French Fry Showdown: The Chain That Beats McDonald's

French Fry Face-Off

Sergi Calaff Bayes/istockphoto

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French Fry Face-Off
Sergi Calaff Bayes/istockphoto

French Fry Face-Off

There are few foods that we as a civilization have universally agreed upon being delicious, but French fries are without question one of them. Everyone with a brain in his or her head likes fries, and American fast-food chains are absolutely a go-to spot for a quick fry pickup (and have been for decades). But whose fries are the best? We looked at six chains — McDonald's, Jack in the Box, Carl's Jr., Wendy's, Sonic Drive-In, and Burger King — that are pretty nationally widespread, so no regionally specific locations such as In-N-Out or Shake Shack were considered. Read on to find out how the fries fared, and for the complete meal, be sure to check out our taste tests of fast-food cheeseburgers and chocolate milkshakes.

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The Methodology


To find the perfect fast-food fry, we took several things into account. For starters, how is the overall taste? Does it deliver the hot, salty, fried, crunchy experience that we have come to know and love in a fry? We also considered visual appeal — one of the best things about fries are their inherent aesthetic pleasure. Were the fries golden brown or undercooked yellow? Another thing that was crucial was the structural build of the fry. If you dip it in ketchup or barbecue sauce or even your shake, will it snap in half? Or will it hold together all the way to your mouth? Here’s what we found.

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McDonald's Fries
Scott Olson / Getty Images News / Getty Images CC
Best Crunch

Best Crunch

Carl's Jr.
Though their flavor leaves something to be desired (they are always lacking salt and any discernible potato taste), it's hard to deny that Carl's fries give you a satisfying crunch. A crunch is important for a fry: The better the crunch, the better the chances of having one of those moments of true nirvana when you get to see the steam released from the inside of the fry from which you just took a bite. How truly sublime.

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Burger King
Burger King by yum9me (CC BY-NC-ND)
Sonic fries and shake

Best French Fry Accompaniment

Perhaps you don't like dipping fries into your shake, but guess what: We do. It's one of life's great pleasures. It's important that fries have the structural integrity required for a proper shake-dunk. Sonic is running the show in this department. Though the fries at Sonic are a bit under-salted, they are big and thick enough to tackle the perfect dip. The shake's perfect consistency helps a lot with this. Throw some extra salt on those taters and go to work.

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Wendy's Fries
Louis V./Yelp

Worst Overall Fries

Unfortunately, despite their success in other departments such as bacon, Wendy's has fully soiled the bed when it comes to fries, which are a disappointment every time. Not remotely salty enough, flimsy, and bland, these fries are a true heartbreaker. Bad fries can ruin a meal, especially when your restaurant also serves the best shake and you want nothing more than to dip your fries in there.

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Jack in the Box Fries
Ronald C./Yelp

Best Overall Fries

Jack in the Box's curly fries
Admittedly, this may not be a fair fight, since most other chains don't sell curly fries. That doesn't really matter — you're here to find out which of these six chains has the best fries, and there's only one answer. The curly fries that Jack in the Box serves up are just outstanding. Because they're all curled up into themselves, they almost give themselves a little heat insulator, and the fries are able to stay hotter and crunchier for longer than a standard fast food French fry. They're perfectly salted, too, and you better believe they dip well into a shake (The curl almost helps simulate a chips and salsa situation). All hail King Jack.

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