french fries sit out

How Long Can French Fries Sit Out?

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French fries are a must-have with many different meals – whether you are making them at home or ordering them with your take-out. 

If you have made some French fries at home, or have left the take-out French fries on the counter for some time, then you might be wondering if they are still okay to eat.

How long can French fries sit out for?

French fries, like most other types of food, should not be left out at room temperature for longer than 2 hours. After 2 hours, there is an increased risk of bacteria growth, and the French fries might not be safe to eat.

Below, we have covered topics like if you can leave French fries sit out at room temperature, how long is too long, and more information!

Is It Okay to Leave French Fries Out at Room Temperature?

You have more than likely had some French fries sitting on the counter while you eat your food, only to pack them away in the fridge to enjoy later on. We often take food safety for granted when it comes to French fries, as they do not seem as perishable as meat and vegetables, but you do need to be careful.

French fries are fine to be left out at room temperature, as long as they are not left out for longer than 2 hours. After 2 hours at room temperature, the risk of bacteria growth increases, and there is a higher chance that the French fries will be unsafe to eat.

french fries sit out

It is perfectly fine to leave the French fries on the counter while you dish up your food and eat, but be sure that they are not left out for longer than they need to be, especially longer than 2 hours.

Those who live in warmer climates need to be even more careful – if it is particularly hot where you are, then the French fries should not be left out for more than one hour, as bacteria can grow quicker in warmer temperatures.

What Is Room Temperature?

It definitely helps to know what is considered room temperature, so that you can properly store your food in the right temperature range, to keep it fresher for longer, and safer to eat.

Room temperature, or the food danger zone, is between 40 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Within this range, bacteria can multiply rapidly, and the longer food is left to sit in this temperature range, the higher the risk of foodborne illness is.

It is considered safe to leave food at this temperature range for up to two hours, but if the room temperature is above 90 degrees Fahrenheit, then the food should be placed in the fridge after an hour.

While it is safe to leave food out at room temperature for up to 2 hours, it is better to put any food back in the fridge as soon as possible.

How to Tell if French Fries Have Gone Bad

It isn’t as easy to tell when French fries have gone bad, compared to more obvious perishable food items such as fruit or meat. However, if French fries are left out for long enough that they do spoil, there will be some obvious signs to look for.

soggy french fries

Here are signs that French fries have gone bad:

Change in Texture

One of the first signs that French fries have gone bad is if the texture changes. Instead of crispy, firm French fries, they will be sloppy and limp, and even mushy.

Sometimes, this can happen if French fries have been kept in the fridge, but if the French fries were left out and turn limp, then it is probably best to throw them away.

Change in Color

Another visual sign that French fries have gone off is if they change color. If the French fries change from golden to a brown or grayish color, then you should throw them out, as it shows that they have gone stale and are on their way to spoiling.

Change in Smell

If you notice any off smell at all from the French fries, even a smell that was different to what they smelled like fresh, it could be an indication that there is bacteria growth, which could very well mean that the French fries could make you sick if you eat them.

Appearance of Mold

If the French fries have been left out for long enough, then they could begin to go moldy. Mold appears as gray, white, or green spots on the surface of the French fries.

Even if there is just one spot of mold on one French fry, it is safer to throw all of the French fries out, as the spores of the mold could be too small for you to see, but they could have spread further on the chips.

Can I Eat French Fries Left Out Overnight?

Even if the French fries that you left out overnight look fine, and smell fine, it is not recommended that you eat them. Left out overnight, the French fries would have been exposed to the food danger zone for longer than 2 hours, and the chance of bacteria growth is very high.

As easy as it can be to forget, you need to try to remember to pack away any leftovers, even your take-out, back into the fridge before they have been left out for longer than 2 hours.

This is the best way to ensure that the French fries stay fresh and that you can enjoy them the next day without worry!

How to Store Leftover French Fries

Storing leftover French fries in the fridge means you get to enjoy them again, without worrying that they have been left out for too long. You do have to store them properly, to ensure they taste just as fresh when you reheat them again.

french fries in fridge

The best way to store French fries in the fridge is in an airtight container, or in a sealable freezer bag (like these ones I use all the time). You need to remove as much air from the sealable bag as possible before freezing. Using a freezer bag or airtight container means that the French fries will have minimal exposure to moisture.

Being exposed to moisture will cause the French fries to go limp and soggy, and just be really unenjoyable to eat later on!

How to Reheat French Fries

French fries tend to go soft and limp when stored in the fridge, no matter how well you package and protect them. 

Reheating them properly can help to restore some crispiness to the French fries, you just have to reheat them properly!

The two best ways to reheat leftover French fries are using an air fryer or an oven. You would need to preheat either first, and then reheat the French fries until they are piping hot inside, and crispy and golden on the outside.

reheating french fries

If you have a food thermometer, you can check that the internal temperature of the French fries reaches a minimum of 165 degrees Fahrenheit before removing them from the heat.

Using the microwave is not advised, as it will cause the French fries to become even more limp and soggy, and they really will not have the same texture or flavor that you would have been looking forward to.

How Long Do French Fries Last in the Fridge?

French fries cannot sit in the fridge indefinitely, and you will have to eat them before they begin to spoil or become inedible.

It is recommended that you use French fries within 2 days of storing them in the fridge. After 2 days, there is a higher chance of the French fries spoiling, and they will likely be too limp and soft to be enjoyable to eat.

Make sure to store the French fries in an airtight container near the back of the fridge, and to reheat them thoroughly before eating.

How Long Can French Fries Sit Out?

French fries should be treated the same as other perishable food items, and should not be left out at room temperature for longer than 2 hours.

After being left out at room temperature for 2 hours, the French fries will begin to develop more bacteria, and there is a chance that you could fall sick from eating them.

Make sure to pack away any leftover French fries into an airtight container, and place them in the fridge, as soon as you are done eating, to make sure none of the French fries goes to waste!

Related Questions

Can I Eat French Fries That Were Left Out for 5 Hours?

You should not eat French fries that were left out for 5 hours, as they might have gone bad during this time, and they could make you sick if you eat them.

Do Leftover French Fries Need to Be Refrigerated?

Refrigerated French fries do not sound very appetizing, but you definitely need to refrigerate leftover French fries, and not leave them to sit out at room temperature for longer than a couple hours.

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