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Sweet Potato Fries – The Quest for Crispy (FAK Friday)
How To Make Perfect Sweet Potato Fries
Tips, Tricks, and Techniques
- Preheat the oven – I found my fries baked perfectly between 425f. – 450f.. This temperature may vary depending on your oven, and also the pans you bake your fries on. I found with a black, non-stick coated pan, 425f. was plenty hot enough. With a thicker, non-coated pan, 450f. was the right temperature. Use an oven thermometer to make sure the temperature is correct – it isn’t uncommon for an oven to be as much as 30-40 degrees off.
- Use the right baking sheet – I found that a heavy-bottomed baking sheet with a shinier (not coated) surface did the best job making crispy fries. If you’re using a flimsier tray, try reducing the oven temperature a little and increasing the bake time.
- Cut the potatoes into evenly sized fries – this way they cook at an even rate. I found that the best size was just under half an inch thick. Much thicker and they didn’t get crisp, much thinner and they burned. Peeling the potato first is up to you, but keep in mind there’s a lot of good flavor (not to mention nutrients) in the skin. I also found the skin gave a better crunch to the fries. Just be sure to wash your potato and dry it well if you plan to leave the skin on.
- Use enough oil – one of the main reasons to make fries in the oven instead of the fryer is because they’re so much healthier, but that doesn’t mean you can avoid the oil all together. It does mean you can use healthier oil, though, like olive oil or coconut oil. Once the fries are cut, toss them in 1-2 TBSP to coat. Be sure to grease the pan, too, to keep them from sticking (or you could use parchment paper – I found it didn’t make much difference in terms of crispiness).
- Seasoning – After coating the fries in oil is the perfect time to season them, because the oil will help it stick. A pinch of salt is a must, but the flavor possibilities are truly endless. If you’re in the mood for something spicy, try a bit of chili powder or cayenne pepper. Want something sweet? A dash of cinnamon goes a long way. Some of my favorites are cumin and coriander, rosemary or sage, curry powder, paprika, garlic powder, and even nutmeg. Use whatever flavors call to you!
- Spread the fries into an even layer – space the fries out on the baking sheet with a bit of room between each one. If the fries are crowding the pan they’ll steam themselves and become soggy instead of crispy. If you’re making a lot of fries, use two trays, or do them in batches. (Don’t put more than two trays in the oven at once, or else the amount of steam may cause them to get soggy.)
- Bake in the upper 1/3rd of the oven – you want the oven to be hot, but if the fries are too close to the heating element (at the bottom of most ovens) they may get burnt. I found keeping them on the top, or second to top rack, helped tremendously.
- Flip the fries every 10-15 minutes – this will help them cook evenly, and also ensure they get caramelized all ’round. The side of each fry touching the pan will have the most browning, while the side on top will have a chance to dry out and release steam. Both are important! If you’re using two trays, be sure to swap their positions in the oven at this time, too. (I found my fries took about 30-35 minutes, though your time may vary depending on your oven, baking sheet, and the thickness of your fries.)
- If you’re using a gas oven – depending on your oven, you may find it necessary to crack the door ever few minutes, just for a moment, to let some of the steam out. Don’t leave the door open for a long period of time, though, because you don’t want the heat to dissipate!
- Once the fries are out of the oven – move them immediately to a cooling rack so that air can circulate around them. Keep them spaced out in a single layer (not piled on top of each other) so that they’ll hold on to the crispy exterior.
- Devour immediately – it doesn’t need to be said, but fries are best eaten fresh. Fresh, and before anyone else has a chance to get to them.