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
Sweet Potato Fries
- 1½ lb sweet potatoes (about 3 potatoes, see note 1)
- 3 tablespoons rice flour
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- 1 pinch cumin
- 1 pinch cayenne
- 2 tablespoons cornmeal (optional)
- 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
- Fine sea salt (to taste)
Quick Avocado Dip
- 1 small avocado
- 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- Juice from ½ to 1 lime
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
Sweet Potato Fries
- Preheat: Put the racks in the upper- and lower-thirds of the oven and preheat to 425°F (220°C).
- Prep potatoes: Cut sweet potatoes into long fry-size batons (¼- to ½-inch wide). Rinse in a colander, under cold water for 1 minute. Shake to release excess water, then spread over a clean kitchen towel to dry.
- Mix seasoning: In a small bowl, whisk together rice flour, onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, cumin, cayenne and cornmeal (if using).
- Coat potatoes: Line two baking sheets with parchment and divide the sweet potatoes over top. Pour grapeseed oil evenly over potatoes, toss to coat. Sprinkle with the seasoning, toss to coat. Arrange fries into a single layer, with as much space between them as possible (see note 2).
- Bake: Bake until the fries are golden brown on the edges, 25 to 35 minutes, flipping half way. Watch carefully because cook time varies based on the size of your fries. Sprinkle hot fries with salt, to taste.
Quick Avocado Dip
- In a food processor, add avocado, cilantro, cumin, juice from ½ lime, and salt. Process until it is your desired texture. Taste and add more lime juice and/or salt, if needed. Transfer to a bowl for serving with the fries.
- (Not) Peeling: I leave the sweet potatoes with the skin on, but you can peel them if you'd like.
- Space out fries: For maximum crisp, it is 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. If doubling the recipe, you'll probably need to bake the fries in two batches.