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Making good oven fries... is it possible?

I really want to be able to make good oven fries, because frying, to me is a pain, intimidates the crap out of me, and obviously is less healthy! However, none of the oven fries I have made have turned out very good. I've tried several methods, different cuts, different potatoes, different temperatures, etc., etc. to no avail. I want them to be crispy on the outside but not so crispy that they cut the roof of your mouth (these were last night's fries.) So, can you make good oven fries and if so, what are the secret to them?

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  1. Wow, you made oven fries that were so crispy that they cut the roof of your mouth? I am impressed - most of my efforts are too soggy. Have you tried the Cook's Illustrated recipe? Theirs is probably the best.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Anya L

      Yeah, they were weird! Most of my efforts have been too soggy as well, but I left these in a bit longer than the recipe suggested and used egg whites for a coating... I think the egg whites are for more crispiness? No, I haven't tried the CI recipe... I don't subscribe, so I probably can't get the recipe.

    2. I have cooked them long and slow, and high and fast. I have had success with both ways. I roll the potatoes im seasoned olive oil, a very small amount. I spread the fries not touching on parchment paper on a cookie sheet. And I turn them as they brown. I may turn them 3 - 4 times.

      1. I went through a period when I made CI oven fries constantly--it's really more a technique than a recipe. The gist is:

        Peel and slice 3 large russet potatoes into evenly-sized wedges. Shoot for 10 -12 wedges per potato.

        Fill a large bowl with HOT tap water and dump in the potatoes.

        Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 475, and coat a jelly roll pan with 4 tablespoons of canola oil. Sprinkle the pan with course salt, and pepper too if desired.

        When the oven is hot (about 10 min or so), drain the potatoes and dry them well. Toss the potatoes with another tablespoon of oil, so that all of the wedges are well coated.

        Lay the potatoes in the pan in a single layer and cover the pan with a sheet of foil. Crimp the edges of the foil tightly to form a good seal and bake the potatoes for 10 min.

        Remove the foil from the pan and use a spatula to turn the potatoes. Continue baking until the potatoes are golden brown, rotating the pan if needed, between 5 and 15 min (depending on your oven).

        Drain the fries on paper towels and sprinkle with more salt if desired.

        2 Replies
        1. re: gorboduc

          Hmm... the hot tap water idea is a much better idea than what I do, which is to partially cook the potatoes, whole, in boiling water, before cutting into fries. This would save me from burning my fingers while trying to handle hot potatoes - brilliant! Otherwise, I use the same technique as gorboduc describes and my oven fries do come out crispy.

          1. re: gorboduc

            i use a similar method. i may have gotten it from cook's illustrated, but i'm not sure anymore.

            cut the potatoes as close to equal in size pieces as possible. put them in a bowl and fill the bowl with the hottest tap water possible until it covers the potatoes. hold the potatoes in the water for as long as it takes for the oven to preheat (i usually do 425). once the oven is preheated, drain the potatoes, wipe out the bowl with a paper towel to get rid of the residual starch, put the potatoes back in, toss with 2 tbs. of olive oil. generously sprinkle kosher salt on the baking sheet (this helps keep the potatoes from sticking to the pan), arrange the potatoes in a single layer, season with salt and pepper. bake for about 30 min, or until they are golden brown.

          2. I rinse the cut potatoes several times and then let them sit in water for a while, this seems to give a good crispy crust. I'll throw them in a roasting pan and coat with olive oil (or duck fat!) and cook at 400F, maybe throw in some rosemary, garlic, or thyme as they get brown and crispy. If they're thin they'll be crisp through when done, if thick they'll be crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside.

            1. Oven fries are good, but you shouldn't trick yourself into thinking they're "healthier" than deep-fried fries. I assume by "less healthy" you mean "more fatty". Shallow frying or oven-frying gives a vegetable more time to soak up oil than does deep-frying to the same doneness.

              1 Reply
              1. re: noahbirnel

                Very true. If the fat is at the correct temperature and use a thermometer, you can turn out very good crisp non-greasy fries range top. I fry in two batches and use my largest wok. 350 F. for the first fry then drain. 375 F. just before serving. Light crips fries every time.