Frozen French fries turn out deliciously crunchy on the outside with soft, fluffy insides when baked or fried. But if you’re short on time, or don’t have access to an oven, can you microwave them?
Our team bought some bags of oven fries and tested them out so that you know what to expect. We also reached out to the big U.S brands to get their advice. Here’s what we discovered.
Are frozen fries suitable for microwaving?
We tested several brands of frozen fries in the microwave and found that they are not suitable for this cooking method. The cooked chips had an unpleasant, soggy texture without the crispy exterior that’s crucial to a good French fry.
As you can see below, neither of them look mouth-watering. The thin fries were soggy and trying to cook them any longer caused them to dry out. The thick cut product worked a little better, but still lacked the fluffy interior and crunch you'd get from the oven-baked or fried ones.
What do the big potato fry makers advise?
America’s biggest brands were unanimous when we asked if their products were okay to cook in the microwave. Here’s what they told us.
McCain: McCain is a major manufacturer of potato products, including French fries, chips, and more. Their advice was “any of our other fries can be microwaved, but we do not recommend this as they will be soggy and not what the product was intended to be like. However, we actually sell our Quick Cook Microwave Straight cut chips and they are crunchy despite being microwaved.” - Customer Service.
Alexia: “We do not recommend microwaving any of our potato/onion ring products. We do have air fryer directions as well as oven (as printed on the product bag).”
Ore-Ida: “Thanks for getting back to us, Nate. Appliance temperatures may vary. Please consider the performance of your appliance when following these directions. With specially prepared Ore-Ida Fries tucked between an upper and lower crisping sheet, the heat from your microwave cooks them to crispy perfection in just four minutes”.
Are microwave-safe fries any good?
There are a few different products on the market that allow you to microwave chips instead of using conventional methods. We tested out several brands to see how they tasted and found that the outside still lacked the “crunch factor” that you’d expect from Arby’s, McDonald’s, or regular oven fries.
What we liked about microwavable fries is that they come in handy portion-sized boxes, about the size of the ones you’d get from a fast-food outlet. So, there’s no need to guess cooking times – you get tasty fries that are well cooked every time.
Related reading: Are French Fries okay for vegans?
How to cook frozen fries in a microwave
If you’d like to cook a bag of frozen chips, using a microwave, follow the steps below. Although they won’t turn out perfectly crispy, they’ll still taste okay. The best part is, they’ll be ready fast and there’s less cleaning up.
- Add a sheet of baking paper to a large microwave-safe plate. You can also try paper towels, but we found the chips stuck to them.
- Lightly spray the fries in olive oil or canola oil. If you don’t have spray, rub a little oil over them, without overdoing it.
- Layer the fries in a single layer on the plate. You’ll get better results cooking in small batches.
- Cook on high heat for two minutes then flip them and continue cooking for another minute. After each minute, check to see if they’re ready. Continue cooking in one-minute sessions until they’re cooked through.
Cooking tip: On our first attempt, we tried to cook them until the outside looked a little crisp. If you take them this far, they’ll be inedible on the inside.
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3 Innovative ways to microwave fries
There has to be a better way to cook crispy fries in the microwave? After scouting the internet, we discovered some creative solutions.
1. High-price option
If you’re serious about microwaving fries or you love fancy appliances, then consider buying a Breville Combi Wave 3-in-1 Convection Oven. It combines an air fryer, convection oven, and microwave in one appliance. This technology lets you cook food faster and still get that crispy coating. Foods that like roast chickens, lasagna, brownies, and of course, fries are all possible using this oven.
2. Budget option
For a small investment, you can get yourself a Maconee Deluxe Nonstick Microwave Pan. It’ll allow you to reduce the cooking time of any food by almost 70%! The pan can be pre-heated, before cooking perfect crunchy fries. Other favorites like bacon, steak, pizza, tacos, and chicken are also suitable for this oven.
3. Super-budget option
If your budget’s on a shoestring (excuse the pun), then try buying microwave oven chips. There are a few different options on the market, so check out the frozen aisle of your local grocery store. There are also options to buy online if your local supermarket is limited in its range.
Alternative cooking methods
If you have no choice, then a microwave will allow you to cook slightly soggy, limp fries. For better results try one of these methods.
Oven-baked: Hot oven-baked fries are simple to make and practically guarantee a crispy outside. A hot oven is the secret, so preheat to 450°F (230°C) then cook in the middle of the oven for 15-20 minutes. We suggest following the instructions on the packet for best results.
If you’ve got no oven then skip this option. For those hoping to use a microwave because they’re short on time, you’re better to look for fast-bake fries. All the big brands now have products that cook in just a few minutes. See what you can find where you live.
Toaster oven: It’s no secret, we love our toaster oven for faster, more efficient cooking. Although the cooking time will be similar to a conventional oven, preheating is much quicker. The results will be delicious.
Fried: Whether you choose pan or deep-frying, this method of cooking is our preferred for taste. Be sure to transfer the cooked fries to a plate covered in paper towels to help absorb some of the oil. Frying chips may not be the healthiest option, but they sure taste good.
Commonly asked questions
Are frozen french fries already cooked?
French fries have already been cooked by the manufacturer then snap-frozen. This allows the home chef to cook them quicker than regular fresh potatoes that have been frozen.
Should I defrost frozen fries before cooking?
Frozen fries should be cooked straight from the freezer and not allowed to thaw before cooking. Defrosted potatoes will absorb more fat, resulting in an unpleasant greasy mouthfeel. Also, the surface of the fry loses its seal, producing a less crispy fry.
Is it safe to microwave frozen fries?
It is safe to microwave fries and there will be no unwanted flare-ups or other safety risks. Keep in mind that you’ll need to closely watch your food to ensure it doesn’t overcook and turn dry.
How do I reheat French fries in the microwave?
To reheat fries in the microwave, layer lightly oiled fries on a flat plate covered in paper towels or parchment paper. To ensure even heating, spread them out and avoid over stacking the plate. Heat them on medium power in 30-second intervals until they reach the desired temperature.
If you love to eat crispy, golden fries then microwaving may not be the right option for you. The cooking process will usually result in soggy chips that are edible, but not “to die for”.
A fancy microwave like a Breville Combi Wave 3-in-1 has a handy setting for cooking frozen fries. Although we’re not suggesting you buy one of these appliances just for making fries, you may want to keep this feature in mind, next time you’re shopping for a new one.
A purpose-built pan like a Maconee Deluxe Nonstick Microwave Pan is a low-cost way option for making impressive fries.
Of course, you could just skip the main course and get started on dessert. Microwaved cookie dough anyone?