Who Has The Best Fast Food Fries: A Definitive Ranking

Fast food fries have long been a staple for people who crave the crispy and golden potato treat. With numerous fast-food chains offering their own take on this beloved snack, it can be challenging to determine which restaurant truly has the best fries. This article will dive into the world of fast-food fries, comparing various chains and their unique, delectable fry offerings.

So… who’s our favorite? Well, this is entirely scientific and not at all subjective. Everyone knows that Arby’s Curly Fries are THE BEST. Ok, ok, that’s obviously just opinion. We’ll give a more thorough rundown of the competition with McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, Arby’s (still our favorite!), Dairy Queen, Taco Bell, and Chick-Fil-A.

While this review focuses on taste, which is of course subjective, we can offer you the hard facts on the price and specials that these chains offer on their fries on a regular basis. Did you know you can get free fries at McDonald’s every Friday? Or frequently at Wendy’s with their app? We work hard to keep up with the latest so that you can enjoy your fries AND be happy that you saved some money when you bought them. Check out our pages for the following:

French Fries

Ingredients, cooking techniques, and overall fry presentation vary from chain to chain, creating a diverse selection for fry enthusiasts. Comparing the different types of fries, including size, shape, and texture, can give a clear picture of what sets each competitor apart. Additionally, seasonal variations and limited edition fry options can play a role in determining the best fast-food fries. Fries have also gained recognition in the fast-food industry through awards and critic’s favorites, helping to spotlight the truly superior fry offerings.


Key Takeaways

  • Numerous fast-food chains offer unique and delicious fry options, making it important to compare them to determine the best.
  • Factors like ingredients, cooking techniques, size, shape, and texture contribute to the overall appeal of fast-food fries.
  • Seasonal variations, industry recognition, and critic’s favorites can give insight into the best fast-food fries in the market.

Popularity and Comparison Between Fast Food Chains

When it comes to fast food french fries, there are several popular choices that dominate the market. With a wide range of flavors, textures, and shapes, each fast food chain offers something different.

McDonald’s, known for its thin and crispy fries, has been a favorite choice for many fry enthusiasts. On the other hand, Burger King’s thicker-cut fries provide a more substantial bite, and Wendy’s natural-cut fries deliver a rustic, hearty feel. Both of these chains have their dedicated followers as well.

Chick-fil-A stands out with its waffle-shaped fries, which are a clear departure from the standard thin-cut or thick-cut formats of most chains. Arby’s curly fries offer a fun, playful experience that combines texture and flavor, making them a popular choice among fast food fans. Taco Bell has their own take with their flavorful Nacho Fries.

The lineup of major fast-food chains all offer their unique take on french fries. The success of each chain’s fries relies on a delicate balance of flavor, texture, and presentation, which lends itself to a diverse range of preferences among fast food lovers.

Ingredients and Cooking Techniques

The foundation of any delicious fast food fries lies in the selection of quality potatoes. Fresh potatoes are often preferred over frozen fries because they provide better taste and texture. Using the right potato variety is essential for achieving the desired crispness and flavor.

Another crucial aspect is the type of oil used to fry the potatoes. Fast food chains may use vegetable oil, peanut oil, or even beef tallow for frying their fries. Each oil type brings a distinct flavor and texture to the final product. For instance, peanut oil yields crisper fries, while beef tallow imparts a unique taste that is difficult to replicate with other oils.

Apart from the potatoes and oil, the seasoning plays a vital role in enhancing the taste of fast food fries. Simple seasonings can include a blend of salt and powdered beef bouillon. Other chains may add spices like cajun seasoning to create a more pronounced flavor like in cajun fries. Others, like Taco Bell, go with a dipping sauce to take the flavor up a notch.

Diverse cooking techniques also differentiate the taste and texture of fast food fries across various chains. Most restaurants use a two-step frying process to achieve crispy and perfectly cooked fries. They first par-cook the potatoes, letting them cool and form a protective crust, before frying them again until golden brown.

The presentation of fast food fries is another critical aspect of their overall appeal. Different restaurants offer their fries with various toppings to increase their appeal to customers. One such example is cheese sauce, which is often drizzled over the fries to create a more indulgent and satisfying experience.

In conclusion, the best fast food fries come down to the right combination of quality potatoes, oil, seasoning, cooking techniques, and presentation. Each fast-food chain adopts its unique approach to creating the perfect fries for its loyal customers.

