This 1 Ingredient Is Your Secret to Crispy, Oven-Baked Sweet Potato Fries
Let's see a show of hands for anyone who has been coaxed into trying oven-fried recipes only to be left with a plate of limp, moisture-logged food that's not even close flavor- or texture-wise to its fast-food competition? ✋🏿✋✋🏽
We're right there with you, which is why we're such fans of the air fryer and its magical convection-style powers. That said, we don't always want to dig out the appliance (or, TBH, clean it afterwards)—and we know not every EatingWell reader owns an air fryer. So we're always on the hunt for new tips and techniques that might help us score that elusive and craveable crunch factor. (But if you do have an air fryer—and want to use it—don't miss our nicely spiced Air-Fryer Sweet Potato Fries.)
We've had good luck with Oven-Fried Pickles and Oven-Fried Pork Chops, but our go-to method for crispy baked fries involves an extra step of boiling in a pot of water spiked with apple cider vinegar. This totally works, but it also adds about 20 minutes to the prep time if you count waiting for the water to boil.
So our ears perked up when we heard Irish TV star, food writer, cook and YouTube celeb Donal Skehan on a recent talk show appearance. Skehan streamed into the Rachael Ray Show to demonstrate two recipes from his new book, Everyday Cook (buy it: $21.99, Target): A game-day-inspired yet Sunday dinner-worthy Buffalo Roast Chicken and Salad With Blue Cheese plus his no-fryer-required Crispy Sweet Potato Fries.
Introducing the stellar side dish that had us running to our kitchens, Skehan tells Ray, "I have a top tip that is going to change your life if you haven't already come across it: Cornstarch! If you've made sweet potato fries and they've been miserable, soggy and just haven't gotten crisp in the oven," sprinkle a sheet pan full of fry-shaped pieces of sweet potatoes with a thin layer of cornstarch, he suggests.
"It coats the fries, gives them a bit of a buffer that draws out the moisture and leaves you with crispy, crunchy fries that are absolutely gorgeous," Skehan adds.
Once the fries are evenly coated in cornstarch, drizzle them with olive oil, season with salt and toss. Space out the fries on the sheet pan so each has some breathing room, then roast for 30 to 40 minutes in a 410 degree oven, turning occasionally until golden and crisp.
With this Crispy Sweet Potato Fries in your repertoire and cornstarch (buy it: $8 for 18 ounces, Amazon) in your pantry, now you just need to add your favorite burger recipe, Skehan's zesty roast chicken or your favorite main dish to the menu and dinner is done.