Are you even ready to learn how to make the perfect oven-baked french fry? I've been struggling for years to crack the code on this. I've done oven-baked before but they never turn out crispy, or they're undercooked, or they're crispy but overcooked. I gave up some time ago and just succumbed to the deep fryer. The thing is, there is nothing wrong with deep-fried fries, in fact they are quite delicious. But the amount of oil needed, the obvious health trade-off for that deliciousness, and the clean-up has always turned me off. Then there are store-bought bag fries: Passable, but not GREAT.
Enter what I believe to be the end-all-be-all of oven baked fry recipes. The fries come out perfectly seasoned, crispy on the outside, and soft and pillowy(is that a word?) on the inside. With a few key ingredients and some new techniques that I learned, you'll never go back to store-bought fries again.
- CHEF TIPS:
Adding vinegar to the water after it boils is key. It helps the potatoes hold their shape before you put them in the oven
- Salting the water is also non-negotiable. You will really taste the seasoning the in the finished product. Aim for about 3 large pinches for one quart of water.
- Don't overcrowd your sheet pan. The fries must be spaced out in order to brown properly.
- Don't rinse or soak your peeled potatoes unless there is obvious dirt on them. The starch helps them brown and you don't want to wash any of that off.
- Be sure to let your potatoes sit in a separate pan or large mixing bowl to dry a bit before you throw them in the oven. Moisture is the enemy that will prevent crispy fries! I even went so far as to put them on a second sheet tray and let them sit in the oven for a couple of minutes while it's pre-heating.
PERFECT OVEN BAKED FRENCH FRIES:
- 4 Russet Potatoes (Yukon Gold Also Work)
- 1 tbsp Vinegar
- 3 tbsp salt (about 3 large pinches)
- 3-4 tbsp oil(OVOO will work, peanut oil or avocado oil are ideal)
- Preheat your oven as high as it will go. I did mine at 550. 450 is totally cool.
- Bring a quart of water to boil
- Peel your potatoes (or leave them skin-on) and cut into french fry shapes
- Add the salt and vinegar to your boiling water. CAREFULLY add the cut potatoes. Remember that the water is boiling. If you're gonna dump them out of a bowl or sheet pan, make sure you do it SLOWLY and AWAY from you. Use the bowl/pan to protect your face.
- Let the potatoes boil covered for 8-12 minutes. Timing will all depend on how thick you cut them. You want them to be JUST about to fall apart(but not falling apart). The vinegar will help them keep their shape but make sure you keep your eye on them or you'll be making mashed potatoes instead). I checked them at 8 minutes and then every minute or so after to make sure I didn't take them too far.
- Dump the potatoes into a large mixing bowl or (ideally) spread them out onto a second baking sheet and let them steam for a few minutes. This will help them dry. As I said earlier, I put mine in the (heated) oven for 2 minutes. That seemed to work well
- Transfer your potatoes to a bare baking sheet and toss with the oil. Make sure all sides are covered and, if you did it right, the oil should leave a light coat on your pan. Resist the urge to lay down foil, the thin layer of oil should make clean-up a snap. Make sure your potatoes are spaced out. This is KEY for proper browning. If you have too many potatoes, cook in batches.
Bake for 15 minutes and check them. They aren't done yet but you should see some blistering and crisping of the pan-side. Flip your potatoes and let them cook for another 5-15 minutes depending on your temperature. At 550, I let mine cook for 8 more minutes. 450 should be another 15.
- Check your fries. YES it's ok to grab one and toss it in your mouth (just make sure it's cooled off. If they're done, dump them into a large mixing bowl that you lined with a paper towel (to soak up extra oil) and toss with a pinch or two of salt. If you did it right, the outside should be crispy, the inside soft and pillowy, and the seasoning noticeable all the way through the fry.
- While these can hang out for 5-10 minutes, they are best if served hot(immediately). Enjoy!