Let us take a look at that forbidden treat which is never more than a quick drive away. French Fried potatoes can be magic when done properly. The perfect golden crisp French Fry must be hot, crisp on the outside, and fluffy on the inside. They should be too hot to touch, salted just right, and accompanied by a pile of napkins. While the debate weighs heavy on foodies, we sought out to answer the question of what the best fast-food French Fries are.
Something about a pile of golden, crisp, fried potatoes is absolute heaven. Although fully ubiquitous on the American fast-food menu, they are still the backbone of the fast food and drive thru experience in the USA. Some true fry lovers will go to one place for a sandwich or entrée then travel to a different place for their favorite fries. Since fries are easily found at fast food and pull-up windows everywhere, there is a wealth of information regarding which ‘tater takes the cake.
Americans love their fast food options. A new nationwide study finds that 79 percent of U.S. adults said they at fast food at least once in the previous week. Contradicting a long-held popular belief that poor Americans are the predominate fast food consumers, an Ohio State University study finds that even the richest of those surveyed are eating at the quicker, cheaper chain restaurants at nearly the same volume. “It’s not mostly poor people eating fast food in America,” says Jay Zagorsky study co-author and research scientist at The Ohio State University’s Center for Human Resource Research in a university press release. “Rich people may have more eating options, but that’s not stopping them from going to places like McDonald’s or KFC.”
It’s no secret that junk food is often irresistible. In fact, a recent study says the human brain may actually be wired to hunt down high-calorie food. Their study finds humans are significantly better at remembering where junk foods are kept than they are with healthier options. It doesn’t help that fast food restaurants are most likely scattered throughout your town begging you to stop for a bite. Everything is ok in moderation, after all.
For some consumers, where to find the best fries is a hotly debated topic. Only the finest fries are listed below, however, based on expert foodies. We turned to expert sources to find the ultimate best fast-food French Fries on the market. Let us know your favorite crispy treat in the comments below!
The List: Best Fast-Food French Fries, According to Experts
According to the majority of our sources McDonalds sets the gold standard for French Fries. “This isn’t some hipster list where we name something you’ve never heard of and declare that to be the greatest. Some things are classics for a reason, and that can definitely be said of McDonald’s fries. Maybe it’s because they’re so ubiquitous that we’ve all come to expect fast food fries to taste like a signature McDonald’s spud, but these really are like no other. Each stick is skinny, with a thick layer of crispy potato yielding to a moist, fluffy interior. The ratio of crunch to soft is spot on. You know they’re good when they have the audacity to name them ‘World Famous Fries.’ Yes, that phrase is copyrighted by McDonald’s. That’s because their fries are awesome. They’re the perfect combination of potato, savory beef flavoring, salt, and crunch to be the reason people love their fries,” says Mashed.
Even when brand loyalty is taken out of consideration, McDonalds scored very well with nearly all our sources. Buzzfeed Los Angeles reviewers Christopher Hudspeth and Krista Torres shared a few thoughts on these famed fries. “Chris: It’s tough to avoid biases because I’ve had McDonald’s fries a thousand times in the past and they’re a classic, but I did my best to only consider this particular batch, and still, they were damn good. It wasn’t the freshest or most heavily salted I’ve ever had, and yet, they were tasty enough to earn an 8.8. Krista: I went in as unbiased as I could…as if I hated McDonald’s fries, but there is something about them that draws me in like a fly to the light. They just hit the best. They came out fresh, which definitely upped their rating, but they just make a good fry, period. 9.8.”
McDonalds place in the number one spot is also fiercely defended by die-hard fans. “If there was any dispute, let’s settle it now. First of all the iPhone emoji for french fries is a hard-to-deny copy of McDonald’s fries. Now, that alone does not make them the best fast-food fries in the world, only the most readily identifiable. Several other things make them the most iconic fast-food fries. For one, they are made from the best potatoes, including the Russet Burbank, Russet Ranger, Umatilla Russet, and the Shepody. This means that the company uses seasonal spuds for the perfect texture and taste all year. This attention to detail and consistency make this a reliable fry that always has a slight crunch and still maintains a soft, potatoey center. But choosing in-season potatoes isn’t the only thing that makes these the best. McDonald’s fries are also said to have that je ne sais quoi, which used to be attributed to the use of beef tallow in the cooking oil. Due to backlash from the vegetarians and to project a healthier image, McDonald’s made the switch to vegetable oil,” points out Eat This, Not That!
As they say, you know when it’s real. “These fries were made with unpeeled potatoes, so there was a little bit of potato skin at the end of each fry for texture. The fries were crisped to perfection and perfectly salted. Without the bells and whistles of a special shape, fancy dipping sauces or bold seasonings, these were simply perfect, classic fries at their best. Bottom line: Wendy’s makes the best fast-food fries! While dipping the fries in a Wendy’s frosty is optional, it is highly recommended,” advises Taste of Home.
Another source that had Wendy’s ranked as number one: “It may be controversial to have Wendy’s at the top of the list, just narrowly beating out McDonald’s, but quality comes down to more than a popularity contest. Wendy’s natural-cut fries are consistently fresh and salty, and they strike the perfect textural balance between their soft interior and crispy exterior. They’re not too thick, not too thin — the perfect fry, essentially. Like any good fry, Wendy’s fries taste especially good dunked in ketchup, but true enthusiasts know that the best ‘condiment’ for these fries is actually a chocolate Frosty — another controversial take, perhaps, but the sweet and salty combination truly can’t be beaten,” writes Tasting Table.
