Instant Mashed Potato Flakes Are The Perfect Shortcut For Smiley Fries

Nothing can put a smile on your face quite like the nostalgia of a happy after-school snack, and smiley-faced potatoes are arguably the happiest nostalgic food. Whether you're making the familiar-faced snack for yourself or introducing your kids to the old-school favorite, the iconic smiley potato is surprisingly easy to craft in your own kitchen — and using instant mashed potatoes as a replacement for homemade mashed potatoes gives you that same nostalgic flavor in half the time.

Start by prepping your instant mashed potatoes. Then, form the potatoes into a shapeable dough by adding flour, egg, cornstarch, and bread crumbs. Once you combine these ingredients to form your dough, it's crucial to let the mixture chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. When you let the ingredients chill, the dough can thicken up and become more malleable for shaping. To create the smiley shape, start by rolling out your potato mixture and cutting out even, circular shapes. From there, cut the smiley shape out from the circle. To cook your smiley fries, you can bake, air fry, or pan fry the potatoes in cooking oil. Baking the fries is the easiest way to cook them but doesn't provide as much crispiness as air frying or pan frying.

How to keep the smiling shape

When you are creating the shape, you can try using a straw for punching out the eyes and carving out the mouth. A straw won't stick to your dough and allows you to create even, uniform holes for your smiley fries. You can also use a sharp kitchen knife or spoon to help you get the shape. When cooking your smiley fries, if you do choose to pan fry, it's recommended to start frying face down to better preserve the face shape. This allows the face of the fries to set first. If your potatoes lose their smiling face during the cooking process, you can use a wooden skewer to gently reshape the faces after frying. To do this gently stick the skewers where the holes are in your smiley fries and softly wiggle the stick back and forth to reopen the hole.

A benefit to making the fries at home is the ability to experiment with the potato seasoning and try new flavor variations. You can include a packet of ranch seasoning in the dough to give your smiley fries a ranch flavor. If you're someone who enjoys a little bit of heat you could add a dash of hot sauce or chili powder to give the smiley fries a light spicyness. You can also toss the fries in your own custom seasonings after cooking to create a variety of flavors from one dough batch.