This Is Why Checkers Fries Are So Delicious

Claiming that one fast food chain (or any type of restaurant, for that matter) has the best French fries is a surefire way to start a savage debate among a group of culinarily-minded people. Granted, everyone is entitled to his or her opinion about which fast food chain has the best fries. It's just that expressing said opinion is sure to bring out passionate responses. A less fraught statement, however, is to claim that this or that restaurant has great fries. And when it comes to the fast food burger and hotdog chain Checkers (known as Rally's in some regions), the fries are pretty great — and that's just a fact, whether or not they're your favorite.

So instead of wading into the troubled waters of "best fast food fries" claims, instead let's focus on Checkers, uncovering how this one chain makes the best fries they can. If you live in one of the 24 states (plus Washington D.C.) lucky enough to have a Checkers, head on over to one and try them for yourself — or simply make them at home (we'll explain how below).  

It's a matter of batter and spices

Why are Checker's fries so good? If we were limited to using just one word, it would be this one: batter. (And if we're allowed two words, the second is spices.) Unlike the French fries served at most fast food chains, which are simply made from potatoes cut into sticks that are then deep fried in oil, then heavily coated in salt, Checkers adds in a delectable extra step when preparing their French fries. 

Their cut potatoes are coated in a "seasoned fry batter" (via Fast Casual), just like you'd expect on a mozzarella stick or deep fried pickle. The Famous Seasoned Fries are, according to the chain, "secretly seasoned [and] famously good." Ryan Joy, senior director of Research and Development at Checkers Drive-In Restaurants, offered some more specifics to Fast Casual. He noted that the batter, which is applied before the fries are, well, fried, is made from "a mixture of flours, starches, and 15 different herbs and spices."

The combination of all those different ingredients adds a lot of flavor and a uniqueness customers have come to love.

They're thick and crispy

Many fast food chains use thin cuts for their French fries, and these can taste great when fresh, but they quickly cool down, get soggy, and really lose their appeal. Checkers uses a thicker cut of fry that holds its heat and shape better for longer and does not get soggy as quickly as those of many competitors.

Another reason the fries stay crispy and fresher-tasting coms back to that batter (via Fast Casual). The combination of all those different starches and spices not only adds a lot of flavor, but it also ensures the fries stay crispier and fresher-tasting for longer. So you can actually enjoy your Checkers fries even after the 10-minute drive home from the drive-thru line. But it's still probably a better idea to dine in (or eat in your car if you're practicing social distancing) if you want fresh fries that hold their texture and taste.

There are multiple fry options

Checkers doesn't offer just one type of French fry (and even if they did, no one would be complaining were it their signature Famous Seasoned Fries) but three different fry options, two of which are more akin to meals than sides. The first of those would be Checkers' Fully Loaded Fries, which come with cheese, ranch sauce, and bacon (you can opt to remove any of these toppings when you order). The second is the Cheese Chili Cheese Fries (yes, that's what they're called, the word "cheese" is used in the title twice, no typos here) that are fries covered with — you guessed it — chili and cheddar cheese.

You can also try the chain's Fry-Seasoned Monstrella Stix that are made with the same batter and seasoning as the fries. (They also come with a side of marinara sauce.) What you may not want to do is look into the nutritional "value" of any of these menu items, because it's grisly stuff. OK fine, we'll share just a bit: the Fully Loaded Fries are loaded with 870 calories, 56 grams of fat, 16 grams of saturated fat, and 2,190 milligrams of sodium.

You can taste the guilt

Checkers fries are, indeed, the darling of many a French fry fan. But if you're searching for a healthier fry, then, oh goodness, you are looking in the wrong place. Using a large order of Checkers fries as our baseline, let's compare them to fries from a major competitor you may have heard of: McDonald's.

According to Checkers, a large order of fries contains an average of 590 calories, 220 of which are from fat. And that's not to mention the 29 grams of actual fat packed into that order, 10 grams of saturated fat, and a whopping 1,310 milligrams of sodium. (Kick things up to Checkers' larger Fry Lover's XL and you face a monstrous 910 calories total, 400 of which come from the 45 grams of fat — with 16 grams of saturated fat —  and a cardiovascular system-killing 2,030 milligrams of sodium!)

A large order of fries from McDonald's is hardly a diet food, but it's a "healthier" bet compared to Checkers' fries. According to  McDonald's, an order of its large fries contains 490 calories, 23 grams of fat, and three grams of saturated fat, plus a much more modest 400 milligrams of sodium. 

For reference, according to information from My Food Data, an adult on a 2,000 calorie per day diet should consume a maximum of 78 grams of fat and 20 grams of saturated fat daily. Sodium consumption should be limited to 2,300 milligrams, with a recommended intake of just 1,500 milligrams.

They can even be bought frozen at the grocery store

If you think that just because you don't live near a Checkers (or Rally's) fast food restaurant you can never get their beloved fries, then you'll be happy to learn that you're wrong. That's because the brand offers their celebrated battered and seasoned fries in a frozen option available at many grocery stores, such as Walmart, Kroger, and more. For best results, the frozen fries should be deep fried in hot oil, which will have them coming out as near perfect dupes for the fries you get fresh at the restaurant itself.

If you want to go with a slightly healthier approach, you can also cook them in an air fryer, according to Fry Queen. And in an air fryer, there's no need even to add extra oil because these fries have some oil to them already. It takes about 18 minutes to air fry Checkers fries to a near restaurant taste — just make sure to give them a shake or stir halfway through the cooking process.