Food 101: How To Make Oven Fries
French fries are pretty much perfect. They’re delicious, easy to make, and it’s almost impossible to screw them up. The only real criticism you could make against them is that even though homemade fried foods aren’t inherently “bad” for you, they still are a few more calories compared to their baked counterparts. So if you’re looking for a diet-friendly alternative to french fries, there’s always oven fries!
If you’ve never heard of the term, oven fries are pretty much what they sound like (ignoring the fact their name is an oxymoron). You cut up potatoes similarly to how you’d cut them for french fries, only you bake them in a nice, hot oven. It’s interesting to me personally since my family has made them for a long time, and I’ve known other friends/family members who do the same sometimes. Yet, I never see them in restaurants and rarely see them covered in popular cooking media. Hell, there’s not even a Wikipedia page for them. Because of that I contend that they’re actually this unsung, folk-hero of a recipe that many people know and make, but rarely share with the outside world. And actually maybe that’s for the best, because if restaurants did start making them, they’d market them as “craft oven-roasted potato wedges with a rosemary and herb crust”, so people would pay $12 for six of them.
For the record, oven fries are an interesting middle ground between french fries and roasted potatoes. Because they’re sliced fairly thin/small, most of them get a good crisp, texture in the oven. However, because they’re not really fried, they don’t get totally mushy and soft in the middle, and they retain some starchiness. Know what they’re best described as? Know how when you roast chunks of potatoes alongside chicken or other meats, and there’s inevitably a few that get stuck to the bottom of the pan and get crunchy and delicious? That’s basically what oven fries turn out like. And fortunately because potatoes are so plain, you can customize them sooooo so easily.
Homemade Oven Fries Recipe
- 2 or 3 medium to large baking potatoes (Idaho, russet, etc…)
- Approx 1-2 tbsp oil of your choice (olive oil works great, but others can be used for different flavors)
- 2 tbsp various herbs and spices, fresh or dried (rosemary, sage, tarragon, etc…)*See Pro-Tips below
- Set the oven to 425 degrees, and place foil on a baking pan. Cut your potatoes up into large french fry wedges, about 1/4″ to 1/2″ thick.
- Add your potatoes into a large bowl. Drizzle the oil over the potatoes and stir them up so that each has a generous coating of oil on it. Add more if the potatoes don’t seem to have enough. Stir in your salt, pepper, and whatever seasonings you’re using, and combine well.
- Place the potato wedges onto your foil-lined pan and spread them around so that there’s at least 1/2″ space in between each potato.
- Bake your oven fries for about 10-15 minutes, then check on them. When the bottoms are beginning to become golden-brown and crisp, flip them over and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes.
- When both sides of the fries are crisp, they’re done and you can remove them from the oven. Serve either on their own, or with dipping sauces, or even just ketchup!
- Due to the variability of potatoes and the slices you cut, unfortunately not all your oven fries will cook at the same rate. Because of this, you may end up with some that are crunchier, some that are softer, and maybe some that are almost burnt. Do your best, hedge your bets, and take them out when it seems like most are done, so you don’t burn any.
- The thinner you slice these, the crunchier they’ll get. If you have the means to slice them all like 1/4″ thick, they’ll all be nice and crisp.
- If you need some suggestions for what types of seasonings to add, here are a few examples (obviously not all at once):-2 or 3 sprigs of fresh rosemary, toss the whole leaves on
-1 clove of garlic, chopped finely
-2 tbsp peppercorns crushed into cracked black pepper
-5 sage leaves, chopped into pieces
-Sprinkled cheddar cheese
-2 tbsp chopped bacon or bacon pieces
-Parmesan cheese sprinkled
These oven fries are really easy to make, and can be assembled using pretty much all ingredients lying around the house. Best of all, like mashed potatoes, you can pretty much put whatever you want in them to make them your own. They’re a great side dish to keep up your sleeve, when trying to impress people with something fancy looking. Personally, I like alternating between eating them plain and eating them with ketchup, since they taste great no matter what.