We Tried The Lowest Rated Fast Food Fries. Here's How It Went

It seems like French fries should be hard to screw up, right? They're just one ingredient (two, if you count salt), fried until crispy. However, making french fries is an art that requires finesse, a strong command of technique, and multiple steps to get right. Anyone who's suffered through the limp sticks of sadness sold as In-N-Out fries knows how bad fries can be if they're not prepared correctly.

We asked you, the readers, to tell us what you thought the worst fast food fries were. Shockingly, In-N-Out didn't win (lose?) the poll. Instead, with a whopping 28.05% of the vote, Burger King earned the bad French fry crown.

We can only attribute these results to the influence of In-N-Out stans or to that chain's limited geographic footprint, but we were still intrigued enough by the data to want to test Burger King's fries ourselves. Do they deserve their bad reputation, or have they been unfairly slandered? We picked up an order to find out.

Burger King fries overview

Burger King fries are your standard thin-cut, crispy fast food French fries. Burger King doesn't seem to list the ingredients for its fries on its website, but according to Fooducate, these fries are made with a lot more than just potatoes, oil, and salt. Other ingredients include potato starch, rice flour, and even baking soda. According to an AP News article from 1997, Burger King's fries are sprayed with batter before being frozen, and judging by the ingredients list on Fooducate, it looks like that's still true.

As for nutrition, it's as bad as you would expect for deep-fried potatoes. A small order of fries contains around 320 calories, 17 grams of fat, and 735 milligrams of sodium (via Burger King). The lone nutritional bright spot is 4.4 grams of fiber. But hey, if you wanted something healthy, you'd order the salad — or maybe just not go to Burger King at all.

We've all noticed that fast food is getting more expensive these days, but we were shocked by the price of fries at our local Burger King. We paid $4.44 for a large order, but the price at your local BK might be different.

How do Burger King fries taste?

We had low expectations, but Burger King's fries were actually quite tasty. They were served screaming hot and had clearly just been cooked. The exterior of the fries was pretty dark compared to most other fast food fries and was also quite crispy. The batch we got was heavily salted, which is how we like our fries. There was just enough oil clinging to the fries to make them delicious, but not enough to take them over the edge into overly greasy territory. In short, they were really solid fries.

Our one problem with them when they were fresh out of the fryer was that the insides were too soft and mealy. They're not the only fast food fries that have this problem; many fast food fries have interiors with the texture of wet napkins.

We almost never say this about French fries, but Burger King's fries were actually a bit better when they cooled down. The insides of the fries firmed up to a more recognizably potato-y texture and the outsides remained impressively crisp.

Do we agree with the survey results?

Honestly, we think the results of our survey weren't especially fair to Burger King's fries. We liked them more than the fries from several other fast food chains. We'd even go so far as to say they were better than most orders of McDonald's fries we've eaten recently! A McDonald's fry in peak condition beats a Burger King fry, but the spuds from the Golden Arches start to get sad mere moments after they leave the deep fryer. They just don't have the longevity of Burger King's fries.

In case we didn't make it clear in the introduction to this article, we believe In-N-Out fries should have won the worst fast food fry title. Wendy's came in at second-worst in the poll, which we also don't agree with. Wendy's fries get outshone by the chain's burgers, but they're tasty every time we get them. Chick-fil-A waffle fries weren't even included in the survey, but for us, they'd rank as some of the worst fries from any chain. They tend to be soft, undersalted, and disappointing compared to the company's excellent chicken.

How could Burger King fries be improved?

Just because Burger King's fries are already good doesn't mean they can't be improved upon. The main problem with them is the texture of the inside of each fry, especially when they're fresh out of the fryer. Frozen fries aren't always so mushy inside, so we know that it's possible for Burger King to fix this issue. We bet that this problem can be resolved by either switching the kind of potato used to make the fries or by tweaking the method Burger King uses to process and freeze the spuds.

The other minor problem with our order of fries was that the oil tasted kind of old. We think that our local Burger King might have reused its frying oil a few too many times. The extra-dark exteriors of the fries also suggested to us that they were fried in old oil. It wasn't an overwhelming taste, and it by no means ruined our French fry experience, but the fries would have been better if they had been cooked in fresh oil.

What are the best fast food fries according to the survey?

Our bad fast food fry poll found that Shake Shack had the least offensive fries, with less than 5% of respondents saying they disliked Shake Shack's fries. Five Guys wasn't far behind.

However, those results get complicated when you look at another survey we did that asked people to name their picks for the best French fries. In that survey, McDonald's came out on top, and it wasn't even close. Five Guys ranked second, but it was 25 percentage points behind Mickey D's. Interestingly, Burger King fell to the middle of the pack in that survey at fourth place. It beat Shake Shack, Checkers, In-N-Out, and Steak 'n Shake.

Maybe the moral of the story is that fast food fry preferences are highly subjective. Also, getting an unlucky bad batch of fries from a restaurant can permanently change the way you think about its ability to cook potatoes. In any case, Burger King fries really aren't bad, but if we're being honest, Burger King's onion rings will steal our hearts every time.