25 Fast Food Fries, Ranked Worst To Best

Of all the polarizing food opinions out there, there's one that nearly every American can agree on: Burgers and french fries are a match made in heaven. It's impossible to fathom a time when people would eat a burger without the perfectly fried, golden, crispy side that is french fries, especially because the dynamic duo is ubiquitous at fast food chains across the country. It's even more unfathomable yet that french fries aren't an American invention, nor are they a French one — we have Belgium to thank for the crispy goodness of french fries, and how thankful are we for such a satisfying food.

While you can make your own fries in the comfort of your home, it's not easy to achieve that deep-fried perfection without, well, a deep fryer. So, many of us seek our french fry fix by way of fast food, and there certainly is no shortage of chains to choose from. Some fast food fries have proven to be more popular than others (McDonald's, we're looking at you), whereas others leave quite a bit of crispiness to be desired. We've compiled an extensive list of fast-food fries, and though it's impossible to objectively determine which chain has the best fries out there, we've given it our best shot. So, the next time a fry craving hits, keep this ranking on the back burner so you know which ones to seek out (and, more importantly, which ones to avoid). 

25. Dairy Queen

Dairy Queen does many things right — its soft serve is delicious, its Dilly Bar is iconic, and Blizzards are simply unmatched when it comes to frozen treats. That said, Dairy Queen's food menu, which includes french fries, is a good example of something that no one asked for. Unsurprisingly, DQ's fries are at the very bottom of this list. At their worst, the fries are limp, cold, and under-salted, and at their best, they're forgettable. It's safe to say that most people stick to the ice cream when they go to Dairy Queen, and if the fries are any signifier, it's for good reason.

24. White Castle

Any fast foodie knows that White Castle can be pretty hit or miss regardless of what you order. Sometimes, a slider is the tastiest thing you could possibly put in your mouth, and other times, it's lukewarm and feels like mush. Worse could be said about the fries, which are nearly always limp, saltless, and devoid of any crispiness. It's a shame, seeing as crinkle-cut fries have so much potential to be crispy. But, alas, White Castle's fries just don't accomplish this feat, and therefore are pretty low in this ranking.

23. Sonic

Sonic has an overwhelmingly large menu, so not everything is going to be the star of the show. Whereas the chili cheese coney and chicken tender dinner is worth getting, the fries definitely leave quite a bit to be desired. They're nothing special, just your run-of-the-mill, standard-cut fries, that somehow are never fresh, no matter what time you're pulling up to the drive-thru. It's definitely best to opt for one of Sonic's tastier sides, like the onion rings or tater tots, and skip any french fry disappointment.

22. Carl's Jr. and Hardee's

These fries are the definition of just fine. There's nothing really bad to say about them — they're your standard natural-cut fry, so if that's your thing, then you probably like these fries quite a bit. But there's no pizzazz, and there's no real redeeming quality that sets these fries apart from the endless sea of natural-cut fast food french fries, so Carls Jr. and Hardee's ultimately rank pretty low due to forgettableness. 

21. In-N-Out Burger

If this were a list of the best fast food burgers, In-N-Out would easily be in the top three. Alas, we're focused on fries here, and in that context, In-N-Out doesn't even break the top 20 or 10, much less the top three. These fries are just okay; they're pretty plain and forgettable, and they just can't compete with higher-ranked fries. That said, In-N-Out's animal-style fries are definitely worth giving a try — because, after all, is there anything that cheese and grilled onions can't fix? There's even the argument that the plainness of the fries makes the animal-style topping all the better, as there's no real competition between the flavors.

20. Raising Cane's

Raising Cane's has garnered quite the following due to a popular menu item, and unfortunately, it isn't the fries. The fried chicken fast food joint is notorious for its popular sauce, which kind of makes the actual food items pale in comparison. Nevertheless, Raising Cane's fries are decent enough. Like many, many other fries on this list, they are of the crinkle-cut variety, though, unlike other fries, they're the longer, skinnier version. On their own, these fries are standard and forgettable, but paired with that Cane's sauce ... well, anything is delicious paired with that sauce.

19. Culver's

Culver's crinkle-cut fries are a great example of forgettable, washed away in a vast sea of better crinkle-cut fries. These aren't the worst out there, but they certainly aren't the best. They tend to be under-salted, and there's really no redeeming factor for these fries. Sure, they make a good companion to a butter burger, but so do the cheese curds. And, when the choice is between bland fries and delicious balls of deep-fried cheese, well, you're likely going to go with the curds every time, and you'd be wise to do so.

