There is a lot of variety when it comes to what you can do with potatoes. You can boil them, mash them, stick them in a stew, or you can chop them up and fry them into perfect little golden sticks. Let’s talk about the best fast-food chain french fries, or as the Brits call them, “crisps.”
The humble french fry has many variations. The thickness of the potato pre-fry and seasoning, not to mention how exactly the potato is cut, all change the taste with way more complexity than you realize. Before going into the list, I want to point out that these are all from chain joints. That means, sadly, the quality is limited.
#6 – McDonald’s
It’s hard to beat a classic (okay, apparently not that hard since this is at number 6, but McDonald’s is still pretty good. It’s not my favorite, but it definitely satisfies anyone craving fries and works well with any manner of dipping sauces or condiments. I asked around, and even if they weren’t top tier, McDonald’s was usually at least mentioned as a contender for favorite fry.
They are the simple and classic french fry. When you think about junk food or french fries, you might even imagine a carton of these bad boys in all their red and yellow glory. Even if you can do better than McDonald’s, it’s hard to say you can go wrong with them either.
#5 – Chick-fil-a
Okay, I kind of debated whether or not to put Chick-fil-a on the list. There are a lot of people with a lot of feelings about this chain. I have mixed feelings about it and have only eaten there a couple of times (to be fair, I also haven’t lived within an hour of one for most of my life). Even so, that doesn’t mean they don’t make a good waffle fry.
Waffle fries are a fun change of pace from regular fries, and they’re great if you like the soft potato-ey kinds of fries because that’s what most waffle fries are. I’ve yet to meet a waffle fry I didn’t like and pushing aside all controversy about Chick-fil-a, they do make a mean waffle fry.
#4 – Popeyes
It’s not just any fry at Popeye’s, you have to get the Cajun fries. It’s probably because they have actual seasoning you can taste and enjoy that’s more than just salt. I’m not usually a fan of spicy things, but even I really like these fries.
If you couldn’t tell from the rest of the list, I’m not a fan of bland potatoes. Seasoning and spices are king when it comes to fries in my (self-proclaimed) expert opinion. Damn, if they don’t know how to season their fries over at Popeye’s.
#3 – Arbys
Curly fries are just the superior form of fry. I don’t make the rules. It also helps that most curly fries, even of the fast-food french fry variety, actually get seasoned while regular fries don’t. Whether that’s because the curl is just more conducive to retaining spices or everyone is using the same recipe doesn’t matter. Curly fries are just fantastic.
Other restaurants have curly fries, sure, Jack in the Box, for instance, but Arby’s is a cut above the competition. They may not be the conventional burger place, but they still know how to make a good fry.
#2 – Burgerville
So, if you don’t live in Oregon or southern Washington, you probably haven’t heard of Burgerville. If you ever have the chance, I highly recommend stopping by. They’ve got great food and emphasize locally sourced ingredients. They’ve also got amazing rosemary shoestring fries. Whether you eat ‘em straight or dip ‘em in a milkshake, they’re delicious.
The only reason I can’t put them in number one is due to their scarcity. They are a seasonal food which means you can’t get them year-round, and Burgerville is a relatively small chain.
If you’re outside of a small area around Portland, Oregon, you probably won’t be able to find them. There are other places that offer rosemary shoestring fries, but I don’t know of any that offer them with any sort of regularity either.
They are the perfect fast-food french fries and you cannot change my mind. These babies are crunchy and delicious and oh so perfectly seasoned. If it was possible to marry food, I would marry this fry.
#1 – Five Guys
I will die on this hill. My partner vehemently disagrees, but that’s okay. They have horrible taste. (They’re dating me after all).
These are by far my favorite year-round fast-food fry; I can’t go to Five Guys without getting an order of fries which is not the case at any other restaurant or drive-thru. I like to try new things, but when I go to Five Guys, I know what is tried and true and delicious (if horrible for my cholesterol).
Admittedly, Five Guys fast-food french fries don’t hold up well after they’re cold, and reheating doesn’t really do too much to help that, but they’re delicious and salty and very dangerous to my health. They’ve for a great balance of the soft, super potato-ey fries as well as the crispy little nubbins a lot of people like.
Your favorite fries are probably different from mine. I know that I like mine pretty salty, and not many people do. The very reason I love some fries is the same reason some people hate them, but that’s okay. We can all just acknowledge that those people are wrong and move on with our lives.
If you’re looking to try something new the next time you hit up a fast-food place, check out Delish’s ultimate guide to fry dipping sauces. They’re a little more food-forward than we are after all and have some mouthwatering suggestions I’d never even thought of before. I am both disturbed and intrigued with the idea of dipping a fry into the center of a poached egg…
If you’re interested in more of our unique takes on food, head over to our blog about what your favorite childhood cereal says about you!
What is your favorite french fry?