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.
McDonald’s Original French Fry Recipe
- Large mixing bowl
- Stock pot
- Mandoline or potato peeler
- 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.
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.
- Each fry should like this:
Soaking the French Fries
- Add the cut potatoes to the bowl of sugar-syrup water and soak for 30 minutes.
- 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.
- 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.
- Place the warm fries into a large bowl, sprinkling them generously with salt, tossing to coat.