Fear Not Those Leftover French Fries!

One of the questions people ask me regularly is, “How can I revive those leftover fries the day after?” No matter where they come from or how they were made, almost every Fry you’ll come across in a lifetime of Fast-Fooding will go limp and soggy within hours of purchase. But you can fix that!

Leftover Fries Redeemed - © wishfulchef.comRe-heated leftover Fries: Note that these chunkies reheated more successfully
than most thin-cut Fries will…

One of the toughest Fry ‘hacks’ most folks face is how to crisp-up leftover fries after they’ve been in the fridge overnight. Some fries – Alas! – don’t even survive the trip home from the take-out store in decent condition. Especially those packed in boxes or closed paper bags or other closed containers. Really hot Fries, fresh out of the Oil, give off more than heat. They also steam-off some of the moisture inside them. You’d think that’s fine; they’ll stay fresh and crispy. But no! The steam gets trapped in the package and quickly degrades the golden brown crust on each Potato stick to something like greasy rubber.And the whole fry, robbed of its stiff exoskeleton, goes limp. Not to mention that, when the moisture is re-absorbed by the Potato, the once fluffy interior turns to mush.

To compound this sorry state of affairs, many take-out joints just assemble your order in a standard take-out container and simply fill up the rest of the space with fries. They want to make it look like you’re getting good value for your money. Truth is, aside from beverages, Fries and other starches – notably plain White Rice – are the cheapest things to make, and highest-profit items on their menus. You’re bound to have leftover fries!

Your Mom was right. If you have to leave something, leave the starch!


Here are your options, as I see them and rate them…

DON’T: Microwave

All this does is heat up an already mushy, floppy Fry and make it more so.

DO: Pan Fry Dry

In a single layer in a heavy pan, which has been pre-heated to High, fry your leftover Fries again, for just a few minutes, until they get a new crisp on them. Most leftover fries, including those you baked in the over last night from frozen, have enough oil in and on them to accomplish this re-frying operation without adding more – which risks making them Oilier and not as crisp as the dry-fry method. Judge for yourself.

MAYBE: Oil Fry

Consider the comments on dry-frying, above, and also consider: The relative Oiliness of your leftovers, the thickness of your Potato sticks (thicker ones do better in added oil) and how much golden/crisp they had on them in the first place. Blonder leftover fries generally do better than darker-golden ones in the Oil-frying option.

TRY: Oven Bake

I often just pre-heat my oven to 375 – 400 F and line a baking sheet with parchment or aluminum foil. That helps minimize the cleanup afterward and prevents hot oil, which will leach out of the leftover Fries during heating from baking onto the pan. Let the leftover Fries come to room temp and place in a single layer, each piece separated from the other as much as possible, and stick them in on the middle shelf (no more than 6 in. / 25 cm from the top burner). Let the Fries reheat for 5 – 10 minutes and serve. Don’t overheat them or heat them too long – they’ll get tough! Experiment until you get the time and temp right…


Don’t add further Salt or other seasoning until you have tasted the re-heated product. Most fries have lots of Salt on them already; some also have stuff like Seasoning Salt, Paprika, Chili Powder and other Spices, depending on where you got them. So… Taste a couple of Fries and Season (or not) to taste.

Eat ’em quick!

They will get cold again and they will get soggy again, or tough if they’re too dry, even after receiving the most expert re-heating care.

~ Maggie J.