Crisp Baked Sweet Potato Fries?
January 27, 2010 10:55 AM   Subscribe

What are your best tips, tricks, and recipes for sweet potato fries?

I'm not a sweet potato fan. My wife loves them. I'm trying to come around, and since I do most of the cooking, I attempted to make baked sweet potato fries last night, based on a recipe by Paula Deen. The result were under-seasoned (probably my fault) strips of soggy sweet potato. While my wife was completely content, they failed in almost every qualification I have for "fries."

How do you bake fries of any type, especially sweet potato? I'm trying to avoid deep frying them, but I'm afraid that may be the only way to get crisp fries. Do you put them directly on the pan? On parchment? Rotate the pan every 10 minutes? Leave them alone? Sacrifice a chicken? What do you do to make delicious, crisp, sweet potato fries?

Bonus Question: Any other delicious uses for sweet potatoes besides mash, whole baked, or pies. I want to get on this bandwagon.
posted by SNWidget to Food & Drink (29 answers total) 85 users marked this as a favorite
This is all you need.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:57 AM on January 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

I have enjoyed these sweet potato fries, though they're more tender than crispy.

Check out this chowhound thread, too. The tip about blanching really works - then crank up the heat, and don't skimp on the oil. One last trick for crisp edges on any potato you roast is to preheat the empty pan in the oven - whether it's a sheet pan or a cast-iron pan. You should hear a definite sizzle when the oiled fries hit the hot metal.
posted by peachfuzz at 10:58 AM on January 27, 2010

Trader Joe's sweet potato fries are delicious, for those of us who are less cooking inclined.
posted by quodlibet at 11:03 AM on January 27, 2010

Response by poster: quodlibet: Oh, I know. When my wife and I lived in the DC burbs, we'd get those sometimes. Unfortunately, we're in Texas now, and while we have some great markets, we lack Trader Joe's.
posted by SNWidget at 11:06 AM on January 27, 2010

Cut into wedges and stand them up so you have less surface area touching the pan. High heat, double bake them for extra crisp, and rotate the wedges, not just the pan.
posted by wongcorgi at 11:11 AM on January 27, 2010

I highly recommend roasting the sweet potatoes in the oven. I prefer the Best Recipes cookbook recipe. Nothing better then crispy on the outside, soft on the inside roast sweet potatoes. Ingredients are nothing but toss the rounds in a little oil and roast. Nothing else. NEVER add sugar, to sweet potatoes, they are naturally very sweet anyway. I get amazed at all the recipes calling for marshmallows, sugar, honey, or other sweeteners. You want a meal, not desert.

A) Slice it into rounds, not chunks. This will get you even cooking.

B) Lay out on a cookie sheet, cover with foil and cook 25 minutes @ 425. Then, remove foil and cook another 30-45 minutes, flipping halfway through uncovered cooking time. It's done when both sides are crispy and have a little dark crust on them.
posted by ShootTheMoon at 11:16 AM on January 27, 2010 [2 favorites]

Woops, forgot to add, don't preheat the oven, put them in cold.
posted by ShootTheMoon at 11:21 AM on January 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

Cut them into French-fry-like strips. Toss lightly in olive oil and sea salt. Place on aluminum-foiled cookie sheet. 400 degrees for 12-15 minutes. I've heard paprika is good, too.
posted by bunny hugger at 11:54 AM on January 27, 2010 [2 favorites]

Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites has a fantastic recipe for Black Bean and Sweet Potato Burritos. I don't have it in front of me and am not even sure if it's ok to reproduce here line-by-line anyhow. But if you're comfortable cooking without recipes, it's pretty simple - basically, cook (I usually boil) a sweet potato, sauté some onions with cumin, open a can of black beans and then puree all three together. Separately, sauté some bell peppers and whatever other veggies you'd put in a burrito (again with cumin, or Mexican spice mix or whatever). If you like cilantro, mix that into it too. Throw the bean/potato mixture and sautéed veggies in a tortilla and voila. So. freakin'. good.
posted by kitcat at 11:57 AM on January 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

The Kitchn had a post about sweet potato fries just today. According to their source, the trick to crispy outside, soft insides is soaking them in cold water for 20-30 minutes before baking.
posted by sarajane at 12:05 PM on January 27, 2010

A friend of mine does them on the grill when also grilling a main course. They come out nicely. So in that regard they are more like a grilled vegetable. But shaped like french fries. So that's how that all works out.
posted by Askr at 12:14 PM on January 27, 2010

My boyfriend and I frequently make SP fries. While I don't mind a soggy fry, he does. We're both not really interested in deep frying. I'm not sure it's a whole lot more unhealthy, it's just a big hassle and waist of oil. We've tried lots of variations. These are some tips:

Leave the skins on, obviously give them a good scrub under water, but the skins help them stay together. Dry them really well too

I know sometimes it's like chopping wood, but go for long wedges, so that each fry has a piece of skin. Chop off the ends and stand the potato up. Cut from noon to 6, then lay the half, cut side down. Cut the remaining half into wedge shapes, angling towards the center.

