How to Cook Frozen French Fries: Expert Advice
Feb 14, 2023
Everyone in your kitchen knows how to cook frozen french fries, right?
With the extraordinary turnover in kitchen staff driven by the pandemic, fry-cooking competency isn’t a given anymore. As a result, the average kitchen worker today possesses less experience than they used to. And what they don’t know can hurt you.
Why? Remember, fries are your most profitable food item and their quality really does matter to your customers. Sogginess, overcooking, off flavors—anything less than greatness—can turn them off forever and directly impact your bottom line. Truly, it pays to know how to make great frozen french fries.
In this article, we’ll offer best practices to make better fries and dispel a few myths along the way. You’ll learn about selecting the right fries, proper storage and handling, cooking and holding.
It’s worth repeating: Follow the instructions on the case
Here’s a little quiz to start with:
- True or false: You can tell when frozen fries are properly cooked just by their color in the fryer.
- True or false: Fries are finished cooking when they begin to float.
- True or false: It’s smart to drop two baskets of fries at once into the fryer when you’re slammed.
Contrary to popular kitchen wisdom, these are all false notions. To get the very best from your french fries, follow the instructions printed on every case.
It’s your baby: How to handle and store frozen french fries
Frozen fries are incredibly brittle. A drop of just three feet can break up to 35% of fries inside a case. So handle them very gently—like a baby.
- Don’t stand on the case and don’t stack heavy objects on top of it in the freezer.
- Stack cases in a freezer away from any drips, leaving room on the sides so that cold air can circulate around them.
- Don’t leave fries on your dock for longer than 10 minutes to prevent thawing. Thawing prior to cooking will ruin their texture. Instead, keep bags of frozen french fries in the freezer until you’re ready to use them.
- If you prefer to thaw your fries ahead of time, only use fries designed explicitly for that purpose—like Simplot Infinity® Fries.
How to cook frozen french fries for best results
Every fry is different. If you’re serving more than one type of fry, make sure your staff knows the proper cook time for each, and encourage them to set a cooking timer for every basket.
- Use a skimmer throughout the day to remove slivers of other cooked debris from the kettle that hasten oil breakdown.
- Preheat your fryer to 345˚F. It may be tempting to turn up the temperature to cut cook times. But fryer oil breaks down faster at higher temperatures. For example, at 369˚F, the oil breaks down 2-3 times faster than at 345˚F. And fryer oil is expensive!
- Check the recommended cook time printed on the case.
- Fill your basket to half full or less. Never fill your basket over the fryer. Doing so can introduce ice crystals and potato slivers that degrade the fryer oil.
- Shake the basket for a few seconds about 30 seconds after dropping it. This prevents clumping.
- Wait at least 45 seconds after dropping the first basket before you drop a second basket into the same fryer. Dropped too soon, all those cold fries will delay the fryer oil’s return to cooking temperature and the resulting fries will be undercooked.
- When the timer rings, lift the basket out of the fryer and tilt the basket forward for 10 seconds to drain away any excess oil.
- Never salt fries over the fryer. Salt will reduce the life of your fryer oil.
How to handle and hold frozen french fries after cooking
Now that you’ve cooked the perfect fries, make sure they get to your customers with the best flavor and texture possible.
- Never hold fries in the basket over the fryer. The heat rising from below will ruin their texture.
- Instead, gently transfer cooked fries to a holding station or heat lamp to keep them warm.
- Use a first in, first out strategy, so that older fries get served before freshly cooked fries. This reduces the number of fries that must be discarded and ensures all customers get quality fries.
- Enforce a consistent method for seasoning fries. Over-salted fries are a real disappointment.
How to pick the right frozen french fry for your restaurant
Choosing among the hundreds of available fries can be daunting. Instead, we recommend starting with the Fry Finder at simplotfoods.com. Just answer a few quick questions and let the Fry Finder narrow the field for you.
Fry length: It takes fewer long fries to cover a plate or fill a container, so premium fries yield more servings per case. And more servings per case boosts profitability. Yep, they cost a bit more. But a premium fry with premium length—like Simplot Select Recipe® Fries—more than makes up the difference. Besides, no one likes stubby fries.
Fry shape: Straight cut fries—the most commonly-sold cut—are a good choice when you want your fries to feel traditional and familiar (like Simplot Classic® Fries). On the other hand, if you want to stand out, choose an eye-catching shape like Simplot Sidewinders™ Fries. The fastest growing fry formats in 2022 included novel shapes in fries and formed potatoes:2
- Crinkle Cut: +1.5%
- Diced/Chunk/Cubed potatoes: +12.2%
- Formed Rounds: +2.0%
- Formed Squares/Rectangles: +19.8%
- Formed Oval Patties: +10.4%
- Waffle fries: +4.8%
Fry coatings and batters: Coatings and batters add holding time and flavor options. For instance, Simplot Conquest® Delivery+® Fries offer industry-leading hold times up to 40 minutes. Flavor-wise, Simplot’s SeasonedCRISP® line of seasoned/battered fries offers a range of flavor profiles to match nearly any theme or cuisine. Coated fries are also best for loaded fry appetizers because they stay crisp under moist toppings.
Fry cooking speed: For high-volume operations and schools, a fast-cooking fry is critical. Generally, the thinner the cut, the faster the cook time. If speed is paramount for you, try Simplot Infinity® Shoestrings—they cook in as little as 90 seconds. On the other hand, you may have good reasons for choosing a ½”-thick steak fry (like their rich potato flavor and heat retention). Every operator is different.
Premium fries vs. bargain fries: As a rule, it pays to serve premium fries. You get higher yield, fewer defects and more consistent quality. Need proof? Look at the world’s most successful restaurants: every one of them uses a premium fry. Anything less is no bargain.
Get additional fry-training resources from Simplot
When you buy Simplot fries, you’re purchasing the world’s best. Make sure you’re getting the full measure of value by training your staff to store, handle and cook them correctly. Just email the links to our free video series of “How to Make Great Fries” videos (shown above) to your staff. Great fries are worth the effort!
1 Black Box Intelligence, State of the Workforce, 2022
2 The NPD Group, PotatoTrack, December 2022