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Lazy French Fries in Beef Tallow or Coconut Oil Recipe

Beef Tallow French Fries

I’ve got a touch of obsessive-compulsive disorder at times. For example: as a child, every week during the 45-minute drive on the way back from dance class, I would consume a small order of McDonald’s French fries. (That’s not the OCD yet.)  It took nearly the entire time because I’d eat them like this:  a small bite toward the left side of my mouth from one end of the fry, flip it around, and a small bite toward the right side of my mouth from the other end. The average fry took about three rounds of the pattern before it was gone.

I know, I know…I’m totally weird. And now that I’ve bared my soul and shared my deep-seated quirk with the world, please don’t run and hide. Rest assured that I don’t do that anymore – the McDonald’s part OR the OCD part (mommies don’t have the luxury of 45 minutes to eat French fries anyway, right?)

I’m not really old enough to remember when McDonald’s made their big fry oil switch, but now that I’ve tasted French fries made in the “old way”, I can only imagine that it made a huge difference:  “Before switching to pure vegetable oil in 1990, the McDonald’s corporation cooked its french fries in a mixture of 93% beef tallow and 7% cottonseed oil.” (Source)

Beef tallow? Yep. Got any of that on hand?

french fries cooking 1

McD’s made the switch because of pressure to get away from saturated fats, which we know received a bad rep as artery-clogging nasties…so of course they moved to trans fats, later proven to be the worst possible unhealthy, unnatural fat one could put into their body! I’m voting they move back to beef tallow…

RELATED: Healthy Air Fryer Veggie Fries

Lazy Katie Experiments with Deep Frying

I’ve seen some great recipes for French fries around the blogosphere lately, but I’m a pretty lazy girl sometimes. I read at 11th Heaven’s Homemaking Haven about Jen’s teenage son making potato chips on a whim one day, both baked and fried. Inspired by his impulsivity, I figured I might be able to fly by the seat of my pants later that week. Without a recipe, I just tried making potato chips by slicing potatoes really thin, heating about a half inch of coconut oil in my cast iron skillet, and cooking them until they looked like potato chips. Some recipe, eh?

I did the same for French fries. I didn’t use a thermometer or a timer. I certainly didn’t have as much fat as I was probably supposed to have. I just did it, and then I drooled…They were really, really good.

french fries

If you use my “recipe” be sure not to overheat the oil. Never to smoking. I didn’t really go above “medium” on my power burner.

A Few Recipe Tweaks: Beef Tallow French Fries

When I read at Cheeseslave’s post (link no longer available) that yes, the fat from the top of my beef stock WAS, in fact, tallow, I decided to swallow my ill-conceived notions of “evil beef fat” and try French fries in it. I only had enough for one pan full, and not very deep at that (less than an inch). The potatoes aren’t even fully submerged:

potato chips cooking

My french fry picture was inadvertently downsized – but you can see better with the chips.

I just flipped them one time. When they looked done, I pulled them out to drain on paper towel and salted them:

french fries draining

Cheeseslave also taught me how to get crispier fries:  soak the potato sticks in water either for 12 hours (in the fridge) or boil for a few minutes. (See her technical recipe for beef tallow french fries, too.) (link no longer available)

french fries soaking

My fries were good either way, but AMAZING, like, CANNOT stop eating them amazing, would pay $10 at a fab restaurant for them amazing, with the soaking and the tallow. I haven’t enjoyed a meal at home so thoroughly before or since, believe me. If you have a weak spot for French fries, you must put “beef tallow fries” on your mental “to try someday” recipe list!

My kids also love parsnip fries

When I told my friends I made homemade potato chips and French fries, their jaws dropped because I assured them they were deep-fried, not baked, and loaded with real salt. They know I cook “healthy food” and certainly weren’t expecting such an “indulgence” from my kitchen! My perspective on healthy food has become set apart from that of our culture.

Beef Tallow French Fries

I couldn’t get enough of these fries, and the best part is that, if you get over the starchy shouldn’t-really-eat-that aspect of the potatoes themselves, there’s no guilt about eating French fries!  I feel totally comfortable serving potato chips and French fries to my kids when I make them myself in healthy fats. The kids are really happy too!

eating chips
eating chips

The problem is when we encounter “regular” chips and French fries and Lovey Girl knows what they are and what she’s missing out on!!

