The Best Fast-Food Fries, Ranked
Ready to stop for a quick bite? This list will help you figure out exactly where to find the best fast-food fries.
The quest for the best fast-food fries
It was a tough job, but somebody had to do it! I drove all around town and tested all the fast-food fries I could find. It was fascinating to discover how different and unique the options were from one drive-thru to another. I sampled traditional fries, seasoned fries, crinkle-cut fries and waffle fries, and in the end, I found that one chain reigns supreme.
Here’s a list of all the places I stopped:
- Burger King
- Five Guys
- Shake Shack
Let’s see who has the best fast-food fries—a food fact everyone should know.
Have you ever ordered a side of McDonald’s fries and thought, Why don’t these taste like they used to? It’s not all in your head. In 1990, McDonald’s started using vegetable oil rather than beef tallow to fry its fries. Since then, most devoted customers have been able to tell the difference. Back in the day, Julia Child even admitted that McDonald’s french fries were a guilty pleasure! But in 2022, I found the fries thin, pale and not very crisp. However, I know that timing is everything when it comes to fries. Many people claim the experience is like night and day if you’re lucky enough to get a fresh batch, straight from the fryer.
Bottom line: I’m ready for McDonald’s to bring back the original recipe.
9. Five Guys
This one came as a surprise to me. Five Guys puts a serious emphasis on fries at the restaurant. The first thing you see when walking in are piles of potato bags and boxes of peanut oil. While my order came out fresh, straight from the fryer, the fries were quite greasy. I appreciated the fresh-cut potato taste, but I felt the fries lacked crispness. In addition, Five Guys had the most expensive fries I tested.
Bottom line: I respect this chain’s dedication to fresh ingredients, but I was hoping for a fry with more crisp.
Culver’s offers crinkle-cut fries with an option for “fry sauce,” which is a tangy mayo-ketchup mix. I felt these fries were good, but if I’m stopping by this Wisconsin-based fast-food joint, I’d be more likely to order a side of the iconic cheese curds instead of french fries.
Bottom line: While these fries were tasty, they weren’t enough of a standout to rank higher on the list.
Chick-fil-A was the only restaurant on the list to offer waffle-cut fries. If you prefer the size and texture of waffle fries, then this might be your favorite. Plus, waffle fries are an ideal vessel for sauce, and Chick-fil-A is famous for its wide variety of dipping sauces.
Bottom line: Head to Chick-fil-A if you love waffle fries.
Popeyes offers fries that are tossed in a bold Cajun seasoning. I really enjoyed the flavor of these fries, but they are quite different from traditional fries simply seasoned with salt. The portion size in my to-go bag was quite large, so there was definitely bang for your buck.
Bottom line: If you like spicy fries, these are delicious! But for people who prefer classic fries, other options on this list will satisfy your craving.
5. Shake Shack
Shake Shack offers a deep crinkle-cut fry with a great texture. And I liked that these are served in a box, not a bag. This helped keep the fries neat while traveling, and also offered a place to put some ketchup for dipping. While I enjoyed these fries, when I’m ordering at Shake Shack, there is definitely going to be a shake in my future. I might choose to save my budget for that instead of indulging in a side of fries.
Bottom line: If you do order Shake Shack fries, don’t forget the cheese sauce.
I was surprised that KFC even offered fries! When I crave a bucket of fried chicken, I want sides like mashed potatoes or biscuits. That being said, the battered and seasoned fries were delicious. I loved the texture that the batter added to these crisp fries—and the seasoning is said to use the same 11 secret herbs and spices in the fried chicken. The Secret Recipe Fries are a new item on the KFC menu, replacing the potato wedges.
Bottom line: While I wouldn’t normally order a side of fries from KFC, the outstanding texture and perfect seasoning make this option a strong contender for the top fry slot.
This Chicago-based restaurant group offered the best crinkle-cut fries. They were perfectly crisp and fresh-tasting. For the full experience, order these delicious fries with a Chicago-style hot dog “through the garden.”
Bottom line: If you’re lucky enough to live near a Portillo’s, it’s definitely worth a stop.
2. Burger King
In the fast-food battle between McDonald’s and Burger King, there is no doubt who reigns supreme when it comes to french fries. The Burger King fries were superior on all levels. They were a thicker cut, lightly browned and perfectly crisp. If you have a taste for a good old-fashioned french fry, Burger King won’t let you down.
Bottom line: The fries are a must-order. You can order a BK Whopper on the side, though.
The honor of the best overall french fry goes to Wendy’s. These fries were made with unpeeled potatoes, so there was a little bit of potato skin at the end of each fry for texture. The fries were crisped to perfection and perfectly salted. Without the bells and whistles of a special shape, fancy dipping sauces or bold seasonings, these were simply perfect, classic fries at their best.
Bottom line: Wendy’s makes the best fast-food fries! While dipping the fries in a Wendy’s frosty is optional, it is highly recommended.
Next, learn about another fast-food staple: the Wendy’s baked potato.