The Mistake That's Leading To Soggy Baked Fries

There are many perks to making a batch of homemade fries in the oven rather than deep-frying them in oil. The technique is not only thought to be healthier, but it also creates less of a mess, with no pot full of oil to deal with after cooking. No matter how they're cooked, the key to delicious fries is to make sure they're crispy — which can take a little more effort if they're baked rather than fried. Many home cooks have unfortunately pulled out a baking sheet of soggy spuds from the oven. There are many mistakes that can inhibit proper crisping, and one of the sneakiest setbacks is putting the sliced potatoes in the oven while they're still wet.

If you wash potatoes and don't give them enough time to dry, the excess moisture on their surfaces will lead to the fries steaming rather than browning and crisping. Many fry recipes will also call for soaking the cut potatoes in water to remove extra starches, which can help you get the crispiest fries possible. However, this hack will fail you if you don't dry the fries as thoroughly before cooking them. 

To avoid this mistake, pat your raw fries dry before letting them sit between clean cloths or paper towels, then season and bake them in the oven. Don't hesitate to swap the towels out after a few minutes if they become soggy, to ensure your sliced spuds are as dry as possible.

More tips for avoiding soggy baked fries

Once your potatoes are dry, you might think that baking perfectly crisp fries is effortless — but think again. There are still other mistakes that can lead to soggy fries out of the oven. For starters, don't forget to preheat your oven properly while you wait for the fries to dry. You also want to toss the sliced potatoes in enough oil for them to crisp up, but not so much that they turn greasy and limp. Use about one tablespoon of olive oil for every large potato that you'll be baking. It's best to toss the potatoes with the oil in a bag or bowl rather than drizzling it on top of them, to ensure that each fry is fully coated.

Even your seasonings can help create a crunchier outer crust. A blend of salt and spices like black pepper, paprika, onion and garlic powders will cling to the fries and help create a thicker, crispier outer layer. You can also add some potato starch or cornstarch to the blend to make the outer layer crunchier. 

Lastly, once the potatoes are sliced, dried, oiled, seasoned, and ready to go, don't overcrowd the baking sheet, which can lead to limp and undercooked fries. Give each fry its own space, baking in batches if you have to. Make sure to line the baking sheet with parchment paper, so the fries don't get stuck to the metal, leaving the crunchy parts on the pan rather than on your plate.