Cold start French fries

I just tried this tonight for the first time.
The result was great, but it took forever. The recipe says it could take up to an hour. It took 1.5 hours for my potatoes to start to brown. I turned the heat up to low-medium at the 40 minute mark. I would love to do it again, but 1 hour and 40 minutes seems excessive. Anyone have any tricks?

Maybe your low was too low. Try a higher low?

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Thank you for this. A very interesting article and I will give this a go.

It sounds like the first stage needs the oil to get hot enough for it to bubble - no doubt a bit of trial and error required to get the balance right

Here’s a post of mine from CH:

I used this method for my first ever attempt at french fries and can report that it works beautifully. I cut one lady-fist-sized yukon gold potato into 3/8" thick sticks, covered them with sunflower oil in a small saucepan, and brought the oil to a boil over medium-high heat. I then moved the potatoes around a little with tongs (they do stick to the bottom of the pan) and continued frying them until they browned, about 15 minutes total. The result: grease-free, perfectly crisp fries and no gross oily smell in the kitchen. This is either good news or bad news, because now I’m tempted to make french fries every day.


You said a similar thing in the CH thread!

Where did/do you get the idea that people are anti-cold start fries?

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Indeed. They also tend to believe something if they hear it often enough. See also: Politics.


Agreed. It works, well.

I think this was on America’s Test Kitchen. I made it once but it took a lot of time to make sure I cut the potatoes exactly the same. And they stuck to the pan a lot for me. I smushed too many trying to unstick them. I think the ATK version used more oil, that’s why I didn’t experiment with it again. I’ll have to try it again next time I don’t need to fry many servings.

As far as a “lot of oil”, isn’t that so the temperature doesn’t drop as much? I sometimes do fry in a thin wok with less oil and keep adjusting the heat up and down, but it’s really tiresome to always watch the thermometer so closely.

The only vessel that gives me that kind of control is a thin wok. Even frying pans are too slow to respond. What wide vessel do you use?

Sure, in both methods, I can know how many pieces of chicken I can drop, how long before I have to adjust heat, how long it takes to cook, etc. With the purely manual control method, however, I have to add oil more often, I can’t “swim” the food I’m frying, and my timer for adjusting heat goes off too frequently. If I’m frying for an hour or more straight, I need to be doing other things. My intuition is once the oil has been brought to temperature, energy consumption should be the same.

If I need to fry a smaller batch superfast, I do all the donts. Thin pan, less oil, and as soon as the oil comes back to temp, I add another – the crowding would probably make a lot of folks shudder.

I edited this post to point out another disadvantage of “more control” method for large batches: you can’t add as many items at once if your heat source isn’t powerful enough.

On another note, what other ingredients can be cold started besides potatoes?

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I made these a time or two when they first came out in ATK - they turned out very, very well, although do recall that it took mine somewhat longer than the recipe called for. The only problem is that if you want to make more than one batch, you have to use new oil or wait for it to cool off!

on that note, would it work fine with cooled but used oil? I like to use peanut oil for fries, 3 or 4 times, adding more new oil each time.

Absolutely. I always reuse my frying oil (peanut) several times. Half the time I’m too lazy to strain it and it’s still fine. :wink: