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Pressure Cooker French Fries Recipe

Pressure Cooker Recipes:  Pressure Cooker French Fries Recipe by ePressureCooker.com.  While you shouldn't fry in a pressure cooker, you can use your pressure cooker (and a secret ingredient) to help improve your fried potatoes.  Your french fries will be soft and hot on the inside, crisp and crunchy on the outside, even at room temperature.

© 2013 ePressureCooker.com

Use your pressure cooker (and a secret ingredient) to make quick, delicious french fries that are crispy on the outside, hot and tender on the inside! You can’t fry in most home pressure cookers – instead, partially cook the french fries in your pressure cooker using the secret ingredient (see below), then fry them. The fries cook up crispy, stay crispy, and they’re even delicious at room temperature.

Safety Warning It is EXTREMELY DANGEROUS to attempt to fry in a pressure cooker. Do not do this. Restaurants use expensive specialty equipment called Pressure Fryers, not pressure cookers.

FRYING TIP: Per How to Read a French Fry, your fried foods will be crunchier when you fry them in highly saturated fats (those from animal sources, like lard, bacon grease, beef tallow and chicken fat). I’ve tested this myself, and its absolutely true! Pressure cookers do an excellent job of rendering fat from meat, or, for the ultimate french fry experience, you can purchase Commercially Rendered Duck Fat and make the most decadent french fries you have ever had! (If you are concerned about genetically modified foods and want duck fat from free range ducks that ate a GMO free diet, GMO Free Duck Fat is also available.)

My quest for the perfect french fry began innocently enough, a whim to make french fries, and the sudden impulse that I could use my pressure cooker to improve them. I make great roasted potatoes using my pressure cooker, surely it could help my french fries. So I tried it, and the insides were light, fully cooked and hot, and the french fries seemed to absorb a lot less of the frying oil. It was a definite improvement, but I thought I could improve my results.

I embarked on an obsessive effort, reading through cookbooks on fried foods and potatoes, internet research, watching videos about McDonald’s french fries, and reading detailed explanations of french frying methods, some of which included scientific explanations, microscopic photographs, and caliper measurements of french fry crusts. (Very interesting, but I’m not quite THAT obsessed.) I rejected the method that involved chemicals ordered over the internet – the whole point of making your own french fries is to make them using readily available ingredients and not strange chemical ingredients you’ve never heard of and have no idea what they are. I also rejected the twice fried french fry method, not because it doesn’t work, but for french fries, I don’t want to deal with thermometers, and the mess and work of frying them twice. I wanted to fry them once and eat my french fries!

What followed were many bags of potatoes, and many more batches of fries, changing the variables one at a time, and noting the results. I tried starch coatings, which didn’t produce a crisp crust, but did produce uneven browning and an unpleasant taste. Scrap that urban legend. I tried various pre-soaking methods, none of which improved results. I tried vinegar presoaks and pressure cooking in water with various percentages of white vinegar, and while the latter had interesting effects on maintaining the structure of the potatoes, didn’t do it either. One by one, I had tried and discarded the various different tips I had found. Then one day I caught an episode of America’s Test Kitchen where they boiled potatoes in water with baking soda added to supposedly make crispier home fries. Those home fries didn’t look as brown and crispy as mine do, but here was a new lead!

I tried it, and there was slight improvement, but the results were not consistently what I had hoped for. There was one batch that had turned out markedly better, but I couldn’t figure out from my notes what was causing the difference. Fortunately, I have a good friend who is a chemistry professor (every serious cook out there should make friends with a chemist), whom I consulted about my experiments, and who was kind enough to tell me what was going on chemically and that my experiments had revealed a second secret ingredient: salt. Back into the kitchen for more experiments regarding the correct amount of baking soda and salt to be used, and I came up with proportions that work consistently.

