The pandemic supposedly got people back into their kitchens — baking bread and making comfort food casseroles. But around here, we’ve actually found ourselves getting take-out a little more often. At first it was a way to support local restaurants, and then it became increasingly uncomfortable to linger in grocery stores hunting for rarely-used ingredients for new recipes. Plus, there’s just the fact that when there are other stressors on the mind, it’s nice to have one less thing on the mental bandwidth.
So we’re still cooking (Jeremy’s stupidly-easy-but-incredibly-delicious biscuits have seen perennial action), but restaurant take-out has ended up in the dinnertime rotation a bit more frequently.
Something I noticed after consuming these Styrofoam-encased meals, is that we sometimes ended up with some leftover French fries. Restaurants often accompany their entrees with outsized portions of them, and our kids especially don’t always have the appetite to finish theirs off. The leftover fries would end up in the fridge, where they would invariably remain untouched, and then be shunted to the trash.
Because who likes to eat leftover French fries? Their deliciousness has a short shelf-life; fresh from the fryer, they’re the height of tastiness, but a day, even an hour later, and they’re soggy and mealy. Reheat them in the oven, and they turn hard and dry. Nuke ‘em in the microwave, and they become soft and limp, devoid of their former crispness.
And yet, it seems a shame to throw your fries away. You paid for them, and take-out is expensive. You want to get your full money’s worth instead of letting your food go to waste.
Fortunately, it’s possible to reheat and reuse leftover French fries in ways that restore their golden glory.
How to Reheat French Fries (So They Actually Taste Good)
While many methods for reheating fries turn out lackluster results, these two will bring your fries back to something approaching their fresh-from-the-fryer state.
The Improved Oven Method
As mentioned above, reheating fries in the oven tends to make them dry and hard. But with a few tweaks to this method, you can get a much superior result.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Tear off a sheet of foil big enough to cover a baking sheet and crumple it into a ball.
- Gently (to avoid tearing) unfold the foil so that it’s flat, but not entirely smoothed out. Keep the textured ridges you’ve created; the fries will sit on top of these ridges, allowing the oven’s heat to warm every side of the elevated pieces.
- Place French fries on the foil spaced out in a single layer.
- Hit the fries with a light spray of cooking spray.
- Bake for about 5 minutes, until hot.
- Add salt to taste (you wouldn’t think it’d be needed, but it likely is and quite enhances ’em) and consume.
The Re-Fried Fries Method
If fries taste best straight from the oil, then it makes sense that returning them to some grease would restore their deliciousness. And indeed, this was the best method we tried; re-fried fries taste almost better than they did originally.
- Coat the bottom of a pan with a thin layer of oil and heat over medium-high heat.
- Place the fries spaced out in a single layer in the pan.
- Leave fries to heat for 1-2 minutes (depending on thickness/desired crispiness), then flip/stir them, and fry for 1-2 minutes more, until hot, golden, and crispy.
- Let drain on a paper towel-lined plate and add salt as needed.
If you like softer fries (and aren’t keen on adding oil to an already grease-laden food), use the oven method. If you like crispier fries, use the frying method.
How to Reuse French Fries in a Meal
If you don’t want to go through the trouble of heating up the oven or dirtying a frying pan just to make yourself a French fry snack, consider reusing your leftover fries by incorporating them into another food or meal. When they’re mixed with other things, their texture becomes less consequential.
Smothering the fries with cheese and toppings or poutine (gravy + cheese curds) is a good option, as it turns a would-be snack into something that eats like a meal.
You can also use leftover fries pretty much in any recipe that calls for potatoes (keeping in mind that they’re already cooked, and won’t need as much cook-time as the original recipe calls for). You can stick them a breakfast burrito or hash, or incorporate them into a casserole.
Possibly the best option is to put your leftover fries into a frittata. Frittatas are a versatile dish – they can be eaten for breakfast or dinner, and you can pretty much throw anything you have on hand, leftover or fresh, into them, whether veggies, meats, or even (cooked) pasta. While you can come up with infinite combos, here’s a recipe that will get you started and easily and tastily use up your leftover fries.
Leftover French Fry Frittata
- 8 eggs
- ¼ cup cream
- 4-6 slices of bacon
- ¼ cup cheddar cheese
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- leftover French fries (the exact amount doesn’t matter, but no more than about 2 cups)
- fresh chives
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Cook bacon, drain, and dice. Dice chives. Whisk together eggs, cream, salt, and pepper until just combined. Lightly grease a cast-iron or other oven-safe pan. Place French fries in a single layer on its bottom. Sprinkle in pieces of bacon. Pour in eggs, covering fries and bacon evenly. Sprinkle on cheese.
Heat on stove over medium-high heat, until the edges begin to firm. Then transfer to oven and bake for 15 minutes/until you can cut into it without seeing runny egg. Sprinkle frittata with chives and serve.