convenient to cook bacon and then use the leftover bacon grease to cook your home fries.
Shoestring fries are one of the thinnest cuts of fries. These fries are cut less than a half-inch thick, which creates some of the crispiest fries on this list. Shoestring fries are one of the best to be covered and smothered in the delicious sauce of your choice. These fries are often used in cheese fry dishes, as their thin shape keeps the cheese and potato taste from feeling too heavy. Chili cheese fries are a typical treat in many fast-food restaurants in the United States.
Steak fries are a thick-cut type of fry often served in steak restaurants, hence the term steak fries. Interestingly, the American term steak fry would probably be used to describe the similarly shaped British “chips.” Steak fries are prepared similarly to standard fries, by deep-frying, though they may be dressed up more by a steak restaurant serving them. At higher-end steak restaurants, it’s typical for steak fries to be covered in parmesan and garlic, possibly with herbs such as parsley and chives.
Sweet Potato Fries
Sweet potato fries are often considered a healthy alternative to the classic french fry. Because of this, many upscale or health-food restaurants offer sweet potato fries. However, the nutritional difference between a standard white potato and a sweet potato isn’t huge. Sweet potatoes have some added nutritional benefits, such as the presence of the antioxidant beta-carotene, but sweet potato fries are typically prepared similarly to regular fries. Making fries, especially deep-frying, introduces a lot of salt and fat. One of the best things about sweet potato fries is their flavor, as the subtle sweetness works well with the crispiness of a fry.
Tater tots don’t look like your average fry, as they aren’t long, thin, or even a single potato cut. Tater tots are an example of classic cafeteria food that has become popular enough to be a restaurant staple for many. To make tater tots, the potato is first grated and mashed together. The grated potatoes are either formed into small cylinders by hand or pushed through a metal grate with cylinder-shaped holes. The potato cylinders are then deep-fried, creating delicious tater tots.
Tornado fries are a popular snack sold by street vendors in South Korea. They have since made their way into carnivals, state fairs, and boardwalks in the United States, using unique flavors like dill pickle or ranch as selling points. The fries are cut using a special tornado potato machine. A whole potato is placed on a skewer, and a machine cuts the potato in a spiral pattern, though the potato stays wholly connected. The skewered potato is placed directly in the deep-fryer until the entire thing is golden and crispy. Once the potato is deep-fried, it’s brushed with seasoning. Many types of seasonings are available, though, in South Korea, typical flavors include onion, cheese, or honey.
Waffle fries are one of the most beloved fry types in the United States. These classic fries are in the shape of a lattice or grid, with holes poking through like a checkerboard. This distinct shape is created by sliding a potato over a grater, then turning the potato a quarter before the next slide over the grater. These fries are deep-fried once and sprinkled with salt. The fries may seem thick, but the grid can get very crispy due to their unique shape. The method used to slice waffle fries is similar to that of crinkle-cut fries, though the waffle fries are cut horizontally rather than vertically.
Boardwalk fries are, put simply, the fries you’ll find vendors selling on boardwalks across the United States. Boardwalks are populated by food vendors, amusement park rides, and sidewalk attractions. Street vendors sell Boardwalk fries, which are cut about as thick as crinkle-cut fries and are usually heavily seasoned or topped with chili or cheese. Most importantly, the fries are stuffed into a small paper basket. If you ever find yourself on a boardwalk, you’ve gotta have some boardwalk fries.
These aren’t potato chips we’re talking about, as “chips” is the phrase used for French fries in the United Kingdom. What Americans refer to as potato chips are called “crisps” in the United Kingdom. Though there is some variation, the classic British chip is cut thick and deep-fried once at a low temperature. In the United Kingdom, fries are synonymous with a dish called “fish and chips.” The dish consists of battered and fried fish, served with thick-cut chips on the side. Fish and chips are as common and popular as a burger and fries in the United States, and the stores are often referred to as “chip shops” or “chippies.” Unlike in the United States, where ketchup is the typical condiment, fish and chips are usually served with tartar sauce and mushy peas.
Cottage fries are a unique shape of a French fry. Rather than cutting the fries long like traditional fries, these fries look similar to potato chips. The taste is similar to a thick, soft potato chip due to its shape. The fries look a lot like eggplants, as prepared in eggplant parmesan. Once the potatoes are cut into a small, round shape, they are loaded onto an oiled sheet pan and roasted in the oven. The name “cottage fries” likely comes from the fact that these are a common home chef recipe rather than a common restaurant dish. The best part about cottage fries is that since you make them at home, you can experiment with all kinds of flavors. If you’ve never tried cajun fries, this may be the time for you.