Even reviewers with McDonald’s brand loyalty ranked Wendy’s highly. “Wendy’s changed its fry recipe in 2021 to ensure it was serving hot and crispy fries every time—and the new formula is what made these fries the winner. They were hot and crispy as described and had a sea salt coating that you could see. Enough salt that it could stick to your fingers, but still give you a flawlessly seasoned fry. As a McDonald’s fry stan, I was honestly shocked at how much I loved these fries. I kept wanting to go back in for more the entire drive home—and I would have if I didn’t have to take photos of the fries. Sorry, Mickey D’s, but Wendy’s just became my new favorite fry stop,” adds All Recipes.
3. Five Guys
Five Guys offers a French Fry that is very different from the other entries on this list. They are the only ones that are hand cut from potatoes on-site. “Every fast food chain on the planet should be second guessing their fries because of Five Guys. Hand cut fries? Check. Generous helping? Check. Never mind that paper bag holding what would normally be three servings anywhere else but is one serving of fries at Five Guys in a greasy peanut oil mess. These fries have the perfect amount of salt on them every time, and have a texture that sits right in the sweet spot of being crispy without being dry. Sure, they might cost more than whatever sad potatoes Burger King is handing out, but buddy, are they ever worth it,” claims Mashed.
The overall flavor and experience of a fresh cut fry can be quite unique. “Prepared the proper way, they have the perfect crispy exterior with molten hot buttery Idaho potato inside that turns each bite into absolute ecstasy. But a word of advice — don’t order the Cajun fries. It sounds counterintuitive, why would you want salt and pepper over Cajun seasoning — more flavor is better right? Absolutely, but Five Guys doesn’t know how to season fries, their whole ethos is to go nuts so they haphazardly sprinkle way too much season on the fries, which can make some of your fries downright inedible. So make your life better by ordering the regular fries, they come seasoned with salt. Ask for a side of cajun seasoning, grab five packets of pepper, and season to taste. Yes, you’ll have to put some work into it, but when you control the seasoning, Five Guys fries become a delicious blank canvas for you to do whatever you like,” recommends Uproxx.
Five Guys makes a fry so different that some consider it to be a different category of French fry altogether. “This is No. 1 with an asterisk, like Wilt Chamberlain’s 100 points, or Cy Young’s 749 complete games. Not only is Five Guys No. 1, but it’s also so far ahead of everyone else it’s almost unfair. You get a generous heap of hot, properly salted, natural-cut spuds, with a good balance between crispy fries and the odd one that’s pleasingly soft. Five Guys fries in peanut oil, which imparts a milder taste than more industrial oils that mask potato flavor. These were the fries that tasted most strongly of tuber. Excellence comes with a price, though – a medium order of these fries costs roughly double that of other chains,” writes LA Times.
4. Arby’s Curly Fries
Here we have another unique entry: “Gloriously coiled potato fragments bathed in some nuclear-orange spice concoction that boldly states ‘it’s time for your taste buds to party.’ No other fries manage to so consistently steal the show from the rest of the menu. Top them with a combo of Arby’s Sauce and Horsey Sauce and you may see the face of God,” raves Thrillist.
They are so well-received that the curly fries are now also available in retail. “Another chain restaurant that offers not just one type of French fry, but two, Arby’s curly fries are a beloved fan favorite. Besides their basic crinkle-cut fries, Arby’s also offers curly seasoned fries. If you cannot make it out to an Arby’s location near you, then luckily for you you can also purchase packages of their seasoned curly fries in your grocer’s frozen food aisle so you can cook them from the friendly confines of your own home. Bon appétit!” writes Delish.
According to Tasting Table, “It’s a wonder that more restaurants don’t implement curly fries into their menus. Maybe they don’t bother because they know that the fries won’t stand a chance against Arby’s iconic curly fries — and they’d be correct. What’s not to love about Arby’s curly fries? They’re seasoned and crispy, and even if you do happen to get a soggy batch, they somehow still taste good. There is no greater joy than finding a perfectly-springy spiral in one’s packet of Arby’s fries, and for that reason, these easily make the top three on this list.”
5. Burger King
Rounding off this list is Burger King. “In the fast-food battle between McDonald’s and Burger King, there is no doubt who reigns supreme when it comes to french fries. The Burger King fries were superior on all levels. They were a thicker cut, lightly browned and perfectly crisp. If you have a taste for a good old-fashioned french fry, Burger King won’t let you down. Bottom line: The fries are a must-order. You can order a BK Whopper on the side, though,” recommends Taste of Home.
Simple but reliable, BK was in the top five with many of our sources. “Burger King’s fries have remained consistent over the years, so if you want a good batch of standard, natural-cut fries, then you can always rely on the popular chain. These fries also accomplish that ideal balance of being pillowy on the inside and crisp on the outside, making a truly ideal companion to a Whopper. If you’re a fan of the classics and aren’t looking to switch things up, then you’ll definitely want to stick with Burger King to curb your fry cravings. Though, if you’re looking for the truly superior fry from Burger King, the chicken fries are really where the money’s at … why not get both?” asks Tasting Table.
The current version of the BK French Fry is considered reliably good. Eat This, Not That! adds: “Burger King didn’t become one of the most popular fast-food restaurants in America by having soggy fries. The Burger King fries are slightly larger than McDonald’s but so very similar. They are crispy and tender on the inside. They pretty much taste like a thicker, more potatoey version of McDonald’s fries. What could be bad about that?”
You might also be interested in:
- Best Burgers in America
- Best Chicken Fingers
- Best Fast Food Chicken Sandwiches
- Best Fast Food Breakfast
- Taste of Home
- The Daily Meal
- Tasting Table
- Buzz Feed
- All Recipes
- Eat This, Not That!
Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations.