Five Guys might be known for its burgers, but it’s just as famous for its french fries. While other fast-casual chains get their fries delivered frozen and pre-cut, Five Guys makes its fries in-store from scratch. But not just any potato and oil will do. The burger joint has a few secrets that make those greasy fries oh-so-addictive.
It’s all about picking the best ingredients, and when it comes to fries, that means starting with the potatoes (as evidenced by the potato sacks lying around the restaurant). Five Guys reportedly sources its potatoes north of the 42nd parallel, always from Idaho except a couple months of the year when those ones get too soft and the business buys from Washington instead. That far north, it gets so cool that the potatoes stop growing at night, creating dense spuds that lend themselves well to fries.
Once the potatoes are chopped, they don’t go straight in the fryer. Cooks soak the potato spears in water to get rid of the starch, which helps the fries cook more evenly, Chad Murrell, one of the five guys—er, sons—of founder Jerry Murrell, tells Food Republic. The fries are precooked for a few minutes to get rid of excess water, then set aside until customers are ready for a fresh batch. Find out why Five Guys got its name before its founder had five sons.
And this is where Five Guys’ real French fry secret comes in. Instead of cutting corners with cheaper oil, Five Guys refuses to use anything but peanut oil. “Lots of people prefer to use hydrogenated oils for a crisper fry, but we want that melt-in-your-mouth buttery taste that nonhydrogenated oil offers,” Murrell said. Plus, they don’t double those fryers up with anything else on the menu, so the fries escape any weird aftertastes from non-potato items. Once they’re out of the fryer, the fries get exactly 15 shakes before they’re deemed ready to serve. The chain has everything down to a science—which is just part of the reason Five Guys never asks how you want your burger done.
To top it all off, Five Guys goes for both quality and quantity. Employees fill up a cup with fresh fries, then put it in a bag and add another scoop for good measure. The (almost) impossible-to-finish portion sizes are intentional; the burger chain doesn’t want anyone finishing up a meal wishing they’d gotten more fries. Instead, Five Guys wants you to complain about their fries. “[Some] people complain that they get too many fries. … I teach my managers that if people aren’t complaining, then you’re not giving them enough,” said Murrell. We’d rather too many than not enough!