The Secret To Shake Shack's Fries And How To Nail Them At Home

Shake Shack's signature crinkle cut fries are an example of french fry perfection: golden and crispy on the outside, warm and soft on the inside. Made from golden potatoes and prepared in cholesterol-free soy oil, per Shake Shack, customers love the chain's fries so much that sales soared when it placed them back on the menu in 2015. 

So how does Shake Shack nail the perfect crinkle cut french fry texture? Tasting Table spoke to John Karangis, executive chef and VP of Culinary Innovation at Shake Shack, to find out. According to Karangis, the key factors are heat exposure, salt content, and of course, the ketchup pairing. He explained that the perfect fry needs to be cooked at high heat so that it gets nice and crispy on the exterior, yet if you break it in half, you'll see a soft, pillowy texture. And don't skimp on the salt. "You can have great texture on the outside, nice and soft and flavorful, but [if] there's not enough salt, it doesn't work," Karangis said. He recommends that there be "enough salt where it's almost too salty, until you drag it through the ketchup, if ketchup is your thing."

Use salt, heat, and the right dipping sauce

Speaking of ketchup, Karangis believes there's a reason that french fries work so well with the condiment. "The thing about ketchup, there's acid, there's sweetness, and then you've got the richness of the fry, and all of those flavors kind of work. For me that's the perfect fry," he said. If you're looking to mimic the Shake Shack experience at home, don't forget to dip your fries, although you don't have to only use ketchup to get those sweet, acidic ingredients. You can also try garlic aioli (which typically has mayo and lemon juice), honey mustard, a vinegar-based barbecue sauce, or a vinegar-based hot sauce and honey combo.

To achieve Karangis' (and pretty much everyone's) ideal french fry texture, make sure you're getting the potatoes hot enough during cooking. For our air fryer french fries we recommend going up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit, and for our oven-baked sweet potato fries, try 425 degrees. If you're frying a traditional batch, use a cooking thermometer to make sure the oil gets up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. As the Shake Shack executive chef mentioned, be generous with the salt. Try soaking your potatoes beforehand in cold water with a few teaspoons of salt for up to half an hour. Then, once you've finished frying, douse them with a shower of salt — if you're not sure exactly how much to use, taste as you go so you don't overdo it.