The Game-Changing Way To Boost The Crispness Of Sweet Potato Fries

There's a lot to love about sweet potato fries. They are rich in vitamin A, pack in more fiber than a regular potato, and provide a healthy dose of antioxidants. Oven-baking them may be easier than deep-frying because you don't have a giant pot of scalding oil to deal with, but deep-frying has some clear advantages, primarily that it gets food immensely and evenly crispy. Luckily, Tasting Table recipe developer Kara Barrett has a fool-proof method for crispy, oven-baked sweet potato fries that all boils down to when you put the sheet pan in the oven.

Most people would probably follow the standard steps: turn on the oven to the desired heat; while it warms, cut the sweet potatoes; toss them in oil and other seasonings; scatter them evenly over a sheet pan; and slide it in the oven to bake. Barrett's method switches up one simple part of the equation: She puts the sheet pan in the oven while it warms to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. Once the oven is at temperature, she (carefully) removes the screaming hot pan, dumps on the cut sweet potato fries, and spreads them out with a wooden spoon or spatula. Says Barrett, "They sizzle when they hit the pan. It's a pretty gratifying sound." Note too, that she turns the oven heat down to 450 degrees at this point, ensuring the sweet potato fries don't burn before they've had a chance to cook through.

Seasoning and serving

If it seems like you don't have enough sweet potatoes to cover a sheet pan, Barrett advises using a heated cast iron skillet. The size is perfect for small batches, and the pan retains heat quite well which is perfect for crispiness. And, if the sweet potatoes still aren't crispy when the timer goes off, feel free to broil them for a few minutes to finish the job.

Barrett likes to serve her sweet potato fries with some pungent, piquant flavors that help balance out the natural sweetness. Before the fries head into the oven, they're tossed in both truffle and olive oils as well as truffle zest, smoky chipotle powder, and salt. To serve, she makes a simple lime aioli by combining mayonnaise, lime juice, and herby, bright cilantro. This punchy, yet rich dressing pairs beautifully with the earthy, spicy, sweet, and supremely crispy sweet potato fries.

While this crisping technique is a game-changer, you're certainly not beholden to Barrett's choice of seasonings. Of course, sweet potatoes pair nicely with baking spices like cinnamon and allspice, but steer clear of them here; you're not making a sweet potato casserole. For the best ways to season sweet potato fries, go for spices like cumin, cayenne, red pepper flakes, or tart Tajin; dried herbs like oregano, thyme, or basil; and smoky elements like smoked paprika or ground chipotle. These herbs and spices don't hide the sweetness, they accentuate and elevate everything that is great about the sweet potato.