WHAT THIS METHOD DOES, AND WHY IT WORKS Pressure cooking the raw french fries does several things. It essentially parboils them (no more raw centers) and if there is salt in the cooking solution, it forces salt water solution into the potatoes, and some of that salt is left inside the potatoes, making them taste nicer (no need for presoaking in salt water). Think of a potato’s structure as a honeycomb, in which there are individual cells made of a polysaccharide called pectin (among other things), and containing starch inside each cell. When a small amount of baking soda (sodium bicarbonate, Na+ HCO3-), an alkali, is introduced into the cooking water and heat is applied, this base acts as a catalyst for the chain reaction, “attacking” the pectin cell structure, breaking it open, releasing starch from inside the cell, and as a by-product, creating a second base, sodium acetate (CH3COONa). Sodium acetate is used as a additive in the food industry to improve taste, but in this case, when released, this second base in turn attacks a surrounding pectin cell, releasing another molecule of starch and freeing more sodium acetate. The salt in the cooking water (NaCl) helps keep the second base (sodium acetate) water soluble so it can “attack” further pectin cells. Since the potatoes are so full of pectin cells, most of the reaction takes place on the surface of the french fries, since the bases don’t have to travel far to find another pectin cell to react with. This serves our purposes perfectly, since it’s the released starch at the surface that helps a french fry have a crispy, crunchy exterior.

“SECRET INGREDIENT” TIP: I’ve done a lot of experimentation regarding the relative amounts of water, baking soda and salt in this recipe, and I recommend that you use them in the amounts suggested. Reduce the water, and it’ll evaporate too quickly, reduce the baking soda or the salt and the reaction might be too little or not at all, increase the soda or salt and you might adversely affect the taste. You also want to place the potatoes in the strainer in a single row, so as much of the surface area as possible is exposed for the chemical reaction. If you need to make more than one batch, throw out what’s left of the cooking water (you’ll note its changed color), rinse out the bowl, and re-measure the water, baking soda and salt.

8 – 16 oz. (225g – 450 g) Russet potatoes
1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup cold water
frying oil, shortening, lard or rendered animal fat
(DO NOT use olive oil)
Electric Pressure Cooker
12″ Silicone Tipped Tongs
Trivet, Stainless Steel Steamer or Silicone Steamer
Good quality oven mitt
Good quality frying pan, cast iron skillet or deep fryer
Metal rack and cookie sheet (or plate/paper towels)
Thermometer (optional)

FRENCH FRY TIP: During my internet research, I ran across a newspaper article on french fries which said you should always use potatoes that have been stored at least a couple of weeks, and it mentioned a New York restaurant chef who is so serious about his french fries that during harvest season, he arranges for his supplier to provide him with stored potatoes, rather than fresh. As someone who has actually grown her own potatoes in the past, and tasted freshly dug potatoes, I can tell you there are two reasons for this. When fresh, potatoes contain a lot of sugars, and a lot less starch, which makes them the most delicious fresh grown vegetables I have ever had, but makes them much better as baked potatoes than french fries. During storage, those sugars convert into starches, and its starches that make a good french fry. Additionally, potatoes lose some of their water content during storage. From my own experiments, I would recommend that you use smaller russet potatoes for your french fries, rather than the bigger baking size potatoes – the smaller potatoes seem to lose more of their water content during storage than the larger ones. That extra moisture loss helps make them crispier.

    Prepare frying pan and metal rack for frying

  1. Prepare your frying supplies in advance. Take a good skillet, with nice high sides, pour oil into it, leaving at least 2″ of pan side above the top of the frying oil. (If deep frying, allow at least 3″ above top of oil.) Place a metal rack over a cookie sheet or skillet to use as a draining rack (or you can use 2 paper towels on a plate, although the draining rack drains oil better and helps keep fries crispy).
  2. Peel, wash and cut potatoes into thick steak fries size planks

  3. Peel the whole potatoes. (If they need to be cleaned, wipe them clean with a dry paper towel. Do not run the potatoes under water.) Cut potatoes into planks at least ½” wide, then cut the planks into french fries at least ½” thick. What you want are essentially thick steak fries.
  4. Pressure cook on High Pressure for 2 minutes using Quick Release

