There is a mythical, mysterious creature out there called the “crispy baked sweet potato fry.” I was skeptical of its existence for a very long time after trying unsuccessful recipe after unsuccessful recipe. I finally decided that a crispy sweet potato fry is a nice theory but sadly is impossible to find and have for myself. Kind of like a unicorn. HOWEVER – my husband made sweet potato fries a few weeks ago as a side for burgers, and they weren’t perfectly crispy…but they had the beginnings of being perfectly crispy. They were crispier than any other baked sweet potato fries I’d had before.
So I decided to once again set out on my journey to discover the elusive crispy baked sweet potato fry after being teased by potential crispiness. After various tests, I landed on a recipe that yields ACTUAL crispy sweet potato fries! Like…legit crispy. When you toss them with a spatula you can hear their crispiness when they land back on the baking sheet. When you bite into them you can hear the crunch.
WE’RE TALKIN’ FO REAL HERE, PEOPLE.
Since then, I have made them three times. And then hoarded the plate to myself and eaten them all. If we’re being honest, the obese girl inside me comes out swinging when a sheet pan of these crispy little angels come out of the oven.
How do we get them so deliciously crispy? A few particular steps…1. Arrowroot powder (or cornstarch if you’re not paleo/whole 30) – this, along with some coconut oil, coats the fries and gives the heat in the oven something to grab onto and crisp up on the exterior of the fries. 2. A long bake time. Forty to fifty-ish minutes give the sweet potatoes lots of time to get nice and crispy. 3. Seasoning at the end. Salt tends to pull out some moisture, and that can inhibit them getting crispy in the oven. So we season post-baking!
Let’s talk about the process in more detail:
- Slice your sweet potatoes. You don’t want them to be shoestring thin, or they will for sure burn, but we also aren’t lookin’ for steak fries here, either. Somewhere in between – it doesn’t have to be exact, but try and make them all as close in size as possible. I slice mine about the size of my index finger, but I know that is highly general since our fingers are all different sizes 😬. Probably about half an inch max?
- Coat them. We throw the fries in a gallon ziplock and add two tablespoons of arrowroot powder. I use arrowroot powder because I am doing Whole 30, but if you aren’t doing paleo or Whole 30 and don’t want to buy arrowroot powder, you can sub in cornstarch here. Close the ziplock and shake, shake, shake until all of those fries are evenly coated in the powder. Dancing around your kitchen as you shake your fries is an optional but recommended step. Then we pour in a few tablespoons of melted coconut oil. Close the bag and shake it up again until the fries are all evenly coated.
- Lay them out – EVENLY! Okay, so here is where you have to be a little OCD. Pull that part of your personality out to the forefront of your brain in this step. You want the fries to be laid out on the baking sheet so none of them are touching, kind of like they are pictured above. Overcrowding = NOT CRISPY FRIES, GURL. So put some spa music on in the background and lay those little orange beauties out perfectly on that baking sheet. You’ll be happy later, trust me. Have I ever steered you wrong? If I have, don’t answer.
- Bake! For twenty minutes. Keep that spa music on and go sip a cup of tea while pondering how awesome of a person you are. When the twenty minutes are up, remove the baking sheet from the oven and, using a spatula, toss the sweet potato fries around (the fries might want to stick a little, and if that’s the case, really press the spatula down against the baking sheet as you scrape the sweet potato fries up to flip them – also, parchment paper will make them not stick). Are you ready to grab that OCD part of your brain and pull it out again? You’re going to take some tongs (or your bare hands if you’re a kitchen warrior) and rearrange the sweet potato fries again so that they aren’t touching.
- Bake again! For another twenty minutes. Take them out again, toss them again, lay them out again with the brown sides up, and bake for another 5-10 minutes.
- Season. Once they are done baking, you are going to season them with salt. Don’t be shy here, salt is fries’ best frand. They need a lot of salt, and they taste good with a lot of salt. Season, toss, taste, season more – repeat until perfect. Now let them set out on your baking sheet and cool a bit before serving.