How McDonald's Makes Its Fries Compared to Five Guys is Wildly Different

With more and more restaurant workers offering behind-the-scenes looks at how food is made online, fast-food connoisseurs can make an informed judgment of the differing methods available.

As reported by Newsweek yesterday, a Five Guys employee showed TikTok how the fries are really made, and it was surprisingly homemade, but it only highlights the difference between some of their rivals.

Five Guys cuts and cooks its fries from start to finish in-store, beginning with the potato being cut in the slicer. The chain uses only Burbanks from Idaho, grown above the 42nd parallel, as they grow during the day when it's warm and stop at night when it cools, causing them to be a higher quality.

As shown in the video, the cut potatoes are aggravated in a three-minute power wash in order to remove the scratch, before they are then put into a bucket. Last, but most importantly, they are fried in peanut oil twice—once to pre-cook and then again to make them crispy after cooling between.

Users flooded the comments of the video with messages claiming Five Guys to be the only trustworthy fast food, and drawing comparisons with other restaurants, including McDonald's.

Unsurprisingly, most restaurants are coy about giving away the secrets behind their fries, but luckily for us a McDonald's worker has also shared how they make their fries. Five Guys and McDonald's are two very different fast-food restaurants, with two very different ways of making their fries it seems.

In May, @smoothwitdatool posted a clip showing how McDonald's makes its famous fries in the kitchen. First, the wire frying basket is filled up with frozen fries from a machine, before being dunked into vegetable oil. That's it.

Although it appears to be the only time the internet has seen it from a worker's perspective, some information about McDonald's fries has already been established.

According to the chain, they use only Russel Burbank or Shepody potatoes, grown on U.S. farms.

In 2017, Food Network took a look at the factory where McDonald's prepares the fries before they're shipped to stores. Potatoes are put through a high-pressure steam machine after being washed, which peels off the skin. Factory workers then cut off any imperfections by hand.

Then, the peeled potatoes are shot through a potato-cutting machine, resembling a wood chipper. The potatoes move at an immense speed of 75 miles per hour. According to Food Network, optical scanners then examine every fry, looking for blemishes.

CNET reported that dextrose is added to the fries at the factory, which gives them a uniform golden color. Sodium acid pyrophosphate is also reportedly added, which prevents them from turning a grey color after being cooked. A dietician told ABC that: "Dextrose is simply a sugar that occurs naturally in our blood... To my knowledge there is no data of any health concerns from sodium acid pyrophosphate."

Food Network reported the fries are steamed in hot water for 15 minutes, though it's unclear if this is before or after the ingredients are added. The fries are then fried before being sent through a flash-freezer tunnel as a final step. Which brings us back around to the TikTok peak at the McDonald's kitchen.

McDonald's confirmed to Newsweek that its fries are made from quality whole potatoes which meet the company's requirements in size, shape, varietal, color and storability. It added that the cooking process is well defined and everything from the cook time to the amount of salt is perfectly measured.

The company added that its suppliers use state-of-the-art technology and quality controls to prepare the fries for the restaurants, including peeling, cutting, blanching, par-frying and freezing them.

Behind-the-scenes videos online allow customers a greater insight into what they're really eating, but also allows for comparisons between them—for better or worse.

McDonald's fries in containers
PHILADELPHIA, PA - SEPTEMBER 02: McDonald's fries are offered at McDonald's at Made In America Festival on September 2, 2018 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Dave Kolinsky

Update 8/13/21, 9:41 a.m. ET: This article has been updated to include information from McDonald's.