What Are the Best Potatoes for French Fries?

All potatoes are not equal – some make better French fries than others. So, what are the best potatoes for French fries?

Russet, also known as Idaho potatoes, make excellent French fries, specifically the Russet Burbank potato. But there are other types of Russet potatoes from which you can choose also. The harder to find Maris Piper potato also makes outstanding fries and is the UK’s top potato for what they call chips (French Fries).

But there’s more to know about potatoes and french fries than just that, so let’s keep going!

Here’s a list of some of the other common types of Russet potatoes:

  • Russet Burbank
  • Russet Norkotah
  • Ranger Russet
  • Alta Russet
  • Shepody
  • Alturas
  • Frontier Russet
  • Goldrush
  • Defender

The rest of this article will answer some essential questions about choosing the best potatoes for French fries:

  • What types of potatoes are best for making French fries?
  • What are the best potatoes for French fries in an air fryer?
  • Do some potatoes make crispier fries than others?
  • Do high starch potatoes need to be soaked before frying?

What Type of Potatoes is Best for Making French Fries?

Russet Burbank potatoes are top on the list of the types of Idaho potatoes that make the best French fries. These potatoes have the following characteristics:

Balanced solid-water ratio 

Russet potatoes have a high starch content, which makes fries crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. They are also tasty and have a striking golden color.

A perfect shape

Good fries have that attractive shoestring shape. When making your French fries at home, using the large and oval Russet potatoes will make slicing a lot easier. The balanced solid-moisture level in Russet potatoes also makes them retain their shape in the hot oil.

Waxy types like the red and the new potatoes have lots of moisture. This additional moisture makes them hollow out during frying because the water evaporates.

Great nutritional value

Russet potatoes are rich in iron, protein, vitamin C, and vitamin B6. And as a tuber crop, they have one of the highest levels of antioxidants and fiber, especially in the peel.

A floury-fluffy and texture

Floury-fluffy potatoes make perfect crispy fries. Russet varieties meet this characteristic but are outdone by the Maris Piper, an Irish potato that is hard to find in the US. It is considered the UK’s number one potato for best French fries.

If you can’t find any of the Russet varieties mentioned earlier, you can replace them with Katahdin potatoes.

What are the Best Potatoes for French Fries in an Air Fryer?

Quick answer: Russets!

Simply because Russet potatoes have a balanced solid-water ratio, using them in an air fryer gives you the best quality of fries.

An air fryer can deliver your fries with the least amount of fat in a short time. The amount of oil absorbed by your fries is minimal because Russet fries are dense.

Also, a tablespoon of olive oil is enough to allow the air fryer to pass hot air down and around your fries, leaving them crispy and golden.

There are two other reasons why Russets should be your choice of potatoes when you use an air fryer.

  • They cook quickly. Russet potatoes do not accumulate extra sugar during storage, as is the case with high-moisture potatoes. This relative lack of sugar makes them a perfect choice for a quick meal.
  • Russets will maintain their shape and crispiness under the extreme temperatures of an air fryer. This is because they are high-starch potatoes. Potatoes with high moisture do not pass the extreme heat test and will turn into a mushy paste under such heat.

When making fries in an air fryer, a single layer of potato on the basket will give the best results. Stacking potatoes makes them stick to each other, which compromises their crispiness.

Besides, you will need to turn them more than once, and that requires more cooking time.

If you don’t own an air fryer but have been curious about whether they are worth it, I have a recent article that covers all the pros and cons.

What really surprised me was just how crispy I could get fries with virtually no oil!

Just click the link to read that on my site.

Do Some Potatoes Make Crispier Fries than Others?

Yes, is the short answer.

The secret to crispy fries is in the starch-moisture ratio. That is why potato wizards will differentiate between waxy and high-starch options.

Waxy potatoes will give you soggy fries. They also absorb more oil, which makes them taste bad.

High-starch potatoes make crispy fries. But if the starch exceeds normal limits, your fries can become hard and crunchy. So, balance is the magic word.

Aside from the type of potatoes, there are a few other factors can determine how crispy your fries get.

These factors include:

1. The type and age of the frying oil 

Older oil bonds better with your potato strips and makes them crispier. As a rule of thumb, you can reuse oil three to four times, which equals approximately 6 hours of frying.

There’s a condition to the rule, though. When reusing oil, you should filter it to remove potato particles and store it in an airtight jar.

If you’ve wondered how often you should be changing the oil in your deep fryer, you’re not alone!

In a recent article, I cover everything you need to know about when and how to change the oil in your deep fryer. I even cover the one sure-fire way to tell your oil is bad even if it’s not that old.

