Homemade Potato Chips/photo by Donna Turner Ruhlman

What are the most special things we can cook? I contend the most special preparations are not those that are most difficult, time-consuming, or use the most expensive ingredients, but rather the ones that result in food we can’t buy. I can make bread, and it’s really good, and fun to bake and fills the house with a great aroma.  But it’s not going to be as good as the baguettes I can buy at On the Rise bakery. A preparation such as mayonnaise, however, that’s different. You can’t buy mayonnaise that’s as good as mayonnaise you make. It doesn’t exist. Potato chips are another such food. I like Lays potato chips just as I like Helmann’s mayonnaise, and on a Saturday afternoon, if I want a quick sandwich and chips, I’m glad to have the convenience of store bought mayo and chips, not to mention sandwich bread. I’m glad I don’t have to make everything from scratch when I’ve got a lot of other things to do.

But it’s important to recognize that Lays chips and chips you make yourself are so different we should have different names for them. Chips still warm from the fat, lightly salted are like no other chip.  They’re easy to make, and, if you store and reuse your oil properly, they’re not expensive.

It’s critical to have one of these things, a Benriner mandolin. The mandoline not only allows you to cut a whole potato into chips in seconds, it also ensures that the chips are all the same size, and therefore cook in the same time.

I deep fry in a 7-quart Le Creuset Dutch oven, my favorite big pot (expensive but worth it—one of the essentials OpenSky has included in last week’s giveaway, details here, still time to sign in), filling it up about a third of its height.  Two and a half to three inches. You need to have plenty of oil so that when you add the chips, the temperature doesn’t drop to the point where they are poaching in oil. They should bubble immediately as the moisture vaporizes and leaves the oil as steam. The only trick is to ensure that the chips don’t stick together. If you lower them all at once into the oil, they can clump. So what I do is, when the oil is between 350 and 375 degrees, I call Donna or James, and two of us deal the chips individually into the oil as one deals playing cards.  You’ve got to do this fast or the first ones in the oil will be overcooked by the time the last ones are barely done.  Stir them frequently, and remove them with a spider or a Chinese basket strainer (inexpensive invaluable tool available at most Asian markets). Last, you can’t put too many in at once, or again, you’ll drop the oil’s temperature too far, so I do one large potato at a time, keeping the first batch warm in the oven as I cook the second batch.

Homemade potato chips are the best.

If you liked this post on homemade potato chips , check out these other links:


© 2011 Michael Ruhlman. Photo © 2011 Donna Turner-Ruhlman. All rights reserved.


46 Wonderful responses to “Homemade Potato Chips”

  • twoshoes

    homemade potato chips are indeed special. I’ve also been noticing them popping up on several local trendy/hipster menus of late.

    anyways, I’ve (re)posted a couple pics of a batch of mine on my blog. and right now I’m thinking they’d go right nicely w/ a chili cheese dog…

  • Chris

    Michael, any recommendations on how long or how many times to reuse frying oil? I save and strain it through a coffee filter, but I don’t know when I should replace it.

    • ruhlman

      You’ll know it’s no good when the food is noticeably oily rather than dry; also the flavor will be off. Use your common sense. You can usually get 4 or 5 potato fries out of a batch.

  • Jammy Chick

    Those look great! I’d love to try different veggie chips – sweet potato, beet, carrot, if I wasn’t pathologically afraid of deep frying.

  • DMT

    You mention storing oil properly, what do you think is the best way to store and reuse oil?

  • Susan

    Making potato chips is something everyone should try, at least once. They are a fun to do when family or friends are gathered and are eager to help with the novel production. A large dutch oven is my choice for deep frying also. The high sides keep the grease from spattering everywhere and the wide rim makes it easier to manuver the “spider” while fishing out the food.

  • Dave P

    I love making home made chips. They are infinitely better than any store bought chips. I like to fry mine in lard, they have a much better flavor that way.

    • Chris K.

      If you have never fried potato chips in duck fat… you really, really should.

      Lard is good but it’s not very heat stable for frying. It starts breaking down rapidly after just one use.

      • marc

        I’ve never had enough duck fat to deep fry in but I’ve done many potatoes in a bit of duck fat and your right, incredible stuff!

  • jeff

    what is the thickness of the mandolin you referenced? i have the oxo unit with varying thickness…

    • ruhlman

      I don’t like the oxo version for that reason. benriner gives you paper thin slices if you want. Chips, I cut them about 1/16th of an inch.

  • allen

    I’ve been enjoying veal salt on all of my fried foods, even popcorn. I know french fries are a different version, but I find soaking them for 24hrs makes a big difference. Not sure if this applies to chips.

      • Mantonat

        I think soaking helps, but it’s really time consuming to dry the potato slices properly before frying them. OK for fries, but not worth the effort for chips. I’ve also made Wylie Dufresne’s micro hash browns at home with great results and it seems soaking in cold water is essential to keep the tiny potato cubes from sticking together when frying.

  • michelle

    This site was so much better when there wasn’t a plug squeezed into every post.

    • ruhlman

      the site is free. would you prefer I put up a paywall?

      hope you’ll forgive my needing to sell things as well as provide information and comment about food and cooking.

  • Againstthegrain

    You didn’t mention what frying oil you use. Personally, I wouldn’t fry anything in any seed vegetable oil (that stuff is seriously nasty – I don’t touch the stuff anymore), but foods fried in beef tallow (from grass fed animals only) are the BOMB!

  • Mary

    Thank you for this post! I have always liked homemade deep fried foods but never knew what to do with the oil. Many thanks. You’ve just started something good in this household.

