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What’s the Best Oil for French Fries?

Extra, extra, read all about it! These cooking oils are the secret to super-crispy fries.

The type of potatoes, cooking method, and oil used all have a role to play in making french fries crispier.

Russet potatoes are chock-full of starch, making them the ideal choice for cooking french fries at home. They turn out dry and fluffy, and break apart easily when bitten into and chewed.

The cooking method ultimately comes down to your preference: both shallow-frying and deep-frying result in the crispiest—albeit most caloric—fries. Using an air fryer or oven yields healthier fries, though they may admittedly be drier and less satisfying.

If frying french fries is what you’ve settled on, we’ve written this guide to help you determine the best oils to use.

Best Oils for Homemade French Fries

So, without further ado, what is the best oil to fry french fries in?

The best oil for french fries has a neutral flavor and a high smoke point. A neutral oil lets the natural taste of the potatoes shine through, while a high smoke point ensures the oil remains stable and doesn’t develop undesirable flavors at a cooking temperature.

Generally speaking, homemade french fries turn out the best when fried at temperatures between 325°F and 375°F (160°C and 190°C). This temperature range allows the fries to brown and caramelize on the surface while preventing them from absorbing too much oil during cooking.

But, as is often the case in cooking, there’s more to it than meets the eye. Not all cooking oils with a neutral flavor and high smoke point are created equal, particularly when it comes to healthy fats. Oils that undergo chemical processing for extraction, known as refined oils, have a less favorable nutritional profile compared to unrefined or cold-pressed oils. With that being said, unrefined or cold-pressed oils can—and often do—come with a prohibitively high price tag.

Here are the options that offer a good balance between flavor, nutrition, and price.

Avocado Oil

Avocado oil is the edible oil extracted from the pulp of avocados. Remarkably, the pulp can contain up to 60% oil by weight.

Avocado oil is touted for its high content of health-promoting fatty acids, the kind that can help reduce “bad” cholesterol levels in the blood. It’s also said to be a rich source of vitamin E, which can protect cells from oxidative stress and fight free radicals in your body.

Most notably, avocado oil is flavorless and boasts a very high smoke point. Sources put avocado oil’s smoke point at 520°F (270°C). That’s substantially higher than most other oils and is more than enough for a frying oil, particularly for french fries.

As great a choice as it is, avocado oil does not come without its drawbacks:

Avocado oil is expensive, and frying with it requires deep pockets. At the time of writing this article, avocado oil was priced at 50 cents per fluid ounce at a major U.S. retailer, whereas canola oil, a staple in many home kitchens, sold for 10 cents per fluid ounce—a full five times less.

Unlike olive oil, which adheres to certain standards that ensure a degree of purity (although not as rigorously as it should), the avocado oil market is not regulated or standardized at all. This necessitates becoming an informed buyer and choosing your oils judiciously to avoid buying low-quality oil at a premium price.


  • Rich in heart-healthy fats and vitamin E

  • Has the highest smoke point of all cooking oils, 520°F (270°C)


  • Unjustifiably expensive for deep frying

  • Not bound to the same standards as olive oil; choose carefully

Rice Bran Oil

Rice bran oil, a favorite among Home Cook World readers, is the cooking oil extracted from the outer bran, or husk, of rice grains.

Rice bran oil is a good source of unsaturated fat, mostly the monounsaturated kind, which studies show can increase the “good” cholesterol in the blood as well as decrease the risk of heart disease and Type II diabetes.

Perhaps most importantly for cooking french fries at home, rice bran oil is useful for high-heat frying thanks to its high smoke point, which most sources put at 490°F (255°C). Rice bran oil also imparts your fries with a nutty flavor, which falls somewhere between caramel popcorn and ghee.

At roughly 25 cents per fluid ounce, rice bran oil is half the price of our top pick, avocado oil. However, it remains more costly than vegetable oil and other grain oils. Similar to the avocado oil market, rice bran oil is loosely regulated, necessitating that you be a prudent buyer to get good value for your money.


  • High smoke point at 490°F (255°C)

  • Imparts a nutty, popcorn caramel-like flavor to your fries


  • Expensive for deep frying compared to vegetable oil

  • Smaller bottles can be overly expensive per liquid quart; buy in large quantities

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Extra virgin olive oil is derived from the first pressing of olive pulp. The olives are harvested and mashed to a paste with the pits. The oil is then extracted at relatively low temperatures, without the use of chemical solvents.

There’s a reason why extra virgin olive oil is hailed as one of the healthiest oils to cook with in the kitchen: as a cornerstone of the Mediterranean diet, it contains up to 75% unsaturated fatty acids by volume and has consistently been associated with a reduced risk of heart disease and lower mortality rates.

When it comes to making french fries, extra virgin olive oil is a more delicate cooking oil; it has a smoke point of 375°F (190°C). When heated above this temperature, the oil breaks down and can develop undesirable flavors, meaning that you should avoid cooking your fries over high heat even if the recipe suggests otherwise.

Extra virgin olive oil has a green hue and a robust flavor. Be aware that frying your fries in it can give them a greenish tint and a slightly bitter, somewhat peppery undertone. To counteract this, opt for mild olive oils with a fruity note. Depending on where you live, good extra virgin olive oils can also be expensive.


  • Heart-healthy and generally good for you

  • A wide variety of extra virgin olive oils are available at the supermarket


  • Make your fries green and peppery or sometimes slightly bitter

  • Can be expensive to fry with in large quantities

Canola Oil

Canola oil is a neutral oil made from crushed canola seeds.

