Oh, the french fry. Is there any side dish better than fried-up spuds to pair with that cheeseburger or order of chicken nuggets? It's a true fast-food staple, and those who take their fries seriously will have a strong favorite. But it's important to know that not all fast-food fries are the same. And we're not just talking about taste here! There are some fry options that are truly unhealthy for you.
So which popular fast-food chain has the unhealthiest french fries out there?
We rounded up the fast-food fries and tater tots that seem to be just bad news. To determine which fast-food fries are the worst of the bunch, we looked at large-size orders from some of the most beloved chains. Now, here's the list of the worst fast-food fries, ranked from bad to the absolute worst.
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Taco Bell Nacho Fries
Per order: 320 calories, 18 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 620 mg sodium, 35 g carbs (4 g fiber, 2 g sugar), 4 g protein
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. The relatively low-calorie count here is only a distraction from the excessive 620 milligrams of sodium and 18 grams of fat they really serve up. And that's without the nacho cheese dip, which adds 60 calories per teeny tiny cup.
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Per order: 370 calories, 15 g fat (1.5 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 250 mg sodium, 52 g carbs (6 g fiber, 0 g sugar), 6 g protein
The beloved West Coast chain offers up an order of fries that, at 370 calories and 250 milligrams of sodium, don't seem as terrible compared to the others on this list. Remember—you'll want to keep them plain and skip the "animal style" secret menu topping, though!
Burger King French Fries
Per large size: 440 calories, 19 g fat (3 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 320 mg sodium, 64 g carbs (5 g fiber, 1 g sugar), 5 g protein
While a side order of onion rings is often a must for those who are loyal Burger King fans, the golden fries are often sitting alongside a Whopper. Here, one large order is packing 440 calories and 320 milligrams of sodium.
Per large size: 430 calories, 17 g fat (4 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 640 mg sodium, 61 g carbs (6 g fiber, 1 g sugar), 5 g protein
At A&W, the fries are described as "golden fried and crispy. A burger's best friend." They're plain and simple, but they're still not so innocent. Keep in mind this order has the same amount of calories as BK's large order of fries, but has 320 milligrams more sodium.
Wendy's Chili Cheese Fries
Per order: 520 calories, 27 g fat (9 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 1,300 mg sodium, 53 g carbs (6 g fiber, 3 g sugar), 17 g protein
If you're in the mood to spice up your Wendy's fries, choosing the option that is topped with the chain's iconic hearty chili and a creamy cheese sauce sounds like the perfect way to go. Sorry, but it's a no, as these fries have more than 1,000 milligrams of sodium and more calories than an order of 10 chicken nuggets.
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McDonald's World Famous Fries
Per large size: 560 calories, 27 g fat (3 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 420 mg sodium, 74 g carbs (6 g fiber, 0 g sugar), 6 g protein
We're just going to go ahead and say it: McDonald's fries are arguably the most well-known fast-food French fry out there. If you were blindfolded and took a bite of these spuds, you would know it's a Mickey D fry! And these iconic fries really aren't as bad as you may think. If you went with a small order, it could cost you 180 milligrams of sodium. So if you are going to treat yourself, just remember to go for the smaller size instead of the large.
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Chick-fil-A Waffle Fries
Per order: 600 calories, 35 g fat (5 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 340 mg sodium, 65 g carbs (7 g fiber, 1 g sugar), 7 g protein
America's favorite, Chick-Fil-A, has neither the unhealthiest nor the healthiest side of fries in fast food. However, it's probably not the best choice to order a large cup of their famous waffle fries, as they have more calories than any other option available on the menu.
Arby's Loaded Curly Fries
Per order: 620 calories, 37 g fat (8 g saturated fat, 0.4 g trans fat), 1,610 mg sodium, 59 g carbs (5 g fiber, 2 g sugar), 14 g protein
Arby's signature curly fries get the "loaded" treatment, which is always a menu word that is a total red flag. The fries are covered with pepper bacon, Parmesan peppercorn ranch sauce, and cheddar sauce for a highly caloric and sodium-filled side dish. If you go with ordering a snack size of the plain Curly Fries, that will save you 1,380 milligrams of sodium.
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White Castle Fries
Per sack size: 770 calories, 49 g fat (9 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 115 mg sodium, 76 g carbs (8 g fiber, 4 g sugar), 8 g protein
At White Castle, there is the option for a "sack" size, which actually feeds three people. It's very easy to mindlessly eat a bag of fries if they're sitting in front of you, so we advise you to actually split this with two friends. More than 700 calories on a side dish is just insane!
Popeyes Cajun Fries
Per large size: 800 calories, 42 g fat (15 g saturated fat, 2 g trans fat), 1,760 mg sodium, 97 g carbs (9 g fiber, 1 g sugar), 10 g protein
These seasoned fries from Popeyes might be a tasty staple of the chain, but a large comes in at more than 800 calories. And that's without factoring in the rest of the meal! Instead, it's better to pair that popcorn shrimp or chicken sandwich with green beans or coleslaw.
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Checkers Fully Loaded Fries
Per large size: 870 calories, 56 g fat (16 g saturated fat, 1.5 g trans fat), 2,190 mg sodium, 72 g carbs (7 g fiber, 3 g sugar), 19 g protein
Checkers' famous seasoned fries get the "fully loaded" treatment, as they are topped with cheese, ranch, and crispy bacon. It makes for a side dish that has more sodium than 193 Lay's potato chips!
Sonic Chili Cheese Tots
Per large size: 960 calories, 57 g fat (17 g saturated fat, 1 g trans fat), 2,690 mg sodium, 92 g carbs (9 g fiber, 3 g sugar), 19 g protein
The concept of adding chili and cheese to potatoes might be oh-so-delicious, but these tots from Sonic will have you thinking twice about this combination. A large order comes in at nearly 1,000 calories and has more sodium than The American Heart Association recommends you consume in an entire day.
Five Guys Fries
Per large size: 1,314 calories, 57 g fat (10 g saturated fat, 1 g trans fat), 1,327 mg sodium, 181 g carbs (21 g fiber, 6 g sugar), 20 g protein
The burgers from Five Guys are what they're best known for, but the fries often steal the show. If you order a large for yourself, you're then going to have a side dish that has more calories than your burger. Be sure to stick with the "Little" size. And don't forget to share!
Wienerschnitzel Bacon Ranch Chili Cheese Fries
Per large size: 1,320 calories, 80 g fat (16 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 3,120 mg sodium, 119 g carbs (12 g fiber, 4 g sugar), 31 g protein
Leave it to Wienerschnitzel to take the concept of chili cheese fries up a notch by adding a generous layer of ranch dressing and bacon pieces. Sadly, the large size is downright scary, earning the title of the worst fast-food fries. It has more calories than any of the hot dogs or burgers on the menu and has nearly a day and a half's worth of sodium. Big yikes.
A version of this story was originally published in October 2020. It has been updated to include new information.