One Important Consideration

Kelly’s site says to dry them thoroughly. This is probably for safety (boiling oil and water = not such a good combination!). I didn’t know that. Don’t take my word on it, but at whatever temperature my tallow was, I didn’t have any exploding grease. I drained the potatoes and took them right from the pot into the oil. My tallow was *not* boiling or bubbling.


We’re winding down on the Fat Full Fall. Next week I’ll share a “baseline fats” post, to break down how and for what purpose you can use each type of fat.

Interesting fat note:  traditional movie popcorn was popped in coconut oil, until the low-saturated fat movement pushed the switch to sunflower oil.

Unless otherwise credited, photos are owned by the author or used with a license from Canva or Deposit Photos.

22 thoughts on “Lazy French Fries in Beef Tallow or Coconut Oil Recipe”

  1. Eric Collins

    When I was young, I worked in a hamburger joint. We would buy 100 lb bags of potatoes and run them through a commercial peeler that basically bounced and scraped the skins (mostly) off and then ran them through a fry press with a grate to slice them into fries. Once cut into fries we would put them into pails filled with water and put them in the cooler.

    Our deep fryer was filled with … lard. Hard goopy white stuff. Like what you buy for pastry. We bought it in pails. We would take the basket and fill it with fries, shaking the water off but not drying them and when we needed fries, we would just drop the basket in until cooked. If the lard was fresh, the fries would be golden. We knew the lard needed changing when the fries came out brown… the good old days and everyone from far and wide would come for our fries because of the yummy factor. Fries just aren’t the same anymore unless I go pick up a pound of lard and make my own.

    1. Carolyn @ Kitchen Stewardship

      That sounds delicious Eric! I agree that once you’ve had good fries others just aren’t going to cut it anymore! I’ve not used lard for fries yet, but homemade tallow fries are the best I’ve had.

  2. One thought on draining your fried goodies: Instead of draining on a paper towel, to save that precious (expensive!) fat, drain your fried goods on a cookie cooling rack over a glass plate. Pour the oil from the plate back in the pan instead of adding more oil.

    1. Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship

      Oh! Brilliant! This is one of the last places I use paper towel, too, and I could not figure out a better way…awesome!!! 🙂 Katie

  3. Pingback: Ways to Cut Spending | Modern Alternative Mama

  4. Susan Alexander

    Ok, I made these last week (in coconut oil) and they were TO DIE FOR! Question is – can I re-use the oil and do it again? I poured it off into a jar and it’s been sitting on my counter waiting for me to ask the question. LOL

    So, can I reuse the oil??

  5. The ultimate french fry is fried in beef fat — twice!

    1) Choose an Idaho Russet potato. Russet Burbanks if you can get them.

    2) Condition the potato by storing in a 70 degree environment for a couple of weeks (potatoes coming out of cold storage need time to convert sugars back to starch).

    3) Cut the potatoes into the desired fry size, like the fast food places do.

    4) Soak the cut potato strips in room temperature water for at least 8 hours, overnight is good (this soaking plumps up the cells within the potatoes to result in an improved texture). DO NOT USE ICE WATER OR REFRIGERATE!

    5) Dry the potato strips and fry in 300 degree oil until just cooked inside and limp, fry time is dependent on the thickness of the fry strip. Let cool.

    6) Bring oil to 375 degrees and fry until golden brown and crispy.

    7) Of course, use beef fat, properly twice fried fries will not soak up fat.
    What’s the point of endeavoring to produce the very best french fry and then compromising the taste with a neutral tasting fry oil.

    8) Important, work in controlled sized batches that doesn’t drop the frying temperature significantly.
    Maintain the fry temp or the fries will absorb fat.

    9) Rice Bran Oil is the best alternative to those that have a aversion to beef fat.
    In & Out restaurants are noted for excellent fries, they fry in Rice Bran Oil.

