Every Fast-Food French Fry—Ranked!
We get it: No fast-food meal is complete without an order of fries. And though they seem innocent enough (the government puts them in the vegetable category, after all), the truth is, many varieties are far worse than the burgers and nuggets they're paired with.
To help you avoid becoming super-sized, we've examined all of the nation's most popular fast-food fries and ranked them based on their nutritional profiles. This way you can dig in without the guilt and continue losing weight.
How we ranked them:
After examining the nutritional profiles of each fry, we ordered them by calories, fat, and sodium. Since a medium at Arby's could be larger or smaller than a medium at Burger King, for example, this was the best way to uncover the truth about each crispy dish.
Chick-Fil-A Waffle Potato Fries
It might just be my imagination, but waffle fries just seem to taste better, don't they? Chick-Fil-A gets major points for having the least amount of salt in their fries than any other restaurant on this list, but the high-calorie count and 24 grams of fat keep this dish on the Not That! side of the equation.
Sonic Natural-Cut Fries
Sonic's crispy russet-potato fries fall in the middle of the pack in terms of sodium and are a bit high in calories, earning them a ninth place spot in the worst fast food French fries in America.
Taco Bell Nacho Fries
While Taco Bell's nacho fries continue to come on and off the permanent menu, it's never going to be the best idea to indulge in too many of these queso-seasoned spuds. They have 320 calories, 620 milligrams of sodium, and 18 grams of fat, and that's without the nacho cheese dip, which adds 60 calories per teeny tiny cup.
Long John Silver Natural Cut Fries
Not only are these fries high in calories and sodium, but they also carry a lot of unnecessary grams of fat. What's more, these yellow-painted fries (yup, they're laced with food dyes) are drenched and fried in oil, which can lead to a whole load of dangerous side effects. No matter how you roll the dice, these taters are a definite no-go.
Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen Cajun Fries
Popeyes' special fry seasoning may be tasty, but these taters will wreak havoc on your waistline and your heart health, thanks to the atrocious sodium content and sky-high levels of salt. And speaking of your ticker, be sure you're trying to consume the 9 Best Foods & Drinks for Heart Health, Say Dietitians.
KFC Secret Recipe Fries
Though the calories per gram aren't out of control here, the sodium count is an entirely different story. The sodium may be the most dangerous aspect of this dish for your waistline, considering it's nearly half of the daily recommendation by the FDA.
Jack In The Box French Fries
Jack claims his fries are "lightly salted," but we beg to differ. These caloric high-sodium fries have enough salt to spike your blood pressure and are a definite Not That!
Jack In The Box Seasoned Curly Fries
If you wouldn't eat seven-and-a-half slices of bacon in one sitting, you should reconsider adding these to your order. Because that's the fat equivalent you're getting when you dig into these curly fries.
Arby's Curly Fries
Arby's says their fries are "curly and fried to perfection," but that's not a good enough reason to indulge. Like many of the other "Not That!" fries on our list, they're extremely high in fat, thanks to their deep-fried treatment. While these salty potatoes have a lower calorie count than expected, they're still a sodium-packed mess. A better bet at the chain: the regular crinkle-cut fries. Ordering them over this nutritional monstrosity will ax the fat in half and save you over 200 calories and nearly 1000 milligrams of sodium.
For more about the fast-food restaurant, check out 10 Arby's Secrets You Need to Know.
Five Guys Fries
From the burgers to the fries, it seems like everything at Five Guys is overflowing with calories and carbs. Just for the regular-size fries (or medium-size in other words), you're getting almost 1,000 calories! And that's without counting the big juicy burger you're most likely going to get alongside this greasy side.
Stay away if you want to maintain your taut tummy, and be sure to add these 11 Flat-Belly Superfoods to your diet, too.
First of all, these fries only come in one size, so there's no overindulging or saving yourself extra calories (unless you let a few go to waste…). And, though there are French fries out there lower in calories, these earn points for their lower-than-average sodium and carb count.
McDonald's World Famous Fries
When it comes to choosing a side at McDonald's, our Eat This, Not That! nutritionists naturally recommend apple slices…but if you want a side of fries, go for it once in a while! They have fewer calories than a fair share of the competition and are relatively low in sodium. Just be sure to eat them with one of Ronald McDonald's healhier menu items—and don't add any extra salt!
Carl Jr. Natural Cut Fries
Gram for gram, these are lower in calories, fat, and sodium than the majority of other fast-food french fries, but ordering a small is still the smartest way to go if weight loss is your goal.
Wendy's Natural-Cut Fries
Though you'd be hard-pressed to find a French fry that's low in calories or fat, these fare better than most, earning them one of the top spots on our list. And next time you're dining at the famous redhead's chain, you should know, We Tried Every Burger at Wendy's & This Is the Best.
Burger King French Fries
The King keeps his salt shakers in check when he cooks up these thick-cut fries, earning them the number three spot on our list.
Dairy Queen Fries
These may carry a third of the day's salt, but they're actually pretty low in calories for french fries. And compared to the frozen calorie bombs Dairy Queen is serving up in the form of a Blizzard, this is a much more reasonable and diet-friendly pick.
A&W promises that its fries are a burger's best friend, and we're totally on board with that statement. Although these potatoes are higher in calories than the DQ variety, they're very low in fat and salt for something that comes through a drive-thru window. It's a fast-food winner in our eyes.
A version of this story was originally published on February 18, 2016. It has been updated to include new information.