Nutrition Faceoff: Potato vs. McDonald’s Fries

Written By: Sofia Layarda, MPH

Title: Master of Public Health

Alumni: University of California, Berkeley

Last Updated on:

What will it take for you to stop buying fries from a drive-through and make your own fries from an actual whole potato? Take a look at this.

​Nutrition Faceoff: Homemade Fries vs. McDonald’s Fries

Homemade French Fries McDonald’s Fries
Serving Size: 1 medium potato (4.6 oz)

cut into fries, skin-on,

tossed in 2 tsp canola oil, baked

1 medium serving (4.1 oz)
Calories: 220 kcal 380 kcal
Fat: 9.2 g 19 g
Saturated Fat: 0.7 g 2.5 g
Protein: 2.9 g 4 g
Total Carbohydrates: 29.1 48 g
Fiber: 2.9 g 5 g
Sodium: 10 mg 270 mg
Vitamin A: 0% DV 0% DV
Vitamin C: 28% DV 15% DV
Calcium: 1% DV 2% DV
Iron: 5% DV 6% DV

​Dietitians’ Take: Homemade French Fries vs. McDonald’s Fries

Nutritionally, the homemade version has less fat and sodium, and fewer carbohydrates and calories. We wanted to find out why McDonald’s fries contain saturated fat as well as fat and carbohydrate contents that are so much higher than the homemade version. So, we decided to take a closer look at the ingredient list for McDonald’s fries.

  • McDonald’s fries ingredient list: potato, vegetable oil (canola oil, hydrogenated soybean oil, natural beef flavor [wheat and milk derivatives], citric acid [preservative]), dextrose, sodium acid pyrophosphate (maintain color), salt.
  • ​In addition, the label states that the fries  are “prepared in vegetable oil (canola oil, corn oil, soybean oil, hydrogenated soybean oil with TBHQ, and citric acid added to preserve freshness),” and that there is “Dimethylpolysiloxane added as an antifoaming agent.”

What does this long ingredient list mean?

  • ​Because of the hydrogenated soybean oil, McDonald’s fries actually contain trans fats.
  • The higher fat content is most likely due to some pre-frying done before the fries are shipped to the restaurant. The additives contribute to the much higher carbohydrate load in the McDonald’s fries when compared to the homemade version.
  • The high saturated fat content likely comes from the hydrogenated vegetable oil, according to gluten free expert Shelley Case, RD, author of Gluten-Free Diet.

​Our Pick: Homemade

Skip the drive-through and make your own fries at home. You get more actual potato in the homemade version and no mysterious ingredients.

Tell Us: How do you make fries at home?

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