The Ultimate Guide to Choosing the Best Potato for Perfectly Crispy Fries: Starchy Vs. Waxy Potatoes

The best potato for French fries: Starchy vs. Waxy Potatoes

French fries are undeniably one of America’s favorite guilty pleasures. Whether you enjoy them as a side dish or as a snack on their own, there’s something irresistible about their crispy exterior and fluffy interior. But when it comes to making the perfect French fries, the type of potato you choose can make all the difference. In this article, we’ll explore the characteristics of starchy and waxy potatoes and determine the best potato varieties for frying.

Types of Potatoes: Starchy vs. Waxy Potatoes

Potatoes can be broadly categorized into two main types: starchy and waxy. Each type has its own unique characteristics that make it suitable for different cooking applications.

Starchy potatoes: Best for frying

Starchy potatoes, as the name suggests, are high in starch and low in moisture. This combination gives them a fluffy texture and makes them very absorbent, making them ideal for frying. When cooked, starchy potatoes become crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, creating the perfect texture for French fries.
The best known starchy potato variety is the russet potato. Russets are widely recognized as the potato of choice for making French fries. They have a classic appearance and are readily available in most markets. Russet potatoes also have excellent nutritional value, being high in fiber, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.

Waxy potatoes: Best for boiling, baking or roasting

At the other end of the spectrum, waxy potatoes have a lower starch content and higher moisture content. These potatoes hold their shape well when cooked and have a creamy texture. They are often used for boiling, baking or roasting, but are not as good for frying.
Waxy potatoes are often smaller and rounder in shape than starchy potatoes. They have thin skins and creamier flesh. Some popular varieties of waxy potatoes include red-skinned potatoes, blue potatoes, purple potatoes, and fingerling potatoes. While waxy potatoes can be used for frying, they do not achieve the same level of crispiness and texture as starchy potatoes.

All-Purpose Potatoes: The Best of Both Worlds

In addition to starchy and waxy potatoes, there are also universal potatoes, sometimes called floury potatoes. These potatoes strike a balance between starch and moisture, making them versatile for a variety of cooking methods, including roasting. One popular variety of all-purpose potato is the Yukon Gold potato.

The best potatoes for fries

When it comes to making the best French fries, two types of potatoes stand out: Russet and Maris Piper.

Russet Potatoes

Russet potatoes are the classic choice for the perfect French fry. They have a high starch content which contributes to their excellent frying properties. Russets have a golden brown, crispy exterior and a fluffy, soft interior. They are widely available and have a reputation for making great French fries.
Nutritionally, russets offer a number of benefits. They are a good source of fiber, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. However, it’s important to note that starchy potatoes tend to be higher in calories, so they may not be suitable for everyone’s dietary needs.

Maris Piper Potatoes

Maris Piper potatoes are particularly popular for making chips in the UK. They have a similar texture to russet potatoes, with a floury consistency that enhances the taste of the chips. However, Maris Piper potatoes are not as widely available outside the UK, making Russet potatoes the more practical choice for fry enthusiasts around the world.

Making the perfect french fries

Now that you know the best potato varieties for frying, let’s take a look at how to make the perfect batch of French fries.

  1. Wash your potatoes thoroughly to remove any dirt or debris.
  2. Peel the potatoes or, if you prefer, leave the skins on for added texture.
  3. Cut the potatoes into your desired fry shape. Choose a thickness that resembles your favorite takeout fries for an authentic experience.
  4. Soak the cut potatoes in water for a period of time to remove excess starch. While some experts recommend soaking for about 24 hours, you can adjust the soaking time to fit your schedule. Adding one tablespoon of vinegar per gallon of water can help prevent the potatoes from oxidizing and losing their color.
  5. When you’re ready to cook, dry the potatoes thoroughly with a clean towel or by gently patting them dry.
  6. Heat the oil in a deep fryer or large saucepan to the appropriate frying temperature (usually about 325-375°F or 163-190°C).
  7. Carefully lower a batch of potatoes into the hot oil, taking care not to overcrowd the fryer or pot. Overcrowding can lower the oil temperature and result in less crispy fries.
  8. Fry the potatoes until they are golden brown and crisp, which usually takes about 3-5 minutes. Keep an eye on them and adjust the cooking time as needed.
  9. When the fries are cooked, remove them from the oil with a slotted spoon or wire skimmer. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels to drain excess oil.
  10. Season the fries immediately with salt or other seasonings while they’re still hot.
  11. Serve hot and enjoy as a delicious side dish or snack.

Remember that frying can be a safety hazard, so always use caution when handling hot oil. Also, be aware of your cooking environment and provide proper ventilation to minimize the risk of accidents or injuries.


Choosing the right potato variety is essential to making the perfect French fries. Starchy potatoes, such as russets and maris pipers, are the top choices due to their high starch content and ability to produce a crispy exterior and fluffy interior when fried. Waxy potatoes are better for boiling, baking or roasting, while all-purpose potatoes offer versatility for different cooking methods.
By understanding the characteristics of different types of potatoes and following proper frying techniques, you can up your frying game and enjoy restaurant-quality fries in the comfort of your own home. So grab your favorite potato variety, heat up some oil, and get ready to enjoy the irresistible goodness of homemade fries.


What is the main difference between starchy and waxy potatoes?

Starchy potatoes have a high starch content and low moisture content, resulting in a fluffy texture and excellent frying properties. Waxy potatoes have a lower starch content and higher moisture content, making them more suitable for boiling, baking or roasting.

Can I use waxy potatoes to make chips?

Although waxy potatoes can be used for frying, they do not achieve the same crispness and texture as starchy potatoes. They tend to retain their shape and have a creamier texture when cooked, which may not produce the desired results for chips.

What are the best varieties of potatoes for making chips?

The two most recommended varieties of potatoes for making chips are russet and maris piper. Russets are widely available and known for their high starch content, while Maris Piper potatoes are favoured for their floury consistency, particularly in the UK.

Do I need to soak the potatoes before frying?

Soaking cut potatoes in water before frying is a common practice as it helps to remove excess starch, resulting in crispier fries. Some experts recommend soaking for around 24 hours, while others suggest a shorter soaking time. Adding one tablespoon of vinegar per litre of water can also help prevent oxidation and retain the colour of the potatoes.

Can I leave the skin on the potatoes when I make chips?

Yes, you can leave the skins on the potatoes when making chips. The skins can add texture and flavour to the chips. However, be sure to wash the potatoes thoroughly to remove any dirt or debris before cutting and frying.

Are starchy potatoes higher in calories than waxy potatoes?

Yes, starchy potatoes tend to be higher in calories than waxy potatoes due to their higher starch content. However, the difference in calories may not be significant unless consumed in large quantities. It’s important to watch portion sizes and balance your overall diet for a healthy lifestyle.