Size. Shape. Texture. Saltiness. The French fry's constituent parts are constantly being looked at under the microscope, sparking batsh*t crazy fierce debate about what makes the ideal form. 

You can get your fill at high-end restaurants and fast-casual chains alike, where fries run the gamut from thin to thick,  and curly to waffle-shaped. But risks are always involved: Whenever you order fries, you’re eating someone else’s opinion that may not match your own blueprint. 

So if you’ve ever rolled your eyes at the fat wedges that accompanied your burger when you wanted shoestring, or crunched your way through deep golden fries when you prefer them light and a little soggy, it's time to take matters into your own hands. After all, the greatest side dish on the planet has an ingredient list you can count on three greasy fingers. When you make French fries in your own home, you can turn your opinions into reality, modifying the final product at every point—from the purchase of a good spud to the choice of the right dipping condiment.  

In a perfect fry, "the crust should be very, very brittle and the inside should be very, very creamy,” says Ned Baldwin, whose restaurant Houseman serves malty, salty fries that are a current frontrunner for best in the business. But of course, that’s his take.

To master the fry, though, you need technique—and a bit of patience.

“It’s boiling, frying, freezing, and frying,” says Baldwin. 

There are variations on the method, depending on the results you want. But ultimately most of the best fries—including our favorite fast-food varieties—are made using some play on the twice-fried technique that traces its roots back to old Europe.

“In Belgium, they figured it out hundreds of years ago,” said Omer Shorshi, co-owner of Pommes Frites. “We try to keep it that way.”

Instead of subscribing to one ideology, we tapped Shorshi, Baldwin, and Mile End’s Noah Bermanoff—all fry masters with different approaches.

Here's the ultimate guide to making French fries at home.