How to make cripsy french fries in an air fryer

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How to make cripsy french fries in an air fryer
Season your french fries after cooking to add some extra flavor. Karl Tapales/Getty Images
  • An air fryer can make crispier french fries than an oven, and in half the time.
  • Aim for fries that are uniform in size, coated in just enough oil, and spread out in a single layer.
  • The air fryer can also crisp up frozen french fries, and chefs advise seasoning them after cooking.

It's a common misconception that you ​​need a deep fryer to achieve perfectly crispy, golden french fries. Thanks to the constant circulation of super-hot air, an air fryer can produce fries that rival your favorite restaurant's. According to Jose Mendoza, head chef of the Great Oak Steakhouse at Pechanga Resort Casino, there plenty of perks that come with air frying your fries.

  • Quicker than the oven: The air fryer doesn't require reheating, and the fries only take 20 minutes to cook, which is about half the time they'd take in the oven.
  • Super crispy results: Hot air is blasting the potatoes from all sides in the air fryer, which can make them crispier than when they're baked on a sheet pan in the oven.
  • Less oil: Air fryers rely on the circulation of hot air rather than hot oil to produce crispy fries - meaning you can use way less fat to get just as much crunch factor.
  • Cook more evenly: Conventional ovens have hotter and cooler spots throughout, which can cause the fries to cook unevenly - but since air fryers are much smaller, you're more likely to get consistent results.

What you need

  • Potatoes: Chef Diana Manalang of Little Chef Little Café recommends using russet potatoes. Since they're high in starch and low in moisture, they tend to produce much crispier fries. Yukon gold potatoes are another good choice, with a somewhat firmer interior and naturally buttery flavor. Mendoza notes that sweet potatoes crisp up nicely in the air fryer as well.
  • Oil: While olive oil and canola oil will work just fine, avocado oil is Manalang's top choice since it has a high smoke point and is heart-healthy.
  • Seasoning: Salt and pepper are obviously a must if you're going for simple fries, but Manalang suggests using garlic, onion, and paprika or a barbecue rub. Feel free to get creative with other options like oregano, cayenne pepper, and dried parsley. Mendoza's go-to is Tajín, a mixture of dried ground chili peppers, lime, and sea salt.
  • Large knife: A chef's knife or santoku knife is ideal for cutting the potatoes into fries.
  • Bowl: This will be used to soak the potatoes and toss them in oil.

How to make french fries in an air fryer

How to make cripsy french fries in an air fryer
Washing your potatoes is an important step as it will help get rid of extra starches. Leticia Markman/Getty Images

  1. Wash and dry potatoes. Rinse the potatoes well with warm water, gently rubbing away any dirt or other contaminants either with your hand or a vegetable brush.
  2. Peel and cut the potatoes. If you don't like the texture and flavor of the skin, peel the potatoes before cutting them (this is optional). Then, steady the potato with one hand on the cutting board and with the other, cut the potato lengthwise. Roll both halves downward so the flat sides are against the cutting board, then cut them in half lengthwise again.

    Keep slicing them until you have your desired thickness - anywhere from ⅛ inch to ½ inch. Provided you have the right blade, a mandoline can also be used here - and you'll get more consistently sized and shaped fries this way.
  3. Soak potatoes. Submerge the fries into a large bowl of warm water for at least five to 10 minutes. Soaking potatoes in water helps to remove some of the starch, which not only prevents them from sticking together but also ensures your fries achieve maximum crispiness.

    After they're done soaking, drain the water from the bowl and dry the fries thoroughly on a dish towel or with paper towels, pressing them to remove any excess water.
  4. Coat potatoes in oil and season. Place the fries back in the bowl with 1 to 2 tablespoons of oil (per potato) and seasoning to taste. Then toss the fries in the bowl until they're evenly coated with oil and spices.
  5. Spread out the potatoes. Arrange the fries in a single layer on the air fryer basket. Overcrowding the basket could cause your fries to cook unevenly.
  6. Cook your fries. Air fry for 15 minutes at 375 degrees Fahrenheit, tossing or flipping them halfway through. Fries are done when evenly golden in color. If they're not fully cooked after 15 minutes, continue cooking in three-minute increments until done, shaking the basket after each increment.

Quick tip: Aim for the same size when cutting the fries - that way, they'll all cook through and crisp up evenly.

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How to cook frozen french fries in an air fryer

You can also cook frozen french fries in the air fryer for even crispier results than you'd get in the oven.

Manalang advises lightly spraying them with oil, then spreading them out in a single layer and air frying at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes total, tossing or flipping at the halfway point.

If you want to kick the flavor up a notch, Mendoza suggests tossing your frozen fries in a seasoning blend - like garlic parmesan or spicy cajun. Be sure to do this after cooking them so the spices stick.

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Quick tip: Our Insider Reviews team tested seven different air fryers to determine the best one you can buy. The top pick is the Philips Premium TurboStar Air Fryer.

Premium TurboStar Air Fryer (small)

Tips for the best air fryer french fries

How to make cripsy french fries in an air fryer
You can microwave your potatoes after washing to soften them and make it easier to cut. mtreasure/Getty Images
  • After washing and soaking the potatoes, you can place them in the microwave for one to two minutes to soften them so they're easier to cut into fries, says Mendoza.
  • While ketchup, honey mustard, barbecue sauce, and malt vinegar are more popular dipping sauces for french fries, experts recommend trying ranch, sriracha ketchup, spicy mayo, blue cheese, hummus, french onion dip, or sweet chili sauce. For an indulgent gourmet twist, add a drizzle of truffle oil after the fries are done cooking.
  • Got leftovers? Mendoza recommends reheating by popping them in the toaster oven (or conventional oven) on a layer of foil coated with cooking spray, closing the sides of the foil to form a tent without sealing it, and then baking them for seven to nine minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Since the texture of fries can change after they're refrigerated, Manalang suggests using leftovers in omelets and frittatas.

Insider's takeaway

Experts agree the air fryer is one of the best cooking methods you can use to make ultra-crispy homemade french fries. Opt for russet, Yukon gold, or sweet potatoes for best results, and choose an oil with a high smoke point. While peeling the potatoes is optional, don't skip washing and soaking them to help eliminate some of the extra starch. By cutting fries the same size and avoiding overcrowding the air fryer basket, you'll ensure they all cook consistently and attain that sought-after crunchy exterior.

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