  5. Add 1 cup of cold water, a teaspoon of coarse kosher salt, and ¼ teaspoon baking soda to the pressure cooker pot, stirring briefly. Place trivet or steamer rack inside. Place french fries in a single layer on top of the steamer. Cook at HIGH PRESSURE (10 PSI) for 2 minutes using QUICK PRESSURE RELEASE. (If you have a standardized stovetop pressure cooker, I would recommend pressure cooking the fries for 1 minute at 15 PSI, and immersing your cooker under cold water as soon as the minute is up.)
  6. Once pressure is released, remove the fries immediately from the pot

  7. Once pressure has been released, unlock and remove the lid, holding the lid at an angle over the bowl of the pressure cooker to allow any hot water to drop back into the pot, and shielding you from any residual steam. Remove the fries from the pressure cooker as quickly as possible, either individually with your tongs, or if you have a good oven mitt, you can grasp the steamer by its central prong and remove the pressure cooked potatoes all at once. Discard any potatoes that have fallen into the water and become waterlogged.
  8. Dab the pressure cooked potatoes dry with a paper towel

  9. If there is any surface water on the cooked fries, dab it gently away with a clean paper towel. Do NOT rinse the potatoes. Do NOT rub them. The surface of the french fries should be starchy and slightly tacky, and if you rub the potatoes too hard, you might remove this starchy layer, and your fries won’t be as good.
  10. Heat frying oil to 350° F and add the fries to the oil

  11. Using medium high heat, heat your frying oil to approximately 350° F (175° C). If you’re shallow frying or don’t have a thermometer, you drop a bread cube into the oil, and if it turns brown within a minute, the oil is ready for frying. Using your tongs, gently place your fries into the cooking oil, taking care not to overcrowd the pan (there should be space between the french fries).
  12. Fry the French fries until they are a medium golden brown color

  13. If you are deep frying the french fries, they should be done in just a couple of minutes. If you are shallow frying the potatoes, do not move them for a couple of minutes – allow a crust to form on the bottom before flipping them to avoid breakage. Cook the french fries until all sides have a gorgeous medium golden brown color.
  14. Place the fully fried fries on the metal draining rack and sprinkle with salt

  15. When fries are ready, use the tongs to remove them from the oil and place them on the metal draining rack. Lightly sprinkle with salt. French fries are at their best when hot out of the frying oil, but if you are serving kids, you might want to wait a few minutes before serving. (The french fries should still be crispy and delicious even at room temperature.)
Pressure Cooker French Fries Recipe


