Why You Shouldn't Use Red Potatoes To Make French Fries

Red potatoes are one of those beautiful, year-round produce items that have enormous range in the kitchen. Known for their gorgeous hue and waxy texture, Red potatoes are right at home in a variety of dishes like roasted vegetables, tangy potato salad, or diced into a savory corned beef hash. They also happen to be one of the most readily available potatoes around and are frequently found bagged beside their friends, Russets and Yukon Golds. Despite this wide-ranging adaptability, there's a food red potatoes are decidedly not great for: making french fries.

While these prized frites are originally Belgian, not French, everyone can agree upon the fact that the perfect fries are expected to meet two parameters — to be golden and crispy on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside. It's not that fried red potatoes are guaranteed to be awful, but they won't give you the crispiest fries you could be having, either. 

So why does this potato, which excels everywhere else, come up short in the fries department? It has to do with their genetic makeup. Some of the natural elements that make red potatoes great for roasting or mashing actually end up working against them when it comes to making fries.

Higher moisture content

The reason reds are not suitable for making crispy fries is because their flesh is more watery than starchy. The red potato's waxy skin holds in a lot of water and sugar, and that moisture in the presence of hot frying oil tends to scorch rather than crisp them. To avoid this, folks will pull them out of the oil early, which results in limp and soggy fries. A better potato variety for fries would be Russets or Yukon Golds, as they have a much higher starch content, making them ideal for achieving that crispy exterior.

Red potatoes also tend to be on the small side, so you're not going to get the long, satisfying straw-like end product like you would from Russets or Yukon Golds. If you're desperate, with no other fries in the house, an air fryer can help you get around the crisping problem because for these, there is no need for oil to battle the high levels of sugar and moisture in the red potatoes. 

But when deep-fat frying it home, stick with the starchier varieties for making fries, and save the reds for the countless other recipes they're perfect for. After all, not all potatoes need be fried.