18. Bojangles

Have you ever gotten an order of fries that somehow seems to be soggy through and through? If so, it was probably from Bojangles. Now, this isn't inherently an insult; there are plenty of people out there who prefer their fries on the soggy side. But ideally, there's some relief somewhere in there, and in this case, that relief would come in the form of a single crispy fry amidst the bunch. You're probably not going to find that crispy fry at Bojangles, but you will find crispy fried chicken, so there's a silver lining to the sogginess. 

17. Zaxby's

Very few crinkle-cut-fry-serving chains serve them seasoned, so Zaxby's gets some points for its seasoned fries right off the bat. But other than the seasoning, there really isn't much to fawn over with these fries. They come in a very standard crinkle shape — not too thick, not too thin, not too short, not too long — and are overall remarkably unremarkable. If you're a fan of Zaxby's, then sure, order a side of fries with your kickin' chicken sandwich, but don't expect anything life-changing — and yes, good fries should change lives!

16. Shake Shack

Fans of crinkle-cut fries especially tend to enjoy Shake Shack's fries, which are a little bit thicker than your typical crinkle-cut. These fries are tasty on their own, and they definitely pair well with a Shack Burger. That said, they can sometimes be under-salted and possibly even too crispy. No one wants to bite into a hard french fry, but when the fries are short and stout, they start to fry a little too close to the sun. We can easily forgive the chain, however, for gracing us with the option of cheese fries, which immediately make the whole dish much tastier and more memorable.

15. Jack in the Box

Jack in the Box earns some serious points because it offers not one but two varieties of fries: thin, standard-cut fries and seasoned curly fries. Now, this chain certainly doesn't do either fry the best of the best, but for what it's worth, both varieties are pretty good here. The real star is the curly fries, because if you're faced with a choice between plain fries and curly fries, how do you not choose the curly option? If you enjoy a standard-cut fry, however, then you're also in luck here. Fry lovers everywhere can unite at Jack in the Box.

14. KFC

KFC boasts its "Secret Recipe Fries," and while we don't know exactly what goes into the special recipe, we can attest that it tastes pretty good. KFC's fries are thin and crispy, and while they don't go where no fry has gone before, they don't need to. They're simply tasty fries, they're consistently crispy, and unlike other chains on this list, they actually come seasoned. These fries also hold their own amongst a plethora of other KFC sides like coleslaw, mashed potatoes, or corn — in fact, if you're going to opt for sides with your fried chicken, these fries are a safe bet.  

13. Popeyes

It's always refreshing when a restaurant actually tries to make their food flavorful, so Popeyes gets points right off the bat for serving up seasoned Cajun fries. While the chain's fries are consistently flavorful and crispy, they're not always the freshest — sometimes, it seems like hours-old fries have been tossed into your three-piece tender basket. Luckily, the Cajun seasoning always manages to redeem these fries, and they especially pair well with fried chicken and a buttery biscuit.

12. Taco Bell Nacho Fries

Adequately seasoned and surprisingly crispy, Taco Bell's Nacho Fries are higher on this list than one might initially suspect. The fries are served with nacho cheese by default, and it's pretty hard to mess up that combo. All that said, the nacho fries aren't always available on Taco Bell's menu — in fact, sometimes the fries are back and gone again in the blink of an eye. For that reason, and the fact that truly good fries shouldn't rely on any one sauce to complete them, these fries don't quite break the top 10.

11. Wingstop

While Wingstop may not be the first chain to come to mind when you think of fast-food fries, they actually have pretty decent ones. These thin, standard-cut fries tend to be on the greasier side, but when you're throwing back an entire platter of chicken wings, those greasy fries slide down oh-so easily as well. It helps that the fries taste especially good with residual wing sauce slathered on them, and you might as well dunk them in Wingstop's impeccably delicious ranch for good measure.

10. Steak 'n Shake

You either love 'em or you hate 'em, but for those in favor of shoestring fries, Steak 'n Shake is definitely the best place to get them. These thin and crispy fries are consistently tasty and paired next to a classic steak burger, it really doesn't get much better than that. Of course, for those who are crinkle-cut or steak fry fans, shoestring fries are a total nightmare, especially when you need 10 fries just to make up an adequate bite. So, for the sake of objectivity, Steak 'n Shake breaks the top 10, but just barely. 

