How many calories are in a small fries vs a large fries?

When ordering fries at a fast food restaurant, customers are typically given the option of a small, medium, or large sized serving. But with bigger portions often come more calories. So how many extra calories are actually in a large versus a small order of french fries?

What Are French Fries?

French fries, also known as chips, finger chips, or frites, are pieces of potato that have been deep fried in oil. They are a popular fast food item and side dish around the world.

To make french fries, potatoes are peeled, cut into long strips, and soaked in water to remove starch. They are then fried at a high temperature, typically in canola oil or soybean oil. This process crisps up the outer surface into a delicious, golden brown crust.

Traditionally, french fries are salted after cooking. They may also be served with condiments like ketchup, mayonnaise, vinegar, or other sauces. Seasoned fries with spices like onion, garlic, rosemary, or chili powder are also popular.

How Are Fast Food French Fries Made?

French fries from most major fast food chains are made from Russet potatoes. After the potatoes are peeled and cut, they go through a process called blanching. This helps soften the interior of the strips while keeping the outside from absorbing too much oil during frying.

Here are the basic steps for making fast food style french fries:

– Potatoes are peeled, trimmed, and cut into long, thin strips.

– The strips are rinsed in water to remove excess starch. This prevents the fries from turning too brown.

– The cut potatoes are soaked in hot water or steamed. This process is called blanching.

– After blanching, the fries are fried in oil at around 350°F until they become light golden brown. This takes about 3-5 minutes.

– They are drained on a rack or paper towels to remove excess oil.

– For a second frying, the par-fried fries are fried again at higher heat of around 365°F until crispy and golden brown.

– The fries are salted immediately after cooking while still hot. Any additional seasonings or condiments are also added.

How Are Fast Food French Fry Sizes Determined?

Fast food restaurants use the following general guidelines for fry sizes:

– Small: approximately 2.4 oz (68 g)

– Medium: approximately 3.2 oz (91 g)

– Large: approximately 6.4 oz (182g)

However, portions can vary slightly between different restaurant chains. For example:

– McDonald’s small fries weigh 2.4 oz (68 g)

– McDonald’s large fries weigh 5.2 oz (148 g)

– Burger King small fries weigh 2.1 oz (59 g)

– Burger King large fries weigh 4.3 oz (121 g)

– Wendy’s small fries weigh 2.4 oz (68 g)

– Wendy’s large fries weigh 4.4 oz (124 g)

As you can see, the weight ranges are close, but a small at one chain may not be exactly the same as a small at another.

How Many Calories in Small vs Large Fries?

Using nutritional data from popular fast food chains, here is an overview of the typical calories in small versus large servings of french fries:


– Small fries (2.4 oz): 220 calories

– Large fries (5.2 oz): 510 calories

Burger King

– Small fries (2.1 oz): 240 calories

– Large fries (4.3 oz): 460 calories


– Small fries (2.4 oz): 270 calories

– Large fries (4.4 oz): 500 calories


On average, a small order of fries from most major chains contains about 230-270 calories.

A large order of fries contains about 460-510 calories.

So by upsizing your fries to a large, you are adding about 230-240 extra calories.

Detailed Calorie Breakdown

Here is more detailed calorie information on small versus large fry sizes for 3 major fast food chains.

McDonald’s French Fry Nutrition

Size Weight Calories
Small 2.4 oz (68 g) 220
Medium 2.6 oz (73 g) 250
Large 5.2 oz (148 g) 510

As shown, a McDonald’s large order of fries contains over double the calories compared to a small size.

Burger King French Fry Nutrition

Size Weight Calories
Small 2.1 oz (59 g) 240
Medium 2.8 oz (79 g) 340
Large 4.3 oz (121 g) 460

At Burger King, the calorie difference between a small and large fry is 220 calories.

Wendy’s French Fry Nutrition

Size Weight Calories
Small 2.4 oz (68 g) 270
Medium 3.1 oz (88 g) 380
Large 4.4 oz (124 g) 500

Wendy’s small versus large nets a 230 calorie difference.

Reasons for Calorie Differences

There are two main reasons why large fries contain significantly more calories than a small serving:

1. Increased Portion Size

Larger fry sizes simply contain more potatoes, which translates to more calories. For example, a McDonald’s large is 5.2 ounces compared to just 2.4 ounces for a small. That’s over double the amount of fries.

Even going from a small to a medium size fry leads to extra calories, with a medium weighing 2.6-3.2 ounces at most places.

2. More Surface Area

When fries have more surface area exposed, they absorb more oil during frying. Larger portions means more surface area.

More oil absorption leads to more fat and calories per serving. Even though the fries are made from the same ingredients, the larger quantity absorbs more oil, increasing the calorie count.

Tips for Cutting Calories on Fries

If you want to indulge in fries but avoid overdoing the calories, here are some tips:

– Stick to a small fries instead of upsizing to medium or large.

– Order a side salad instead of fries if you want something lighter.

– Share your fries with a friend to portion control.

– Ask for lower calorie fry preparation methods like baked, air fried, or oven-roasted.

– Dip fries lightly in ketchup or sauce instead of dunking to limit excess calories.

– Substitute a lower calorie side like apple slices, cottage cheese, or yogurt.

The Healthiest Way to Enjoy French Fries

While french fries are best enjoyed in moderation, here are some tips for lightening them up:

– Opt for oven-baked fries instead of deep-fried. Use a small amount of olive oil spray instead of frying.

– Make them from sweet potatoes. Sweet potato fries have more vitamins, minerals, and fiber.

– Use healthier oils like olive, avocado or coconut oil if you do fry them. They have more monounsaturated fats.

– Coat fries in seasonings over salt. Try paprika, chili powder, rosemary, oregano, or garlic powder.

– Eat small portions and savor them. Slowing down can help you feel satisfied with less.

– Pair fries with veggies or a salad for more nutrition.


While an occasional indulgence in french fries is perfectly fine, it’s best to stick to small portions to keep calories in check. A small order of fries ranges from 220-270 calories at most fast food chains, while a large can add over 230 extra calories in one serving. Following healthy frying methods and seasoning tricks can also help lighten up this tasty treat.

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