Different Types of Fries

French fries are a beloved fast-food staple that has evolved into a variety of forms to cater to different preferences. This section will explore some of the popular types of fries that have emerged over the years.

Curly fries are a fun, spiraled version of the traditional french fry. They are often seasoned with a delicious blend of herbs and spices, adding a unique flavor profile to the dish. Arby’s is known for their savory curly fries, which many fast-food enthusiasts adore.

Crinkle-cut fries are characterized by their distinct, wavy shape. This design adds more surface area to the fry, leading to a satisfying, crispy texture when cooked. Shake Shack, for instance, has gained popularity for their crinkle-cut fries paired with their mouth-watering burgers.

The popular waffle fries have a lattice-like structure that creates an almost netted appearance. This distinctive style allows for great dipping and holds sauces and toppings well. Chick-fil-A, a well-known fast food joint, is famous for their waffle fries and regularly ranks as a fan favorite.

Shoestring fries are thin, crispy, and known for their skinny and elongated form. Despite their delicate size, these fries pack a flavorful punch and provide a satisfying crunch. You can find this type of fry at the popular chain, McDonald’s, alongside their world-famous burgers.

Each type of fry offers a different experience and unique taste, so whether you prefer the crispy texture of shoestring fries or the well-seasoned spirals of curly fries, there is a fry type out there to satisfy every french fry lover’s craving.

Size, Shape, and Texture

When it comes to fast food fries, size, shape, and texture are key factors that play a significant role in overall satisfaction. Each type of fry brings its distinct characteristics, creating a range of mouthwatering options for the avid fry lover.

Crinkle-cut fries, for instance, are known for their wavy shape which provides pleasant ridges that enhance crispiness. Usually thick-cut, these fries have a higher starch content, giving them a more robust flavor and a fluffier interior. One of the classic examples of crinkle-cut fries is found at chains like Shake Shack and Checkers.

Waffle-cut fries on the other hand, offer a unique lattice pattern, allowing for the perfect balance of crispiness and softness. This design also makes them an excellent vessel for dipping sauces, as seen in the popular Chick-fil-A fries. While they may not be as thick as crinkle-cut fries, the waffle-cut fries still offer a satisfying crunch and a tender interior.

When it comes to fresh-cut fries, their charm lies in their simplicity. Cut from whole potatoes and typically served with the skin on, these fries boast an earthy taste and a more natural appearance. With their size often varying, the crispiness can range from perfectly golden and crunchy to delightfully tender. Five Guys is often praised for their fresh-cut fries, which are a fan favorite due to their fresh taste and satisfying texture.

On the smaller side of the spectrum, there are the thin and crispy shoestring fries, often seen at places like McDonald’s and Steak ‘n Shake. These fries are popular for their light and crispy texture, and they are less starchy than their thicker counterparts. While they may be more prone to becoming soggy if not consumed quickly, they make for a delightful snacking experience when fresh.

Lastly, it’s worth mentioning that some fries may have an undesirable texture, often described as cardboard-like. This can be due to a range of factors, such as the oil used for frying, the type of potato, or a suboptimal cooking process. To avoid this pitfall, fast-food chains must master their frying techniques and source high-quality ingredients, ensuring that their fries are always top-notch in terms of size, shape, and texture.

Seasonal Variations and Limited Editions

In the world of fast food fries, establishments often come up with seasonal variations and limited-edition offerings to attract more customers and to stay ahead of competitors. These exciting and sometimes bold flavors make fries even more appealing to fans of the classic side dish.

One of the most popular limited-time offerings in recent years has been the introduction of Nacho Fries by Taco Bell. These seasoned fries are served with a side of warm nacho cheese sauce, making them a delightful combination of crispy, seasoned potato sticks and creamy, spicy cheese.

Seasoned fries have become quite popular among fast-food chains, offering customers a twist on the traditional and some additional flavor options. For instance, many establishments have experimented with Cajun seasoning, providing a zesty and spicy taste that complements the already addictive nature of french fries. The mixture of herbs and spices used in Cajun seasoning offers a unique and satisfying flavor experience.

Limited-edition and seasonal fries give fast-food chains the opportunity to experiment with various ingredients and combinations. Through the creative use of seasonings, toppings, and sauces, fast food establishments can cater to diverse taste preferences and keep customers intrigued with unexpected flavors and textures.

