French fries are the fatal flaw in my willpower, and I suspect I'm not alone. 😉 I could nosh on these golden slivers of crispiness forever if I could, and that is the reason I almost never dare to make them at home. When dining out, even if I successfully resist ordering them myself, I end up stealing some from Jay's plate anyway.
All of this changed after I got myself an air fryer. Suddenly French fries--or at least homemade French fries--were my friends. Because what's a fry anyway but a potato--a root veggie that's filled with minerals and other good-for-you stuff?
I've experimented with a million ways of making the perfect air fryer French Fries from scratch since. I've made them with different sizes of cuts. I've made them at different temperatures. I've made them with and without oil. I've salted them before air-frying, I've salted them after. I've happily eaten all of these experiments.
Today, thanks to the selfless sacrifice made by all of those potatoes for us French fry lovers, I have for you the best Air Fryer French Fries recipe ever. This is the one you'll want to make. Again and again. And after you've polished the last one off, be sure to belt out, in your best Edith Piaf voice, Non, je no regrette rien!
- What we love about these air fryer French fries
- What potatoes should I use?
- Do I need to soak the potatoes first?
- Are air fryer French fries healthy?
- How much oil will I need?
- Can I make these air fryer fries oil-free?
- Should I salt the French fries first or after?
- How long should I air-fry the fries?
- Tips for making the best French fries in an air fryer
- Steps for making the air fryer fries
- Related recipes
- Air Fryer French Fries
What we love about these air fryer French fries
- They're golden and crispy
- They taste as good as anything that's been swimming in a deep fryer.
- They take minutes to make
- They're healthy.
- They are foolproof. Follow instructions, and you'll be rewarded with the perfect fry.
- They're French fries, for goodness's sake. Do I really need to sell them to you?
What potatoes should I use?
There's just one ingredient in a French fry, so you want to be sure it's the exact one you need: a russet potato. It's a starchy potato that's also dense and therefore perfect for achieving that golden, crispy texture. If you're going to keep the skin on, and I recommend that you do, use organic russet potatoes.
Do I need to soak the potatoes first?
When making French fries, it's a good idea to get the excess starch out--the white stuff that sticks to your knife blade. Doing so will give you crisper fries and it will prevent the fries from sticking together in the air fryer. You can do this by soaking the potatoes in a bowl of cold water for a few minutes after you've cut them and before you put them in the air fryer. Or you can do this by rinsing the cut fries in a strainer for a couple of minutes until the water runs clear. Make sure you knead the fries with your fingers to get all the starch you can out. Personally, I just soak them in a bowl of water, knead them lightly, then wash them in two or three changes of water. Be sure to dry the julienned fries on paper or cloth towels before you put them in the air fryer. They don't have to be 100 percent dry, but try and get any visible moisture out.
Are air fryer French fries healthy?
Yes, they absolutely are. Think about why French fries get a bad rep. They start out with a potato, a wholesome, easily accessible veggie that's packed with minerals and vitamins and good-for-you starch. But then French-fry makers dunk them into a pot of bubbling oil and by the time those good old potatoes come back from their out they are tasty and crispy and all that, but they are also dripping with fat. Starch and fat is a combination that is sure to cling to your waistline and never let go. But for these Air Fryer French Fries, you can cut down the fat to a tiny amount, or you can even dispense with it altogether.
How much oil will I need?
About three-fourths of a tablespoon for a pound of potatoes. It's enough to make them crisp up nicely and give you that satisfying crunch. Which is really quite amazing, if you think of how much oil you're not eating were they deep fried.
I'd advise using a flavorless oil with a high smoke point, like avocado oil or peanut oil, and not something like extra virgin olive oil, for the best results. Coconut oil would just make the fries taste like coconut oil so please, don't.
Can I make these air fryer fries oil-free?
You certainly can, but there's a caveat. French fries made without oil are tasty enough, and they brown nicely in the air fryer, but you won't quite get that crispy crunch you get with the small amount of oil. That said, I make oil-free fries all the time when in the mood and dunk them into black bean hummus for a deeply satisfying, delicious -- and healthy -- snack.
Should I salt the French fries first or after?
This was a long-running conundrum for me so I tried salting both before and after and found that it gives me the best results. I season the fries lightly with salt and ground black pepper before they go into the air fryer, and then I lightly salt and pepper them again when they come out and are all hot and steamy from the fryer. You can also season the air fryer fries with your favorite seasoning mix or a no-salt herb mix if you'd rather.
How long should I air-fry the fries?
