Waffle, or lattice, fries are a distinctive cut of French fries. The commercial French fry maker or home cook slices the potatoes with a ripple-bladed cutter and rotates the potato between cuts to create small holes or windows in the potato slices. Usually commercial food processors use white potatoes to make the wavy cut fries, but some companies also offer waffle-cut sweet potatoes. The home cook can use a special tool to cut many different vegetables, including specialty potatoes like Yukon gold, into waffle fries.
To make waffle fries at home, a person can use a mandolin with a wavy or rippled blade or a vegetable cutter. The mandolin is a professional tool that allows the operator to slide the potato over the cutting blade. Another tool is a blade with a handle, which sellers may list as a French fry cutter, vegetable cutter, or crinkle cutter. The operator lays the potato on the cutting board and presses the blade down through it to cut off a slice. With either tool, the cook needs to rotate the potato 90° with every cut to achieve the characteristic cut.
Most companies that offer frozen potato products sell waffle fries. Some companies market them as lattice fries. Nutritional values vary depending on any seasoning or coatings that the food processor may have added. Other factors that affect the nutritional values include the temperature and type of frying oil or if the fries are oven-baked instead of fried.
Waffle fries tend to be thicker than other sliced potatoes. For example, they generally are thicker than cottage fries. Slicing the potatoes too thin usually causes them to fall apart. The cuts must be close enough to create small windows. Often home cooks find it is easier to buy commercially cut waffle cut fries.
A wide variety of eateries offer waffle fries. Some food historians suggest that a restaurant chain invented the waffle cut, but others question the origin of the cut. Many places offer plain or seasoned fries, including Cajun-flavored waffle cut fries. Home cooks can sprinkle seasonings on the potatoes after frying them or before baking them if they choose the lower-fat cooking method. Seasoned salts are typically a popular choice.
Another way to customize the waffle fries is to use other types of potatoes or vegetables. Sweet potato fries are popular with home cooks and restaurant patrons. Home cooks can experiment with other waffle-cut vegetables, such as zucchini and carrots.