Fast Food Awards and Industry Recognition

The competition for the title of best fast food fries is always fierce, with many major chains vying for recognition. In the 2023 USA Today 10Best Awards, numerous fast food restaurants competed for the top spot in the fry face-off. As consumer preferences evolve, so do the offerings from these chains, leading to innovation and unique options, such as spicy chicken sandwiches, coffee nuggets, and more.

In addition to fries, fast food chains also excel in other categories, such as coffee nuggets, which lend a caffeinated kick to a classic snack. The awards also consider a wide range of products, with The Fasties 2022 honoring the best in 15 different categories, including Best Breakfast, Best Chicken Nuggets, and Best Spicy Chicken Sandwich. The annual celebration of the top offerings in the fast food industry showcases how tastes and preferences drive constant innovation in the market.

Consumer rankings and opinions also play a significant role in determining the best fast food fries. However, personal preferences often influence opinions on which fast food chain truly offers the best fries, with options ranging from crinkle-cut to curly and shoestring to thick-cut styles.

The fast food industry constantly adapts to address ever-changing consumer preferences and desires, resulting in innovative products that capture attention in various award categories. As restaurants continue to compete for awards and recognition, it is certain that consumers will continue to enjoy a vast array of tasty options, including the best fast food fries, coffee nuggets, spicy chicken sandwiches, and more.

McDonald’s Fries

McDonald's Free Fry Day

McDonald’s fries have been a popular choice among fast food enthusiasts for many years. In a recent survey conducted by Civic Science, McDonald’s French fries came out on top as the favorite, garnering a full 50% of the votes. In comparison, no other fast food chain, including Wendy’s, Chick-fil-A, Burger King, Arby’s, and KFC, received more than 15% of the votes.

Many people who have indulged in McDonald’s fries can attest to their addictive qualities. Some attribute this to the beef flavoring that is used in the ingredient mix. Others, say that McDonald’s fries hold a nostalgic appeal, reminding them of their childhood experiences with the golden arches.

However, it is crucial to note that the quality of McDonald’s fries can be inconsistent. As some people have pointed out, McDonald’s fries are best enjoyed when they are hot, with a generous layer of salt. Once they cool down, their taste and texture can decline rapidly, making them significantly less enjoyable to eat.

There are still some individuals who prefer other fast-food chains’ French fries, such as the curly fries from Arby’s or Jack in the Box. These people appreciate the unique characteristics that these other fast food chains bring to their fries, including the distinctive spice mix and crunch.

Despite the competition, McDonald’s fries have clearly emerged as a fan favorite in the fast food world. As long as they are served fresh and piping hot, they have proven to hold a special place in the hearts of many customers all around the globe.

Burger King Fries

Burger King Free Fries App Deal

The Burger King french fries reign supreme in the world of fast-food fries. They stand out due to their distinct characteristics, which separate them from other fast food fries. These unique traits include their notably artificial appearance and texture, their seemingly breading-coated crust, and a resemblance to the idea of french fries rather than the actual food itself. All of these factors contribute to the winning combination that places Burger King fries at the top of the fast-food hierarchy.

In the realm of fast food, a certain degree of artificiality is expected and even embraced. Fast food sets itself apart from traditional dining experiences by providing a more accessible, efficient, and capitalistically driven interpretation of a meal. The best examples of fast food capture the essence of food without attempting to replicate the genuine dining experience entirely. Burger King fries embody this concept by presenting the idea of french fries in a uniquely exaggerated manner, offering a pleasing blend of flavors and textures that play to the fast-food category’s strengths.

As a result, the seemingly unnatural aspects of Burger King fries actually work in their favor. Because fast food is designed to evoke specific taste and sensory experiences, it thrives on its innate artificial nature, capitalizing on the idea of food as opposed to replicating genuine meal options. In this sense, the Burger King french fries truly shine, showcasing a unique balance between the quintessential fry concept and the exaggerated features that make them memorable.

Ultimately, Burger King’s fries easily outperform their competitors, such as McDonald’s, due to their distinct qualities which make them an ideal fast-food choice. Their characteristic artificiality, bold texture, and unique flavor elevate them to a high status within the fast food category, showcasing the power of a well-crafted balance between reality and reinvention.