5.0 from 1 reviews
Pressure Cooker French Fries Recipe
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Use your pressure cooker (and a secret ingredient) to make quick, delicious french fries that are crispy on the outside, hot and tender on the inside!
Recipe type: Side Dish
Serves: 2 - 4
  • 8 – 16 oz. (225 grams – 450 grams) Russet potatoes
  • 1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup cold water
  • frying oil, shortening, lard or rendered animal fat (DO NOT use olive oil)
  • salt
  1. Prepare your frying equipment in advance. Pour oil in skillet, making sure that the sides of the pan rise at least 2" above the top of the oil. Set up thermometer, if desired. Set up metal draining rack over cookie sheet so that there is at least 1" of airspace underneath the rack (or place 2 paper towels on a plate) to drain the fries.
  2. Peel the whole potatoes, wiping them with a clean paper towel if needed. (Do NOT get the potatoes wet, either by rinsing or submerging the potatoes in water.) Cut potatoes into thick, steak fry size slices (at least ½ inch in width). Cut a few more fries than you want in case of breakage.
  3. Add 1 cup of cold water, 1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt and ¼ teaspoon of baking soda to pressure cooker bowl. Stir briefly. Add trivet or vegetable steamer. Place french fries in steamer, in a single layer. (If you need to make more french fries, make multiple batches, replacing the water, salt and baking soda for each batch.) Pressure cook on HIGH PRESSURE (10 PSI) for 2 minutes using QUICK RELEASE. For those with stove top pressure cookers, which reach higher pressure than most electric models, I’d try 1 minute at whichever pressure setting on your machine is closest to 10 PSI and immerse your pressure cooker under cold running water as soon as the minute is up.)
  4. Once pressure is released, carefully remove the fries with tongs. If you have a good oven mitt, you can remove the fries all at once by grasping the central prong and removing the vegetable steamer and fries together. Discard any pieces that fell into the water and became waterlogged. Be prepared to start frying as soon as you can, the hotter the fries are when they reach the oil, the better they will be.
  5. There may be some moisture on the outside of the potatoes, and you should gently dab away a little of the surface moisture with a paper towel to prevent splattering. Aside from the moisture, the potatoes should have a starchy, somewhat sticky feel on their surface. DO NOT rinse the fries, or wipe them, just dab away some of the water, if your do too much, you'll lose that starchy, sticky surface, and your fries won't be as good.
  6. Heat your cooking oil on medium high heat to approximately 350° F (175° C). If you don't have a thermometer, or you're shallow frying, you can drop a cube of bread into the oil and when it turns golden brown in about a minute, the oil is hot enough. With tongs, gently add the french fries to the skillet, taking care not to overcrowd the pan (there should be space between the fries).
  7. If you are using a deep fryer, the fries should be done in just a couple of minutes. If you are pan frying, to avoid breakage, allow the bottom side of the fries to develop a nice light golden color before attempting to turn them over. Fry until all sides have a gorgeous medium golden brown color.
  8. Remove the french fries to drain on your metal rack or plate lined with paper towels. While still hot, sprinkle either with coarse kosher salt or salt from a sea salt grinder. If you are serving kids, you might want to wait a minute or two before serving. The french fries are best when hot, but they should still be pretty crisp and delicious even at room temperature. Enjoy!
NOTE: If you want to make more fries than indicated in the recipe, make multiple batches. You want to put the potatoes into the steamer in a single row, to keep as much of the surface area exposed as possible. When making additional batches, do not re-use the cooking water. Throw out any leftover water, rinse out the bowl, and measure the water, baking soda and salt again. Using old water would throw off the ratios of the baking soda and salt.


22 Responses to Pressure Cooker French Fries

  • April says:

    Love this along with your pastrami recipe that was shared on Friddg.com. I would have never thought to cook fries in a pressure cooker, how inventive!

    • ePressureCooker
      ePressureCooker says:

      Thanks, April! As soon as I got my first pressure cooker, I found I started trying to figure out how to make just about everything in it! But I should point out, in case anyone hasn’t read the warning and recipe above, that the fries are pre-cooked in the pressure cooker, and the actual frying takes place in a skillet or deep fryer as normal.

  • Jimmy says:

    I want to make french fries from the froster in it.

    But I am bit irritated that it shall be extremly dangerous as stated in red letters here.

    General Question:

    I didn’t want a pressure cooker. What I wanted is an Japanese or Korean multi-rice cooker. but i can not find many with BPA free ceramic inside pot or stainless steel pot. I dont like the normal teflon inside pots.

    Is a InstantPot the same like a Japanese / Korean rice cooker?

    • Hi Jimmy. I don’t have any experience with Japanese or Korean rice cookers, so I can’t say for sure. However, the Instant Pot definitely has a stainless steel inner pot, and you definitely can make rice in it. I make great rice in it all the time. Its both a pressure cooker and a slow cooker (its a multi-cooker), so you can make the rice fast or slow, however you like.

      However, I do have a suggestion for you that may help you find out what you want to know. Go to this Chowhound Discussion Thread (Chowhound is a food discussion forum), register for an account there (its free) and ask the original poster (ymaz108) who is Japanese and I believe has used traditional rice cookers how she likes the rice made in the InstantPot (she wanted a pressure cooker, but couldn’t decide which one at first). She’s had it for a while now and could probably tell you if it makes rice the way you’re used to and like it. Unless they turn the feature off, Chowhound sends emails to everyone who posted on a thread when a new post on that thread has been made, so she’ll get an email letting her know that you have a question for her.

