The Trick To Getting Restaurant Perfect Fries

There's nothing quite like the moment of lowering a basket of uncooked fries into a vat of hot oil; the satisfying sizzling sound and the soothing smell of deep-fried starches never ceases to make stomachs growl. However, if you're trying to make them at home (after all, delivery fries are never hot or fresh enough, via NPR), you might be feeling discouraged at the fruits of your labor. Luckily, there's a simple trick that will turn your homemade fries into restaurant quality, and even make them slightly healthier (without the need for an air fryer).

The secret is simple: start with cold oil rather than hot (via America's Test Kitchen). This might sound counter-productive, but cold-start frying "uses half the oil... and achieves crunchy fries with deep potato flavor," all while reducing mess and spitting oil burns! In fact, you don't even need to pre-cook the potatoes (via epicurious).

According to ATK, "As the vegetables cook, they lose surface moisture, which is replaced by oil. Because the cold start cooks them more gently, less moisture is lost, and less oil is absorbed during frying." So, if you're willing to put in a little more cook time, you can have restaurant-quality fries at home. There's just one small catch: this cooking method doesn't work on all fried foods.

Foods you should never fry in cold oil

We all want the most bang for our fried food buck, but before you head to the kitchen and start cold-start frying everything in sight, there are a few caveats you should know. For instance, cold-start frying won't work on anything dipped, covered, battered, breaded, or otherwise coated before cooking (think corn dogs, fried chicken, and even onion rings). The reason is that those foods need the oil to be hot right away in order to set their outer shell. After all, plunging an uncooked corndog down into a cold oil bath would cause the batter to slip right off the hot dog before either of them even started to cook. Not to mention, it would make a complete mess of your fryer at the same time, per ATK.

So, keep the cold-start frying method to frying fries, Brussels sprouts, and any other plain vegetables, and when you're dipping, coating, or breading, turn the heat back up to the temperatures that those recipes recommend.