Why you’ll love them
Perfectly seasoned, deep fried, crispy shoestring fries – they’re utterly delicious and I’m going to show you how to make them at home. They’re so perfect for pairing with burgers, of course – a burger with salty fries on the side go hand in hand – but try them with chicken wings and a simple steak too (steak frites style).
They stay crispy too and there are two reasons for that. Blanching them in hot water for 10 minutes helps remove excess starch and sugar from the outside of the fries. Then the fries are twice-fried (not as troublesome as it sounds); the first is really just to get rid of excess moisture and cook the potato, while the second is all about getting them crisp. Doing this in two separate frying steps helps them stay crisp long after they come out of the fryer.
I won’t lie; deep-frying anything is not a favourite of mine and please read the safety precautions before starting. Deep frying can be messy, you’re dealing with very hot oil, you’ll use a fair amount of paper towel and your kitchen may smell of oil afterwards. Every now and then though, it’s worth the effort for something you wouldn’t normally have at home.
You’ll love these sheet pan hash browns too!
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Too often shoestring french fries are too overcooked to the point of bordering on burnt, crunchy and bitter with no hint of fluffy potato left behind. Not these ones. These are golden and crisp and have the slightest ribbon of fluffy potato on the tiny inside so you get the joy of crisp potato but also a little tenderness.
You’re in total control with this recipe; I’ll give you the tips to get them to my kind of perfect but if you just want them super crunchy like the ones you buy in a packet on the snack shelf, just fry them a little longer!
What are shoestring fries?
With all the different varieties of chips, wedges and fries out there, what exactly are shoestring fries. Wedges and chips (above right) are obvious, both being larger cuts of potato but when it comes to fries, it’s all about size.
Regular french fries (above middle) are thicker than shoestring french fries (above left) being almost twice the size. French fries will be around 5mm (or ⅕ inch) thick while shoestrings are only about 3mm (or ⅛ inch) thick. This is a julienne cut. While you can cut them by hand, a mandoline slicer really saves the day here and you can have a full batch of shoestrings cut in just minutes.
Shoestring fries are sometimes called matchstick fries or matchstick potatoes too.
READ THIS FIRST! Deep frying safety
It’s important to note some safety factors for this recipe, being that we are deep frying. That oil is absolutely molten hot and you don’t want to let that oil touch your skin or letting it come in contact with open flame, so here is my essential shoestring fry deep frying tips so that you can do it safely.
- Use a large, deep pot and don’t fill it more than ⅓ of way with oil.
- Invest in a deep frying thermometer – you don’t want that oil overheating.
- If you see the oil smoking, it’s too hot so take it off the heat.
- Invest in a large wire skimmer – it’s great for carefully lowering things into the oil and for removing them too.
- When it comes to these fries, don’t add more than ¼ of the potato strings at a time. The natural moisture in the potatoes will react with the hot oil immediately and start to bubble up.
- Don’t walk away.
That’s it. It’s all pretty simple stuff and deep frying at home is super easy as long as you’re all prepped to start with.
Ingredients you’ll need
Jump to the recipe for full ingredients and instructions.
- Potatoes: An all-rounder, starchy or floury potato will work best. Save the waxy potatoes for salads, you want a potato that will be soft and fluffy when cooked (the hot oil will take care of the crisp outside). Try one of these potatoes (what you can get will depend on where you are);
- Coliban potatoes
- Sebago potatoes
- Royal blue potatoes
- King Edward potatoes
- Russet potatoes
- Desiree potatoes
- Yukon gold potatoes
- Vegetable oil for deep frying: I use canola oil
- Fries seasoning: My favourite mix for sprinkling over fries is a combination of fine sea salt, ground white or black pepper, onion powder and paprika.
How to make shoestring fries
Jump to the recipe for full ingredients and instructions.