  • Andreas says:

    I’m a bit irritated by your use of the vegetable steamer.

    The salt in the water will not evaporate, and hence can never reach the potatoes. So why add it in the first place ?
    And I’m not sure about the baking soda either.


    • Andreas:

      If you put the potatoes directly in the water, they’ll absorb too much water and won’t fry up properly. They’ll also be far more likely to break apart, since raising the pH slightly (thanks to the baking soda) accelerates the breakdown of the potato’s cell structure during the cooking process (this is also what helps creates the surface condition on the potato slices that makes the french fries crunchier).

      Salt is added for several reasons. It does flavor the potatoes. The steamer only holds the potatoes about an inch off the bottom of the pressure cooker, and only a fraction of an inch above the surface of the water. When the water is coming up to the boil, before the unit seals, the salted water does boil up into the potatoes. Salted water is also drawn up into and over the potatoes when pressure is manually released. You appear to be confusing what happens to salt during evaporation with what actually happens when water is superheated, under pressure, in a closed environment. Beyond what happens in a normal boiling environment, salted water is going to be very actively splashed up all over the potatoes, and when the unit reaches pressure, the surface tension of the superheated water (which is increased by the higher pressure) is going to prevent dissolved gases in the water from releasing smoothly, and at some point, they’ll have to “explode”, spraying salted water over the food. Plus water is going to be actively vaporizing, condensing, re-vaporizing, and so on, inside the pressure cooker, and any time its in a condensed state, its capable of carrying salt on to the potatoes.

      Its also possible that salt may be migrating with the superheated steam. Liquid under pressure boils at a much higher temperature than its normal boiling point (212° F / 100° C), and may even start to approach supercritical temperature and pressure. (I don’t know what that specific temperature is, so I can’t say for certain.) Salt does go into near-supercritical fluids, something it doesn’t do when boiling water at normal pressure, which would permeate the potatoes more like a gas would, and which will deposit the salt on the potatoes and to a lesser extent, inside them.

      If you read my explanation above regarding how this works, I’ve already explained why both salt and baking soda are necessary. The baking soda is the catalyst for the chemical chain reaction whereby the surface cells on the potatoes are ruptured, releasing starch, creating a second base which perpetuates the reaction, thereby creating a rough, pitted surface on the potatoes that allows the french fries to crisp up so well. Aside from providing flavoring, the salt helps keep the second base that is created, sodium acetate, water soluble, and thus helps keep the chain reaction on the potato surface going.

      If you really want to try this with the potatoes immersed in the water, without salt, and with or without the baking soda, go for it. You won’t get the same results. But you might want to try the recipe as written, its much better, and you don’t even have to take my word for it. There’s a review from Reddit from someone who already made my french fry recipe. Here’s what he said about them:  “. . .a poutine consisting of fries prepared this way is nothing short of spectacular.”

  • dixie leonard says:

    is it possible to freeze and/or hold in the refrigerator the potatoes after the pressure cooker and before frying? I would like to prepare a larger amount ahead of time and then fry as needed. thanks

    • Hi Dixie. The answer is, I think I know, but I’m not absolutely certain. I don’t know if I would even try to freeze the potatoes, at least not directly – the freezing process causes water to expand, which would rupture the cell structure, and because of the baking soda, the french fries are more delicate than they would otherwise be (alkalinity breaks down the pectin in the cell walls). You might well end up with frozen mush. You could definitely try refrigerating them overnight before frying, the potatoes would firm up thanks to starch retrogradation, but I think they should work. If you really want to experiment, and you really want to try freezing them, what I would recommend is refrigerating them for at least 24 hours FIRST to help them firm up, then freezing them. But I would experiment with freezing a small batch first: I cannot be sure how the freezing process would ultimately impact the texture and crispness of the potatoes, so if I were you I’d refrigerate, freeze, and then fry up a batch to see if they come out the way you like before making a large amount.

