If you’ve experimented with cooking your own French fries in the oven only to be disappointed with soggy and limp strips of potato, these tips are for you.
We all know that oven-baking fries are a much healthier alternative compared with deep frying, but most people believe that the fluffy interior and crispy exterior that fries are famed for can only be achieved with deep frying.
In fact, by preparing your fries in a specific way, you can get crispy fries baked in the oven. Here we look at how to get oven fries crispy and perfectly cooked.
Quick Tips for Crispy Oven Fries
Choosing the best sort of potato for fries will make it much easier to achieve a crisp skin. The two best types of potato for making oven fries are Russet and Maris, and Piper.
Starchy potatoes make for soggy fries. Remove the starch by submerging chopped potatoes in cold water for at least 30 minutes.
Absorb Excess Moisture
If potatoes are wet when they go into the oven, they are going to steam cook instead of bake. Dry off all the excess moisture from your raw fries by patting them with a paper towel.
Coating fries in oil ensures they develop a crispy coating. Sunflower oil, vegetable oil and canola oil are all good options.
A preheated oven provides a consistent temperature for the fries to bake in, helping them become crispy instead of soggy.
Best Potatoes for Fries
Before you embark on your oven-baked French fry recipe, you’ll need to select the best potatoes for the job. Russet potatoes and Maris Pipers are considered to be the gold standard for making fries that are fluffy on the inside and crispy on the outside, so these will be your best option.
They make good fries because the flesh of these potatoes holds less moisture and is known to be floury. This means they are less likely to become soggy in the oven, and they will result in light-textured fries. The skin on these types of potatoes also tends to be quite thick, which will add a nice crunchy texture when the fries are baked.
Preparation is Key
When most people attempt to bake fries in the oven they simply chop up their potatoes and throw them onto a baking tray before putting them right into the oven. There are a number of tricks you can try to get your oven fries crispy, but the single biggest thing that will make the most difference to your final dish is preparing the fries by removing the starch.
Potatoes are high in starch, and when starch is subjected to high temperatures it will make the potatoes go gooey and mushy. This is the exact opposite of how we want our fries to be. The best way to remove as much starch as possible is to rest your potatoes in a bowl of cold water after you have chopped them into fries.
A minimum of 30 minutes in cold water is recommended, but if you have time then longer will be even better. The cold water draws the starch out of the potatoes, and you’ll notice when you drain them afterward that the water will feel thick and gloopy. This is because much of the starch from the potatoes is now in the water.
It’s important to dry your potatoes with a cloth or paper towel after they have been immersed in the water, because if they are too wet then they will steam in the oven which will make them mushy. You want the potatoes to have a low starch content, and be very dry, in order to get the crispy effect we all want from our French fries.
Best Oil for Oven Baking Fries
Another key factor in getting your fries perfectly crisped in the oven is using the right oil. You want an oil that doesn’t have a strong taste because its purpose is to help create texture rather than flavor. The oil also needs to have a high burning point, to ensure it doesn’t start smoking when put into a hot oven.
Though olive oil has a nice, mild flavor, it isn’t good for cooking fries in the oven because it will start to smoke when it gets hot, and this isn’t going to help your fries get crispy. Instead, opt for vegetable oil, sunflower oil, or canola oil. All of these will work well because they don’t have strong flavors, and they have high burning points which means they won’t smoke.
To prepare your fries with oil before they go into the oven, drizzle your bowl of raw fries with oil and give the bowl a good shake. You want to get as much of the surface of the potatoes oiled up as possible, to create the best crispy coating on the cooked fries.
The oil should also help to prevent the fries from sticking to the baking tray, but it’s a good idea to line your tray with parchment paper to eliminate any chance of this happening.
Pre-Heating for Fries
For the vast majority of oven recipes, you’ll need to preheat the oven before you put any food in to cook. This is true when oven-baking fries, because cooking at temperature will help to crisp up the fries.
You can help this process by warming up your oven tray before putting your raw fries onto it. Simply lay the tray inside the oven while it is pre-heating, and this will heat the tray up. When the fries are added to the tray, they will begin the cooking process immediately.
Space Your Fries
When baking fries in the oven it is essential that each fry has its own space. If you load up a tray with too many fries they are going to overlap and this will prevent them from cooking properly.
You want each fry to have good air circulation around it so that its skin can crisp up. This might mean using two baking trays in the oven at the same time if you’re making a lot of fries.
Can You Double Cook Oven Fries?
Some of the best fries which have been cooked in a deep-fat fryer will have been twice-cooked. This is a popular method that results in a fluffy middle with a deeply crispy outer layer. Interestingly, this is a cooking practice you can replicate even when baking your fries in the oven. To do this, you’ll want to split your baking time in half.
If your fries were going to be cooked for 30 minutes, this means cooking in two 15-minute slots. For the first 15 minutes, cook the fries at a lower temperature of around 360°F, and then for the final 15 minutes ramp the temperature up to 400°F. This will ensure the middle is properly cooked, while also getting a crispy outer layer.
Alternatively, part-bake your fries in the oven and then freeze them for use at a later date. When you want to serve them, bake them in the oven at 400°F for 10 to 15 minutes, and enjoy the twice-baked results.