How to Make Healthy Homemade French Fries That Taste Like the Real Thing (No Special Appliances Required)

Because every day should be a fry-day.

We get it. You love French fries—but the thought of standing over the stove or a deep fryer, fussing with a giant pot of sizzling oil doesn't exactly entice you to try making them at home.

The good news? When done right, oven fries can give their deep-fried counterparts a run for their money. So go ahead and crank the heat—or fire up your air fryer—as you follow these six smart rules of thumb.

RELATED: The 9 Commandments for Cooking Perfectly Crispy Oven-Roasted Potatoes

01 of 08

Think thin.

French fries with herbs
Gary Moss Photography/Getty Images

Thick-cut steakhouse fries have their place. But if it's crispy little batons you're craving, your best bet is to use ½- to ¼-inch slices, which will yield fries with a more even ratio of crispy skin to soft interior, thanks to a form of browning called the Maillard reaction. Slicing fries by hand is easy with a little practice—but if you're a real stickler for consistency (or just eat a lot of fries!), invest in a dedicated fry slicer.

RELATED: This Is the Best (and Only) Way to Make Potatoes in Your Air Fryer

02 of 08

Soak…or steam.

steam

Oven fries are easy—but adding just one extra step to the prep process can have a tremendous effect on their texture. Some cooks swear by pre-soaking fries in cool water for 30 minutes, which draws out water and starch from the spuds, making them less susceptible to steaming (and sogginess). Others insist that a quick steam before the trip to the oven achieves the same results—plus extra tender centers.

03 of 08

Dry and dry again.

kitchen towel

Whether you steam or soak, give your fries a thorough toweling off before sending them into the oven—or better yet, pat them off and then let them air dry for another 15 minutes. Water + heat = steam. And too much steam leads to sogginess.

04 of 08

Crank it up.

oven

Say it after me: hot, hot, hot! Crank your oven up to 450 F and preheat your baking sheet—this is one of our favorite hacks for roasting vegetables. The tray should be blazing hot before your potatoes hit it. Then, bake the fries for 15 to 20 minutes, toss them around, and turn the oven to 500 F for the final 10 minutes.

05 of 08

Make room.

Spicy Molasses-Roasted Sweet Potatoes
These satisfying wedges are slightly charred on the outside and deliciously creamy in the center. Look for sweet potatoes that are firm without bruises for best results. Serve with grilled steak for a simple weeknight dinner. Get the recipe:Molasses-and-Chile Roasted Sweet Potatoes. Caitlin Bensel

Your spuds just want some space. Evenly-distributed heat and air circulation around the surface of the fries is essential to achieving crispy exteriors. Cramming them onto the baking sheet haphazardly is a surefire way to get inferior results. Aim for one even layer with at least 1/4-inch of space between each piece.

RELATED: How You Arrange Your Oven Racks Can Make You a Better Cook

06 of 08

Seize the seasoning.

fries

French fries without salt are like soft serve without sprinkles. This is no place for moderation.

07 of 08

Add garlic and herbs.

fries

This is a little bonus for those who like to add aromatics (we love rosemary and garlic) to your oven fries. If you're feeling fancy, sprinkle on some herbes de Provence and flaky sea salt. To avoid ending up with burnt-on garlic flavor, sauté minced garlic with herbs until it starts to take on a golden color. Strain the oil from the solids—this way, you can toss the flavored oil with your potatoes and add those aromatics to your perfectly crispy potatoes at the end.

08 of 08

Our Favorite Oven Fries

Oven Fries With Garlic Aioli
Bob Hiemstra

Now that you're a pro and making oven fries, try making these incredible delicious oven fries with garlic aioli. As you roast the potatoes in the oven, you'll mix up an easy dipping sauce made from mayonnaise, lemon juice, garlic, paprika, and salt.

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