Pre-heat your pan. I think a cookie sheet helps steam move away from the fries. You'll also want to give your fries enough room, so go for a big pan, or less fries.

Oil really well. I try to rub each fry with oiled hands. I toss them in a big bowl with seasoning, open the oven then dump the bowl in. Shake to distribute in an even layer.

I bake them at 450, until they're bubbling and brown.

I love the flavor of chipotle with sweet potatoes. I think it's a perfect pairing. Try sprinkling some powder on while tossing with oil, or mix up chipotle-cumin mayo as a dip.

The ultimate, fool-proof technique still eludes us. Simply Ming claims to have found it. It's a 36 hour process.
posted by fontophilic at 12:22 PM on January 27, 2010

Rathbun's in Atlanta serves Sweet Potato fries with a tobasco dipping sauce sprinked with powdered sugar. Yes, powdered sugar. And they are fantastic.
posted by jckll at 12:36 PM on January 27, 2010

The high moisture and sugar content of sweet potatoes affect how they cook and crisp in an oven. The moisture content impedes oven frying and the sugars can lead to easily burned taters. The blue Okinawan sweet potato is a good choice due to its dry texture. Dusting any variety with potato starch can help maintain crispness.

Here's a tasty recipe for crisp oven fries:
2 lb. sweet potatoes, cut into 1/4-inch-thick sticks
1 Tbs. canola oil
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
2 Tbs. potato starch

1. Preheat oven to 450F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper, or coat with cooking spray. Set one oven rack in top position and one rack in bottom position.

2. Toss together sweet potatoes, oil, salt, and pepper. Sprinkle with potato starch; toss mixture once more to coat well. Arrange in single layer on prepared baking sheets. Bake 10 minutes. Turn potatoes, and rotate baking sheets. Bake 12 minutes more, or until golden brown.

[Source: Based on "Colorful Oven Fries" in Vegetarian Times, January 2010]
posted by skenfrith at 1:02 PM on January 27, 2010

You can toss white and/or sweet potato wedges in tabasco sauce and oil, then roast. I think yours probably needed more time. Sweet potatoes have lots of liquid; longer roasting cooks off some of that moisture. I've been adding partially cooked, chopped bacon to roasted veggies, in place of the cooking fat, with very nice results. If you don't precook the bacon a bit, there's too much grease.
posted by theora55 at 1:38 PM on January 27, 2010

My recently discovered totally awesome secret for baking fries, which I will tell you as long as you don't tell anyone else is:

Like all fries, oven fries need to be cooked twice: once via low heat (300 or so) until they're depressed looking. You can do that hours in advance. Then you pop them back in at 450 or 500 for a while and that's it -- awesome fries. Toss with oil before hand, and salt before the second cooking.

With sweet potato, a little chipotle in adobo mixed with mayonnaise is awesome alongside.

Also note I've used the word 'awesome' three times. That's how awesome they are.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 1:39 PM on January 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

Check out this thread - - where runningwithscissors has posted a tasty-sounding recipe for sweet potato fries.
posted by nicoleincanada at 1:50 PM on January 27, 2010

Weird. I just wrote this in answer to another thread:

My favorite veggie right now is roasted sweet potato fries: Cut them in 1/2" wide sticks. I soak them in water for about 10 minutes to get some of the starch off and to encourage crispness; some recipes say 30 minutes. Drain them really well, and then toss with olive oil, salt, a healthy dose of oregano, and chili powder or red pepper flakes. Arrange them in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees for ~30 minutes, stirring after 15 minutes. If you cut them thinner, keep an eye on them so they don't burn. Serve with mayo (I like to add minced garlic and chopped cilantro to mine, and let it chill while the potatoes roast).

If you're looking for real crispiness, then try 1/4" sticks and a shorter cooking time. It's important that they're in a single layer so that they don't steam. If I'm only making a little, I use my cast iron skillet instead of a baking sheet.
posted by runningwithscissors at 1:51 PM on January 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

Oh hi, nicoleincanada. And the preview button.
posted by runningwithscissors at 1:52 PM on January 27, 2010

Oh, and to address your bonus question…

Here's an easy sweet potato, bean, and wild rice chili recipe you might enjoy. Apologies for the approximate measurements. I first made this by grabbing what was at hand, so it's a little-of-this-little-of-that type of creation, but guests continue to enjoy it. Wild rice adds nice texture to the chili and holds up very well in leftover portions. It's a large batch, but the chili freezes well.