9. Nathan's Famous

There are people who absolutely swear by Nathan's Famous fries, and there are others who scratch their heads and say, "What's Nathan's Famous?" If you've had the pleasure of enjoying one of the chain's hot dogs (or have given any attention to its annual hot dog eating contest), then you'll know that Nathan's Famous is famous for hot dogs. But it offers much more, including burgers, heroes, and of course, fries. As far as crinkle-cut fries go, these ones are pretty good. They're thick and chunky, which puts them more on the soggy side than the crispy side. The real redeeming factor is that these fries are seasoned while most other crinkle-cut fries on this list are not. If you haven't been able to try Nathan's Famous fries from a restaurant location, you're in luck — you can pick up a bag of these frozen fries at the grocery store.

8. Whataburger

If there's one fast-food chain that gives McDonald's fries a run for its money, it just might be Whataburger. These skinny, shoestring-esque fries very much resemble the ultra-popular chain's golden fries, though they also deserve some recognition all on their own. Crispy with every bite, these fries really are tasty, and they pair well with a burger or patty melt. Of course, they'll never be quite as good as McDonald's fries, and this is where the similarities might become a nuisance. But, hey, if you're ever in the Southwest and want to give these fries a try, they're definitely well worth your time and money.

7. Portillo's

Whereas some restaurants serve short and thick crinkle-cut fries, Portillo's crinkle-cut fries are long and thin, which works to the chain's advantage. These fries are always crispy and perfectly salted, so you can't go wrong ordering them alongside a chili cheese dog or Italian beef sandwich. The real money lies in the cheese sauce, however; Portillo's has perfected the art of the cheese sauce, and it pairs brilliantly with the crispy-but-not-too-crispy crinkle-cut fries. Long story short: these fries are good on their own, but when it comes to fast-food cheese fries, these are the best out there.

6. Burger King

Burger King's fries have remained consistent over the years, so if you want a good batch of standard, natural-cut fries, then you can always rely on the popular chain. These fries also accomplish that ideal balance of being pillowy on the inside and crisp on the outside, making a truly ideal companion to a Whopper. If you're a fan of the classics and aren't looking to switch things up, then you'll definitely want to stick with Burger King to curb your fry cravings. Though, if you're looking for the truly superior fry from Burger King, the chicken fries are really where the money's at ... why not get both?

5. Chick-fil-A

Chick-fil-A goes where few chains have the guts to go — that is, it goes the waffle fry route. Indeed, Chick-fil-A is one of only a few restaurants on this list to serve waffle fries, and for some, that's a red flag. However, anyone who has ever enjoyed Chick-fil-A's waffle fries knows that they're pretty darn good — they're warm and soft on the inside, and nice and crispy on the outside. The waffle shape works well in ensuring an even crispiness level so each bit will be as tasty as the last. The only real downside here is that these fries are a bit awkward, especially when you're trying to dunk one in a sauce packet. 

4. Five Guys

Five Guys Cajun fries steal the show, more so than the burgers themselves, though one taste proves why that's the case. These natural-cut fries are cooked to perfection in peanut oil, then seasoned to perfection in Cajun seasoning. To up the ante, no one has ever complained that Five Guys shorted them on fries; piled high into an unsuspecting white cup, a single order of Five Guys fries can satiate even the biggest of appetites. But, for good measure, the workers at Five Guys will dump even more fries into the bottom of the brown bag — and with fries this flavorful, no one is complaining about having too many.

3. Arby's

It's a wonder that more restaurants don't implement curly fries into their menus. Maybe they don't bother because they know that the fries won't stand a chance against Arby's iconic curly fries — and they'd be correct. What's not to love about Arby's curly fries? They're seasoned and crispy, and even if you do happen to get a soggy batch, they somehow still taste good. There is no greater joy than finding a perfectly-springy spiral in one's packet of Arby's fries, and for that reason, these easily make the top three on this list. 

2. McDonald's

Even those who seldom enjoy fast food could probably guess that McDonald's would be pretty high on this list. Securing the No. 2 position, McDonald's fries are as iconic — if not more so — than anything else on the menu. They're thin and crispy, and as long as they're served fresh, then they're pretty darn good fries. No Big Mac would be complete without a side of fries, and McDonald's fries hold their own against such an imposing entree. 

1. Wendy's

It may be controversial to have Wendy's at the top of the list, just narrowly beating out McDonald's, but quality comes down to more than a popularity contest. Wendy's natural-cut fries are consistently fresh and salty, and they strike the perfect textural balance between their soft interior and crispy exterior. They're not too thick, not too thin — the perfect fry, essentially. Like any good fry, Wendy's fries taste especially good dunked in ketchup, but true enthusiasts know that the best "condiment" for these fries is actually a chocolate Frosty — another controversial take, perhaps, but the sweet and salty combination truly can't be beaten.