Just click the link to read it now on my site.

When the oil is heated, it breaks down. 

The type of oil you use is important, as different types of oil have different smoke points. If you use oil that has a low smoke point, it will break down faster, and your fries will not give you the kind of crisp you want.

Oil with a high smoke point breaks down slowly and gives you a crispier quality.

Experts advise using refined peanut oil for crispier fries. Canola, safflower, corn, sunflower, and vegetable oils are also a good option.

In a recent article, I break down my take on the best oil to fry frozen french fries in (yes, they work great in a deep fryer!). What was most interesting is how much better refined oils work than unrefined.

Just click that link to see it on my site.

2. The number of times you fry your potatoes

The double frying method of making French fries is also known to make them crispier.

The procedure involves frying your potatoes for a minute at around 375-400 degrees Fahrenheit and leaving them to cool. This initial step pre-cooks the inside and forms a protective crust on the surface.

Once cooled, the potatoes are deep-fried a second time for five minutes at similar temperatures until they have that golden and crispy finish.

Insider Tip: if you like In-n-Out Burger, ask for your fries to be double-fried. It’s one of the many options on their secret menu.

I mentioned changing the oil above. But many wonder just how long you can leave the oil in your fryer before you need to change it. After, all, if we changed it every time, it would get expensive.

You might be surprised to know you can leave it up to 1 month in your fryer. But before you go and do that, check out a recent article I wrote which tells you exactly HOW to do that.

But I also cover the 1 thing you must NOT do, and how to extend the life of your oil even longer. Just click that link to read it on my website.

3. Dried and frozen potatoes

If you are making fries from frozen potatoes, you should cook them straight from the wrapping that preserved them in the freezer. It seems that the drying and freezing process makes your fries crispy and golden, which is a well-kept secret of the fast-food restaurants.

Dehydrating and freezing low-moisture potatoes balances the starch levels by converting the sugar in potatoes to starch. This fact is especially true of the first crop of the season, which tends to contain higher levels of sugar.

Using frozen potatoes will also save you the trouble of peeling and slicing, especially if you have to do that manually.

Do High Starch Potatoes Need to Be Soaked Before Frying?

Ideally, yes!

As long as soaking does not upset the starch-moisture balance in your potatoes, it is considered a great way to pre-empt burnt and unattractive fries.

Potatoes release some of the sugars and starch when you chop them.

If you dip them into hot oil with the extra sugar and starch on the surface, the sugar caramelizes and burns before the interior cooks. This burning of the sugar ensures that your fries will have an unattractive color and an acrid taste.

Another risk with dipping potatoes into hot oil without soaking or rinsing them is that the extra starch on the surface can easily fall off and dirty the oil.

One last reason for soaking potatoes is to contain the levels of acrylamide.

Acrylamide levels increase when potatoes are exposed to light or heat, turning them green. When you’re deep-frying, you can detect high levels of this substance by looking for dark rather than golden yellow fries.

Acrylamide is harmful to health if consumed in high quantities. It is advisable to peel off all the green part of a potato before cooking it.

Did I cover all you wanted to know about potatoes and which ones are best for french fries?

In this article, we took an in-depth look into the world of potatoes and french fries.

We explored all the different types of potatoes used for fries and what makes some better than others. But we also covered a lot of related questions too.

Here are the key takeaways from this article:

  • Russet potatoes are the best potatoes for making French fries. There are many different types of Russet potatoes ‒ all of them will make solid fries. Maris Piper or Katahdin potatoes are also a solid replacement.
  • The best potatoes for French fries in an air fryer are also Russet potatoes. You can use any frying method to make great Russet-based French fries ‒ air fryers are no exception.
  • Certain types of potato will make crispier fries than others. If you want crispy fries, go for a high-starch potato.
  • High-starch potatoes should be soaked before frying. If you don’t soak your high-starch potatoes, your fries will be brown and taste somewhat burnt.

If you’re looking to buy any small kitchen appliance, don’t forget to check out my Recommended Products Page (click to see my page) which covers all my best choices in each category.

I select items that I either own, have used, or have researched well to ensure they are great items. I also give not only top of the line recommendations, but also inexpensive alternatives. So my choices work for any budget.

Jeff Campbell

Jeff was a leader for Whole Foods Market for over 2 decades and is now a recovering foodie. When he's not spending time in the kitchen, he can usually be found with his wife & 3 daughters, he can usually be found practicing martial arts, making music, or blogging on his other sites. Click to learn more about me

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