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What are Shoestring Potatoes?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 16, 2024
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Shoestring potatoes are potatoes that have been julienne cut and deep fried so that they are crispy. They are commonly eaten as a snack food, much like potato chips, although they may also be served like French fries. They are also sometimes called potato sticks, depending on the region of the world that they are found in. Many markets carry them in their snack aisles, and they can also be made at home with the assistance of a deep fryer.

The name is a reference to their extremely narrow width, which is indeed akin to a shoestring, but the length can vary quite widely. Because they are so thin, shoestring potatoes fry all the way through when they are cooked, unlike French fries, which tend to have a more tender central portion. As a result, they will keep well if they are handled properly.

After deep frying, the potatoes will be allowed to completely dry if they are going to be eaten cold as a snack food. When they are packaged for sale, they are often put into airtight cans or foil bags. Once opened, they need to be eaten quickly, or they will start to go stale. They do tend to be rather high in fat, since they are deep fried, and they are also often heavily salted as well. Typically, a small serving carries a large number of calories, making them a food which should be eaten in moderation..

Some producers make a variant on shoestring potatoes with other vegetables, such as carrots and yams. In other cases, multicolored potatoes are used for variation, and they have a wider range of flavors that some consumers find enjoyable. Despite the diversity in ingredients, these variants are equally high in fat, and they usually do not differ substantially in nutritional value from conventional products.

Some restaurants also offer this style of potatoes, usually as an alternative to French fries. In this case, they are generally served hot, and they may be slightly less crunchy than their cooled and packaged versions. It is also possible to make them at home, although a large deep fryer should be used, since it will allow the potatoes to spread out as they are cooked. The potatoes are usually cut on a mandoline, to ensure that the cuts are even and precise, so that they will be cooked all the way through to crispy perfection.

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Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a DelightedCooking researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

By anon944038 — On Apr 05, 2014

I remember eating salt and vinegar flavored shoestrings as a little girl. Does anyone know if they still make them?

By DylanB — On Jul 07, 2012

I got a ribbon potato slicer as a wedding gift, and I've been making fried shoestring potatoes for a couple of years now. I recently started trying to eat healthier, and I am considering baking them instead.

Has anyone here ever tried to bake shoestring potatoes? I'm sure the challenge would be finding that perfect point at which they are crispy yet not burnt. I would imagine that they could burn within seconds of reaching the crispy point, though, since they are so very thin.

I surely wish that I could find a way to make them less fattening, though. I'm crazy about shoestring potatoes, but I can't go on eating all that grease, since I'm older now and my metabolism has slowed down.

By cloudel — On Jul 06, 2012

@StarJo – The ones in the can tend to stay fresher longer. They usually have a plastic lid and an aluminum seal that you have to pull back underneath that.

Most people pull the aluminum all the way off, but I leave it in place under the lid. I just press it back down before shutting the can. True, it is no longer airtight, but it does provide an extra layer of protection between the outside air and the shoestring potatoes.

I have never noticed a strange taste because of the can. Some things in cans do develop a metallic taste, but these don't.

By StarJo — On Jul 06, 2012

I have only ever eaten the shoestring potatoes that come in a bag. I have tried clipping it shut with a clothespin so that I can save the potatoes for later after eating a serving, but they get really tough and chewy within a week or so.

Has anyone here eaten the kind that come in a can? Are they generally resealable, and do they go stale as quickly as the kind in a bag?

I love them, but I hate letting them go to waste like that. There are more in the bag than I can eat in a week. I've been wanting to try the kind in a can, but I'm also afraid that they might taste different.

By Oceana — On Jul 05, 2012

Much like French fries, shoestring potatoes are just too addictive to eat in moderation. I always check the nutrition info before eating anything, and even though I know that shoestring potatoes are even higher in fat than some regular French fries, it is impossible for me to stop after just a handful.

Our bodies are programmed to crave things that are high in calories and fat, especially if we make it a habit to eat them. Our minds remember that feeling of satisfaction and pleasure that eating them gave us, and it will send out cravings in order to get that feeling again.

I do occasionally buy a bag of cold shoestring potatoes and give in to the temptation. More frequently, though, I will buy frozen cut fries and bake them in the oven to heat them up, because these have much less fat in them.

By ddljohn — On Jul 04, 2012
@alisha-- Julienned fries (another name for shoestring) don't necessary have to be very thin. Actually, the french fires sold in most chain fast food restaurants are considered julienne fries because they are cut thin and long.

If you prefer shoestring potatoes less crispy and more soft, you should make them at home yourself. It's actually very easy.

You can use a shoestring potato cutter or cut them yourself. If you cut them yourself, you can control the length and width more easily for the perfect size but it might take a lot longer. Then just fry them in hot oil and leave on tissue paper to soak up extra oil for a few minutes.

By burcidi — On Jul 03, 2012

@alisha-- You should try it as just a snack and see how you like it that way.

I personally love shoestring potato sticks. I ate them as a snack food throughout school. To me, they taste a lot better than regular potato chips, so I always preferred them when I went grocery shopping. But I love fresh shoestring potatoes just as much and maybe even more.

What did your friend serve the shoestring potatoes with? I think they go well as a side to hamburgers and steaks. If you go to a restaurant where it's served, try putting some of the shoestring potatoes inside a hamburger or on top of a steak. It becomes the perfect combination of moist and crunchy. It's heaven!

By discographer — On Jul 03, 2012

A friend of mine made shoestring potatoes the other day which he served with dinner. This was the first time I had this type of potato. I hadn't even had the packaged shoestring potato chips from the store before.

They looked really good, but to be honest, I didn't enjoy them as much as I enjoy french fries. They were far too dry and crispy for my taste. I think I like the soft interior of french fries, so I wasn't completely satisfied with shoestring potatoes.

But after reading this article which mentioned that this is more of a snack, I realize that we might have eaten it the wrong way.

Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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