Despite the word “french” in their name, fries are an all-American icon at countless chains. Close to 3,000 restaurants in Technomic’s Ignite menu database offer fries on the menu. They range from skinny shoestrings to crisp crinkle-cuts, golden wedges and potatoes loaded with toppings. Along with the usual burger suspects are some more surprising concepts, such as P.F Chang’s and Chevys Fresh Mex.
But when consumers are asked to call out those chains where fries are among the most craveable items, they go for more traditional choices. Click through to discover the 10 restaurant brands that consumers say have the most craveable fries out of the leading chains surveyed for Technomic’s Ignite consumer brand tracking. The chains are ranked from 10th to first in order of the percentage of recent diners who found the fries to be craveworthy and one-of-a-kind. Notably missing is McDonald’s—No. 7 on the 2017 list!
Almost 20% of customers find Fuddruckers’ fries to be craveable. This better-burger chain also ranked 10th in 2017, but its score rose by 2% in the most recent survey. Respondents single out the brand’s signature Fudds Fries, which are thick wedge cuts some refer to as steak fries. To quote one fan, “I absolutely love the fries and can't find anywhere else that does them quite the same.”Customers also crave Fuddruckers’ sweet potato fries and fries with cheese sauce.
9. Shake Shack
This is the first time Shake Shack’s fries have appeared on Technomic’s top 10 list for craveability. Slightly more than 21% of consumers crave the crispy crinkle-cut fries served at this fast-growing burger chain. As one respondent stated, “The fries don’t taste the same anywhere else … so light and filling.” The majority cite the cheese fries as particularly craveable, with comments such as “awesome” and “The cheese fries are very unique tasting … I like the flavor; not too salty.”
8. Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers
Freddy’s is also new to the top 10 list, with 22% of consumers calling out the chain’s fries as craveable. On the menu are Freddy’s shoestring fries, cheese fries and chili cheese fries. The thickness of the fries seems to be a selling point, with customers referring to the “skinny fries,” “thin and crispy fries” and “super thin fries” as what makes them craveable.
Burgers and fries are a classic combo, so most of the chains on this list focus on burgers. But consumers seem to crave fries with their chicken sandwiches too, with 23% naming Chick-fil-A as a top destination. The waffle fries are cooked with the skin on, turning out a potato that’s crispy on the outside and tender inside. Waffle-shaped fries are a differentiator in the crowded QSR segment, prompting consumers to call out the unique shape, taste and texture. One respondent said “This is the only restaurant where I can find the waffle fries,” and another commented “I could eat these every day of my life and never get tired of them.”
6. Charleys Philly Steaks
Consumers lauded another nonburger chain, with 24% saying they crave the fries at Charleys Philly Steaks. The restaurant specializes in cheesesteak sandwiches and loaded gourmet fries. The loaded version starts with Charleys’ original fries, which are skin-on and medium thickness. Consumers cite the versions loaded with cheese; bacon and cheese; and nacho toppings as particularly craveable and “consistently awesome.”
5. Red Robin Gourmet Burgers and Brews
Red Robin moved up in the craveability ranking from ninth in 2017 to fifth place this year, with 26% of respondents finding the chain’s fries to be craveable. Once again, Red Robin is the only full-service restaurant on the list. Consumers call out the “bottomless fries” as craveable, but unlimited fry refills are not the only draw. They also point to the fry seasoning and variety, with a choice of steak fries, sweet potato fries and garlic fries. “I love the garlic fries … lots of fresh garlic on the steak fries,” was one comment.
Coming in at No. 4 is Smashburger, with 29% of consumers calling its fries craveable. The seasoning is what makes the signature Smashfries unique, according to testimonials. They are tossed in rosemary, garlic and olive oil to elevate the standard fry into something special. “Smashfries and Smashtots are two craveable items that you can only get at this restaurant,” summed up one respondent.
3. In-N-Out Burger
In-N-Out came in third—the same ranking it had in 2017—with 36% of consumers craving the chain’s fries. The fries are hand-cut from fresh potatoes and cooked in sunflower oil at each location. For customers who like to order from In-N-Out’s not-so-secret menu, the fries are available “animal-style” like the burgers, piled with the chain’s special sauce, melted cheese and grilled onions.
2. Five Guys Burgers and Fries
When customers enter a Five Guys location, they immediately see cartons and sacks filled with Idaho potatoes—a cue that the fries are hand-cut and freshly made. More than 47% of consumers say they’re craveable. The potatoes are fried with the skin on, and in the Five Guys style, they are cooked twice, both times in peanut oil. Noted one respondent, “Their fries are exceptionally good and generally fried when you order.” Others crave the Cajun fries, which are dusted with a spicy seasoning “that makes them special” and “extremely good.”
1. Checkers Drive-In Restaurants
As in 2017, Checkers/Rally’s landed in first place for craveable fries, with more than 50% of consumers awarding that chain the top spot. Checkers is famous for its crispy seasoned fries, which are also available loaded with bacon, chiles, cheese and sauce. The seasoning is what makes them so craveworthy, with almost every customer calling out that differentiator. “The seasoned fries are like nobody else’s,” said one, while another was more direct: “Those fabulous fries!!!”