By Rachel Johnson
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Sizzling hot and fresh out of the fryer, french fries are the perfect addition to any meal. But, there is a catch: french fries rarely make it into the to-go box. According to a study by the Guardian, french fries account for almost one-third of food waste by consumers in restaurants. No matter how good they are, there's an overwhelming consensus about french fries: either finish them or throw them out.

Photo by Rachel Johnson

Part of the problem is that fries are notoriously difficult to reheat. This show-stealing platter goes from "whoa," to plain-old "oh," in a matter of hours. But what if there was a way to give days-old french fries a second chance? Get your takeaway boxes ready—we tested multiple ways to give your french fries a mouth-watering revival. Read on for the best ways to reheat french fries:

Not All Fries Were Created Equal(ly Reheatable)

When deciding which reheating method to use, remember that fry quality matters. Skinny fast food fries may not work as well for reheating as they are often sliced thinly for deep frier efficiency. Plus, the oil is often cheap and lower quality so reheating runs the risk of a spent oil taste. Any fry can be reheated, but a thicker cut fry is the better option when it comes to retaining maximum flavor.

If you're making fries from scratch, make sure that you are doing it with a type of potato that can sustain a second heating. Large, starchy potatoes like russets and kennebec potatoes are perfect for french fries. That is because they are dense and low in moisture, meaning that they'll maintain their form well and won't get soggy when fried (and even soggier when reheated).

Never Use a Microwave to Reheat Fries

The idea that fries aren't good the next day can be chalked up to the misuse of one kitchen appliance: the microwave. The challenge with reheating fries is re-introducing a moist, pillow-y interior and a crispy exterior. No matter which type of testing method we could come up with, the microwave inevitably destroyed any hope of achieving that outcome. Plus, depending on the type and quality of oil used to fry them, microwaving french fries can also bring out bitter, unappealing flavors. If it must be done, make sure the fries are laid out in a single layer on a paper-towel lined sheet. Microwave for 30 seconds at a time until warmed through.

Reheat French Fries on the Stove

Another suitable method to re-heating fries is on the stovetop. We tested this method with a large, well-oiled skillet. Heat a tablespoon of canola or vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Add the french fries to the pan, stirring frequently for 3-5 minutes, until crispy. Cook time will depend on the thickness of your fries.

If you have a lot of fries, heat them in batches, so that the bottom of the pan is evenly covered in a single layer and the fries are not piled on top of each other. This will help the french fries crisp up more efficiently and will prevent any steam from being trapped. The result is delicious, ready-to-go, next-day fries. Toss finished fries with garlic powder, truffle oil, chopped parsley or Parmesan cheese for an extra boost of flavor.

Twice the Fry

If you have thick wedges or potato strips, one great option for reheating french fries is to fry them again—Belgian style. Belgian fries use a double frying process to give them a soft center and a delightfully crispy exterior. If you want to go the Belgian route, make sure that your leftover french fries are reasonably firm—you don't want them to fall apart in the oil. Remember that this method isn't the best if you want to preserve existing seasonings, so save your truffle-infused wedges for the stovetop.

In a countertop fryer or high-sided dutch oven, heat canola or sunflower seed oil over medium high heat (or thermometer until 300°F). Add the french fries to the hot oil and fry for about 3-5 minutes. Remove the fries and place them on a paper towel-lined plate to cool down. Re-salt the fries and serve with your favorite dipping sauce.

While this method may yield a crispy result, it does require the most amount of work. Allow the oil to cool completely before discarding.

Oven-Toasted Method

Second to double frying, our preferred option of reheating fries is in the oven. The oven, or toaster oven, is a great second-choice option for reheating fries. Start by preheating the oven to 400-450ºF. Spread aluminum foil out on a baking sheet and place it in the oven, so that it preheats as well. Once heated, carefully remove the baking sheet from the oven, and distribute your fries in a single, even layer. Check on your fries after about 5 minutes; again, the exact cook time depends on the size of your fries and the amount you are reheating. Plus, broad baking sheets are a great way to reheat lots of fries at once.

Repurpose Them

Loaded fries is a fast, easy, and delicious way to make the most out of french fry leftovers. Pull out a skillet or baking sheet, smother your fries with cheese and bacon, and broil until melted and bubbly. For a heartier classic, you can also opt for chili cheese fries or poutine. To create a classic poutine, all you need is some gravy and cheese. But the true beauty of poutine lies in all its forms and variants. Add bacon, egg, and hollandaise sauce for a breakfast poutine (or, chop the fries up for a breakfast hash). Mix up your seasonings and add-ons for an original dish like Greek poutine, pulled pork poutine, or even poutine pizza.