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Most professional cookbooks tell me to fry french fries two times. First at a lower temperature of about 150-170°C and then at a higher temperature about 180-190°C.

Reference: http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Cookbook:French_Fries#Variations

Related: What varieties of potato would be good for chips / french fries?

What are the advantages of frying the potatoes two times?

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Something I have found works quite well is to microwave the potatoes first. This serves as the first cooking and they are fried to a golden brown and crispy finish in the deep fryer in no time. (ok, significantly less time). –  Cos Callis Sep 10 '11 at 3:04

3 Answers 3

up vote 36 down vote accepted

The lower (first) temperature actually cooks the potato so that it is tender, the hotter temperature (second) is what gives the crispy golden coating.

If you just did the lower temperature, your fries might be too soft. If you just did the hotter temperature they would be too too tough.

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You are correct. And I know 'cause I'm a belgian girl :) –  Mien Aug 29 '11 at 17:40
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You are correct. And I know 'cause I'm a Dutch guy :) –  BaffledCook Aug 29 '11 at 21:34
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What we really need is a French person to verify these claims. –  JYelton Aug 29 '11 at 23:13
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You are correct. And I know because I'm a french guy :). Also you should listen to the belgians, they cook the best fries. –  Clement Herreman Aug 30 '11 at 8:17
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@Mein I think i'm going to start calling them Belgian fries –  rfusca Sep 25 '11 at 17:46

I know I'm a bit late here, but I do have an alternative to frying twice. If you don't want to fry twice, you can also boil the french fries in water that has one or two tablespoons of vinegar or lemon juice for about 15 minutes. You have to allow the fries to cool down after the boiling, at least until the steam is no longer present, before frying.

This is because the purpose of the first time cooking is to stimulate gelatinization and water loss. The fries are able to crisp due to the absence of water in the outer layer of the fries. The acid from the vinegar protects the starch from reacting with the boiling water. If you leave out the vinegar/lemon juice, the end result will not be the same.

Personally, I like this approach because it's less messy than frying twice and you can leave the pot unattended.

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+1 - microwaving was suggested in the comments too, and this probably has a fairly similar effect. –  Jefromi Jul 21 at 22:46

Well, that is part of what is going on. Frying at the lower temperature does get it cooked through without over-browning. However, if you kept cooking, you could get it brown without crisping. So, actually it has a lot to do with the changes to the starch molecules in the potatoes. The lower temperature frying brings the starch and water to the exterior of the fry, forming a coating, that is then crisped nicely on the outside while leaving the interior softer when cooked at the higher temp.

This blog actually explains it very nicely if you want more detail: http://aht.seriouseats.com/archives/2010/01/the-burger-lab-why-double-fry-french-fries.html

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+1 for the link –  Martin Schlagnitweit Aug 29 '11 at 21:26
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I've used the method here: seriouseats.com/recipes/2010/05/… with very good results as well. It's an extra step, but they are the best fries I've ever made. –  AaronN Sep 26 '11 at 20:30

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