- 2 pounds unpeeled russet potatoes (about 3 large), scrubbed
- Canola oil (for deep-frying)
Bring large pot of salted water to boil. Line large baking sheet with several layers of paper towels. Cut 1 potato lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Stack 2 to 3 potato slices at a time and cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch-wide sticks. Cook potato sticks in boiling water just until beginning to soften, 3 to 4 minutes. Using slotted spoon or tongs, transfer potato sticks to paper-towel-lined baking sheet to drain. Repeat cutting, blanching, and draining remaining potatoes. Pat potato sticks dry with additional paper towels. DO AHEAD Can be made 4 hours ahead. Let stand uncovered at room temperature.
Pour enough canola oil into heavy large pot to reach depth of 4 inches. Attach deep-fry thermometer to side of pot; heat oil to 350°F. Working in batches, add potato sticks to oil and fry until golden brown, about 6 minutes. Transfer to clean paper towels to drain. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.
TEST-KITCHEN TIP: For best results, serve each batch of fries immediately. If necessary, they can be kept warm on a rimmed baking sheet in a 300°F oven while the remaining potatoes are fried.
The Secret to Making Crispy French Fries at Home
There are a few secrets to making perfectly crispy French fries at home. The goal is to ensure that the center of the fries are fully cooked before the outsides get too brown. The way to achieve this is to cook the fries twice using a particular type of potato and oil.
Frying your fries two times might sound like a lot of work. However, if you want them light and crispy, that's what you have to do. Otherwise, they'll either be crispy but undercooked in the middle or just plain greasy and limp.
Twice-Fried French Fries
Scrub and clean your potatoes. Heat oil to 320 F in a Dutch oven or deep heavy pot. Line 2 sheet pans with aluminum foil and top with a cooling rack.
Using a V-slicer, put on the french fry attachment and cut up your potatoes or cut them into 1/4″ x 1/4″ strips. Preheat oven to 200 F.
Once oil has reached temperature gently submerge potatoes in the hot oil using a kitchen spider (cook them in small batches so as to not bring down the oil temperature). Fry each batch for 2-3 minutes then use the kitchen spider and remove them from the oil. Let them drain on one of the cooling rack with aluminum foil covered sheet pan beneath. Continue until all batches are complete.
Next bring oil temperature up to 375 F and do a second fry with the potatoes, again in small batches for another 2-3 minutes. Let them drain on the second cooling rack with the aluminum foil covered sheet pan below.
Immediately top each batch with salt as you pull it out of the oil the second time, so it sticks. Once all batches are complete, you can keep them in a 200 F oven until all your other dishes are complete.
- 1 pound russet potatoes, peeled
- 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
- 1 pinch cayenne pepper
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
Cut each potato lengthwise into 3/8-inch-thick slices. Slice sections into sticks also about 3/8 inch-wide.
Cover potatoes with water and let soak for 5 minutes to release excess starches. Drain and cover with boiling water by a few inches (or place in a bowl of boiling water). Let sit for 10 minutes.
Drain potatoes and transfer onto some paper towels. Blot off the excess water and let cool completely, at least 10 minutes. Transfer into a mixing bowl drizzle with oil, season with cayenne, and toss to coat.
Preheat the air fryer to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Stack potatoes in a double layer in the fryer basket. Cook for 15 minutes. Slide basket out and toss fries continue frying until golden brown, about 10 minutes more. Toss fries with salt in a mixing bowl. Serve immediately.
Wash the potatoes then slice them in to 3/8 sticks. Or if you have a homemade fries cutter run the potatoes through it. Place the cut fries in a large bowl. Next add a heap of ice cubes. Then top the fries and ice with cold water and place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit
Drain the water and ice from the fries. Remove them and dry them with paper towels. Rinse the bowl. Place the fries back in bowl. Add a Tablespoon or two of Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Toss the fries well to ensure even coverage.
Twice-cooked french fries
Line large baking sheet with several layers of paper towels.
Cut 1 potato lengthwise into ¼ inch-thick slices.
Stack 2 to 3 potato slices at a time and cut lengthwise into ¼–inch-wide sticks.
Cook potato sticks in boiling water just until beginning to soften, 3 to 4 minutes.
Using slotted spoon or tongs, transfer potato sticks to paper-towel-lined baking sheet to drain.
Repeat cutting, blanching, and draining remaining potatoes.
Pat potato sticks dry with additional paper towels.
(Can be made 4 hours ahead.
Let stand uncovered at room temperature.)
Pour enough canola oil into heavy large pot to reach depth of 4 inches.
Attach deep-fry thermometer to side of pot heat oil to 350 F.
Working in batches, add potato sticks to oil and fry until golden brown, about 6 minutes.
Transfer to clean paper towels to drain.
Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
For best results, serve each batch of fries immediately.
If necessary, they can be kept warm on a rimmed baking sheet in a 300 F oven while the remaining potatoes are fried.
My Signature Dish: Heston Blumenthal’s Triple-Cooked Chips
Fluffy on the inside and shatteringly crisp on the outside, Blumenthal’s recipe for perfect French fries is one of his proudest legacies.
When it comes to the humble potato, Heston Blumenthal’s triple-cooked chips (aka French fries) are as legendary as Joel Robuchon’s pommes purée. Today, Blumenthal’s chips are found on the menus of gastropubs and restaurants up and down Great Britain, but the recipe for these chips—light and fluffy on the inside shatteringly crisp on the outside—was developed out of Blumenthal’s home in 1992, three years before he went on to open the now three-MICHELIN-starred Fat Duck in Bray.
