I Asked 4 Chefs To Pick the Best Fast-Food French Fries, and Their Pick Was Unanimous (And Shocking!)

Sorry, Ronald. McDonald’s didn’t come out on top!

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While the Golden Arches gets a lot of glory for its secret sauce, Coke, and even ketchup, McDonald's might be most lauded for its incredibly popular French fries. Despite this fact, the chain actually finished second in our fast-food French fry taste test last year, inspiring us to ask another highly-qualified group of experts for their opinion. Here is where four top chefs stand on the piping-hot side dish debate.

Ahead, we’re dishing up the qualities that chefs from coast to coast look for in a French fry, and then we’ll reveal their unanimous choice for the best fast-food French fry—and the best sauces to dip them in.

Our Panel of Fast Food Fry-Judging Chefs

  • Matt Ayala, executive chef at Francois Frankie in Chicago, Illinois

  • Elliot Bell, chef-owner of Charlie’s in St. Helena, California

  • Dominic Iannarelli, chef-owner of Prime & Providence in West Des Moines, Iowa

  • Vivek Surti, founder and owner of Tailor in Nashville, Tennessee

Qualities of the Best Fast-Food French Fries

From how thick the potatoes are sliced to whether they consist of potatoes-only or a blend of potatoes with seasonings and preservatives, to the cut (crinkle, waffle, steak, etc.), the fast-food French fry landscape is vast and varied.

Admittedly, a fair amount of the choice of which is “best” boils down to personal preference, but bland and soggy fries are out of the running. These three qualities qualify a French fry to be considered for the best in fast food:

  • Crispiness. “Texture is the biggest quality that I look for in fast-food French fries. The best fries are crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, and seasoned to perfection,” Bell says.

  • Seasoning. As our recipe for the Best Potatoes You'll Ever Taste proves, potatoes are a blank slate for whatever flavors you add, and enough salt is key when it comes to the fried variety.

  • Temperature. At his American brasserie, Francois Frankie, Ayala serves fries alongside menu items including a Lobster Roll, Le Cheeseburger Royale, a Prime Steak Burger, and Braised Short Rib Dip. “Even though the fries are secondary, I make sure they are always served hot and crispy to balance the integrity of the entire dish,” Ayala says. Lukewarm or cold fries simply can’t compare. “A lot of people love McDonald's fries, but if they are cold, they’re a huge letdown,” Ayala adds. For the ultimate experience, fries should be savored hot.

Related: I Tested 5 Different Frozen French Fries and This Is the Brand I’ll Buy From Now On

The Best Fast-Food French Fries, According to Chefs

With runner-up honors going to both McDonald’s and Rally’s/Checkers, our four chefs unanimously selected Arby’s curly fries as the best fast-food French fries.

“Arby's is the best,” Surti says. “First, they’re curly, so they’re automatically more fun. The seasoning they add to the curly fries is more than just salt, so there’s more flavor. Arby’s also puts their curly fries through a batter, which results in more texture and bits that get crispy.”

The curly quality isn’t just fun, though. It increases the surface area of the fries, which leads to more real estate to crunchify—and coat in seasonings.

Part of the pleasure comes from the novelty, according to Iannarelli. “Arby’s seasoned curly fries are my favorite because so few places have them.” While the chain is in 48 states, it’s not as prolific as some other fast-food fry slingers like McDonald’s, Burger Kind, and Wendy's.

But it’s also about the quality. Bell and Ayala agree that they deliver on that “fast-food French fry trifecta” of texture, seasoning, and temperature. “They always come out hot and crispy,” Ayala says. “This is a must.”

The Best Dipping Sauces for Arby’s Curly Fries

While they’re good on their own, curly fries are even better dunked in any of Arby’s sauces. Here are the top five dips to grab, according to our chefs:

  1. Horsey Sauce. For the uninitiated, this is horseradish-flavored.

  2. Ketchup. “I like fries and ketchup,” Surti says. “It’s a classic.”.

  3. Ranch. Arby’s recipe is a buttermilk ranch, and it ranks high in our restaurant ranch taste test thanks to its comforting flavor, “pleasant, well-rounded tang, and excellent dips-cocity.”

  4. Cheddar Cheese Sauce. This costs an extra 50 cents, but is more than worth it, Iannarelli says.

  5. Arby’s Sauce. This recipe reminds us of a mash-up of ketchup and barbecue sauce.

Read the original article on All Recipes.