One of the most popular reasons to purchase an air fryer is to make traditionally cooked, deep-fried foods like homemade French fries, a little healthier.
An air fryer cooks by circulating hot air around the food that is placed inside the basket. The air comes from a heating mechanism and fan that is on the top surface of the appliance. The rapid circulation of the hot air is what makes the food crisp, without the need for oil.
Essentially, an air fryer is a mini version of a standard convection oven. The main difference is that air fryers are typically much smaller and more compact. And because of that they will cook the food faster than larger convection ovens.
However, there are a few tips and tricks to make homemade French fries turn out nice and crisp on the outside, yet tender on the inside. It isn’t as simple as cutting a potato and throwing them in the basket to cook.
Just like when I make Potato Chips in the air fryer, there are a few steps that you must follow to get them to turn out perfect every time.
However, by following the instructions below, you can turn your potatoes into a healthy snack or side dish that the entire family will love!
Air Fryer French Fries
*Complete recipe instructions including specific measurements, cook temperatures and times are located in a printable recipe card at the bottom of this article. However, be sure to keep reading for helpful tips and tricks when making this recipe.
1. Large Russet Potatoes – The best potatoes to make French fries are Russet or Idaho potatoes. They are considered starchy, low-moisture potatoes. This is why they are perfect for making crispy fries that are nice and fluffy on the inside.
Although I typically prefer to use Yukon gold potatoes for the majority of my recipes, now is not the time to use them. That is because they have a higher moisture content than Russet potatoes. And that makes it difficult for them to crisp up when cooked in an air fryer.
And definitely do not use waxy potatoes such as red skin, new potatoes or fingerling potatoes. They contain a high level of moisture and the texture does not turn out well when making them into French fries.
2. Olive Oil – Although we are not deep frying the potatoes, a little oil is needed on the surface of the potatoes. This will not only help them crisp up but it will also help prevent them from sticking to the surface of the air fryer basket.
3. Salt and Pepper – What is a French fry without a little salt? However if you are watching your sodium intake, you can use a low-sodium seasoning or nutritional yeast for added flavor instead.
The first step in making homemade French fries in the air fryer is to prepare the potatoes. Start by washing and scrubbing the potatoes and removing any eyes or dark spots.
Now you must decided whether or not that you want to keep the skins on the potatoes. I prefer to keep the skin on the potatoes for a more rustic look. However, if you want the fries to be more uniform in color you can peel them if you want.
When the potatoes are washed and peeled, if you are peeling them, it is time to cut them into the shape of fries. For this recipe, we are talking about standard size fries, not large steakhouse fries. If you want thicker, potato wedges, be sure to click the link for the recipe: Air Fryer Potato Wedges.
Although you could use a sharp knife to cut the potatoes into 1/4 inch sections, I find it easier to use a Mandoline Slicer instead. Just be sure to use a julienne blade, or a large julienne blade to cut the potatoes into fries.
Soak The Potatoes
When you have your potatoes cut, place the fries in a large bowl and cover with water. *This is a very important step that you should not skip!
Let the cut potatoes sit in the water for 30 minutes. You will notice that the water begins to turn cloudy. That is a result from the starches being released from the potatoes as they soak.
It is crucial to remove as much starch from the surface of the potatoes as possible so that the French fries crisp up perfectly when cooked in the air fryer.
After the potatoes have soaked for 30 minutes, drain the water. Then cover the potatoes with more water and repeat the soaking process for an additional 30 minutes.
After the full hour of soaking, drain the water, and pat the fries dry with a paper towel. Let the potatoes sit at room temperature for an additional 10 minutes to help air dry even more.
When you are ready to cook the French fries, preheat the air fryer for at least 5 minutes. Although all brands don’t require this step it is still recommended to do so for this recipe. Putting the fries in a hot basket will help them crisp up better.
While the air fryer is heating, drizzle the olive oil over the fries and toss to coat them. Then sprinkle them with a little salt and pepper, to taste.
When the air fryer has preheated, or has been heating for at least 5 minutes, add the coated fries to the basket. However try to keep as close to a single layer as possible. You may have to cook the fries in batches, depending on the size of your air fryer.
Although you can pile frozen fries on top of each other while cooking them in the air fryer, you can not when making homemade fries. That is because the frozen ones have already been cooked or partially cooked before they were packaged. However, it is okay if the fries overlap somewhat.
Cook the homemade fries for 7 minutes, then shake the basket or flip the fries. Continue to cook for an additional 5-7 minutes until crispy and golden brown.
Be Sure To Check The Fries Frequently
*Because all air fryers cook at different rates, be sure to frequently check the fries after 12 minutes of total cook time. At that point you may need to remove any fries that are thinner or getting done faster than the others.
Keep cooked fries warm in a preheated oven set to 200°F while the others continue to cook.
Serve warm with ketchup or your favorite dipping sauce.
Mary and Jim
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- 2 large russet potatoes, washed
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Salt and pepper, to taste