2-3 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into large, bite-sized cubes
2-3 cans of black beans and navy beans (or other beans, if preferred), rinsed
1 large can whole tomatoes, tomato sauce, or whole fresh tomatoes, peeled
1 cup wild rice (yields 4 cups cooked rice)
1-2 Tbs. oil
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 medium white or yellow onion, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 carrot, diced
3-4 large cloves garlic, minced
4 cups vegetable broth
2 Tbs. chili powder
1 Tbs. cumin
2 bay leaves
Freshly ground sea salt and black pepper, to taste
Cayenne pepper or diced hot peppers, to taste (optional)

In large soup pot or dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat. Sauté onion, green pepper, celery, carrot, and garlic. Season with salt and black pepper.

Add sweet potatoes, tomatoes or tomato sauce, and beans. If using canned whole tomatoes, break tomatoes apart in pot with spoon. Add chili powder, cumin, and cayenne or hot peppers. Stir.

Add wild rice and vegetable broth and stir. Add bay leaves. Bring to boil uncovered, then cover, reduce heat, and simmer for about an hour, or until the rice and sweet potatoes are cooked. Add additional broth if a thinner chili is desired. Add additional seasoning to taste. Remove bay leaves before serving.
posted by skenfrith at 2:02 PM on January 27, 2010

I brush with olive oil & cook on the Foreman-type indoor grill. I usually do patties for a burger-like effect, but I'm sure fries would work as well.
posted by torquemaniac at 3:49 PM on January 27, 2010

I'm a big fan of sprinkling Old el Paso taco seasoning on mine before baking them, and they're superbly complemented by curry-mayo!
posted by Cody's Keeper at 6:06 PM on January 27, 2010

This is a great sweet potato/black bean recipe. It's super versatile - I eat it cold as a salad, hot as a side dish, and use it in burritos and quesadillas. It's a workhorse, and super healthy:

The gist of it is:

Coat with oil and roast peeled chopped sweet potatoes and a chopped (red) onion in the oven until they're roasted through and getting soft-ish.

Puree or mince some hot chili, juice of 1 or so limes, olive oil, salt, pepper, and a few cloves of garlic. Mix together. (This is the dressing)

Sliver a red bell pepper.

In a large bowl, mix roasted beans and onions, slivered bell pepper, a can of black beans. Top with dressing and cilantro.

Easy, takes almost no effort apart from a little bit of chopping, and keeps fantastically in the fridge. Nice spicy/sweet/tangy crisp balance from the hot pepper, sweet potatoes, lime and red pepper. It's my favorite thing to do with sweet potatoes.
posted by foodmapper at 6:12 PM on January 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

I make baked sweet potato fries all the time, and they come out full-flavored and crispy. If your fries were soggy and limp, you had one of two problems:

1. The oven heat wasn't high enough. Aim for 425-450.

2. You didn't let them cook long enough.

Basically, here's the method.

Start with raw sweet potatoes. Slice into fries on the thinner side - shoestring size in thickness - 1/4 inch? - though they can be wide. The thicker they are, the longer they need to cook.

Toss them in olive oil - 1 tablespoon per medium size sweet potato. Toss them for a while until they're truly coated. If you're adding seasoning, add the spices after they're coated in olive oil.

Put the fries on a rimmed baking sheet. Make sure your fries have some room - single layer. If they're piled upon each other, they'll steam instead of crisp up.

Place in your preheated oven.

Let them cook 15 minutes or so. Pull them out, and stir the fries around with a spatula to expose the undercooked areas. Replace them.

Let them cook until brown and crispy.

Take them out and hit them with seasoning again.

Half an hour, tops.
posted by Miko at 7:14 PM on January 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

I haven't tried baking them twice, but I will. My method is to slice them really thin, coat with olive oil, sprinkle with garlic salt, and then bake on high heat until crispy.

Then the kicker is to dip them in ranch dressing.

Wow, you really flung a craving on me with this one.
posted by shopefowler at 9:47 PM on January 27, 2010

In an unrelated question I asked a week or two ago, somebody posted a recipe for sweet potato burritos. I haven't tried making them yet, but it sounds like an interesting idea.
posted by Vorteks at 7:08 AM on January 28, 2010

In answer to your bonus question, I offer Alton Brown's Chipotle Smashed Sweet Potatoes. They are so freaking delicious. I think I discovered them through AskMe, actually, so kudos to whomever brought them to my attention originally.

One caveat for this recipe is that you will have several chipotle peppers and a lot of adobo sauce left over. But, it keeps for a long time in the fridge... and then you can make more chipotle smashed sweet potatoes!
posted by vytae at 6:33 PM on January 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'm another one who sprinkles with olive oil and then taco seasoning. You can follow any of the baking directions above but I've found them to be well seasoned that way.
posted by magnetsphere at 5:32 PM on January 31, 2010

Soggy fried food happens when the oil isn't hot enough, especially when the temperature of the food lowers the temperature of the oil enough that the oil isn't hot enough.

Deep fry... or just use a cast iron skillet, which holds much more heat than typical cookware, and costs less than a deep fryer as well.
posted by talldean at 8:01 PM on February 8, 2010

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