If there’s any food I could make with my eyes closed, it’s fries. Old classic French fries and crispy sweet potato fries. No, I’m not addicted to them. I’ve just prepared them so many times that I have a very set formula for making the recipe. I’m not sure you can even call it a recipe – you just throw a few things together and bake the potatoes into a crispy perfection. Yes, bake them.
While you certainly can deep-fry your potatoes, I’m not a big fan of plunging something into a huge vat of oil. Why? Well, while deep-frying does provide great crunch and crispiness, it’s not the healthiest cooking method out there. Is it possible to achieve the same crispiness without deep-frying? Hmm, not exactly, but close. Achieving crispy sweet potato fries without frying is definitely a challenge. Since sweet potatoes are a whooping 75% water, it can be difficult to get them as crispy as regular potato fries. If you’ve ever tried baking sweet potatoes into fries, you know what I’m talking about.
That being said, there are so many brands of bake-able sweet potato fries in the freezer section of any grocery store that I knew it was possible to make them crispy sweet potato fries. The frustrating part was that I knew how the sweet potato fries were supposed to taste, but they just didn’t. So I looked at the backs of all the bags I could find, and made about fifty batches of baked sweet potato fries with various success. (I wasn’t lying when I said I could make them with my eyes closed). Finally, I settled on a recipe that came pretty close to my idea of super crispy sweet potato fries.
Here are some of my tips and tricks for making crispy oven-baked fries – some of which I’ve already shared in my Crispy Baked Veggie Chips recipe.
Tips for Crispy Baked Sweet Potato Fries
Cut them even – cut the potatoes into 1/4-inch by 1/4-inch size as evenly as possible. If you cut the fries too thick, they’ll not crisp up properly. If you cut them too thin, they’ll be too floppy for dipping.
Soak them in water – the reason you need to soak the potatoes is to release some of the excess starch into the water. The starch in potatoes hinders water from escaping and leaves more moisture in the potatoes. I know it’s an extra step, but please don’t skip it.
Dehydrate or at least dry thoroughly – after soaking, draining, and rinsing your potatoes, dry them thoroughly. If you have a dehydrator, use it. By dehydrating the potatoes for a couple of hours, you’ll draw even more moisture out (don’t dehydrate them any longer than 1-2 hours though because they’ll still lose water while baking). You can also use your oven as a dehydrator – just make sure the temperature is set below 150 °F. If you don’t have a dehydrator, pat the potatoes dry either with a regular kitchen towel or a paper towel.
Use a little bit of corn starch – so we’ve just removed starch by soaking the potatoes and now we’re adding it back? Yup. The cornstarch creates a super thin layer of coating that the heat grabs on to and helps to crisp up the fries. The coating should be so thin that you can’t see any starch on the potatoes. Don’t cover the potatoes in starch! Seriously. If you do, you’ll taste starch instead of sweet potatoes and you’ll have to throw the entire batch of fries out. I’ve made this mistake a couple of times so trust me on this one.
Add oil, seasonings, but no salt – use any seasonings you like, just omit the salt. While salting regular potatoes before baking is usually fine, sweet potatoes are a different story. Salt softens up the sweet potato fries, yielding limp fries.
Use a cooling rack or parchment paper – I’ve experimented with different baking surfaces and found that both a cooling rack and parchment paper work the best. They both allow for even air circulation and don’t prevent moisture from escaping the potatoes. Foils and waxed surfaces, on the other hand, trap the moisture and steam the potatoes instead. If you absolutely have to use a baking sheet or a foil, coat these surfaces with quite a bit of oil so the fries “fry” rather than steam.
Space them out – spacing the potatoes out is so important because it prevents them from steaming. How? Well, if the potatoes are too close or even worse – touching each other – the water vapor surrounds them and steams the fries. The fries should be in a single layer so that all fries get the same amount of direct heat.
Don’t crowd the oven – the same principle applies to the entire oven. If you have a small oven, you might need to bake only one batch of fries at a time. You don’t want too much vapor releasing from too many potatoes. If you do bake several batches at once, at least make sure they aren’t above each other to allow for proper air circulation. And never ever cook anything else in the oven with the fries.
Turn them half way through – flipping the fries will ensure that both sides are baked evenly. This step isn’t really necessary if you’re using a cooling rack, but definitely helps if you’re using parchment paper. I use my bare hands to flip the fries, but you can use any kitchen tool that does the job.
I know. Making homemade oven-baked fries involves a lot of steps, but it’s totally worth it! Don’t forget to leave a comment if you try this recipe. I would love to know you liked it.