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French fries are a popular food that most people can agree on: Delicious and perfectly crisp potatoes are an American household and restaurant staple. For those watching their waistline, however, deep-fried, salt- and oil-laden fries are a diet disaster. Fortunately, when a craving kicks in, there are alternatives to ditch the deep fryer in favor of methods and tools to make homemade french fries that are healthier. The latest techniques and gadgets make it possible to create french fries with less or no fat, salt and oil.

Consider a Cast-Iron Skillet

According to Executive Chef Shaun Garcia of Soby's New South Cuisine in Greenville, South Carolina, (an up-and-coming foodie city), you can skip the deep fryer in favor of using a cast-iron skillet to create perfectly pan-fried potatoes. “Use a shallow cast-iron skillet with a little bit of oil in it and pan fry the potatoes. Keep turning the potatoes as they cook, like you would a piece of fried chicken or steak, and the outcome will be very crispy potatoes,” explained the chef when we spoke to him in an interview. "It gives you an opportunity to make fries at home without having to have a deep-fat fryer.”

Opt for an Air Fryer

The ability to cook french fries with less oil and salt, and in a short time is one of the reasons to opt for using an air fryer. Air-fried fries are crisp and delicious, just like deep-fried versions. And, air-fried fries are easy to prep, quick to cook and lighter on the stomach. Try this version with its paprika-infused dipping sauce or whip up one of your own spice and sauce creations.

Air Fryer French Fries

Total Time: 60 minutes | Prep Time: 30 minutes | Serves: 2

Ingredients:

  • 1 large russet potato (about 8 ounces) cut into 1/4-inch-thick sticks
  • 1 ½ tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt, more as needed
  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream or plain whole milk Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika

Directions

  • Put potatoes in a large bowl and cover with cold water. Soak for at least 30 minutes (or up to overnight stored in the refrigerator), then drain and pat very dry.
  • Heat the air fryer to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, if preheating is necessary. Line a rimmed baking sheet with paper towels.
  • In a dry bowl, toss potatoes with 1 tablespoon oil and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. Transfer to air fryer and fry at 350 F  for 10 minutes, tossing halfway through.
  • Transfer the potatoes to the baking sheet, spread them in an even layer and let cool to room temperature for at least 30 minutes or up to 4 hours.
  • Turn the air fryer heat up to 400 F. Arrange potatoes in the fryer after cooling and drizzle with 1/2 tablespoon oil. Cook until golden and crisp, about 8 to 10 minutes, tossing or stirring halfway through. Transfer immediately to a serving platter and sprinkle with more salt.
  • While the fries are cooking, make the sauce: In a small bowl, stir together mayonnaise, sour cream, mustard and paprika. Serve alongside the fries for dipping.

Additionally, both the cast-iron skillet and air-fryer techniques work to cook fries from either fresh or frozen potatoes. Try these ideas the next time a craving for crunchy, crisp fries hits at home or make a big batch the next time you entertain. French fries are sure to be a hit for almost any taste palette!

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