11 Amazing Toppings To Make Your Bland Restaurant Fries Pop Off

What do you do with last night's french fries you couldn't finish and chucked in the fridge? How can you bring life back to the french fries you ordered that are now stale, soggy, and flavorless? At its core, a fried potato is mild and somewhat bland in flavor. But don't let the unassuming fried potato fool you — this regular old tuber is the perfect base for a variety of flavor combinations, be it as simple as salt and pepper, or as exotic as fish flakes.

Instead of settling for a plate of plain reheated fries or, worse yet, throwing them away, take this as an opportunity to experiment with different flavor profiles. French fries are excellent for their versatility — and adding any combination of spices or savory, salty, or umami ingredients may surprise you at how delicious the result turns out.

Whether you're an aspiring chef looking to impress your guests or someone who craves a more tantalizing snack, we've got you covered. Here are six ingredients that will take your bland restaurant french fries to the next level.

Truffle oil

Once considered a delicacy and rare ingredient, royalty used truffle hunting to entertain guests. Truffles were a prized and valuable delicacy only meant for the rich and powerful.

Today, you'll see shaved truffles sprinkled across menus at classy restaurants, making sides like french fries a bit fancier, tastier, and pricier. However, you don't have to spend a pretty penny on this ingredient at a restaurant. Truffle oil is an inexpensive substitute — though it costs more than most olive oils — and you can find it at your local grocery store or favorite online retailer. Tossing your leftover fries in a sprinkling of truffle oil at home will add a rich and indulgent taste, giving a gourmet element to this popular side.

Truffle oil is also known for its versatility, which is why it works so well with french fries. Its robust flavor can enhance the natural sweetness and earthiness of fries, while its aroma can create an intriguing contrast with the crispness of regular fries.

A great combination found in many established restaurants is truffle fries with parmesan. These two ingredients are surprisingly cheap and extra delicious. The unique, earthy, sharp, umami flavor of the truffle oil is softened by the parmesan cheese, offering a perfectly balanced dish. You can also add some diced garlic to the side for an extra kick.

Curry ketchup

This condiment is all the rage in Germany and is often served with sausage and fries as a street food. The ingredient has an interesting backstory, as a German woman named Herta Heuwer traded items to British soldiers after World War II for curry powder and tomato sauce. A product of chance and frugality, this random combination is an early example of fusion cuisine and would make an excellent topping for your day old restaurant fries.

To make your curry ketchup at home, it will take a bit of cooking. Curry powder is a dry spice blend, so you'll need to simmer it in hot oil to reach its full flavor potential. To make gourmet, homemade curry ketchup, you'll combine tomato puree, onion, curry powder, vinegar, and Worcestershire sauce. Any variation of these ingredients will make a delicious dipping sauce that will certainly liven up your boring french fries.

If this sounds too complicated for your fry-snacking needs, you can also add curry powder to a hot saucepan of ketchup with a little oil, and heat it up for a few minutes. Of course, you can always look for pre-made curry ketchup.

Shredded cheddar cheese

There's no better combination than potatoes and cheese. One of the simplest ways of improving your fries is by grating fresh sharp cheddar cheese or even sprinkling pre-shredded cheddar from the bag over your fries and throwing them in the oven.

The melted cheddar coats every fry, giving a rich, creamy texture and adding extra saltiness to complement the mild potato flavor. Adding this cheese is great for parties, game days, or when you're at home and need a hearty snack.

Like so many fry toppings, cheddar also pairs well with a range of flavors and ingredients, so customization is a strong possibility. For example, consider using the "holy trinity" of loaded baked potato ingredients by also adding chives and sour cream. And cheddar cheese pairs well with caramelized onions, bacon, or jalapeños. You can even experiment by mixing it with other cheeses like mozzarella. There are plenty of ingredients you can try to create your own unique flavor profile to spice up those tasteless restaurant fries. 

Minced, roasted, salted seaweed

This fries seasoning is popular in Asian McDonald's and was originally called the "Shake Shake." The burger chain would give their customers seaweed-based seasoning packets with their fries, and customers would love shaking in these flavors on their golden, perfectly cooked fries. The company briefly took Seaweed Shaker Fries abroad, but sadly, the umami-inspired french fry topping never made its way to the shores of the United States. Don't fret! You can make the mix at home with a few common ingredients.

Of course, the main ingredient of "shake shake" is roasted salted seaweed, a snack you can find in the Asian food aisle at just about any grocery store. If you want to add a simple umami feel to your french fries, you can dice up the seaweed flake, sprinkle them on top of your fries, and do a quick toss.

But to mimic the McDonald's side special, you'll need two more ingredients, garlic powder and chicken powder — and a grinder. Grind your seaweed close to a powder and mix it with equal parts of garlic and chicken powders. Throw this mix on the top of your fries and toss until the seasoning is evenly spread — you'll have a salty, umami balance your tastebuds will love.

Feta cheese

It's worth mentioning again that there's no better combination than cheese and potatoes. But if you're looking for a lighter twist on your french fries than shredded cheddar, look no further than feta cheese.

Feta is a great topping for just about anything. Its light, tangy and salty flavor adds a bit of complexity to your sides, salads, or french fries. Throw your refrigerated fries in a toaster oven with some feta cheese. This will add delicious, creamy texture, and invites a more complex mouthfeel to your bland restaurant fries.

Another excellent perk of using feta cheese is that it combines well with so many other simple ingredients. Try using your favorite herbs like basil or parsley, grate some lemon zest for added freshness, or add chili peppers for a bit more heat.

