This Kosher Eater’s Favorite Fast-Food French Fries

On a weekly basis, coming home from my elementary school, I would plead with my mom to stop by McDonald’s for a medium French fries and an Oreo McFlurry. On the rare occasion that I was successfully persuasive, I would receive the fries with a glee that would quickly subdue the instant my mom asked for a single one. I would try to avoid sharing as many as I could whenever possible so I wouldn’t be deprived of even one, because to me, they were so valuable. To me, they were all necessary. And to me, there were never enough fries. The second I would smell the fries, all self control would abandon my body, and I always subconsciously devoured them all in an instant, instantly regretting it when there weren’t any left.

As a Jew with a Kosher diet, who only eats hechshered meat but still eats at non-hechshered-kosher restaurants as a ‘vegetarian’, I grew up appreciating the art of a well-crafted French Fry. After childhood soccer games or during stops on the way to Mammoth, fast-food restaurants were the go-to option for me. As time went on, I grew to appreciate it, becoming a craving rather than a last resort. People don’t really tend to eat fries with mindfulness or take the time to examine and appreciate their wonderfulness. To others, French fries are considered a side dish, but as someone who doesn’t eat meat outside of the house they are so much more. Every single fry has its own uniqueness and qualities worth recognizing, so I have decided to share my personal ranking of fast-food restaurant fries, in hopes that my French Fry appreciation can be understood, shared, and useful.

7. Taco Bell:

Reese Dembo ‘23 holding two of Taco Bell’s Nacho fries, fresh out of the box. (Ella Breskal ‘25)

While it is hard to believe, Mexican fast-food chain Taco Bell does indeed sell French fries, so of course, I had to see where they stood. While they don’t offer plain fries, their Nacho fries add a Mexican component to this very Americanized food. They thankfully arrive with the nacho cheese on the side for the people like me who aren’t interested in it, and after the first bite, my reaction was not so great. 

“These fries aren’t bad, just weird,” Maya Ziv ‘23 says. The fries themselves are soft and lack crispness. They are seasoned with a ‘nacho-flavored’ seasoning, so they aren’t tasteless, but the seasoning lacks a distinctive flavor. They aren’t thin, but more on the thicker, potatoey side, which wouldn’t be an issue besides the fact that they are additionally flimsy and soggy. There is just nothing at all special or really enjoyable about them. 

Since they are meant to be ‘Nacho fries,’ it was important to investigate whether or not the cheese made a significant difference, and after trying it out it can be confidently said that it does. Yet somehow this difference was entirely negative and was able to make these fries even worse than they already were prior. Reese Dembo ‘25 explains that “it tastes like earwax.” 

While the side of nacho cheese gives you the option of trying out what can be considered a monstrosity, I wouldn’t even recommend getting fries at this Mexican fast-food chain. They weren’t necessary on the menu to begin with, but were likely only added to fit in with the American fast-food culture, despite not even fitting the description of the restaurant.

6. In-N-Out:

Fun Fact: There are seven different ways of ordering In-N-Out fries. (Josh Barro)

Despite the popularity of the Californian fast-food chain, In-N-Out, and the controversy of this statement, I can confidently say they do not make a ‘good fry.’ There is a worldwide rave about their fries due to a secret menu item: their trademarked ‘Animal Style fries.’ However, this contraption of cheese, a secret sauce, and onions, really just masks their failed attempt at making quality French fries. 

They don’t melt in my mouth or make me want to eat more. They lack flavor, and an ‘umph.’ However, this isn’t even them at their worst. Before I even know it, the fries go cold, and then they harden. So, if you are going to order their fries, I recommend eating them as fast as possible to at least get a more pleasurable experience. These fries already majorly lack in the texture component when they are handed to you, not having either a crispness or a nice softness, but after they reach this inevitable cold state, they don’t even seem like you are eating a potato. The only possible word I can think of to describe them is ‘styrofoam.’ Not only do they have near to no taste, they feel like biting into a piece of styrofoam, lacking the necessary softness of a French Fry. 

I am well aware of the world’s popular views on these French fries, but truthfully, they just do not compare to most of their fellows in the French Fry community, considering that they are indeed not something very special, or even really anything appetizing. 

5. Shake Shack:

Fun Fact: Shake Shack replaced their frozen crinkle-cut fries to freshly made ones in 2013. (Shake Shack)

After some more thorough investigation, I have decided that Shake Shack’s fries don’t hold up to their reputation. Their crinkle-cut shape and crispy outside definitely adds to the enjoyment, but as a thin French Fry lover, they are a bit too thick and ‘potatoey.’ However, if you are one of those people who enjoys a good ‘potatoey’ French Fry, this could be the place for you. In comparison to some of the other fries I’ve tasted, though, I can positively share that they feel like they belong beside a burger, which is one of the more positive components that their sizing and texture bring to the table. The potatoey feel makes the fries somehow feel more natural, unlike other fast-food options. 

The main issue with these fries, however, is that the flavor really doesn’t live up to those of the others. There is something that is just not right about it. “It tastes like it was fried in car oil,” Maya Ziv ‘23, explains. According to Shake Shack’s website, they use cholesterol-free, pure soybean oil to fry their fries. Most fast-food restaurants use the classic canola oil, and while soybean oil doesn’t provide significant health benefits, we can see from this experience that it does affect taste, and not necessarily in a good way. 