  • dixie leonard says:

    thank you very much for your quick answer. I just bought an Instant Pot and have been thinking of all the things I can do with it 😎

    • Congratulations! After a while, you’re wonder how you ever managed without one. I especially love them this time of the year, when its cold. There’s no better or faster way to make some hot, comforting mashed potatoes or a delicious homemade batch of piping hot soup (the higher pressure allows water to boil at a higher temperature, so your soup is even hotter than if you boiled it on the stove). Sometimes I’ll just hold a soup mug of tomato soup in my hands and enjoy its physical warmth while I slowly sip it to warm up.

  • Michelle says:

    Have you tried baking these french fries in the oven after you pressure cook? I try to avoid deep frying if possible.

    • No, I generally shallow fry them myself. But I’m sure if you sprayed or brushed them with a little oil and then put them in a really hot oven, they’d be really good that way, too.

  • Anne Lemieux says:

    Aloha I was wondering if you could use a bamboo steamer in the Instant Pot…giving you possibly three layers of potatoes to cook at one time. (without the bamboo steamer lid.)…Blessings, Anne

    • You could certainly TRY it, though you would obviously want to leave the lid off and have the steamer as open as possible. (I’m sorry, I don’t have a bamboo steamer myself to test it out.) My only concern would be how “closed” the steamer would be, whether the cooking water with the baking soda would be able to make physical contact with the potatoes, because that’s how the chemical chain reaction takes place. The potatoes will certain steam and cook, but if the baking soda can’t come in contact with them, they won’t fry up as crisply as the potatoes on the bottom, which are on top of the rack or vegetable steamer.

  • Julie says:

    Do you have any modifications to suggest for sweet potato fries?

    • Julie, I really doubt this recipe would work with sweet potato fries, in fact, I’d be incredibly shocked if it did. Because of the different composition of the starches in sweet potatoes, if you put baking soda in the pressure cooker with sweet potatoes, I seriously doubt they’d remain intact, they’d probably fall apart and turn to mush. You can try it if you like, just don’t be surprised if it doesn’t come out and you end up having to change your plans.

      • Elyse says:

        Works fine for us with Japanese (white flesh) sweet potatoes.

      • Elyse, thanks for letting us know. I’m not at all familiar with the Japanese sweet potatoes, I only ever see the standard orange ones, but that’s wonderful to hear and I’m sure my readers will be grateful to know that if they want to use Japanese sweet potatoes.

  • Paige says:

    Tried this tonight and baked in the oven on a sheet sprayed with olive oil. They were awesome! The salt and baking soda did make a big difference as I made them last week without and these came out way better.

    • Thank you Paige, I love to get feedback and hear how people are enjoying the recipes, especially when they’re changing things up and as in your case, making them oven fries instead. So far, people have successfully changed the recipe to make oven fries, and one person made sweet potato fries with Japanese white sweet potatoes. Who knew? But you’re right, the salt and baking soda make a real difference: not only does it change the texture of the outside of the french fries to be crispier, but in the course of discussing my various attempts with my friend The Chemist, I learned that a second base was created during the chemical chain reaction (baking soda is the first), and when I researched what that second base was, I learned its actually used as a flavor additive in potato chips. So a nice side effect is it makes the fries tastier, too.

  • Janet Zimmerman says:

    You say to arrange the potatoes in a single layer on the steamer insert, but in your photo, you have them piled up. Not to call you out, but my one concern with this method is that it’s only going to make a very small batch. Is it okay to pile them up so I can add more potatoes?

    • No you’re right, its in a single layer to the extent possible (they look more piled up in the photo than they really were, but yes, there were a few on top). The recipe makes a pound of French fries at a time. You could try to do more, but too much and the baking soda mixture won’t be able to come in physical contact with the potatoes on the inside, and physical contact is important for the chain reaction. If it were me, I’d confine it to two layers of potatoes at maximum, so the baking soda and salt mixture gets splashed on the potatoes from the bottom and on the top.

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