Step 1: Cutting the potatoes
- Before we can cook the fries we need to turn potatoes into fries. You’ll need to julienne the potatoes so they’re all an even thickness of around 3mm or ⅛ inch thick. A sharp knife and a chopping board can work but a mandoline food slicer (photo 1) does it quickly and perfectly. Just be careful not to get your hands near the blade.
A mandoline slicer is perfect for getting exact sized slices and julienned. This one has a good thin julienne setting and additional blades. Be very careful using and handling a mandoline, the blades are extremely sharp.
Step 2: Blanching
Blanching or par-cooking the fries before frying helps remove excess starch from the outside of the fry so that the oil can get them nice and crispy.
- Bring a pot of water just barely to a boil and add some salt.
- Turn the heat off and add the julienned potatoes (photo 2). Cover and let them sit in there for 10 minutes.
- Drain, cool and dry the julienned potatoes. Drain away the hot water, through a colander, rinse them with cold water briefly, then transfer to a tea towel (photo 3, below). Pat dry with another tea towel or paper towel. Let them cool completely.
Step 3: The first fry
- Bring some oil up to 170C / 340F over medium-high heat in a large, deep saucepan or Dutch oven.
- Add no more than a quarter of the blanched potato strings to a large slotted spoon or wire skimmer and gently lower it into the oil, holding it there for just a few seconds to make sure it’s not going to boil up too high (photo 4). As much as you try to get the moisture off of the potatoes in the last step, they have so much natural moisture, that will react with the hot oil so take care.
- Let them slide off the skimmer into the oil. You can use a fork to loosen any that get stuck.
- Fry for 1 minute. That’s all. They should still be pale with maybe a couple showing signs of a golden hue.
- Transfer them to a baking sheet that’s been lined with paper towel. Keep each batch separate on the baking sheet so you know which batch to start with on the second fry.
- Bring the oil up to temperature before starting with the next batch. If the oil is too hot, take it off the heat until it cools or add just a little room-temperature oil to the pan.
Step 4: The second fry
- Starting with the first batch that you fried and bringing the oil up to temp again, gently lower the fries into the oil (photo 5) and fry for 30 seconds or until you notice them get just a little more golden in colour (photo 6).
- Transfer to a roasting pan lined with paper towel in a warm oven to stay warm.
- Once the remaining batches are done, remove the paper towel from the pan, then scatter over the seasoning and toss to coat. Or you can just toss them in a large bowl.
Serve them straight away.
What to serve with shoestring fries
- For seasoning: You can use simply salt to season your fries or try my fries seasoning in the recipe below. You can also get fancy with some of these options;
- For dipping: These skinny potato fries are great just with ketchup or mayo but you could also try a fancier dipping sauce like a honey mustard sauce, this gochujang mayo, jalapeno mayo or this ranch dip.
Leftovers should be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for 1-2 days. That said, shoestring fries are definitely best served fresh.
You can freeze the blanched and dried julienned potatoes for up to 3 months. Thaw completely before blotting with paper towel, then frying.
While I prefer the texture of the shoestrings deep-fried, air fryer shoestring fries are great too. It will take 4-5 batches. Air fry at 200C/400F for around 8 minutes, shaking the basket at the 4 minute mark.
French fries are nearly twice the thickness of shoestring fries. Shoestrings are about 3mm (⅛ inch thick), while French fries are about 5mm (⅕ inch)
Shoestring French fries are also known as skinny fries, matchstick fries or matchstick potatoes.
No. McDonald’s serve French fries.
This depends on your preference of ratio of crispy exterior to fluffy potato inside. Shoestring fries are more crispy.
Did you try this shoestring fries recipe?
Leaving a rating and comment below the recipe is so helpful!
FOR THE POTATO FRIES
- 2 large potatoes (700g/1 ½lb or therabouts)
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 ½ litres vegetable oil (like canola oil)
THE SHOESTRING FRY SEASONING
- ¾ teaspoon fine sea salt
- ½ teaspoon ground white pepper or black pepper
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ¼ teaspoon paprika
For best results, always weigh ingredients where a weight is provided
- Julienne the potatoes into very thin “matchsticks” roughly 3mm / ⅛ inch thick. A kitchen mandoline is the quickest option for getting this done but use the guard and be careful not to cut your hands.
