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Feb 14, 2009 10:01 AM

I figured out why In/Out fries suck

A friend and I have wondered, nay, obsessed on this topic for many of years now. Why are the fries at In/Out so damn tasteless? The potential for greatness is right there, they slice them right in front of you fer chrissake! They should rule and dominate like none other.

We order them almost every time because of this. We go there fully determined to not order fries, but when we get to the counter, seeing the fresh-cut potatoes flying around everywhere and all totally undermines our will and somehow they end up on the tray once again.

And they suck once again. But I have figured it out. I'm sure I'm not the first one, but I've never seen or heard anyone posit this idea, so here goes.

Their oil is too damn clean. As a franchise they seem obsessed with cleanliness. But any old short order cook (me, for example) knows that pure clear clean oil produces subpar fried items. The oil has to darken up with whatever debris and detritus darkens it up before things start to taste right, much as a cast iron pan has to blacken up. Some places even hold back a quart or so of old oil to add to the new stuff when they change the oil out.

I'll bet that In/Out not only changes the oil every day but, like, steam cleans the fryers or something so the oil never has a chance to blacken up good. I'll stake my next paycheck on this.

Had to share this with thems that might care about suchlike.

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  1. I think it's because they are only fried once. Good fries are blanched first, then fried later. I've ordered them well-done before, and they are better, but not great.

    1. And, which diner/grease pit do you work at? I'd like to know where not to eat. kidding.

      While I think if you're going to have fast food fries, right now, carl's junior natural cut fries are the way to go.. I don't think In n' Out's fries suck but they are not my favorite.

      Why are they not exactly to my liking given the "freshness" of the fry cookery?

      Well, I think it's a combination of potato choice, maybe they don't dry them well enough (even though it looks like they have them in a centrifuge), and they don't do what they do in Belgium ... fry them twice. Once at a lower temp, and once at a higher temp. I personally like crunchier fries... I don't think In and Out is looking to make crunchy fries.

      However, their burgers are very tasty and their shakes are rich... and the prices are right... so, I'll overlook their fries as I eat my Double Meat Ketchup Instead Grilled and Raw with Extra Lettuce and Extra Tomato and get a brain freeze from their thick shakes.

      1. I agree that their fries are not the strong point. Other fast food places do better.

        But I HOPE everyone knows to order In-N-Out's fries "well done." It's one of the many standard "off-the-menu" options important to know about this chain. (Entire Web sites are devoted to that subject, and probably hundreds of posts here.)

        4 Replies
        1. re: eatzalot

          I stand by what I've posted before: well-done cardboard is still cardboard. INO hamburgers are OK, better than the average randomly chosen joint, but their fries are an abomination. At times I've lucked into properly fried potatoes there -- beautifully colored and crunchy -- but they still had no flavor, much less potato flavor.

          As a long-time home fryer, I can tell you that bad process -- tasteless oil, single-frying, no icy bath for the raw potatoes, etc. -- doesn't produce potatoes this tasteless. It has to be the potatoes themselves, which are probably grown at Disneyland or some other soiless green.

          1. re: eatzalot

            I agree; we order "well done" fries every time...sometimes ordering "extra well done", "very well done" or even "crunchy". I love those fries!!!

          2. As others have noted, their fries suck because they're not double fried, not because the oil is too clean.

            1. It's not so much the oil as the technique. While it's true that brand new oil doesn't brown as well, if you want good fries what you need to do is wash the excess starch off of the sliced potatoes and let them soak for a while in cold water, then fry them twice. The first fry cooks the inside, then once cooled the second fry crisps and browns the outside.