Spiced Sweet Potato Fries
Crisp and perfectly spiced sweet potato fries right out of your oven at home! A healthy treat paired with a quick, 5-ingredient avocado dipping sauce. Vegan & Gluten Free. <jump to recipe>
I don't know about you, but when I first saw sweet potato fries showing up on restaurant menus, I wasn't sure if they were here to stay. An orange vegetable competing with the classic russet? Is this for real?! If I was a betting gal (which I'm not), I would have pegged the odds at 8:1. But that was many years ago and these orange fries are still going strong – it's clear: the sweet potato is here to stay. And understandably so. They've unabashedly stolen my heart. And, based on a completely non-representative sample of my closest friends, I think it's safe to say you love them too.
As you may have guessed, fried foods aren't a regular part of my eating routine. And yes, I'm aware that fries are most often – well, fried. So, I've instead developed a very systematic process for making crispy sweet potato fries at home. These fries are lovingly tossed in a savory blend of spices, before a trip to the oven. Yes friends, these are baked sweet potato fries – and as close as I could get to a crispy version sans deep fryer…which is pretty darn close!
Unless you've been living under a rock, you've probably tried both types of fries (regular and sweet potato). Did you ever notice that even when deep-fried, sweet potato fries aren't as crispy as their regular french fry counterparts? Yah it's the truth. So, I'm not even going to try and convince you that baked sweet potatoes offer a superior crisp to the classic deep-fried french fry. We both know that's not true. Though, I must say, this recipe is the crispest baked version I've come across. And, in the end, the fact that these fries are baked works in our favor. Fries are much easier to prepare in the oven - and since they're healthier, we can eat twice as much. That's how it works, right?
My process for a perfect fry starts on the cutting board. You want to carefully slice your fries into similar sized strips so that they cook evenly. Next, rinse the fries thoroughly under cold water for about a minute or so. It helps to shake the colander / strainer about, so that every fry can get a rinse. When baking with regular potatoes, I tend to do the same – to remove excess starch – and think it helps in the case of a sweet potato fry as well. Some people insist on soaking them in water for a couple hours or more. I've never tried – but I could see it working. I just don't usually have the time / patience for that! My fry cravings are serious, what can I say. Next, after a quick rinse, you'll need to dry the strips thoroughly. Excess moisture will result in a limp fry and nobody wants that.
The balance of the prep can be done on a baking sheet. Or more specifically, two baking sheets. You want to have enough space for your fries to crisp up (on all edges), so they need some space from their fry friends in the oven. Cram them in too close and they'll end up steaming each other as they bake, which will work against the crispiness we're going for. Now for the main event. A mixture of rice flour and a blend of savory spices help to season the fries. Rice flour coats the fries to give them a lovely crisp, and the spices enhance the already great flavor of the sweet potatoes. When I have some on hand, I'll also add in a couple spoonfuls of cornmeal because it helps amplify the crunchy texture. I've listed it as optional, because this recipe still works great without!
Oh and before I forget, let's talk about dip. Some people like to eat sweet potato fries straight up – no dip in sight. I fall into this group about half of the time, especially when it comes to these fries, because the spice blend is super flavorful on its own. And, when I'm craving fries, they tend to be the only think I'm thinking about eating. Food blinders. It happens. But, when I'm feeling like a little more something-something, then I often go for this quick avocado dipping sauce. It's super easy to throw together and requires just five ingredients. This vegan dip is indulgent and creamy without any dairy; and the zing from the lime juice and cilantro pairs surprisingly well with the sweet potatoes. From a nutrition standpoint, it stands head and shoulders over other fry condiments like mayo or ketchup. In fact, the dip is so delicious, I love to use extras on sandwiches, toast, as a dip for veggies…you name it!
SPICED SWEET POTATO FRIES
SERVES 3-4 (vegan, gluten free)
1 1/2 - 1 3/4 lb sweet potatoes (~3 sweet potatoes)
3 tablespoons rice flour
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/8 teaspoon cumin
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
2 tablespoons cornmeal (optional)
2 tablespoons neutral oil (e.g. grapeseed)
Salt (to taste)
Serve with: Quick Avocado Dip (recipe below)
Preheat oven to 425°F. Prepare two baking sheets. For best results use non-stick baking sheets.
Slice sweet potatoes into long, thin fry-sized strips (~¼" - ½" wide). Try to cut the fries as consistently as possible for even cooking. Rinse sliced sweet potatoes under cold water for 1 minute. Toss the pieces around to ensure each one gets a good rinse. Strain.
Dry sweet potatoes thoroughly using a clean kitchen towel. Leave them on the towel while you assemble your other ingredients.
In a small bowl, combine rice flour, onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, cumin, cayenne and cornmeal (if using). Stir to mix.
Spread the sweet potato fries evenly across two baking sheets. Pile the fries in the middle of each sheet for mixing. Pour 1 tablespoon of oil over each pile of fries (2 tablespoons total). Use your hands to mix, ensuring that each fry is coated. Then pour half of the seasoning mixture over each pile of fries. Toss to combine. Once the fries are all covered with seasoning, spread the fries out across the baking sheet. You want a single even layer of fries - avoid any touching or overlapping.
Bake for 25-35 minutes. Bake time will vary based on the size of your fries. Watch carefully throughout the process. Depending on your oven, you might prefer to flip the fries half way through. Once cooked, sprinkle fries with salt to taste.
-For maximum crisp, it is very important that your fries are not overlapping during the baking process! It might seem tedious to organize them into a single, separated layer but it's worth it.
QUICK AVOCADO DIP
(vegan, gluten free)
1 small avocado
1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped
1/2 teaspoon cumin
Juice from 1/2 - 1 lime (to taste)
1/4 teaspoon salt
Combine avocado (pitted and peeled), cilantro, cumin, and lime in a food processor. Process until smooth. Scoop dipping sauce into a serving bowl and add salt to taste.
-If you don't have access to a food processor, you can still make the quick avocado dip without. Use a fork to mash thoroughly; and make sure the cilantro is very finely chopped. The end result won't be as whipped and airy, but it will still taste the same.