What if we told you there was a machine that could fry potatoes into light and crispy perfection with little to no oil? Meet the air fryer. This cult-y countertop appliance cooks by circulating hot air around fries, wings, meatballs, and more at a high speed, turning out crisp results with significantly less fat than what’s used when cooking with a deep fryer. Technically air fryers are mini convection ovens, though they work in a fraction of the time it would take your conventional oven—with all of the flavor and none of the guilt.
Expect air fryer French fries to taste more like oven-roasted potatoes than fast food French fries. When made the right way, they’ll have a deliciously crisp exterior and tender interior without the greasiness of traditional French fries. Here’s how to prep them properly.
Crank the heat first
Most air fryers don’t require you to preheat, but we recommend it anyway: adding your potatoes into an already piping-hot oven will give them a jumpstart on even browning, which is the secret to air fry success. 400°F is typically optimal for potatoes. If you’re converting a recipe for something roasted or baked into an air fryer-friendly recipe, remember to lower the temperature by 25°F (but you can keep the cook time the same) to avoid burning your food.
Chop the potatoes evenly—and preserve the peel
A key part of nailing a perfectly crisp batch of roasted potatoes is uniformly dicing them. Start by cutting each potato in half lengthwise, then place each flesh-side down on a cutting board and cut in half lengthwise again. Chop each quarter into 1-inch pieces. We like to leave the skins on for the heart-healthy fiber and crisp texture they’ll develop when cooked.
Coat potatoes evenly in oil and seasonings
Toss the raw potatoes pieces in a bowl with two tablespoons of oil, plus salt, pepper, and any additional herbs and spices you like (rosemary, garlic, paprika, and parsley are all great options). Begin to air fry within a few minutes of tossing in the oil. Note: if you’re cooking pre-packaged frozen fries, they won’t need additional oil before being air fried.
Don’t overcrowd the basket
In fact, the results are best when you arrange foods in a single layer if possible. This ensures a light and crispy, non-soggy exterior: an even, steady flow of hot air is key to crisping up potatoes.
Toss potatoes at least once
Gently shaking your potatoes in the fryer basket halfway through cooking—or every five to 10 minutes—will help prevent them from frying unevenly and will enhance their crispy texture. It’s fine to pull the basket out at any time throughout the cooking cycle to check on the progress, as most models will automatically shut off while it’s out and resume when the basket is placed back in. Expect potatoes to take around 20 minutes total. If they aren’t sufficiently fried when your final timer goes off, add a few extra minutes and continue cooking.
Remove from the basket as soon as they’re done
When your potatoes are sufficiently crispy, turn them out into your serving dish instead of letting them sit in the fryer basket to preserve their texture. If they stick to the inside, avoid scraping the surface with metal utensils to preserve the finish (most air fryer models have a basket with a nonstick coating). You can use tongs to gently remove any pieces left behind—then serve immediately.
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