I've tried these at different temperatures, but what has worked best for me is frying them at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.
To reheat leftover French fries, pop them back in the air fryer for one to two minutes, checking after a minute to see if they're done and not drying out.
Tips for making the best French fries in an air fryer
- Once again, because this bears repetition, use only russet potatoes.
- Cut your potatoes into thin slivers, about 0.5 centimeters (or half a centimeter) across. There are lots of debates out there about whether or not French fries are really French, some even think they are uniquely American, and there seems to be some consensus that they originated in neighboring, French-speaking Belgium (where they are called Vlaamse frites or "Flemish fries" --I remember gorging on those amazing fries, which are sold in paper cones all around Brussels). My own, completely uncorroborated theory is that they are probably called French fries because of their distinctive cut--French fries are long, thin, and matchstick-like (as in they are julienned), as opposed to the thicker-cut British potato chips. But to get back to the point, julienne or French-cut your French fries too or you'll end up with potato chips which, albeit delicious, are not French fries. You can do this by hand or do it with a mandoline.
- Soak the fries after you've cut them or rinse them to get the excess starch out.
- Dry them as thoroughly as you can with paper or cloth towels.
- Salt and pepper the fries before they go into the air fryer. I do this in a bowl, after tossing them in the oil, so the salt and pepper stick to the fries.
- Don't crowd the air fryer basket. This is really important. When I make air fryer fries with a pound of potatoes, I cook them in two batches in my air fryer which has a basket that's 7 ½ inches in diameter. Giving enough room for the air to circulate around the French fries is crucial in getting the crispiest, goldenest fries your heart and tummy desire.
- Salt and pepper your fries once again after they come out of the air fryer.
- Eat these hot, preferably. As crispy as they are, they will lose some--although not all--of that divine crunch after standing around.
Steps for making the air fryer fries
- Wash two pounds of medium-sized russet potatoes. You can leave the skin on but preferably peel them if they're not organic.
- Using a mandoline or a knife, cut the potatoes into slivers lengthwise, each one about half a centimeter in width.
- Immediately immerse the cut potatoes in a bowl of cold water. Toss them around gently so you get any surface starch out. Change the water and repeat a couple more times until the water remains fairly clear.
- Place the fries on paper or cloth napkins and dry them as thoroughly as you can.
- Throw away any water remaining in the bowl, wipe it clean and place the French fries back in it. Add 1 ½ tablespoon vegetable oil (I used avocado) and toss the fries until they are coated. Sprinkle on salt and pepper and toss them again.
- Place the fries in the air fryer basket. I did four batches with two pounds of potatoes for the best results. If your air fryer can hold more, lucky you.
- Air fry at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. Every five minutes, remove the basket and gently and carefully toss the fries with a fork or spoon so they brown evenly. This also gives you a chance to keep an eye on your fries and make sure they are not overbrowning and to check the doneness of your fries. Keep in mind that if you make the fries thicker or thinner, you will need less or more time.
- Eat your fries hot. They taste best just out of the air fryer. If you save some for later, pop them back in the air fryer for a minute or two.
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Air Fryer French Fries
- 4 medium russet potatoes (about 2 pounds)
- 1 ½ tablespoon vegetable oil (like avocado oil or peanut oil)
- Salt and ground black pepper to taste (you can also use any French fry seasoning you love)
- Wash the potatoes and cut lengthwise into ½-cm-thick sticks.
- Immerse the potatoes in a bowl filled with cold water. Toss them lightly to release as much of the starch as possible, then wash and repeat in two more changes of water. Alternatively you can put the fries in a strainer and wash them until the water runs clear.
- Place the washed fries on paper towels or a kitchen napkin and dry as thoroughly as you can. Don't fret if a tiny bit of moisture escapes you, it's fine.
- Throw out any water remaining in the bowl. Dry it thoroughly and place the fries in it. Toss with the oil, then add salt and ground black pepper. Don't go overboard because you want to add some seasoning after they have air-fried. For an oil-free version, skip the oil and simply season the fries.
- Air fry the fries in the air fryer at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. I do this in four batches for two pounds of potatoes, so approximately 1 potato goes into the fryer at a time. Every five minutes, so twice during cooking, remove the basket and toss the fries with a fork or spoon to ensure they cook evenly on all sides. The oil-free version might take a minute or two longer.
- Once the fries are air fried, remove to a bowl and toss with more salt and ground black pepper or your favorite herbs or seasoning mix.
- If you make these without oil, they'll come in at just 84 calories per serving.