The Mistake You're Making When Cutting Potatoes For French Fries

The debate over which french fry shape is best may never end (though Mashed did try to settle the argument with our ranking of french fry cuts). Regardless of whether you think traditional, wedge, or waffle-cut fries reign supreme, however, there's one thing you need to keep in mind when slicing your spuds for homemade fries: Cut them uniformly to ensure a perfect batch.

Admittedly, prepping potatoes for this beloved side is already a tedious task — you have to seek out the right potatoes for your french fries, peel and cut them, and soak them for a considerable amount of time, all before tossing them in the fryer. Still, skipping this step would be a major mistake, and if you've ever bitten into a fry that's still slightly raw, you understand why.

When you slice your spuds all willy-nilly, some fries will be thicker or thinner than others. While this may not initially sound like a bad thing, the blunder will make your fries cook at an uneven rate in your oven, fryer, or air fryer, potentially leaving the thicker fries undercooked and the thinner ones burnt. Exerting a bit of extra effort during the slicing phase of your potato prep will ensure that each fry cooks evenly and reaches that perfect ratio of golden crispy exterior to fluffy interior.

How to uniformly slice french fries

If you don't have a french fry press or mandoline slicer, a sharp chef's knife and a cutting board are all you need to slice your potatoes evenly. After washing, drying, and peeling your spuds, slice a lengthwise piece that's about ¼ inch wide off the bottom of the potato. This will allow your potato to rest flat against the cutting board rather than rolling around as you cut. Then, with the flat side down, cut the potato into slabs using fluid, lengthwise cuts. Traditional fries like the ones from McDonald's are about ¼ inch thick, though you can make them thicker or thinner to your preference — just keep in mind that thicker fries will take longer to cook, so if you're already hungry, thinner might be better.

Once your potatoes are sliced, stack two or three slices on top of each other and cut them lengthwise into sticks. Again, these can be whatever thickness you desire, but they should be as close to the same thickness as possible. You can achieve this by lining up one of the fries you've already cut on top of the stack and using it as a guide.

Don't get discouraged if you can't get a full batch of identical fries on your first try. Practice makes perfect, especially where knives are concerned. Plus, if you have to give it another go, when has more french fries ever been a bad thing?