Canola oil is rich in heart-healthy fats. In fact, it ranks second only to flaxseed oil in its omega-3 fatty acid content. But unlike flaxseed oil, which breaks down and burns at a mere 225°F (107°C), canola oil boasts a relatively high smoke point of 400°F (205°C), making it suitable for frying.

Canola oil is also high in linoleic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid that, according to a recent study by Harvard School of Public Health researchers, has the potential to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.

Contrary to what some people think, canola oil is not toxic—it no longer contains erucic acid as it did in the 20th century and undergoes the same processing as all other grain oils do, including corn oil, soybean oil, safflower oil, and sunflower oil.

However, canola oil can release harmful compounds if heated excessively and for prolonged periods. To mitigate this, it’s a good idea to use a candy/oil thermometer to ensure the oil’s temperature does not exceed its smoke point while cooking fries. Do not reuse the oil too many times.

While canola oil may not be as healthy as cold-pressed avocado oil or extra virgin olive oil, it is an affordable option available in every grocery store. This allows home cooks on a budget to prepare delicious, crispy fries without breaking the bank; it’s a staple oil in many kitchens.


  • Affordable and widely available

  • Neutral flavor lets the sweetness of the potatoes shine through


  • Releases harmful compounds if overheated

  • Should not be reused too many times for the same reason

Duck Fat

Duck fat is the fat rendered from the skin, abdomen, or fatty meat cuts of a duck, with the impurities removed.

If you put flavor over health, or you make fries infrequently enough not to be concerned, then by all means, consider cooking your fries in duck fat. The culinary gods will reward you generously for your choice.

Quite remarkably, duck fat contains a substantial 65% of unsaturated fats, the beneficial kind. Unsurprisingly, studies have indicated that unsaturated fats from animal sources do not have the same effects as those derived from plant-based sources.

Let’s face it: if you’re making duck fat fries, it’s not for their health benefits; it’s for their incredible taste. Duck fat fries are rich and decadent in a way that fries cooked in plant oils can never achieve. They are crispy, creamy, and carry a poultry undertone that takes their deliciousness to a whole new level.

The smoke point of duck fat is 375°F (190°C), roughly equivalent to that of extra virgin olive oil. Therefore, the same principles apply when frying with it: avoid using high heat to prevent burning and the development of undesirable flavors.


  • Duck fat is not as bad to your health as other animal fats

  • Fries cooked in duck fat have an unbeatable aroma and flavor


  • Not suitable for vegans and vegetarians

  • Not the healthiest option compared to plant oils

Beef Tallow

Beef tallow is the natural fat rendered from beef, with the impurities removed.

Like duck fat, beef tallow is an excellent choice if you prioritize flavor and texture over the caloric content and overall healthiness of your fries. It breaks down and burns at 400°F (205°C), comparable to some of the plant oils featured in our list, permitting you to cook fries even at relatively high temperatures.

Much of the information on the Internet regarding the health effects of beef tallow comes from the websites of manufacturers that sell it, so it should be approached with a healthy dose of skepticism. However, it is indisputable that beef tallow contains saturated fats, a fact evidenced by its solid state at room temperature, the consumption of which is best limited.

In terms of texture and flavor, fries cooked in beef fat turn out creamy and crispy, with a beefy undertone that pairs wonderfully with burgers. If you’re looking to treat your family to a delightful dinner or impress guests, tallow fries are a fantastic option.

Tallow has one major drawback, and it is that it can be somewhat difficult to find. Try checking at your local butcher shop, in large supermarkets, or through online retailers such as Amazon and specialized shops.


  • High smoke point at 400°F (205°C)

  • Gives the french fries a delicious beefy flavor


  • Often hard to find, especially if you live in a remote place

  • Not as good for your health as most other options on our list

Cooking Oils to Avoid

  • High consumption of soybean oil has been linked to obesity, Type II diabetes, and potentially autism and Alzheimer’s disease, show studies conducted on mice. Researchers theorize that this may be due to its high linoleic acid—the recommended universal intake of which for humans is a topic of ongoing and heated scientific debate.

  • Light olive oil is a form of processed, or refined, olive oil. This means that, unlike extra virgin olive oil, it is extracted from olive pulp using high heat or chemical solvents. While this process grants it a neutral flavor and a high smoke point, it somewhat defeats the purpose of using olive oil in the first place.

  • Palm oil is high in saturated fat, the kind that stays solid at room temperature and has been linked to heart disease and stroke.

The Takeaways

The best oils for french fries are avocado oil, rice bran oil, extra virgin olive oil, and canola oil. These oils have high smoke points and are suitable for frying. They are also readily available at most grocery stores, well-stocked or not. When it comes to animal fats, choose between duck fat or beef tallow based on the flavor profile you’re going for.

Consume oils and fats in moderation and avoid reusing them too many times. The more you reuse an oil or fat, the lower its smoke point becomes—increasing the likelihood of developing unhealthy compounds and undesirable flavors.

If you enjoyed reading this article, be sure to check out our crispy french fries recipe.

Know your author

Written by

Dim is a food writer, cookbook author, and the editor of Home Cook World. His first book, Cooking Methods & Techniques, was published in 2022. He is a certified food handler with Level 1 and Level 2 Certificates in Food Hygiene and Safety for Catering, and a trained cook with a Level 3 Professional Chef Diploma.