I have a tendency to be a sucker for french fries. I never buy them because a whole serving of fries is just too greasy and makes me feel sick. But when I’m with someone who buys some, I can’t help myself. I always ask, and they always say yes, and I always eat some. I savor every salty bite, slathered in ketchup (and mustard), then lick every last bit of salt from my greasy fingertips. Fortunately there’s a healthier option to french fries that I can eat more than my fair share of. We make oven fries at least once a week, and this version is my favorite.
I don’t know if any of you like limp fries, but just the two words together make me shudder! Limp, wimpy fries are not acceptable in the Johnson household. I shun them!!!
The key to getting a good crisp on both sides of your oven fries is to put them on a wire rack on the cookie sheet. This allows the hot air to circulate around the fries and makes them a little lighter and airier. It does take a few minutes longer than fries cooked directly on the cookie sheet, but I prefer it because I don’t have to remember to flip the fries or worry about the side touching the sheet burning while the other side is undercooked.
Another vital key to crispy oven fries is to salt them right before you eat them. Salt draws out water, if you salt your potatoes before you put them in the oven, you’ll end up sad soggy potato sticks. Wait until just before bringing them to the table and then use a salt of your choice. Plain table salt is traditional, but kosher salt adds a nice texture and truffle salt makes them taste amazing!!!
I like to pack a lot of flavor in my fries with healthy things like garlic and herbs so that we don’t need to use a lot of salt. But I’ve learned to add the seasonings after the fries are mostly cooked. When you are baking the fries at a high temperature, tiny pieces of garlic and herbs will burn long before the fries are done.
This is also why you need to use an oil with a high smoke point. I’ve recently become a big fan of coconut oil because of its health benefits, but the stuff’s not cheap. The best price I’ve found for good coconut oil is at Tropical Traditions, which often runs specials. If money is tight for you, I’d suggest canola oil for making your fries. Unlike olive oil which would fill your kitchen with smoke so thick you can practically grab it (yes, that is the voice of experience you hear), an oil like canola or coconut oil lets you use higher temperatures so your fries can cook faster and get crispier.
Now the hardest part of making fries is the timing. You want to be able to serve the fries right after they come out of the oven because they get soggier as they sit. This takes time to figure out. The oven time I list in the recipe is perfect for my oven, but when I made these on our California trip, they took only 7 minutes and started to burn!!! If your fries are finished before the rest of your food, just leave them on their racks on the tray, but turn the oven off. The residual heat should keep them warm without burning them.
Whatever you do, DON’T cover the fries to try and keep them warm!!! (Yes, the sad voice of experience once again as I mourn the batch of fries I ruined) Covering them traps in steam which will then steam your lovely crispy fries and turn them into rubbery potato nightmares.
Now the good news, these are way healthier for you than regular french fries. They’re cooked in A LOT less oil and made from red potatoes. Red potatoes have some great nutrition and quite a bit of protein and fiber. Woo-hoo for oven fries!
Okay, let’s talk. What do you think makes a perfect fry?
Garlic and Herb Oven FriesPrep time: 15 minutes Cook time: 10-15 minutes Total time: 25-30 minutes Yield: 4-6 servings
small red potatoes, washed and dried
- 2 TBS
oil with a high smoke point (canola, coconut, etc)
cloves of garlic, minced
- 2 TBS (dried) or 4 TBS (fresh)
assorted herbs (rosemary, oregano, sage, thyme, etc)
- 1 tsp
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Slice potatoes into thin wedges.
- Place potato slices in a large bowl with the oil and use your hands to toss them until they’re well coated.
- Place slices on a wire rack and place the rack on a cookie sheet (you may need two racks and cookie sheets).
- Cook for 8-10 minutes until just golden. Sprinkle with garlic and herbs.
- Cook another 2-5 minutes (taste one to see if it’s crispy enough). Sprinkle with salt and serve.
Approximate cost/serving: Potatoes are cheap baby! The herbs were from my garden so this cost me just $1.60 for 4 people (huge servings). That’s just 40 cents a serving. Cheaper than fast food, and better for you.