French Fries: Frozen vs. Fresh Cut – 11 Factors to Consider

Some high-end restaurant chefs would never allow frozen fries anywhere near their establishments. Other chefs or restaurant owners swear by them and use them daily in their menus. But what’s the difference between fresh-cut fries and frozen fries?

There are distinct differences between frozen fries and fresh-cut fries, such as frozen fries are more convenient, and save on labor and kitchen space. While frozen fries may save money and time on the line, they may suffer in taste and quality compared with fresh-cut fries.

Before deciding on whether to buy frozen fries or cut your own, let’s take a look at the many differences between frozen or fresh fries. 

1. Frozen Fries Save on Labor.

With the profit margins for many restaurants so minor, they often cut labor to increase the margins. When a restaurant uses frozen fries, they save money on labor and widen their profit margins. 

Peeling and cutting potatoes take a lot of time that many restaurants may not have. Plus, potatoes need to soak in cold water to keep from oxidizing before being cooked. Frozen fries are stored in the freezer until ready to cook, and they can be prepared from frozen. When a restaurant kitchen is busy, this is the most time-saving option.

2. Fresh Cut Fries Take Up More Kitchen Space.

In a small and crowded kitchen where space is at a premium, fresh-cut fries take up space that would otherwise be used for prep work and storage. After fries are cut, they need to sit in cold water before frying, which takes up extra space in the sink or on the counter. Tight spaces are typically reserved for prep work and not for storing extra equipment that is not necessary.  

3. Frozen Fries Save Time on the Line.

Fast-food restaurants are known for delivering food almost immediately, so if they had to contend with fresh-cut fries, they would not get out as fast. Frozen fries, before delivered to a restaurant like McDonald’s, are parboiled in a starch solution, then flash frozen. The partial cooking allows fries to be cooked faster when on the line. Fries are cooked at the restaurant only once, which takes less than time than cooking regular fresh-cut fries.

4. Fresh Cut Fries Might Be Higher Quality.

Fresh food normally has a higher quality compared with frozen food. Fresh-cut fries have a flavor profile that frozen fries can’t match, as they retain the potato’s flavor better than frozen. Many higher-end restaurants use fresh-cut fries exclusively, which is their unique selling position. While fresh-cut fries may be higher in quality, they can end up frying inconsistently.

5. Frozen Fries Can Save Money.

With labor costs and the risk of spoilage, frozen fries save a restaurant or the home cook money over whole potatoes. Home cooks do not need to worry about labor costs; they need to understand the value of their labor. 

If they are hosting a grilling party, for example, and they need to do other things in addition to making fries, then using a time-saving food such as frozen fries can prove cheaper in the long term.

6. You Know the Ingredients in Fresh Cut Fries.

When you have fresh-cut fries, you know what the ingredients are. Potatoes, salt, oil, and other seasonings make up the fries. Frozen fries have preservatives or starches and sugars added to keep them from spoiling before you can eat them. Fresh fries are simple once cooked and do not add extra toxins into the diet.

Fresh cut fries can also be customized to taste. They can soak in a vinegar solution, much like the Belgians do it, or you can marinade fries much like meat, then bake them in the oven. 

7. Fresh Cut Fries May Cost More per Pound Than Frozen.

While whole potatoes may cost less per pound than frozen fries, the cost of labor and time to prepare makes them more expensive. Cooking time is also longer, which slows down the rate of pushing food out. These factors contribute to fresh-cut fries becoming more costly than frozen fries overall.

One more reason that fresh-cut fries end up costing more is that whole potatoes do not last as long as frozen fries and may spoil before they can be used.

8. Healthy Fresh Cut Fries Can Be Frozen.

Busy restaurants may use frozen fries to save time and space, but that doesn’t mean they can’t make fresh-cut fries ahead of time and freeze them. Healthy fries can be made in the restaurant or at home in much the same way food manufacturers make them before sending them to restaurants. 

All it takes to freeze fresh-cut fries is, once they are peeled and sliced, to blanch them in boiling water for three minutes, then lay out on paper towels on a baking sheet. Once they are dry, they can be frozen, ready to use at a moment’s notice.

9. Frozen Fries Are More Convenient.

What’s more convenient than taking fries out of the freezer and popping them in a fryer of hot oil? A few minutes later, you have the perfect side dish to the burgers off the grill. Restaurants know this and use frozen fries more often than fresh-cut because of how simple it is. 

Frozen fries are more convenient because they take up less space in the freezer than fresh-cut fries do in the cooler. The convenience of storage is one more reason to use frozen fries.

10. Frozen Fries Require Less Equipment.

With frozen fries, all you need is a fryer, oil, and fry basket to pull the fries out of the oil. Whereas with fresh-cut fries, you need a peeler, a fry-cutting gadget, and other materials, in addition to the fryer, to make great fries.

Processing equipment takes up quite a bit of space in an already tight area. If your kitchen at home or in the restaurant doesn’t allow for extra equipment, you may consider using frozen fries.

11. Frozen Fries Fry Up Better Than Fresh Cut Fries.

Since frozen fries are already cooked once, they don’t need to go through two fry sessions, making it easier to fry them. Also, with fresh-cut fries, the differences in the moisture level of the potatoes, and the temperature of the oil can affect the consistency of the fries. With frozen fries, this problem is eliminated. 

Fresh-cut fries may have a better taste if they are cooked properly, but the variables of getting them prepared right make frozen fries the more attractive option for many restaurants or home cooks. 

The level of starches is what makes a batch of french fries turn out or fail. Potatoes that are harvested in the spring have too much sugar and will not cook to the proper consistency for fries like those that come from older potatoes. As potatoes grow and age, the sugars turn to starch, which makes the fries cook better. Freezing the fries right when they are at the perfect starch level ensures better fries all year long.

In closing

Fresh-cut fries have a place in upscale dining where there may be more time to prepare and cook. However, frozen fries are more convenient, cost less overall, and cook up quicker than fresh-cut fries. 

If you have the time and the inclination to do so, you can create great-tasting fresh-cut fries at home, and you can customize them to your liking. But frozen fries are more convenient, which could help you if you are too busy to cook or turn out a flavorful meal. Which is better? That’s up to you to decide.

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This article was co-authored by our team of writers and editors who share one thing in common: their passion for food and drinks!

JC Franco
Editor | + posts

JC Franco works as a New York-based editor at Foodrinke, driven by his lifelong love for food. His culinary journey began in childhood, as he eagerly assisted his mother with her local sandwich and bakery business, relishing every opportunity to sample her creations. Known among family and friends as an easy eater, JC has a particular affinity for Chinese, Italian, Mexican, and Peruvian cuisine. At Foodrinke, he channels his passion for food into his work, sharing his enthusiasm and knowledge with readers.