Is It Better To Salt Fries Before Or After Cooking?


We all love crunchy salty fries, but when is the best time to season them when cooking? Often the salt doesn’t stick too well. It also depends on whether you are baking or frying them.

When baking fries in the oven, you can salt the fries before or after cooking. When frying, it’s best to salt your fries when they are fresh out of the fryer because the salt will stick best to the hot oil. Using fine salt grains rather than large flakes will help the salt stick better to the potato.

This is true for all dry seasonings like spices and herbs, not just salt. For wet seasonings like garlic butter, pesto or gravy, these are all best added after cooking so the fries can crisp up while cooking.

Another secret to great fries is soaking them in salt water before cooking for a few hours as I researched in another article – so check that out too.

Let’s look at my best tips on avoiding soggy fries and the steps to get them perfectly seasoned.

Should I Salt Fries Before Or After Frying? 

Salting your fries before putting them in the fryer won’t help. The salt will only turn your oil brown quicker. It’s recommended that you salt your fries when they come straight out of the fryer so it sticks to the hot oil.

To ensure the perfect crispy salty fries, the following steps can be followed: 

  1. Cut all your fries the same size
  2. Rinse your fries to remove starch
  3. Soak them in salted water for the crispiest fries
  4. Drain fries and pat dry
  5. First fry at 275F (135C) for 5 minutes, remove, and then heat the oil to 350F (175C) for another 5 minutes.
  6. When your fries are done, place them on a paper towel
  7. While they are still hot and a bit greasy, add the salt 
  8. Shake in a mixing bowl and serve 

Adding the salt to a hot and still greasy fry will help the salt stick to the fry.

Do You Salt Fries Before Or After Baking?

You can salt fries before or after baking. For the best results, season after baking to enjoy the maximum flavor as some seasoning is lost when the potato releases steam in the oven. Use finely ground salt or spices to ensure it sticks.

Baking your fries is easily the healthier alternative. There is less oil so this can be an issue to get the salt to stick – use fine salt or grind your own larger sea or rock salt flakes. You can season before they are baked but I find the salt dissolves and you don’t get the same hit.

You can boil your fries in some saltwater before baking to help crispiness and speed up cooking. Although it won’t add too much of a salty element to your fries. The following steps can be followed when baking your fries: 

  1. Boil your fries in salt water for 10 minutes
  2. Preheat an oiled baking sheet; a few tablespoons of oil are enough to coat
  3. Cook fries and turn them once or twice until golden
  4. Salt immediately after cooking and shake to cover all the fries

There is not a big difference in seasoning your fries when either baking or frying them. The optimal flavor will be achieved in both scenarios if the seasoning is added after the cooking process.

How Do You Get Salt To Stick To Fries?

Using finely ground salt instead of large flakes will help salt stick to fries. Salting them straight after cooking will ensure the salt sticks to the oil on the surface of the potato.

As mentioned, fries should be seasoned with dry seasoning directly after frying or baking for the best results. Fries can be seasoned before baking, but this usually results in the salt dissolving instead of sticking to the fries. 

The best way to get the salt to stick to the fries is by seasoning them while they are still piping hot. Fries that have been fried in oil will automatically be oilier than fries coming out of the oven. The bit of oil on the fries will help the salt stick to them.

What Kind Of Salt Is Best For French Fries? 

The finer the salt, the more likely it is for the salt granules to stick to the fries. Buy fine sea or rock salt, or even table salt for ease. Corser salts like pink salt and sea salt flakes won’t stick to the fries because the granules are too heavy, but you can grind them in a pestle and mortar yourself.

Sprinkling large grains of salt on dry fries will annoyingly leave most of the salt in the container rather than on the fry. I like to crush up my own sea salt (like Maldon flakes) to a fine powder which gives the best taste and the best stick.

For an alternative salty seasoning that can be used on fries, try a mixture of salt, garlic powder, chili powder, black pepper, and paprika. To ensure that the seasoning salts stick to the fries, put the whole mixture in a spice grinder or pestle and mortar. This will ensure that the combination is fine and coats evenly. 

Whether baking or frying your fries, it is best to ensure that they are seasoned with a fine mixture of salt or seasoning. Frying will have a little more stick from the extra oil though.

Why Is My French Fries Soggy? 

Nobody likes soggy French Fries. If you end up with a soggy mess when trying to bake or fry French fries, this can be due to several reasons. 

  1. Double frying. My number one trick for fries that are crunchy on the outside but soft on the inside is double frying. Fry your fries at a lower heat first and then turn up the heat to finish. First fry at 275F (135C) for 5 minutes, remove, and then heat the oil to 350F (175C) for another 5 minutes.
  2. Hot oil. Ensure your oil is the right temperature as adding fries to oil that is cold will cause the fries to absorb the cold oil. You will be stuck with an greasy, soggy mess.
  3. Soaking. Soak your fries first in salt water for 30 minutes (or longer) to draw out excess starch.
  4. Parboiling. More commonly with baking fries, parboil them for 10 minutes which removes starch and helps crisping. If excess starch is removed, the fries are less gummy.
  5. Cooling. A mistake I’ve made many times is to add the hot fresh batch of fries to the fries that came out of the oil five minutes ago. This will cause the fries at the bottom to go all soggy and oily. Instead, add the batches to a big enough bowl or tray so they are not placed on top of each other. 

Conclusion

Hopefully you now know all about when to salt your french fries and other tips in making crispy fries.

Whether you are frying or baking your French fries, it’s essential to ensure that they are all the same size. If you are baking the fries, wash off any excess starch before placing them in the oven. When frying, ensure that your oil is at the right temperature. Seasoning can be added before baking but never before frying as this will break down the oil.

For the best result when it comes to seasoning your fries, season them after baking and frying. Adding wet seasoning to your cooked fries will ensure the dry seasoning sticks better, and you will have perfectly seasoned crunchy fries.

Tom

Hey, I'm Tom. I set up Boss The Kitchen to start answering the thousands of questions people have while cooking. For me, the kitchen is my happy place and I hope to help other people with the knowledge I've gained along the way.

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