“To rethink the chip, it’s not a bad thing to be associated with,” Blumenthal muses when asked how he feels about going down in history for perfecting the fry. “It was the first dish I ever created. It does have a special place in my heart.”
A Scientific Approach to Cooking
Behind his thick-rimmed glasses, the chef’s eyes sparkle with good humor and intelligence as he talks about his culinary career, his train of thought running on one after another. In the years since his initial foray into fries, he has made a name for himself at the Fat Duck as a pioneer in multi-sensory cooking, food pairing and flavor encapsulation by advocating a scientific understanding of cooking.
At the peak of the molecular gastronomy trend, Blumenthal was its poster child. “It wasn’t until the late 1990s and early 2000s that molecular gastronomy got taken up by the press and became about pipettes and spherification, foams and chemicals—it’s a complete and utter misunderstanding of the term molecular gastronomy,” he says. “Boiled egg is molecular gastronomy. Chefs are practical physicists—we bash stuff, we mix stuff, we cook stuff. We do stuff that changes the molecules, we’re doing something physical to food.”
It was that scientific approach that he took on his quest for the perfect chip in 1992. To achieve a chip with what he calls a “glass-like” crispy crust with a soft, fluffy center that didn’t become soggy when cooled, Blumenthal experimented with every factor involved in the cooking process, from the starch content of different varieties of potatoes to the type and temperature of the oil used. Finally, he settled upon the three-stage cooking process now known as triple-cooked chips.
The Three-Stage Technique
The traditional method for cooking French fries is a two-stage process that involves first frying cut chips in oil at a lower temperature to cook them through and then deep-frying at a higher temperature to crisp up the exterior. However, this means that the chips start to grow soggy almost immediately even before they are served as the moisture in the soft interior turns to steam and softens the crust.
And so, Blumenthal set out to come up with a chip that would keep its crunch. His recipe calls for simmering cut potatoes—the chef prefers dense, floury spuds like the Golden Wonder, Maris Piper, King Edward or Sebago—in water first for 20 to 30 minutes until they are almost falling apart. This step is important because the cracks create more surface area to crisp during frying, which is what makes them maintain their structure later on. The potatoes are then drained and placed on a cooling rack to dry out and then into the freezer for an hour or so until all moisture is completely removed.
The chips are then fried in small batches in a deep-fat fryer at 130°C (266˚F) until a light crust is formed, but not browned. Again, the fried chips are drained and placed in the freezer for another hour to eradicate all moisture. Finally, the chips are fried at 180°C (356˚F) for about seven minutes until they achieve a golden-brown crust.
Thinking aloud, Blumenthal runs through a laundry list of other signature dishes that he has come to be known for over the years, like Meat Fruit (chicken liver parfait masquerading as a mandarin), snail porridge, red cabbage gazpacho and the "Sound of the Sea," a dish where diners listen to the sound of waves and seagulls while dining on sashimi. “They’re milestone dishes I want to put on the wall at the Fat Duck. A timeline of events tracing the evolution of my cooking—not just the dish but the research and what led to the dish coming about,” he says. "When that time comes, you can be sure that triple-cooked chips will have pride of place on that very wall."
Hero image courtesy of The Hind's Head.
Rachel Tan is the Associate Digital Editor at the MICHELIN Guide Digital. A former food magazine writer based in Singapore, she has a degree in communications for journalism but is a graduate of the school of hard knocks in the kitchen. She writes to taste life twice.
French Fries (Proper Chips)
These are twice-cooked chips. We’ll be cooking them once to soften them, and then again to colour and crisp them. Fluffy centres and crunchy outsides.
Put a deep saucepan on medium heat and fill it halfway with vegetable oil or sunflower oil (both have high smoking points so are great for frying).
Using a thermometer to check the temperature, get your oil to 130°C.
Dice your potatoes into equal batons, about a quarter of an inch thick, and keep the skins on.
Dry off your chips using a clean kitchen towel or kitchen paper.
Carefully add your potatoes to the oil, using a slotted spoon to lower them in, and being sure not to overcrowd the pan. You may need to do this in batches. Fry for 8 minutes.
Remove your pale potatoes and put them back onto a clean kitchen towel or kitchen paper to drain.
Turn the oil temperature up to 180°C and when at temperature return your fries to the pan for 5 more minutes. This time they should turn golden and crisp.
Photo by Rachel Lee
Cut off a thin layer of the bottom of each potato to create a flat surface to cut on. Then, cut each potato into ½-inch slices, stack the slices and cut into rods.
#SpoonTip: Place the rods into a bowl of water to keep them from browning.
Place the cut potatoes into a large pot and add an inch or two of water so that the potatoes are just submerged. Heat on high for 10 minutes. Do not boil your potatoes. If the water boils, turn the heat down.
Meanwhile, cover a sheet pan with aluminum foil and grease with two tablespoons of olive oil. Place the pan in the oven to heat up the oil as you wait for the potatoes to cook.
Test the potatoes for firmness. They should be firm, but not crunchy. Drain the potatoes and immediately spread them onto the sheet pan with hot oil.
Drizzle with one tablespoon of olive oil, sprinkle with Lowry’s or garlic salt and roast for 25 minutes.
Remove the fries from the oven, flip them over, and return to the oven for another 5 minutes. Repeat this process twice, or until golden brown on all sides.
Remove from the oven when all fries are golden-brown. Season with more salt to taste. Enjoy!