How Thin Should You Actually Cut Potatoes For Shoestring Fries?

Crispy, thin, and oh so delicious, shoestring, also called match stick, fries are a snack food favorite from any retro-style diner. The history of fries includes some sizzling hot discourse, like the France vs. Belgium dispute on their country of origin, but fry cut takes the award for the most famous fry debate. Crinkle, curly, and waffle cuts may seem more glamorous than the plain shoestring fry, but looks aren't everything. For those of us who prefer a delicate julienne to a thick slab of potato, shoestring fries are the perfect size and texture for dunking in sauce or eating by the handful.

But how thin should shoestring fries really be? There's no hard and fast rule for shoestring cuts, so just remember that these fries need to be thin enough for maximum crispness, but not so slim that they turn into burnt sticks. The thickness consensus from home cooks and professional chefs alike ranges from ⅛ inch to ¼ inch, depending on your preferred level of crunch. Serious Eats and The Kitchn recommend ⅛ inch, while uses ¼ inch. others simply suggest julienne. Within that range, what's best? Just like the fry-cut debate, the perfect shoestring thickness depends on personal taste.

Using a mandoline slicer for precise cuts

Unless you're prepared to spend hours perfecting your chef-level knife cuts, a mandoline slicer is the easiest way to achieve consistent shoestring shapes. This kitchen tool features a flat surface with sharp blades, so when you slide potatoes across the mandoline, it makes nice, neat slices. It's not just about appearances; uniform fry cuts mean that the potatoes will cook at the same rate, so you'll have a texturally tasty batch.

Some mandoline slicer models allow for precise adjustments, so you can get the ideal thin fry cut, whether going for a ⅛-inch cut, a ¼-inch cut, or somewhere in between. But if you're on a shoestring budget, a basic mandoline slicer will get you close enough with a julienne setting. Be sure to slice safely — a hospital visit puts a damper on dinner, even if you have a side of fries. Practice a few slices to get the right feel for your shoestring cuts, and don't forget to fry twice for that golden outside, and soft inside. Grab the salt, ketchup, and maybe even a milkshake to turn your dinner side into a diner success.