If you're feeling adventurous, you can throw in diced garlic while heating up your fries. Combine that with tzatziki sauce — a salted yogurt and cucumber dip — and you'll have the full Greek experience.

Charred Mexican sweet corn

Mexican sweet corn, or elote, can give your leftover restaurant french fries a complex mix of sweet, smokey, and savory elements, adding an amazing burst of flavor and texture.

Elote is a Mexican classic you can find sold on the side of the road, grilled right in front of you. It's usually spiced with chili pepper, slathered with a mayo-cream sauce, and topped with cotija cheese and is a full corn-on-the-cob grilled until lightly charred, then topped with a light crema.

For this topping, the corn doesn't have to be specifically Mexican style; in fact, this is a great way of using your leftover corn on the cob from your holiday or weekend grill party. Shave the kernels from the cob using a serrated knife, then mix it in with your fries and favorite seasonings. If you want the authentic elote experience, add mayo, chili powder, salt, and lime.

Lemon pepper

If you're a fan of chicken wings, you'll already be familiar with lemon pepper spice mix. These spices are most commonly used as a "dry" rub for wings, fusing the zesty acid of lemon peels and a savory blend of fresh herbs with salt. Mixed with melted butter and smothered on wings, this combination gives the dish a delicious balance. This same process can easily be applied to french fries, with or without butter.

You can find lemon pepper mixes in stores or, even better, at your local wing shops. But you can also mix your own at home, adjusting the mix rations to suit your taste. The process is easy if you have some common kitchen accessories. The most complicated part is peeling the lemon, then baking the zests on the lowest setting for several hours until they are dried.

Once the peels are completely dried, add them to a blender or spice grinder with your preferred spices (peppercorns, for example) and process them. After, you can add salt and whatever herb combination you prefer.


This Korean side is a great way to bring complexity to your french fries, with kimchi adding savory, sour, spicy, and a bit of sweetness. The texture and flavor combination is perfect for so many dishes, and this is a fantastic mixture with the crunchy, starchy, salty elements of fries.

Kimchi's rise in popularity is no surprise, not only because of its unique flavor and texture combination but also because it is high in essential vitamins like A, B, C, and K and is full of probiotics that help your gut biome. A traditional Korean side dish, it's made with vegetables like cabbage, carrots, and radish, usually seasoned with ginger, garlic, chilis, and other ingredients. The fermentation process is what gives this dish its unique flavor and even a fizzy feeling on your tongue.

There are so many different kimchi mixtures available, so the right choice in kimchi products is up to your tastebuds. For even better flavor, you can top this dish with caramelized onions, spicy mayo, and any type of spicy Korean chili paste like Gochujang.


Za'atar is a Middle-Eastern spice mix that combines zest, sour, and salt, making any dish immediately more interesting. You can find this mix as a seasoning for vegetables or grilled meat, but the most common dish you'll find it in is hummus.

Sumac is the main ingredient that adds a unique flavor to this spice mix, a sour fruit that is dried and turned into a vibrant red powder. The potent flavor is sometimes compared to lemon juice, giving a dry, acidic feeling to your tastebuds.

To balance this sharp taste, the powder is mixed with other herbs, like oregano, thyme, and sesame seeds. Of course, there are plenty of mixtures that create unique flavor profiles. For a sweeter twist, some za'atar mixes include coriander, cumin, and anise.

Tossing your french fries in your favorite za'atar mix is the easiest way to improve your side. Additionally, you can mix the za'atar spices with mayonnaise, lemon juice, and garlic to create a fantastic aioli dipping sauce to serve on the side.


Who would've thought fermented cabbage would feature so prominently as ingredients that combine well with french fries? But the flavor and texture combination of these two ingredients just makes sense. The saltiness and starchiness of french fries, with the creaminess and acidity of sauerkraut, merge into a perfect blend.

Sauerkraut, literally translated to "sour cabbage," is Germany's version of kimchi, though the mixture has been hugely popular in the United States for much longer, often piled onto a hotdog or Reuben sandwich. It has the same health benefits as kimchi, though the flavor profile differs slightly.

Like kimchi, sauerkraut's main ingredient is cabbage, thinly cut, salted, and left to ferment for a month or so. The salt pulls any liquid and sugars out of the cabbage, forming a brine that gives it a sweet and sour flavor. Some mixtures include vinegar or add extra water, but the traditional way is simply adding salt.

Include this as a simple topping straight from the jar, and you'll instantly improve your bland restaurant fries. You can also make your dish full "Reuben" fries by adding corn beef and Swiss cheese. Yum!


As Vietnamese condiment has gained insane popularity throughout the United States — sriracha has become a staple in many restaurants. This hot sauce melds chili peppers, garlic, salt, and sugar with distilled vinegar.

The spicy blend hits all the right spots on your tongue; the salt, sweetness, heat, and acid combine with the saltiness of the fries. Spread evenly over your french fries or use as a dip, and you have a ketchup substitute that adds a more complicated flavor profile, satisfying your every tastebud.

Like many of the toppings on this list, the best part of sriracha is its versatility. You can add so many ingredients to sriracha to create different flavor profiles. Hoisin sauce will make it Pho-style fries, for example. Create an aioli by simply mixing it with mayonnaise. Put honey in sriracha to get a sweeter style dipping sauce.

But to make this a full Vietnamese side, you can add the sriracha and hoisin together with fish sauce for a creamy bite. Drizzle this sauce combination over the french fries and add chopped peanuts, fresh cilantro, lime juice, and sesame seeds — you'll have the Vietnamese street fries of your dreams.