Wendy’s Fry

Wendy's Free Fries

When it comes to fast food fries, Wendy’s has taken a significant step to improve its offerings. Their “Hot & Crispy” fry came out just a few years ago and have surpassed many people’s expectations. In comparison to McDonald’s iconic fries, Wendy’s has managed to create a more modern and flavorful option that seems to resonate better with current culinary trends.

The Hot & Crispy fries from Wendy’s are noticeably thicker and crispier than their McDonald’s counterparts, which can be attributed to their starchy coating. This coating gives the fries a distinct craggy texture, not unlike a high-quality frozen french fry from the grocery store. Additionally, there’s a unique, sugary-like quality to the fries that lends a certain candy-like appeal. Their thickness makes them an excellent vehicle for condiments, further adding to their popularity.

On the other side of this fry face-off, McDonald’s classic thin-cut fries have long been regarded as the gold standard in fast food. However, in recent years, they seem to be somewhat lacking in flavor and have somewhat fallen out of sync with the culinary preferences of today. While they do come served hot and have a satisfying crunch, their thinness means that they lack the creamy potato interior that has become favored by many chefs and food writers. Furthermore, they can quickly turn stale and lose their appeal if not consumed immediately.

Not everyone’s convinced this change is for the better, though. Yours truly actually preferred the older version of the Wendy’s Fry. They were crispier and you could taste the salt on it so much better!

Taco Bell’s Nacho Fries



Nacho Fries at Taco Bell

Taco Bell’s Nacho Fries have been a part of their menu since 2018 and have gained a mixed reputation among fast-food enthusiasts. They are made up of battered, seasoned fries served with a small cup of melted nacho cheese. These fries aim to offer a taste of Mexican-style seasoning that distinguishes them from other fast-food fries. However, opinions on these fries are split with some fans loving them, while others are less than impressed.

Despite these flaws, the Nacho Fries seem to have a nostalgic appeal for many customers. They have a knack for reminding one of their middle school cafeteria days, indulging in simple comfort foods like dipping fries in bright orange nacho cheese sauce. While the fries might not hold a candle to gourmet fast-food options, they serve their purpose of hitting the right nostalgic spot for some people. How many times have people said to you “do you remember when Taco Bell had fries?!”. Um, yeah, I do. And they have ’em now.

As for those who don’t share the same love for these fries, their opinions are equally valid. The crucial point is that everyone has their preferences, and there’s no harm in embracing the things that make one happy, be it gourmet meals or simple snacks like Taco Bell’s Nacho Fries.

Dairy Queen Fries

Dairy Queen is well-known for its delicious frozen treats, such as soft serve and Blizzards. However, the fast-food chain also serves up a side of fries to complement their burgers and other savory offerings. The quality of these fries can vary depending on the circumstances.

When served fresh from the fryer and without excessive salt, some people may find Dairy Queen’s fries quite enjoyable, even drawing comparisons to the popular McDonald’s fries. The crispiness and heat of freshly cooked fries contribute to their appeal.

Unfortunately, Dairy Queen’s fries can lose their appeal quickly if they are not served immediately. As the fries cool down, they can become less appetizing and fail to deliver that desired crispy texture. Additionally, some customers have noted that the fries can be too salty at times, detracting from the overall taste. This can be said for the rest of the competition though, so we don’t judge DQ too harshly on this. It’s just not our favorite.

In conclusion, while Dairy Queen’s fries have the potential to be enjoyable when served fresh and unsalted, they may not consistently provide the ideal fast-food fry experience for everyone.

Arby’s Fries

Click for your Arbys coupon

Arby’s, a popular fast-food restaurant known for its extensive selection of meats, also offers an enticing side dish – the curly fries. These spiced, coiled potatoes stand out from the rest of the menu and have even been ranked number one in Thrillist’s list of 19 best fast-food French fries. The irresistible taste and texture of Arby’s curly fries have even made their way into the frozen food section of grocery stores, further increasing their popularity.

So, what exactly makes Arby’s curly fries so perfect? To answer that, we need to take a look at the process behind their creation. Arby’s processes over 125 million pounds of potatoes annually at their French fry production facility. The ConAgra plant in southern Washington state receives 40 to 50 semi-trailer truckloads of potatoes per day, with each truckload weighing approximately 30-35 tons.

Once the potatoes are cleaned and sorted according to size, they are propelled at high speeds into a cutter, which spiralizes them into the iconic curly shape. Then, a few key steps ensure that the fries attain the perfect balance of fluffy and crispy texture, as well as the zesty seasoning that fans adore.

After spiralizing, the curly fries are blanched in hot water for 20 minutes. This process deactivates the enzymes in the potatoes, preserving their quality while also developing the fluffy, baked potato-like center. Once blanched and dried, the fries proceed to be coated in Arby’s signature spice-filled batter. This batter is a mixture of water, garlic, onion, salt, and other spices and is responsible for the fries’ deliciously zesty flavor.

The coated fries are then briefly bathed in 375-degree oil for 30 seconds before being frozen and shipped out to Arby’s restaurants, where they are fully cooked and served to order. With their perfectly seasoned, flawless texture and unique curly shape, it’s no wonder Arby’s curly fries have become a fan favorite.

Arby’s Curly Fries are the best, in my opinion. So, what’s up with these Crinkle Cut Fries that they put out a few years ago? Do people really prefer these over the incredible Curly Fries. I don’t get it.

Chick-Fil-A Waffle Fries

Chick-fil-A is known for its delicious chicken sandwiches, but their waffle fries have also gained popularity among fast food lovers. These fries are unique in their waffle shape and offer a crispy exterior with a fluffy interior. Paired with Chick-fil-A’s barbecue sauce, they become a delightful snack or side dish that many can’t resist. Comparing these to McDonald’s classic fries may seem challenging, but different preferences could reveal a clear favorite.

Evaluating fries from both Chick-fil-A and McDonald’s, the competition appears to be quite intense. Some fast food fans on Instagram have even raved about Chick-fil-A’s waffle fries, mentioning that they used to prefer McDonald’s fries until having a taste of the waffle fries with barbecue sauce. However, it’s important to note that McDonald’s classic fries still hold a special place in the hearts of many and continue to be a popular choice.

According to some, McDonald’s fries surpass Chick-fil-A’s waffle fries in terms of overall taste and satisfaction. While Chick-fil-A’s waffle fries beat several other competitors in the fast-food industry, they don’t quite measure up to the brand’s chicken sandwich, which is often regarded as the gold standard. On the other hand, McDonald’s fries have a certain charm and familiarity that keeps them at the top of the list for many people.

In conclusion, it can be said that Chick-fil-A’s waffle fries might be a tempting alternative to traditional fast-food fries, but they haven’t won over the masses entirely. I respectfully disagree. I think the waffle fries are solid. Maaaayyyybbbee even my 2nd best, behind Arby’s Curly Fries. Perhaps I’m just a sucker for the non-traditional shapes of the fries, I dunno.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the top fast food chains known for their fries?

Some of the top fast food chains that offer well-loved french fries include McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, Chick-Fil-A and Dairy Queen. These chains offer a variety of fry styles and flavors, which contribute to their popularity.

Which fast food restaurant has the healthiest fries?

Determining the healthiest fast food fries is subjective and depends on factors such as calorie count, fat content, and sodium levels. It’s essential to check the nutritional information provided by each fast food chain to make an informed decision.

How do popular fast food fries compare in taste?

The taste of fast food fries varies depending on factors such as the type of potato used, the cooking method, and seasonings. Arby’s Curly Fries are praised for their flavor, texture, and shelf life, while Wendy’s new Natural Cut Fry are appreciated for their fresh, hand-cut style.

What are the best regional fast food french fries?

Some regional fast food chains with popular fries include In-N-Out Burger, renowned for its fresh-cut fries, and Portillo’s, known for its crinkle-cut fries. Regional preferences might differ, so it’s essential to explore local options for the best fries.

Crinkle vs Regular cut: Where can you find the best fast food crinkle fries?

For crinkle-cut fries, Shake Shack and Portillo’s are known to offer tasty options. Regular-cut fries, on the other hand, can be found at McDonald’s and Burger King, with each chain having its unique seasoning and cooking style.

Are there any famous frozen fries brands that taste like fast food?

While replicating the exact fast food taste might be challenging, some well-known frozen fries brands like Ore-Ida and Alexia provide a similar experience. Experimenting with different brands and cooking methods can help you find the most suitable option for your taste preferences.

Want great restaurant deals like these sent straight to your inbox?  Click here to sign up for our EatDrinkDeals newsletter!