    1. Bill,
      Wow! What a great addition to my lazy post! I wonder how easy it would be to “guess” at the temps and twice fry them my lazy way… 😉 Katie

  6. Amy @ Finer Things

    I’ve got so much to learn… Your fries look delicious!
    .-= Amy @ Finer Things´s last blog ..Thanksgiving on a Budget: Frugal Recipes =-.

  7. I am older than ButterYum and I do remember when they made the switch…they’ve never been the same. Also, her tip about frying twice is one I use, AFTER I soak them in cold water for 2 hours. It does give you a crispy on the outside and perfect on the inside fry.
    .-= Erin´s last blog ..30 Day Shred Challenge – Day 2 =-.

  8. Amy @ Simply Sugar & Gluten-Free

    My hubby doesn’t eat red meat so there won’t be any beef tallow here but I’ve read about it – don’t know enough about it to have an opinion. I am not a lover of fried foods – I think it comes from my days of being really fat. And, I haven’t eaten them for so long that if I do it upsets my stomach. I do think it’s great, though, that you’ve found a healthier way to enjoy fries!

    Thanks so much for linking to Slightly Indulgent Mondays!

  9. Pingback: Finer Things Friday: They Know Me Well | The Finer Things in Life

  10. Here’s another use for the coconut oil – use it to make old fashioned movie theater popcorn. Yep, they used to use coconut oil long before they started using the cheap imitation butter flavored stuff. I make huge batches to bring to church for snack every now and then, and everyone devours it (sprinkled only with super fine popcorn salt while it’s still warm).

    Also, I didn’t read all your links, but most chefs agree the best way to cook your fries is to first cook them in 350 oil (just until they get a tiny bit crispy on the edges). Then remove them from the oil, cool them, raise the oil temp to 375 and cook them again until they are golden brown. Just thought I’d pass that along to you.

    Happy cooking!!

    .-= ButterYum´s last blog ..Baby Chocolate Oblivions – WOW =-.

  11. PS – I was in high school and worked in McD’s when they made the big switch… the fries have not been the same since!

  12. Live.Love.Eat

    I LOVE french fries, they are my weakness. I don’t make them at home because if I did then I would want to more often than I should 🙂 I made them once and they were super. Experimenting with all of this is hardly lazy!!!!!
    .-= Live.Love.Eat´s last blog ..Slow Down & Savour…. =-.

  13. we make potato chip/fries using canned sliced potatoes from the store. rinse well & deep fry. i suppose that doesn’t qualify as a real food tho…but it’s so easy.
    .-= tonya´s last blog ..rcwant2be: Renton peeps #ff for @terriblebeauty_ =-.

  14. I loved the old fries, too – I would dip them in mayonnaise rather than catsup. It’s a miracle I’m still alive.
    .-= Mary´s last blog ..Butterscotch Pudding – Foodie Friday =-.

  15. Greta @ Mom Living Healthy

    I will have to try this because I’m a french fry lover too! First I will have to get some tallow. Is tallow also the fat that you get when you fry ground beef? Sorry for the ignorance 🙂
    .-= Greta @ Mom Living Healthy´s last blog ..Fitness Plan Friday: Raking Leaves and Burning Calories =-.

    1. Greta,

      No apologies allowed; I’m just BARELY qualified to answer that question. Tonya’s comment about the back fat makes me wonder if tallow has to be specific, but in my limited knowledge, I would say yes – you should be able to save the ground beef drippings as tallow. I did it with my soup scrapings! 🙂

      1. there are 3 types of fat in animals. Intramuscular (IM) fat aka marbling (the white flecks you see in a steak), interstitial fat (the fat between muscle groups), & KPH (kidney, pelvic & heart) fat, fat in/around these organs/areas. KPH is a yellow fat.

        burger is a combo of lean trim & fat. the fat is both the marbling fat (small amount) & trim fat which is interstitial (backfat falls in this category).

        your best quality tallow is the backfat because it’s a nice white, “clean” – free of muscle/meat, easy to procure fat.

        can you use your burger drippings…yes, but it’s not “choice” like melting down suet would be.
        .-= tonya´s last blog ..rcwant2be: Whoa. Really slept in today. Oops. =-.

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