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I have to admit something: I have cooked more soggy, burnt, and just overall mediocre baked sweet potato fries than I’d like to admit. After years of sub-par homemade sweet potato fries, I gave up. I resigned to purchasing frozen sweet potato fries for more consistent results. But those bags can get pricey, and it seemed a little silly that sweet potato fries, out of all things, was the dish I couldn’t manage to get right.
So I decided once and for all to figure out the best way to bake crispy sweet potato fries at home.
How I Found the Best Way to Bake Sweet Potato Fries
Method: 30-Minute Soak, Baked at 450°F on a Wire Rack, No Cornstarch
About this method: This method comes from Love and Lemons. A 30 minute soak encourages the surface starch to release to aid crisping. Baking the fries on a cooling rack at 450°F is meant to allow the hot air to circulate around the sweet potatoes. This creates a crispy fry without needing to flip them halfway through the baking time.
Results: I could see starch collected at the bottom of the soaking bowl, so I was hopeful from the start. Unfortunately, this method did not work. These fries were somehow both soggy and dry at the same time.
The hottest oven temperature used for all the methods, it dried out the sweet potatoes rather than making them crisp. The cooling rack also imprinted a grid pattern on the fries. Not a deal-breaker if it produced crispy fries. But the fries were limp. The sweet potatoes really need direct surface contact with the baking sheet to help them brown.
This method is the only one that didn’t toss the fries with cornstarch, which was a noticeable difference in the final results. They tasted more like a roasted vegetable side dish than a “fry.”
Method: No Soak, Baked at 400°F
About this method: Sally’s Baking Addiction takes a savory turn from cakes and cookies and shares her method for baked sweet potato fries. This method intrigued me. She skips the soak, instead just tossing the fries with cornstarch and then olive oil. The fries hit the oven at 400°F for 30 minutes, flipping halfway. At that point, the oven is turned off, but the fries are left to rest in the still-hot oven for 30 minutes. Resting in the hot oven instead of at room temperature is meant to maximize the crisp factor.
Results: These fries definitely weren’t soggy. They stood up straight when I held one up. But the extra-long exposure to the heat also dried them out. The texture was leathery. And despite flipping them halfway through the cooking time, one side was much darker. I attribute this to them resting on the hot baking sheet for the extra 30 minutes.
Method: No Soak, Baked at 425°F
About this method: This super straightforward recipe comes from Cookie and Kate. The fries are tossed first with cornstarch, then with olive oil. They’re baked at 425°F for about 35 minutes, flipping halfway through. No soaking here — Kate claims the extra work doesn’t provide better results. Let the fries cool on a wire rack.
Results: I pulled these fries out of the oven at the shortest suggested cooking time, but even that was too long. These fries were the darkest of the bunch, really toeing the line of burnt. The fries weren’t limp at all, but I would categorize them as more chewy than crisp. I did like how straightforward they were to prep and cook. I would try these again, reducing the cooking time.
Method: 30-Minute Soak, Baked at 425°F
About this method: Amy of Chew Out Loud soaks her sweet potato fries for at least 30 minutes. After drying them well, they’re tossed with oil first, and then the cornstarch and seasoning. They’re baked at 425°F for 15 minutes, flipped, and returned to the oven for an additional 7-10 minutes. Let them cool for two minutes to crisp before serving.
Results: This was another fairly straightforward recipe, with the additional soaking step. Like before, I could see the starch collected at the bottom of the bowl. These fries were so close, but unfortunately did not quite hit the mark. They were limp, but I think this mainly had to do with the shorter cooking time. I think adding on additional cooking time would be an easy adjustment to make here.
Method: 1-Hour Soak, Baked at 425°
Prep: 1 hour 10 minutes
Cook: 50 minutes
About this method: Laura from The First Mess starts with shorter fries. The large sweet potatoes are cut in half through the equator first, then cut into 1/2-inch fries. They then go in a bowl of cold water for at least an hour to soak. After draining and drying well, they’re tossed with arrowroot or cornstarch. (Laura indicates that either will work. I stuck with cornstarch for consistency’s sake.) They’re laid out on a baking sheet sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. The tops are then sprayed again with cooking spray. No salt yet — it draws out moisture while cooking. They’re baked at 425°F, for 50 minutes, flipping halfway through. They can be returned to the oven for additional cooking time if more browning is needed.
Results: I was skeptical of the shorter, almost stubby fries at first. I like the more elegant look of cutting the full length sweet potato into fries. But there was no denying it was a lot easier to cut things up when starting with half a potato and a flat, even surface. The hour-long soak also seemed like a long prep time, plus nearly an hour’s cooking time.
But these fries were super crisp. The shorter length provided more surface area to crisp up. They’re also great if you’re serving a crowd — they’re a one-bite fry that doesn’t require double dipping. And using cooking spray was easier and much less of a mess. The hour-long soak is definitely something you have to plan around, but they can soak up to overnight. It’d likely be easier to prep them earlier in the day, let them soak in the refrigerator, then resume when it’s closer to dinnertime.
My only major complaint was that 50 minutes was too long for my oven. These fries were too dark. They also tasted a bit under-seasoned. The salt didn’t adhere as well to the fries when they were seasoned after being removed to a plate. I’d definitely repeat this method but start checking the fries for doneness at 35 minutes. I’d also salt them immediately out of the oven, while the oil is still bubbling on the surface.
Method: 10-Minute Soak, Tossed with Oil Then Cornstarch, Baked at 425
About this method: This technique from A Couple Cooks calls for a quick 10 minute soak. The fries are drained, dried, tossed with oil, and then cornstarch. They’re baked for 15 minutes at 425°, flipped, then returned to the oven for another 16-19 minutes.
Results: These sweet potato fries were easy to make and legitimately crispy. They were still crispy after sitting around for 45 minutes. They ranked higher cold when tasted side-by-side with some of the lower ranking methods while they were still hot.
I wasn’t sure the 10 minute soak would do much, but I could see starch collected at the bottom of the bowl. There was definitely less starch present compared to those that soaked for 30 minutes or more, but it was there. If you have the extra time, soaking them for longer won’t hurt, but even the short turn in the tub makes a difference. My only tiny complaint here is that tossing the fries with oil and then cornstarch was a little trickier than tossing with cornstarch first. But with the results it provided, it wasn’t a huge deal.
Soaking sweet potato fries in cold water, even for just 10 minutes, before baking definitely makes a difference. To streamline things, prep and pop the bowl of fries in the fridge several hours before eating.
425°F seems to be the sweet spot for the oven temperature. Not too hot where they burn but hot enough to crisp and brown evenly.
Lastly, be sure to rotate the pans when cooking. Ovens have hot spots that sweet potatoes are particularly susceptible to. Rotating the pans helps avoid half a pan of overdone fries, and half a pan of soggy fries.