Everything you need to know to celebrate National French Fry Day at your own dinner table.

By Sarah Karnasiewicz
Updated July 13, 2015
Gary Moss Photography/Getty Images

We get it. You love French fries—but not the thought of standing over the stove, tussling with a giant pot of sizzling oil. The good news? When done right, simple oven fries can give their deep-fried counterparts a run for their money. Here, six rules of thumb:

Gary Moss Photography/Getty Images

Think thin.

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. 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.

Soak…or 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, a process 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.

Dry and dry again.

Whether you steam or soak, make sure to 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. Steam = sogginess. And, again, sogginess is the enemy.

Crank it up.

Say it after me: hot, hot, hot! Before you get down to business, crank your oven up to 450 degrees and preheat your baking sheet. 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 degrees for the final 10 minutes of cooking.

Make room.

Your spuds just want some space. Because even 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. Instead, aim for one even layer with at least ¼-inch of space between each piece.

Seize the seasoning.

French fries without salt are like soft serve without sprinkles. This is no place for moderation. If you’re feeling fancy, sprinkle some herbes de Provence or minced garlic over them with coarse sea salt. Whatever your approach, season generously and savor every bite.