Frozen French Fries, Ranked From Worst To Best

When you need to satisfy your potato craving, the choice should be obvious.

There are few things better than a good french fry. From the salty mess you pull from a greasy fast food bag to the crisp wedge you gleefully order instead of a side salad, french fried potatoes have an unparalleled ability to brighten a day and satisfy a craving. But this godly potential also makes a bad fry all the more disappointing. So, to help you avoid the calamity that is a bad fry experience, I tasted a bunch of frozen fries to find the best brand.

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I visited four different grocery stores to find every nationally available frozen fry brand I could. I limited my selection to the most basic, standard french fries, avoiding sweet potato, tater tot, waffle, and seasoned varieties (though a few ubiquitous crinkle-cut options made their way in). I cooked all the fries in the oven—air fryer fanatics, stand down—according to package instructions. Fries were judged on the following criteria:

  • Flavor: not just the potato-iness, but the salt and nostalgic greasiness.
  • Texture: crispy, pillowy, the right chew.
  • Freshness: basically, could I tell this was cooked from frozen?
  • Let's rank the fries.

8. 365 Straight Cut Fries

I would hate to evoke the ire of Jeff Bezos or the (hopefully unionizing?) staff of the Amazon/Whole Foods test kitchens, but as I've learned from past rankings, 365 brand products are often some of the worst out there. These straight cut fries are no exception. I actually cooked these twice, thinking that their dryness in my first tasting was a result of my overcooking them, but no, their arid, fibrous texture seems to be on purpose. Try sprinkling a handful of instant mashed potato flakes into your mouth and you'll have experienced these horrendous fries without the cooking time.

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7. 365 Organic Crinkle Cut Fries

Going organic and opting for a crinkle cut did nothing to help out Whole Foods' sad attempt at this hard-to-make-disgusting product. Here, ribbing added no pleasure. The fries were thick and stayed soggy. In this case, it tasted like the instant mashed potato flakes were cooked into a gluey paste, with a barely crisped skin holding them together. This textural disaster was not assisted by the bland flavor of seemingly fake potatoes.

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6. Ore-Ida Golden Fries

I had high hopes for the fries from the first company that comes to mind when I think of frozen potato products. While Ore-Ida may have a stronghold on the industry, these fries left a bit to be desired. These were not the abominations that 365's were, but there was nothing special about them. They tasted like... frozen fries. The texture was dry, almost linen-like, with the grainy potato inside separating from the exterior. While bland on their own, "seasoning to taste," as the bag suggests, slightly improved the otherwise listless flavor.

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5. Ore-Ida Extra Crispy Crinkles

If you put a bunch of scientists in the room and asked them to create a perfect fry, this might be what you get. Not because it is a perfect fry, but because it tastes lab-made. These crispy crinkles from Ore-Ida tell two distinct stories. Their texture is nearly perfect: a super-crisp outer shell giving way to a fluffy potato center. The flavor, on the other hand, tastes intensely of chemicals or melted plastic. In fact, I had to spit out my second bite because of how intensely artificial it tasted.

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4. Nathan’s Jumbo Crinkle Cut French Fries(!)

In every group of friends, there's that one weird friend that's not necessarily off-putting, but not super likable either. And in this group of frozen french fry friends, that acquired-taste weirdo is definitely Nathan's. Maybe it's not surprising that a hot dog company makes some weird-ass fries. These things were dark. Not burnt as a result of being overbaked, but dark in color even when frozen. This gave them a deep, roasted flavor that I personally liked but was met with mixed feelings from my fellow taste testers. The fries were not crispy either, which is not a sin in my book—every type of fry texture deserves a place at the table—but the result was more like a breakfast potato in consistency. Slather these with chili and they'd be great, but maybe pass on them for your shoestring burger-side fantasy.

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3. Alexia House Cut Fries with Sea Salt

These fried taters tasted like your healthy friend was trying to convince you of a good fry alternative. They were like the turkey bacon of fries. Granted, they are real fries, not a french fry alternative, but something about them tasted like they should be next to your vegan tuna salad sandwich. You can really taste the potato in these fries, a deep and dirty flavor that can be appealing but doesn't necessarily satisfy the greasy craving you often have when reaching for a deep-fried potato stick. They ranked high on freshness, but at what cost?

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2. Trader Joe’s Handsome Cut Potato Fries

These fries being ranked at #2 shouldn't be read as a credit to them, but instead an unfortunate commentary on the abysmal state of the frozen fry industry. These were fine fries. They had the potato taste of Alexia's but enough salty brightness to counteract the dirty potato flavor. They stayed decently crispy with a soft interior and I could certainly imagine grabbing them by the handful and stuffing them in my face. There wasn't anything necessarily wrong with these fries, but by no means did they inspire excitement or brighten my day the way I know french fries can.

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1. Grown In Idaho Hand Cut Style Fries

These french fries were remarkable. They scored 24 out of 25 points on my scale—yes, there is a method to this madness—nearly flawless in every category and 9 points higher than the next closest competitor. The corporate packaging and giant map of Idaho didn't exactly inspire confidence, making it all the more serendipitous when they came out beautifully. They were easy to cook, not requiring any of the flipping or spraying that other brands demanded, and in 20-ish minutes, golden, crispy, salty fries appeared. They had the shattering crunch you dream of in a french fry while maintaining interior chewiness, and you get the deep flavor of a real (Idaho) potato with enough saltiness and greasiness to satisfy the junk food craving. While I may need a break from fries after tasting and re-tasting all the contenders, this will be the only bag I reach for going forward.

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