  • cybercita

    I have made mayonnaise at home many times and never like the taste. I use an egg yolk, a drop of water, a bit of champagne vinegar, a little dried mustard, salt, pepper, and a mix of grapeseed and good olive oil, whisking constantly, and emulsifies beautifully. However, it always tastes…. not very good. What am I doing wrong?

    • Mantonat

      Don’t use olive oil. Olive oil has a great flavor, but for some reason just tastes funny in mayo. Try a neutral oil; I’d suggest all grapeseed, but it’s a little expensive.

    • Againstthegrain

      EVOO is too strongly flavored, IMO, and a bitter taste can result, which is even more pronounded when mixed with an electrical appliance (my favorite method is a handhelf immersion blender, followed by a Vitamix blender for larger batches, only because it’s harder to extract the last bit of mayo from around the blades). Pure refined olive oil creates flavorful but not bitter mayo, IMO.

      I buy “pure” olive oil (refined, not extra virgin) just for making mayo; I don’t use it for anything else. I don’t use grape seed or other “seed/legume” oils because they are heavily processed, are prone to rancidity, and have a higher PUFA/omega 6 content, which is overabundant an inflammatory in modern diets.

      I also don’t use mustard flour (dried mustard) in homemade mayo because even a little too much can be too “hot”. I use a small amount of prepared Dijon or spicy brown mustard instead (more can be added after the mayo is made if desired) or I omit mustard entirely. I also like to add a pinch of paprika for color interest.

      I haven’t bought commercial mayonnaise in years, but my family of three goes through a LOT of mayonnaise (for chilled dips/sauces, salad dressings, sandwiches, egg/tuna/salmon/chicken salad, etc.) I probably make a 1 or 2 egg batch at least once or twice a week, sometimes even more frequently (or a bigger batch in a blender). I use only eggs I buy from local people who sell their excess “backyard” urban homestead eggs – I seek out eggs from truly omnivorous laying hens that have a lot of access to bugs, worms, lizards, as well as greens, not just “vegetarian” grains and soy rations.

      My almost 13 yo son, who is also my toughest food critic, just loves homemade mayo and homemade Ranch style dressing. Now if I could just get him to work in the kitchen…

      • Drew

        Michael Schwartz in his latest book, Michael’s Genuine, has a recipe for mayo that calls for 3 soft boiled (3 minute) eggs and 2 cups of oil. You puree the soft boiled eggs, whole, in the food processor and it makes the thickest, most luscious mayo I’ve ever had.

    • Cali

      Try using a neutral oil like canola. Also, you need a little lemon juice to make it “zippy” and remember that it takes quite a bit of salt. Mayonnaise is quite salty. Often times if foods seem flat more salt will fix it. Also, I use just a little dijon mustard. Not only does it add a bit of a spicy-vinegary flavor, but it helps in the emulsification. A tiny drop of honey will not taste sweet but will add balance to the finished product.

  • cybercita

    Thanks everyone. I will try it without the EVOO and without the powdered mustard. {I use a regular hand whisk, and excellent eggs from the greenmarket.}

  • Randy Kirchhof

    I just use a potato peeler.

    But try them fried in chicken fat saved from stock-making. A little sprinkle of kosher salt. Incredibly good.

  • Russ H

    I’ve been making my own chips for years, and they are better than any bagged chip you could ever buy! I make these for parties and when I share how rediculously simple it is, nobody can bellieve it!

  • Natalie Luffer Sztern

    My late mother made the best chips and the best fries. She couldn’t keep up with the demand of her kids when she made them because there was just never enough. It is her fault I had to have my wedding gown let out at the seams…

  • Richard Scholtz

    I’m a little anal-retentive when it comes to making potato chips, but my method works every time. I rinse them very, very well to get rid of all the excess starch, then run them through my salad spinner to remove the excess water. I then lay them out on layers of paper towels to get the last bit of water. It’s a couple extra steps, but you get very, very little spattering, because the exterior of the potato chip is bone dry, and I don’t have oil all over my stove-top.

    For a nice variation, take some chopped rosemary, kosher salt, finely ground black pepper, and run it through your food processor. Now you’ve got rosemary-black pepper salt, and it’s deadly on potato chips. Be careful, because you’ll eat the whole batch before you can serve them.

  • Inge

    I love home made potato chips. I own two deep fat fryers because you can never make enough chips in one batch! (I’m usually making them for my kids and their friends and they inhale them.) I love the reaction I get when people look at me and say, YOU eat fried food?! Yes, I do! Once in a while as a special treat. That’s the secret to staying healthy and thin. Eat what you love, but in moderation! (A little yoga helps too!)

  • Vanessa - Sweet Lab

    After reading this I couldn’t help but agree with your conclusion: Homemade made potato chips are the best. Then I checked out the related link about sweet home potato chips and came up with a conclusion of my own: Homemade sweet potato chips are the best! The combination of savory + sweetness is what gets me.

    • Chris K.

      I throw it out after a maximum of two weeks, just to be on the safe side. But usually I make it in such small batches that it gets used up first.

  • ruhlman

    It will keep until it starts to taste bad. If you put shallot or herbs in, I don’t think it keeps for 24 before it tastes off to me. if there’s only oil salt and lemon juice, it will keep for several days.

  • Hema

    In your opinion, is it worth the effort to make these types of chips ahead of time for later snacking? Any recommendations on how to store them? I’m thinking about adding them to my spread of snacks on Thanksgiving day and would love to be able to make them in advance, if even only a day or two earlier. Thanks!


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