- BLANCHE: Fill a large pot with about 2 litres / 2 quarts of water and add the salt. Over high heat bring it almost to a boil.
- As soon as you see the first few bubbles appear, turn off the heat and add the julienned potato. Cover with a lid or large plate. Let the potato sit in the hot water for 10 minutes.
- DRAIN AND COOL: Drain the julienned potatoes through a strainer, rinse briefly with cold water then transfer to a clean kitchen towel in a single layer. Gently pat them dry on top with another clean kitchen towel or paper towel then let them cool to room temperature (about 15 minutes or you can let them sit for longer meaning you can do this part well ahead of frying them).
- PREPARE FOR FRYING:Line a large baking sheet with plenty of absorbent paper towel. Line a second baking sheet and place it into a warm oven (70C/160F).
- Pour enough oil into a Dutch oven or large deep saucepan to come only ⅓ of the way up – very important so the oil doesn’t boil over when you add the julienned potatoes. Place an oil thermometer on the side and bring it to 170C / 340F over high heat.
- THE FIRST FRY: Please read the safety notes in the notes section before proceeding – hot oil is no joke and with fries it needs extra precautions. Grab a wire skimmer (it’s a very large wire scoop) or very large slotted spoon and a fork. Place no more than ¼ of the blanched potato strings onto the wire skimmer and lower it into the hot oil. Let it sit for a few seconds to make sure it’s not going to bubble up too high to come over the top, then turn it over to release the potato strings into the oil. You can use the fork to loosen any strings that didn’t fall out of the skimmer.
- Fry the shoestring fries for 1 minute or just until you notice a couple of them only just getting a slight golden hue in places – don’t get them too golden or they’ll be far to overdone by the end. Use your skimmer again to scoop them out onto the first towel lined baking sheet in one section.
- Bring the oil temperature back up to 170C/340F and repeat 3 more times with the remaining potato strings.
- SECOND FRY:Bring the oil temp back up again. Add the first portion of fries back to the oil and cook for another 30 seconds or until just slightly darker in colour – you don’t want them to be brown all over; bits of golden and bits of blonde are perfect! Transfer to the baking sheet in the oven and repeat with the remaining fries.
- Combine the seasoning ingredients in a small bowl. Remove the paper towel from under the fries then sprinkle over the seasoning while they’re still hot. Add more salt or pepper to taste. You can also add other seasonings like garlic powder, cumin, cayenne powder, celery salt or ground celery seed.
- Serve immediately.
- Please take a moment to leave a comment & rating. It's appreciated and so helpful.
- Tablespoons: I use a standard Australian 20ml tablespoon (equal to 4 teaspoons). Check yours before measuring.
- Potatoes: It’s best to use large potatoes so you get longer strings. Many potatoes will work. Depending on where you are, look out for Russet potatoes, Yukon Gold potatoes, white all-purpose potatoes like Sebago potatoes and Coliban, Royal Blue potatoes, Maris Piper potatoes, King Edward potatoes.
- SAFETY PRECAUTIONS – VERY IMPORTANT: When testing these shoestring fries, I quickly worked out their natural moisture, even after drying them with towel, will cause the oil to bubble up quite high.
- Please use a deep pot like a dutch oven or very large saucepan – the deeper it is the safer it will be.
- Whichever pot you choose, do not fill it more than ⅓ of the way up with oil.
- Do not add more than ¼ of the potato strings to the oil at a time (both for safety and so that you aren’t overcrowding the pan)
- I recommend using a large wire skimmer / strainer spoon. It’s great for lowering the fries into the oil and also for scooping them out quickly since they cook so quick.
- Lower the potato strings into the oil on the skimmer and hold it there for a few seconds until you can see how much the oil is going to rise – if it looks good, proceed.
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