Are crab fries a thing everywhere? I know they’re offered at most casual food joints in Jersey down to Maryland, but do people eat french fries doused in Old Bay spice and dipped in melty cheese anywhere else? I’m really not sure.
If you’ve never heard of this, then I’m here to introduce you to something awesome. If you DO know what I’m talking about, here’s how you make them at home (with a twist, of course). You can just skip down to the recipe and ignore my explanation of this delectable snack. You know what’s up.
Crab fries are one of my favorite things to order out as a shared munch. My husband and I adore them. All our friends love them. My sisters and I have been known to kill many a basket of said fries in our day. In fact, I don’t know that I’ve ever come across anyone who DIDN’T like crab fries. They’re a shared staple at most social gatherings taking place in bars and restaurants. A pub food must, if you will. They’re called crab fries because they are seasoned with Old Bay spice, which is basically a requirement when cooking/eating fresh crabs on the East coast. If you eat at any of the awesome waterfront places on the Chesapeake Bay, I wouldn’t attempt to order my crabs without it. I don’t know what they would do with such a request.
I’m not sure making such a request would be smart anyway. It is SO good. Peppery, lemony, bold, and just a touch spicy, Old Bay is a unique spice, and it pairs perfectly with buttery seafood. And french fries, apparently. As we all know, french fries are one of those foods that work beautifully as a vehicle for other foods. Melted cheese. Chili. Gravy. I am a huge fan (I inherited this from my mother, who to this day, still steals as many fries off other people’s plates as she possibly can because she tries to be virtuous and not order her own. We’ve had many an argument over this). I love them plain, dipped in ketchup, or smothered in cheese. I’ve never met a fry I didn’t like. Well, that’s not true. I’ve never met a WELL-SEASONED, CRISPY fry I didn’t like. There’s nothing worse than an unsalted or soggy fry, am I right?
These fries, like many a restaurant version, are crisped up and then seasoned thoroughly with salt, pepper, and Old Bay and THEN dunked in warm, gooey beer cheese. Yup. BEER cheese. It’s to die for. I mean, how could it not be?
The beer is my twist on the classic dipping sauce, which is just melted American cheese. It’s perfect in its own right, but my addition of beer adds even more flavor to the situation. And also makes these the perfect accompaniment to an ice cold glass of your favorite brew. Or to a burger (like these I shared earlier this week).
You really can’t go wrong here.
1 bag of frozen french fries**
Old Bay spice, to taste
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon flour
1 garlic clove, pressed or grated
1 cup whole milk
½ cup beer (I used a standard lager)
2 cups shredded American cheese
Dash of hot sauce
Salt and pepper
Spread the fries out on a baking sheet and drizzle lightly with canola or olive oil. Season liberally with salt and pepper and toss with hands to evenly coat all the fries.
Bake according to the package directions, or until golden and crispy. As soon as they come out of the oven, place in a large bowl and douse with Old Bay spice (this is definitely a “to taste” ingredient, so add as much or as little as you like). If needed, sprinkle with more salt. Transfer the seasoned fries to a serving dish and eat while hot.
While the fries are baking, make the sauce by melting the butter over medium heat in a small saucepot.
Grate the garlic into the butter and cook for 30 seconds. Add the flour, stir to combine, and cook for 1 minute. Add the beer and cook until mostly reduced. Slowly whisk in the milk, stirring constantly, and cook until the milk has thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon.
Whisk in the cheese, hot sauce, and season with salt and pepper. Stir until the cheese is melted and the sauce is smooth. Keep warm until ready to serve with the fries.
You can definitely make your own fries. I love this no-fry method for super crispy oven fries. Bake and then toss with the Old Bay once they come out of the oven.