How To Make Fries That Taste Just Like McDonald's

Love them or hate them, McDonald's fries are special. They taste unlike any other fast food fry. One bite, and you know you are eating an order of World "Famous Fries:, and that is by design. McDonald's wants to set itself apart to keep you coming back, but sometimes, you want to enjoy these delicious fries at home. For that, we are here to help.


Looking at McDonald's fries, they seem pretty basic. McDonald's uses common russet potatoes and vegetable oil in its fries. However, there is one secret ingredient that sets them apart — beef flavor. The beef flavor is a throwback to early McDonald's, when the company cut its oil with beef fat as a cost-saving measure. This gave the fries a unique taste that remains popular even after the company switched to vegetable oil. McDonald's adds this extra beef flavor to recreate the delicious taste of tallow, giving its fries a rounded, extra savory flavor.

Since this is not a secret, the good news is that we can help you recreate these fries at home with few ingredients. This is the perfect project for a new cook because we will be using bagged frozen french fries. No cutting or slicing is required! As a bonus, there is a way to get the full flavor without using real beef, which may be just the ticket for those who love McDonald's fries but eat a plant-based diet.


Picking the right frozen fries

First things first: picking the right french fry. For our purposes, we are using frozen french fries and doctoring them up to give them that signature McDonald's taste. So, it is imperative that you pick the right french fries.


For this, we want thin and crispy french fries that mimic the size and shape of McDonald's. McDonald's fries are not particularly thick, and are more crispy than soft. Ore-ida make an Extra Crispy Fast Food Style french fry that is ideal for this. It's also gluten-free, since these fries include rich flour and food starch rather than any wheat. For an inexpensive option, you can also use generic brands of thin cut fries to achieve a similar result.

We don't recommend sugar in the brine

It is widely known that McDonald's uses a lot of sugar in its products to make them tasty, and the french fries aren't any different. McDonald's producers use a sugar brine to prep its fries before frying. The sugar brine isn't table sugar, however, it's dextrose. Still an added sugar, albeit one that's less sweet than added sucrose.


We don't recommend brining your fries in sugar, though. The main reason McDonald's does this is to prevent the cut potatoes from turning gray or brown and to ensure an appealing color. It does not necessarily have to do with the flavor. You will notice that we do include a brine, however, that's where the beef flavor is added. This is what really gives McDonald's that signature taste.

Beef flavoring, the secret ingredient

So, if it isn't the sugar brining, what is it that makes McDonald's fries so tasty? It's the beef flavoring. McDonald's fries may no longer be fried in beef fat, but they still include "beef flavoring" in the oil. Interestingly, McDonald's beef flavor does not appear to contain actual beef, but it does contain dairy in the form of hydrolyzed milk derivatives. So, the jury is still out on whether these fries can be considered vegetarian. The good news is that with our method, if you want to abstain from animal products, you can still achieve the rounded, beefy flavor.


Items you will need

To make McDonald's World Famous Fries dupes, you need a few ingredients. As mentioned, we are starting with frozen, thin-cut fries. After that, you will need vegetable oil. This is what McDonald's used to fry its fries, too. It is cheap and easily found at the grocery store. You will also need fine table salt to dust the fries. Finally, you will need powdered beef flavoring. This is a little harder to find but is often used to make beef-flavored broths. As mentioned, this flavoring does not have to be made with real beef, although it can be. We used a plant-based powder which makes these fries vegan-friendly. A powder is recommended because it can also be added to the salt for an extra flavorful seasoning.


If you plan to deep fry your fries you will need either a deep fryer or a heavy-bottomed pot and thermometer. You will also need a long slotted heat-resistant spoon to help you remove the fries from the oil. 

If you plan to bake your fries, we recommend using an air fryer or an oven with a convection setting, as this will help achieve an extra crispy finish. If using an oven, make sure you line your pan with parchment paper to prevent sticking, and use a tray large enough to evenly spread the fries without overlapping.

Deep frying method

If you have the equipment, deep frying your fries will get the best result, resulting in fries that are perfectly and evenly crispy. If you don't have a deep fryer, you can use a pan with a heavy bottom and a thermometer set to the appropriate temperature


Dissolve beef powder in water to make a light mix. We used ½ teaspoon of beef-flavored powder in 1 cup of water.

Take the frozen fries and quickly dunk them in the brine. Toss to coat them completely. This will only take a few seconds. Set them aside on a plate, in a pan, or in a bowl until ready to use.

Heat oil according to product directions. In our case, it was 375 F.

Once ready, place the fries in the oil for 1 to 3 minutes. Don't let them get too dark, but err on the longer side to ensure a crispy McDonald's-style fry.

Remove and place back on a  baking tray lined with parchment paper or plate. The parchment paper makes cleanup easier.

If using salt, mix ½ teaspoon and a pinch of beef powder together. This will give an extra punch of flavor. If you would prefer to use salt only, skip this step and just use salt.


Sprinkle the seasoning, and using a large spoon or spatula, immediately toss the hot fries with the salt and beef flavoring mixture. Make sure the fries are still hot, as this will help the salt mixture stick.

Baking or using an air fryer

If you are not deep-frying your fries, we recommend using a convection oven or an air fryer to achieve a crispy exterior without frying. Preheat oven to 450 F. If using an oven with a convection setting, set the oven to 425 F. Alternatively, set the air fryer to 400 F.


Take still frozen fries and quickly dunk them in the brine, coating them completely. This will only take a few seconds.

Set in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking tray until the oven or air fryer is ready. It is okay if extra broth sprinkles on the tray. This will not affect the end result.

Place the tray in the oven if using or place brined fries in the air fryer for the specified time.

Remove the fries from the oven and keep them on the tray. If using an air fryer, remove fries and place them on the parchment-lined tray.

If using, mix ½ teaspoon salt and a pinch of beef powder together. This will give an extra punch of flavor. If you would prefer to use salt, skip this step and just use salt.


Sprinkle desired topping and using a large spoon or spatula, immediately toss the hot fries with the salt and beef flavoring mixture. Make sure they are still hot, as this will help the salt mixture stick.

How to store and reheat

If you end up with extra french fries, the good news is you can save them. Put any extra fries into an airtight container and place them in the refrigerator for up to four days. While fries can be refrozen, this can cause the fries to lower in quality, and they may not be as tasty when reheated.


When you do reheat the fries, we urge you to skip the microwave. Microwaves are great tools for many things, but they will make for soggy, sad fries. Instead, pop your fries back in an air fryer or oven on 425 degrees Fahrenheit for about 5-10 minutes. This will help re-crisp the fries and make them a much better leftover than microwaved sadness.