I Ranked Fries From 5 Of America’s Favorite Fast Food Chains & The Winner Was Annoyingly Obvious

Wendy's, McDonald's, Chick-fil-A, Popeyes and Zaxby's head-to-head in a grease-coated fight for the crown.

​Medium fries from Wendy's and McDonald's. Right: Maeve eating a fry.
Georgia Contributing Writer

Medium fries from Wendy's and McDonald's. Right: Maeve eating a fry.

Not all french fries are created equal, some are better. Which is why I decided it was time to try fries some of America's favorite fast food chains back-to-back in a taste test and decide who is "worth their salt."

This Review article is part of a Narcity Media series. The views expressed are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Narcity Media.

Though there are dozens of restaurants slinging the "all-American" delicacy, I chose to put Wendy's, McDonald's, Chick-fil-A, Popeyes and Zaxby's head-to-head in a grease-coated fight for the crown.

I hit the drive-thru of each of the competing chains to order a medium size fry. I used size, value, freshness, and most importantly, taste to determine the winner.

While the competition was close, the winner was clear. Here are five of America's favorite fast food chains ranked, according to a food writer who now has to monitor her sodium intake for the next 48 hours.

5. Wendy's

Medium fries from Wendy's. Medium fries from Wendy's.@maevecbrowne | Instagram

Price: $1.99

Oh, Wendy's. Once again, you've let me down. The burger chain has continuously altered its fry recipes over the years, but to me, they never seem to get it right.

Even fresh out of the bag, the fries were warm but limp. They tasted like the fryer oil hadn't been changed in a hot minute, and were overly salted.

With the most expensive price tag of $1.99, I felt like they definitely weren't worth it, landing them last place on my list.

4. Chick-fil-A

Medium fries from Chick-fil-A. Medium fries from Chick-fil-A.@maevecbrowne | Instagram

Price: $1.65

While Chick-fil-A is king when it comes to fast food chicken sandwiches, their waffle fries are good, but not great.

Texturally, I enjoy them. The waffle shape makes them fluffy and not overly greasy. The sea salt is used in moderation, but you need the addition of one of their signature sauces to get them to really pack a punch.

The downside of these fries for me is their lack of crispness and the lukewarm temperature they were served at. I also feel like they could have filled up the container more, so it was actually full all the way to the top.

3. Zaxby's

Price: $1.49

Zaxby's has nailed it when it comes to seasoning. This is where the competition started getting close.

Their crinkle fries were served hot and flavorful with a cayenne pepper and seasoning salts.

However, their crinkle shape prevented them from getting the crispiness I prefer in a french fry. While they were a bit limp, they weren't soggy, and the potato filling was nice and fluffy.

They pair beautifully with their signature Tongue Torch sauce but are still good on their own.

2. Popeyes

Medium fries from Popeyes.Medium fries from Popeyes.@maevecbrowne | Instagram

Price: $1.79

When it comes to seasoning, Popeyes just gets it right.

Similar to Zaxby's, their signature fries come tossed in cajun seasoning, but the thinner shape allows for them to get a much crispier crunch, which is highly satisfying.

The fries are savory and well spiced, with a prominent black pepper presence. The only downside is they tend to be a little too greasy and left my mouth coated in oil.

However, even after they have cooled down in the bag, they somehow still maintain that delicious crunch, which is rare for fast food fries.

1. McDonald's

Medium fries from McDonald's.Medium fries from McDonald's.@maevecbrowne | Instagram

Price: $1.79

As much as I wanted to avoid clichés during this taste test, I have to be honest and say McDonald's double-fried fries are a clear winner.

There is something so straightforward and familiar about the chain's classic shoestring fry.

They are always served piping hot and this time was no exception. McDonald's seems to have the salt to oil to potato ratio down to a science.

Their texture is perfect. The grease level is dialled in enough to make your brain tingle but reserved enough that you aren't hyperaware of what you're putting into your body and the potential consequences.

You can never have just a few, which is fine because they notoriously fill the containers up so much, that they overflow, allowing you to fish for the bonus "bottom of the bag" fries, which satisfies a certain hunter-gatherer primal instinct.

The Winner

I won't pretend to know McDonald's secret that makes their classic fries so famously good. Maybe it's the nostalgia aspect that makes them superior to their competition. Or the reliability of the chain to double-fry them that makes their fries so addictive.

There is some comfort in knowing no matter where you are in the states, there is likely to be a McDonald's just a drive away.

My best guess is that the simplicity, no-frills nature of their french fries that makes it so easy to eat a whole order in one sitting.

Regardless of the reasoning, after trying all of the options back-to-back, it was clear that when it comes to french fries, McDonald's takes the crown.

Maeve Browne
Georgia Contributing Writer
Maeve Browne is a Contributing Writer for Narcity’s USA Desk focused on food and Internet trends and is based in Savannah, Georgia.