Baking sweet potatoes into fries makes their sweetness shine. This side dish is healthier than regular french fries, but it’s just as satisfying when paired with a burger. Baking the fries means an easier cleanup, too, as you won’t have to deal with spattering oil and the deep fat fryer. Follow just a few simple strategies for fries that come out crispy, sweet and irresistible every time.
Prep the Sweets
Choose sweet potatoes that are generally the same size, which makes prep work easier. Peel them completely and then cut them into equal-sized wedges, sticks or narrow rounds. Uneven shapes and sizes mean the potatoes cook at different rates, so some will be soft and spongy, while some are burned and others underdone. Also consider the high cooking temperature; if your wedges or rounds are too thick, the outside of the sweet potatoes will cook too fast and the inside will be undercooked. A 1/4-inch thickness is generally a good guideline.
Lube ‘Em Up
A light oiling helps the sweet potatoes crisp up and brown on the outside. The type of oil you use is largely up to you; canola, olive oil and coconut oil are all good options. You could even use a seasoned oil, such as garlic olive oil, to add extra flavor to the fries. Use about 2 teaspoons of oil for every medium potato you’ve prepped. Put the cut-up potatoes and oil in a bowl, and stir or toss to coat completely. Oil the baking sheet too before you place the oiled potatoes on it — this helps ensure thorough coverage and prevents sticking. If you’re looking to minimize your intake of vegetable oils, coat the baking pan with cooking spray, lay out the cut-up sweet potatoes and spritz them with cooking spray.
Season Your Sweets
When tossing the potatoes with the oil, add seasoning and herbs. Salt brings out the natural sweetness of the potatoes. Add chili powder, garlic powder, paprika, dried oregeno or a dash of cayenne too. A combination of fresh, minced rosemary and dried mustard powder is another option. The oil helps the seasoning stick and distribute evenly among the potato pieces.
Bake at High Temperatures
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit and arrange a rack in the upper third of your oven; potatoes that are too close to the heat source on a lower rack may burn. Arrange the potatoes on a baking pan, being careful not to crowd them. If they are too close together, the sweet potatoes will steam and not acquire a crispy exterior. Bake for approximately 20 minutes, or until browned and cooked through. Turn them once about halfway through the baking process. Serve immediately for optimum crispness.
References and ResourcesEating Well: Oven Sweet Potato Fries
Health: Oven-Roasted Sweet-Potato Wedges
Eating Well: How to Make Perfect, Crispy Oven-Fried Sweet Potato Fries