A Golden-Brown Blind Taste Test of 7 Frozen French Fry Brands
In our Taste Test series, BA editors conduct blind comparisons to discover the best supermarket staples (like tomato sauce or vanilla ice cream). Today, which frozen french fry deserves a spot in your shopping cart?
The average American eats 29 pounds of french fries each year, and a third of potatoes grown in this country are destined to be hacked to bits and frozen. Compared to homemade, frozen fries are exceedingly easy. And delicious. And it’s fun to stick a couple under your top lip and pretend to be a potato-toothed walrus.
French fry producers haven’t been immune to inflation-related costs, passing some of these on to the customer over the last year, but the category doesn’t seem to be slowing down. Frozen french fry sales are forecast to grow by more than 3% each year until at least 2026. With so many brands out there, finding the ideal crispy-creamy frozen french fry is a challenge, with companies turning to ingredients and additives—like sodium acid pyrophosphate and xanthan gum—to nail the assignment.
So which brand is the best? We had a handful of BA staffers try seven varieties of straight, classic-cut fries from brands like Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods 365, Lamb Weston, and McCain. We prepared them according to package directions, and resisted dunking them in ketchup before tasting for flavor, seasoning, and texture. Some were good, others were very bad, and one rose to the top like a cork in water. Here’s the full report.
Soggy in Maybe a Good Way: Stop & Shop Straight Cut French Fried Potatoes
The fry: made with vegetable oil; annatto extract, a yellowish plant-derived pigment; salt; and sodium acid pyrophosphate, a preservative that prevents discoloration.
The taste: Texturally, these ½-inch-thick potatoes were like something you’d find inside a fish and chips packet. They were “very tender,” said test kitchen coordinator Inés Anguiano. “Only the very tips of each fry are crispy,” associate cooking editor Antara Sinha added. But the insides were the “consistency of mashed potatoes,” said editorial operations associate Kate Kassin, who was a fan, though others disagreed. Everyone could agree they needed more salt. Crunchy lovers will want to cook these longer than the package directions, but for people who like limp potatoes (me), this fry is for you.