McDonald’s Original French Fry Recipe

Adapted from McMenu: Do-It-Yourself McDonald’s Restaurant Recipes

After reading an article in Atlas Obscura by Luke Fater about the fascinating history of McDonald’s French fries, I knew I had to find out for myself if the inclusion of beef tallow was as integral to the tastiness of the original McDonald’s fry as lore would have it. 

Way back in 1990, beef tallow was removed from Formula 47, the secret mixture of oil and tallow that went into classic McDonald’s fries. Multi-millionaire Phil Sokolof, who had suffered a heart attack at the relatively young age of 44, had decided to wage war on the saturated fats that he believed were the culprit of his malady.

It was in large part thanks to Sokolof’s research and campaigning that the 1990s saw an industry-level shift from animal fats to what we have now learned to be the more dangerous trans-fats.     

The current iteration of McDonald’s fries are cooked in a combination of soy and canola oils with beef-flavoring added to make up for the lost tallow. After reading a little about the history of the McDonald’s French fry, I wondered which of the two would be better.

But since you can’t get the beef tallow fries at the store anymore, I decided to compare the current McDonald’s fries with the original recipe

What I wanted to find out was if there would be a noticeable difference in taste. You can watch the video below the recipe to find out which recipe I preferred. 

First, let’s look at the recipe.

Finised French fries scooped out of the oil.

McDonald’s Original French Fry Recipe

The original McDonald's French fry recipe using beef tallow.
3.25 from 4 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Course Lunch, Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 2 people
Calories 2175 kcal


  • Stovetop
  • Large mixing bowl
  • Stock pot
  • Mandoline or potato peeler
  • thermometer


  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp corn syrup
  • 1 1/2 cup hot water
  • 2 Russet potatoes large
  • 6 cups Crisco shortening or 3 sticks
  • 2 cups vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup beef tallow


Preparing the soaking solution

  • In a large bowl, add the sugar and corn syrup followed by the hot water. Use a whisk to make sure the sugar and syrup are dissolved. Set aside.
    Adding sugar to mixing bowl.

Cutting the French fries

  • Peel the potatoes, then rinse them in cold water.
  • Set your mandolin to ¼”x ¼” sticks.
  • Using the guard included with the mandolin, slice the potatoes into sticks.
    Uncooked French fries laying on cutting board beneath mandoline slicing potato.
  • Each fry should like this:
    Open hands holding up raw French fry.

Soaking the French Fries

  • Add the cut potatoes to the bowl of sugar-syrup water and soak for 30 minutes.
    Clear glass bowl with uncooked French fries resting in sugar-srup water.
  • Drain the potatoes in a colander and pat lightly with paper towels.

Cooking the French fries

  • In a 5-qt pot, add the shortening and the vegetable oil. The oil should only fill ⅓ of the pot. Heat the oil to 375˚F.
  • Add a handful of drained potatoes to the oil. The oil will bubble fiercely. Do not be tempted to add more potatoes. 
    Red stock pot on stove bubbling with thermometer attached to side.
  • After 1 minute, use a slotted spoon to remove the fries onto a pan lined with a rack or paper towels.
  • Refrigerate the fries for 8-10 minutes.

Cooking the French fries a second time

  • Add the beef tallow to the oil.
  • Heat to 375˚F.
  • Return the fries to the oil, frying in small batches for 1-5 minutes depending on the size of your fries.
  • Once golden, remove the fries and drain them onto a paper towel-lined plate.
    Finised French fries scooped out of the oil.
  • Place the warm fries into a large bowl, sprinkling them generously with salt, tossing to coat.



Serving: 1cupCalories: 2175kcalCarbohydrates: 72gProtein: 5gFat: 218gSaturated Fat: 178gSodium: 18mgPotassium: 889mgFiber: 3gSugar: 35gVitamin A: 2IUVitamin C: 12mgCalcium: 29mgIron: 2mg
Keyword 15-hour potatoes, deep fried, French fries, McDonald’s original, recipe
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

3 thoughts on “McDonald’s Original French Fry Recipe”

  1. Interesting read but

    “What I wanted to find out was if there would be a noticeable difference in taste. You can watch the video below the recipe to find out which recipe I preferred.”

    The video was missing from the piece I read. Could I get a you tube for your french fry preference ?

  2. I worked at McDonalds starting in 1972 and worked there for five years. Everyday I peeled and cut 300 pounds of potatoes to make the daily french fries in house. This is not the original potatoe soaking, it was water and only water. Back then it was only potatoes and nothing added. Nothing beats the original fresh fries I grew up on at McDonald’s.

  3. Hi, I haven’t tried this but I worked for McDonald’s in 1964. We got bags of russet potatoes put them in the basement until needed. To make fries we grabbed a bag brought it up, cleaned the potatoes because some are rotten, put them in a container about 20in in diameter which had grit all over the inside. Closed the lid and ground the skin off. Then we took the potatoes and cut then in a die that would fit 1 potato to make the fries. We washed the fries about 3 times until the water was clear then put the fries in a basket to dry. We then blanched the fries for a short time and hung the basket on a rack to be fried when needed, no time if the need required – rush hour

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