Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Recipe: Wendy's French Fries

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By pure coincidence, one of my dinner guests once worked at a Wendy’s and recalled that their fries go straight from the freezer into the deep fryer for exactly two and a half minutes. Well, I tried that and do not recommend it, kiddies. I don’t know what they do to those potato slices at the French Fry Factory, but making fries at home requires just a little more scientific legwork.

To get it right, I turned to the king of all cooking-related science, Alton Brown. I suggest watching his Good Eats "Fry Hard" episode to really learn the method and understand the science behind it.

4 medium potatoes (about 160 grams each)
32 ounces canola oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
16 teaspoons ketchup
Special equipment:
Vegetable peeler
Mandolin slicer
Salad spinner OR clean kitchen towel
Deep fryer OR deep stovetop pan and thermometer
Cooling rack

Serves four
Cost per serving: $1.35

Potato Prep

Peel the potatoes, if desired (if you want to skip this step, I found that the mandolin took off most of the skin anyway and I didn’t really mind the bits of skin at the top and bottom of each fry.) Affix the thick julienne (7 mm) insert to the mandolin and slice away – do NOT forgo the safety guard if you prefer your fingers as they are; it’s really easy to (haha, literally) slip up.

Submerge the potato slices in cool water and soak for at least 10 minutes in the refrigerator. This removes some of the starch and, via some scientific process Brown explains in the video, allows the fries to get crispier in the oil.

Remove the slices from the water with your hands so that you don’t end up pouring the starchy water back on top of the fries. Transfer them to the salad spinner or kitchen towel and spin/towel off so that they’re dry when they go into the oil.


Heat your frying apparatus to 325F and place the cooling rack on a baking sheet. I used a frying machine but found it difficult to control the temperature, so a pot on the stove along with a thermometer should work just as well, if not better. Fry one potato’s worth of slices at a time for 2-3 minutes. They should not look yummy at all at this stage – floppy and only barely a light gold is the goal. Transfer each batch to the cooling rack and let the bunch come back down to room temperature.

Increase the oil temperature to 375F and preheat the oven to 200F so you’ll have somewhere to keep the finished fries warm. Again fry a potato’s worth of fries for 2-3 minutes at the higher temperature – this time they should turn crispy and golden brown. Transfer each batch to the cooling rack and immediately sprinkle with salt, about 1/8 teaspoon per serving.

Keep warm in the preheated oven and serve with four teaspoons ketchup (more if desired).

Cooking for One

While it’s easy enough to just slice one potato instead of four, if all the above sounds like a little too much time, effort and deep fry oil, you can always bake the fries instead. The recipe from Fast Food Fix is easy enough and uses only a teaspoon of oil (although I preferred canola to the suggested olive...the olive oil gave the fries a sort of earthy taste, which is just not what I’m used to in junk food!) You can find the recipe here, and I plan to explore the cost soon when I cook a McDonald’s meal.


  1. How hard would curly fries be?

  2. I've been trying to figure that out! Apparently there's a tool that cuts them pretty easily, but I'm having a hard time tracking one down. As soon as I do though, it's on!