That fast food classic just got a healthier makeover. Oven baked french fries are deliciously salty & brown around the edges. Serve with ketchup & malt vinegar for dipping.
A basket of fries, hot out of the restaurant fryer, is perfection. Dunking them into ketchup in between bites of a sandwich is pleasure incarnate.
But at home, I’m just not into deep-frying. Vats of bubbling oil are messy. Splattering is painful.
So when the urge for potato-y goodness strikes, I do one of two things. I either air fry frozen fries, or I bake my own hand-cut fries in the oven.
Packaged fries have already been fried before freezing. So they have oil built right into them.
That means when you air fry them, they don’t need any added oil. It’s already there. It also means they come out crisp from the air fryer like restaurant-style fries.
However, baking fries is healthier, because you can use a lot less oil. It’s also a great way to use an inexpensive pantry staple.
Plus, with hand cut fries, you can leave the peel on, which has added nutrients.
There’s no reason you have to choose just one way!
There are times when I’m in the mood for oven baked french fries that let the potato aspect really shine. And there are times when I crave something a little junkier. Both options are totally valid!
Keep in mind that oven baked french fries are roasted, not deep-fried. So they’re never going to be as oily & crisp on the outside as their deep fried counterpart. But they are still delicious.
And there are some steps you can take to make your oven baked french fries as crisp as possible.
How to get crispier baked fries
Don’t overcrowd the baking sheet
The fries shouldn’t touch each other. And there should be room to spread out. If there are too many fries & they are too close, they will steam instead of roast.
Err on the side of caution and use two baking sheets, if needed.
Use parchment paper
Parchment paper does a great job of browning fries & keeping them from sticking to the pan without gobs of oil. If fries stick, all of the beautiful toasty parts get left behind on the baking sheet, and that’s where the magic lives.
Avoid silicone mats like Silpat
In theory, Silpat is a good idea because you can wash & reuse it. However, while it will keep fries from sticking, potatoes won’t brown well on it, because it insulates the baking sheet.
Consider the type of baking sheet you’re using
Some baking sheets conduct heat better than others. That makes a difference when you’re trying to roast vegetables.
I’ve personally had much better luck with those two-pack non-stick steel baking sheets than aluminum ones. If your vegetables aren’t browning well, try a different kind of baking sheet and see if it helps.
Use the bottom rack of the oven
You’ll get better browning if the baking sheet is closer to the heat source. So if you’re just using one baking sheet, put it on the bottom rack. If you’re using two, rotate half way through, so that both sheets have a chance to get close to the heat source.
Slice the potato thinner for crispier fries
Thickly cut fries are going to have a higher ratio of potato to crispy exterior. So if you want them crispier, lean towards thinner sticks of potato.
Be aware that they will likely require less time in the oven, though, and keep an eye on them at the end.
Soak the fries first to remove excess starch
Put the freshly cut potatoes into a bowl of water for 10 to 30 minutes. Then dump out the water. You’ll actually see all of the starch sitting at the bottom of the bowl.
Give the potatoes a rinse. Then completely dry them on a clean kitchen towel before moving them to a baking sheet. If they’re not totally dry, they won’t brown well.
Note about soaking: This is something I rarely do. I don’t feel like it makes a big enough difference in light of the time and hassle it adds. So if you’re okay with “good enough,” skip it. (The fries in these pictures were not soaked.)
Preparing & cutting the fries
I prefer to leave the peel on for fries. It is quicker and less taxing. Plus, I like the texture, added nutrients, and homey appearance. However, if you’re not a fan, simply peel them first.
Then use a sharp kitchen knife to cut Russet potatoes into ½ inch thick sticks.
There are also lots of French fry cutters on the market, if you’d prefer to use a gadget. But I find a knife works fine. Just try to keep the fries the same general size, so that they cook evenly.
Toss the potato sticks with oil, and spread them out on a parchment paper covered baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and a dash of paprika, if you like.
Bake at 420 degrees for a half an hour, stopping a few times to flip them.
Make them your own
Make these baked fries your own by sprinkling on herbs & seasonings after tossing them in oil. Granulated onion, garlic powder, parsley, curry powder, and/or pepper are all good options.
Jazz them up with unique toppings:
- Chili cheese fries (Just replace the tots with fries in these chili cheese tater tots)
- Buffalo fries with buffalo Soy Curls and non-dairy blue cheese
- Philly cheesesteak fries with jackfruit, sautéed peppers & onions, and vegan cheese
- Reuben fries with corned jackfruit, non-dairy Provolone, sauerkraut, and vegan Thousand Island dressing
- Nacho fries with spicy black beans, salsa, and shredded non-dairy cheese
- Vegan poutine with easy vegan gravy and vegan feta cheese
- Baked potato-style with seitan bacon, non-dairy sour cream, chives, and shredded vegan cheese
Easy oven baked french fries
- Preheat oven to 420 degrees. Line one or two baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Put potato sticks onto baking sheet and toss with oil. Spread the sticks evenly across the baking sheet, being careful that the potatoes aren't overlapped or touching. If there's not enough room, put half of the potato pieces on the second baking sheet. Top the potatoes with a pinch of salt & sprinkling of paprika (optional).
- Put the baking sheet(s) into the oven. Roast the potatoes for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and toss with a spatula for even browning. Roast for another 5 minutes. Remove from oven & toss again. Put back in the oven and roast a final 5 minutes. (The fries will bake 30 minutes in total.)
- Remove from oven and serve with your choice of dipping sauce. Add an additional pinch of salt, if desired.
Content, photos, and recipe updated May 2020. Originally posted September 2011.