Why Many Restaurants Choose To Serve Frozen French Fries

Think of the best french fries you have ever had. Are they perfectly crispy on the outside but fluffy on the inside? Do they hold their crunch so you can dip and dunk through your entire meal? There is a good chance that that perfectly golden brown pile of frites came from a bag of frozen fries. Many restaurants ranging from fast food joints to fine dining establishments opt for frozen french fries for a variety of reasons. They are easier to prepare, cheaper to make, save a boatload of prep time, and perhaps most importantly, they taste better.

In order to make really good french fries from scratch, you need to wash and cut the potatoes, rinse or soak them in water to remove some of the starch, and cook them twice — blanching or frying on low heat first and then frying until crispy for the second round. Some even freeze the potatoes between the two cooks because there is actually also a scientific reason chef's prefer frozen fries over fresh. Freezing them forces some of the moisture out of the potato, and less moisture equals more crunch down the line. Since freezing the par-cooked potatoes often makes for a better final product, many chefs make the logical choice to just save a few steps and buy them already frozen.

Frozen fries can improve employee satisfaction

Just like with any job, every restaurant cook has their most dreaded tasks. Maybe it is draining and cleaning the deep fryer, deveining shrimp, risking injury by slicing basically anything on the mandoline, or prepping potatoes for fries. It is a long and tedious process that takes up a lot of real estate when it comes to prep tables and the walk-in refrigerator. Also, fries tend to be quite popular on menus, so prepping them can give the feeling you're stuck doing a task that will never actually end.

Some restaurant managers run the numbers and find that the time and labor it takes often means that making fries from scratch is prohibitively expensive. After all, there is only so much customers will willingly pay for an item that is thought of as being simple and cheap to make. Being a cook is a notoriously challenging job, so a restaurant making a financially sound decision that also allows them to permanently remove an item from the prep list is going to get a thumbs-up from most back-of-house professionals.

But isn't fresh always better?

In this case, not really, or perhaps, not by much. Tanya Walker is the owner of french fry-focused restaurant Saus, located in Boston, Massachusetts. Walker told McCormick that she feels it is worth it to make fries from scratch despite the lengthy process, but that is also because they are the backbone of her restaurant. Even she says that frozen fries are an excellent choice for many other establishments. They are still going to be delectable whether they are tossed in a seasoning, dipped in a delicious sauce, or served in a brisket poutine, and most people will not even be able to tell the difference between fresh and frozen.

Other chefs cite the deep research from brands like Lamb Weston, Simplot, Cavendish Farms, and Ore-Ida (made by Kraft-Heinz) that has gone into crafting the perfect fry. Lamb Weston even has an online quiz that customers can take to find the perfect style of fry to source for their restaurant. For many, frozen fries are like Heinz ketchup, Kewpie mayo, Chaokoh coconut milk, Bonne Maman fruit preserves, Martin's potato rolls, and French's yellow mustard. Sometimes, the store-bought brands are already so good that making the item from scratch — especially in an always-busy professional kitchen — is a waste of time.