The reason these fries are ranked so low is because the ‘car oil’ taste pretty much dominates the entire experience, throwing a lot of those positive aspects out the window. I will say, though, that a big positive factor about getting fries from this restaurant is that they happen to make outstanding milkshakes, so I would really heavily recommend purchasing them together. They make phenomenal dips and mask the ‘car oil’ flavor very well, while maintaining the benefits of the shape and crispy outer-layer. 

4. Carl’s Junior:

Reese Dembo ‘25 and Maya Ziv ‘23 smiling in the Carl’s Jr. drive through, sharing their classic French fries and a cookies and cream milkshake. (Ella Breskal)

While Carl’s Jr. isn’t well-known for its fries, they didn’t disappoint. They have a good thinness, which I can very positively say is fairly similar to those of McDonald’s, and they also aren’t too soggy. They have an ever so slight crispiness on their outside, but also have a more general texture that is neither soft nor crunchy, and can really only be described as strange. 

My first taste of these French fries was dipped in ketchup, and honestly, I really enjoyed it. The ketchup complemented the fry really well, and the taste of the French Fry seemed to be nothing short of “yum.” However, after eating a fry isolated from the condiment, I noticed a taste that could almost be explained as ‘cardboard-esc,’ being pretty bland on its own and in serious need of some assistance in the flavor category. 

Thus, if you drive by a Carl’s Jr., I wouldn’t recommend going through the drive-through if you are craving fries. Nonetheless, If you already happen to be there, I would say go for it and order the fries because they can honestly be delicious, considering they are flavorful and enjoyable paired with some sort of dip.

(An interesting sidepoint is that Ziv actually recommends dipping Carl’s Jr’s fries in Chick-Fil-A’s signature Chick–Fil-A sauce.)

3. McDonald’s:

Fun Fact: McDonald’s uses a double fry method for their French fries. (Polina Tankilevitch)

 McDonald’s has always been my go to fast-food restaurant, however, after intense research and experimentation, I’ve discovered that they may actually not be the superior fast-food restaurant fries, despite their deliciousness. Judging the fries on their own, they have a great taste, which is likely due to their enormous salt content, but nevertheless, it really does benefit the flavor. Therefore, they don’t need to be accompanied by any sauce or condiments, although I personally recommend dipping them in a vanilla milkshake or in their soft serve ice cream because it really does add to the experience. 

These fries typically have a softer texture, and can sometimes be considered “soggy,” but personally I think the salty, mouth-watering taste overrules that. However, I do have to take texture into consideration with the rating, considering it is a huge component. What’s great about these fries, though, is that they also have some crunchier fries throughout each batch, so every type of fry person can be happy. 

I personally believe that they have also somehow reached the peak fry thinness, and are utterly perfect in that arena. Still, despite their lack of crispiness, I would still continue to suggest and endorse them, even when putting all of my childhood bias aside, because even if being entirely frank, I will admit that they really do make a ‘good fry.’

2. Chick-Fil-A (Waffle fries): 

Ella Breskal ‘25 ecstatic holding up Chick-Fil-A’s incredible waffle fries. (Maya Ziv ‘23)

While I don’t align with Chick-Fil-A’s beliefs, I tried their fries purely for research purposes, and I cannot lie… they really do make a ‘great fry.’ The waffle shape of their fries is really nice, personally, making the experience more fun and enjoyable. This style of fry also maintains the original potato shape, considering their roundness, and the skin is left on the outside, which is a good reminder that they are in fact ‘real’, and not just some artificial snack that can be found in any grocery store, which many other fast-food restaurants’ fries seem to feel like. 

These fries also have a nice outer crispiness that prevents them from being too soggy, but still have a softer inside that allows you to appreciate the fries for their taste, which I don’t think I could say the same if they were completely crunchy. What I love about them is that there is something enjoyable about these fries for everyone. Even if you like a more ‘potatoey’ fry, they leave the end of the potato in its thick, almost original form, at the bottom of the box just for you. 

These French fries are perfect for dipping, and they pair well with many of the restaurant chain’s famed side sauces, but they also taste amazing for people who like a fry plain, because they still have a great taste when you investigate the fries themselves. As much as I hate to say it, they really do have amazing fries, and I have to give them credit for that.

1. Jack In the Box (curly fries):

In my objective opinion, along with some assistance from three fellow French Fry connoisseurs, it has been decided that Jack In the Box has somehow mastered the French Fry. Their curly fries have a near perfect crispiness, not being entirely crunchy, but rather having a well done outside while still maintaining it’s potatoey origin. The shape of their fry only adds on to their magic, and they managed to make them in a form with the ideal thinness. 

Likewise, these fries, unlike many others, are great plain because they have a seasoning, which isn’t so overwhelming that it’s spicy or ‘gross.’ Instead, the seasoning gives them a good flavor, but still allows you to dip them in sauces, milkshakes, or classic ketchup, because it doesn’t overpower the magic of the French Fry. 

Really, there isn’t much to say about them, because their perfection can really only be described as plainly as that, and can only be truly understood through the experience. These fries are new to me, but I stand with them proudly, and would recommend that you run to your car and drive to the nearest Jack in the Box as soon as possible, to be able to share my newfound appreciation for them with me.