The game-changing trick that makes frozen french fries better

Depending on who you ask, french fries could be considered the deep fryer's gift to hungry people everywhere, or as some describe them (via Harvard Health Publishing), a "weapon of dietary destruction." And while the jury is out on the nutritional worth of your favorite bar snack or side dish, everyone is in agreement about one thing: frozen french fries are the worst kids on the block. Not because they are nutritionally inferior to their freshly-made counterparts, but because they tend to come out limp, lifeless, and soggy after we've tried to bring them back to life.

There's a reason why what we think are fresh fries — particularly ones that come from your favorite restaurants — taste so much better than the frozen variety does, and that all has to do with the way you prepare them. 

Why some french fries are crispier than others

For the ultimate fry, potatoes should be cut in identical slices, or they will come out in an uneven manner. Fries should be made with russet potatoes, so that they have a very high amount of starch. They are deep fried in oil with a high smoke point, like canola or peanut. They are salted straight out of the fryer, and right before they are served. Most importantly, they are fried twice — once in cooler oil and once in hotter oil to give you the texture that is crisp and crunchy on the outside, and soft and pillowy on the inside (via The Daily Meal).

You may not want to hear this, but if you think, "Oh, frozen fries aren't good as fresh because they're only fried or heated once," think again. Food Network says most frozen fries are in fact, pre-fried using less-than-spectacular fats, like trans fats and palm oil, before they are frozen, and some of these carry high levels of sodium. So if all we home cooks need to do is to take frozen fries to the finish line, where are we failing?

Why a cooling rack works for baking frozen french fries

Epicurious says frozen fries release moisture as they are cooking, and if these fries are sitting on a baking sheet, there is nowhere for the moisture to go. Putting a cooling rack underneath fries as they cook to elevate them lets the moisture hit the pan, and then it evaporates with a sizzle — which means more hot air that can help cook your fries more evenly. 

The site says the hack actually turns your oven into a de facto air fryer, and it can help you bake breaded chicken or fish so that they become crisp, too. One more thing: before going fry-happy and pouring all your frozen fries onto the cooling rack, remember to have your fries practice social distancing, and don't crowd the pan (via The Kitchn).