Tuesday, June 22, 2021

How Do I Love Thee? Skinny Air Fryer vs. Traditional French Fries


How do I love thee?

Let's face it.  Having a post about French fries on the Skinny Gourmet Guy blog seems to be going off brand.  Aren't French fries the enemy?  But here are my thoughts: Everyone deserves a guilty pleasure every now and then.  And if you're going to take the plunge, why not try to mitigate the damage while still enjoying every tasty, crunchy, salty morsel. 

So, bearing in mind this is the occasional treat, let's look on the bright side.  By cooking the fries in your Air Fryer, you're cutting calories significantly.  A Googel search turned up this random stat:

French fries deep fried in oil are 340 calories per serving compared to 226 calories when cooked in the Air Fryer. 

But calories are only a part of the equation and most people view carbs as the enemy in French fries.  So, this is a healthier and lower fat way to cook that occasional treat.   

Let's Start at the Very Beginning!


Yukon Gold (above left) are my choice for regular French fries but require soaking; sweet potatoes/yams are tasty, too and don't require soaking in cold water 

I've used my time in isolation productively. I've spent hours honing my spud skills, considering such weighty issues as to soak or not to soak? White potatoes or sweet?  For traditional fries, I use Yukon Gold potatoes.  I slice them into fries, rinse them and then soak them in cold water for the day.  This is to draw out the starch in the potatoes.  This gives you a crispy fry.  I guess sweet potatoes and yams have less starch because I have tried soaking and not soaking and found no difference.  So if you want fries at the last minute go with the yams or sweet potatoes. White potatoes will be soggy and limp if you don't soak them for at least a few hours.  I start the process in the morning and let them soak in cold water for the entire day. You can even soak them over night.  I keep the bowl in the fridge. It's imperative that the water be very cold and stay that way.  

Cut in Half (I leave the skin on)

Cut in Quarters

Cut into Eights
Keep halving each spud until you get desired thickness (or skinniness!)

Soak in cold water all day in the fridge.  I add a teaspoon of salt to the water

Rinse in cold water and put in salad spinner

Dry on kitchen towels


First go in the air fryer (upper left); drying before final trip to air fryer (right). Fries after first go round in the air fryer; set aside in strainer; above left, fries after the second round in the air fryer. 

When you've finished soaking the fries you want to get them as dry as possible.  I put them in a salad spinner and give them a whirl a few times.  After that I dry them in a clean kitchen towel. If you don't have a salad spinner just try to dry them as best you can with kitchen towels. 

The second labor-intensive part is cooking the fries twice.  The first go round I spray with oil and dust with sea salt.  Make sure the fries have plenty of room - don't stack them.  You may have to cook in batches when you have a group over for dinner.  

I cook the French fries for 12 minutes at 350 degrees.  I transfer them to a steel mesh strainer and place a paper towel to absorb any moisture.  I usually cook the main course while the fries rest.  Then I cook for another 8 - 10 minutes at 380 degrees.  Each air fryer is different so keep an eye on the fries and shake the basket every 5 minutes or so.  

Dry on paper towels



  • One small to medium Yukon Gold or sweet potato per person
  • Scrub and slice into desired fry thickness
  • Place in large bowl and submerge in cold water with one teaspoon sea salt
  • Transfer to refrigerator; let sit for up to 8 hours or over night
  • If you're feeling industrious, dump fries into a colander, rinse and place in a new bowl of cold water
  • Sift fries through a strainer; spin in salad spinner and dry in a clean kitchen towel
  • Place in air fryer, spray with oil and lightly salt
  • Set air fryer temperature to 350 degrees
  • Cook for 12 minutes, shaking basket from time to time
  • Transfer to mesh strainer, cover with paper towels
  • Let stand for 15 minutes or longer 
  • Transfer fries back to air fryer, cook at 380 degrees for another 8 - 10 minutes
Please note: each air fryer brand is different; some require pre-heating and temperatures can vary.  Keep an eye on the fries - you may have to cook for shorter or longer periods of time.