Pommes Souffles are one of the unique types of fries on this list, and they often accompany fancier dishes than your standard burger. These fries are cut length-wise on the potato, so they resemble thick potato chips rather than slicing the potato into sticks. The secret to Pommes Souffles is double-frying. The potato slices are first placed into a medium-hot oil and cooked slightly. These potato slices are then moved to the second pot of oil, which is hotter than the first. The pieces quickly puff up, creating an air-filled puff of potatoes. The puffiness of these potatoes has led people to refer to them as “puffy fries” or “balloon fries.”
Wedges are the thickest cut of French fries on this list, which is why they often get some hate. The thickness of the wedge means that many people miss out on the delicious crunch we expect from a French fry. However, many wedge fries out there successfully deliver on flavor and crunch, and they just need to be appropriately prepared. It is easy to undercook wedge fries because their size makes it harder to tell when you’re finished. With thin fries, you can see the crispiness and color change when the fries become crispy, but that’s not the case with wedges. I’ve found the secret to perfect potato wedges is double-baking or double-frying so that you ensure the outside is crispy.
You may know batonnet fries better as the standard fry shape that you’ll find in many restaurants. Batonnet is a knife cut used for food such as potatoes, carrots, or cucumbers. The word “batonnet” is French and means “little stick,” which is exactly how vegetables cut in this way appear. Batonnet fries are about one-quarter inch thick and measure about two and a half inches long. The fries are dried, deep-fried, served hot, and sprinkled with salt. As the standard fry type, batonnet fries are the perfect combination of crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. These fries are typically served with ketchup in the United States.
Similar to batonnet, julienne is a knife cut used for various vegetables, including fries. Julienne fries are similar to shoestring fries, though even thinner. For any vegetable, the goal of a julienne cut is to have every individual piece uniform and identical. Julienne fries are commonly used as a topping or filling for novelty foods. Fried onion strings are a popular burger topping in the United States, though some restaurants will go a step further and offer julienne fries as a topping for burgers. Similarly, julienne fries are often used for dishes like gravy fries or “fry quesadillas,” which are quesadillas stuffed with fries, cheese, and a choice of protein.
Matchstick fries are pretty similar to shoestring fries, though they are shorter in length. They have the same thin cut as shoestring fries, which makes them extra crispy. The shorter length of matchstick fries makes it even easier to grab a handful of fries at a time, which is a good idea, as these fries are known to get cold quickly. One of the best things about matchstick fries is how quickly and easily you can eat them. This feature also makes them perfect for topping with a sauce of some sort, such as gravy or ranch. Many people use matchstick fries in “nacho fries” recipes, where you recreate the nacho toppings with fries replacing the tortilla chips.
Oven-baked fries are the healthier alternative to the oily, deep-fried French fries that people typically eat. These fries are a popular option for home chefs who may not want to clutter their kitchen with a large deep fryer to make fries. To make oven-baked fries, other home cooks and I typically cut a potato into small wedges, place it on a pan, and cover it with a small amount of olive oil, herbs, and spices. I like to use either garlic and herbs or Old Bay seasoning. Because you are only using a small amount of oil, these are considered far healthier than standard fries, unlike deep-frying.
Patatas bravas is a famous “tapas” dish in Spain. Tapas are appetizers or small snacks eaten in Spanish cuisine. You will typically create a complete meal in a tapas restaurant by eating several small dishes. Patatas bravas means “spicy potatoes,” which refers to the spicy sauce poured over the plate of potatoes when served. The potatoes are cut into three-quarter-inch wide cubes. The potato cubes are deep-fried and then topped with a tomato-based sauce. The sauce is usually a mixture of tomatoes, olive oil, chilis, paprika, and garlic. The Tapas dish originated in Madrid but has since spread throughout Spain. It is one of the most inexpensive tapas options in many restaurants.
Side Winding Fries
Side winding fries, also known as sidewinder fries, may look more like a potato chip at first glance. They combine the potato-chip shape of a cottage fry with the distinctive spiral of a curly fry. These fries aren’t traditional, as a restaurant supply company only recently created them. Side winding fries are meant to look impressive and serve as the perfect addition to any restaurant’s main dishes. Next to a burger, these curled fries look upscale and elevate the dish’s aesthetic. They also come in various flavors, such as beer-batter, BBQ, or buffalo. These are typically restaurant-only fries, as the shape would be difficult to recreate at home.