This recipe is sponsored by ZenChef. All opinions are 100% my own.
Making perfect air fryer french fries can seem a little bit tricky. Here are some dos and don’ts, plus four delicious ways to spice up your air fries!
How to Make French Fries in Your Air Fryer
Chances are, if you purchased an air fryer, one of the things you were most excited about doing was air frying french fries. And maybe your first batch of air fries came out…underwhelming. I’m here for you.
Making perfect air fryer fries is all about know what to do (and what NOT to do). Let’s get into a few key things to know about making air fryer french fries.
Choose the right potatoes.
When it comes to air fryer french fries, Russet potatoes are your friend. You can make fries out of other potatoes, but russets will be your best bet.
Don’t sweat the soak.
I know, the book that came with your air fryer (and many of the air fries recipes you’ll find online) say that you need to soak your cut potatoes to remove excess starch. You certainly can soak, but I find that this is a waste of time. Unsoaked potatoes yield perfectly fine air fryer french fries, and skipping the soak shaves a lot of prep time off of your recipe!
Cut into uniform pieces.
When you’re prepping your potatoes for the air fryer, you want your fries to be pretty much uniform in thickness. Different lengths are fine, but make sure they’re all about the same width. If you have a mix of fat and skinny fries, you’ll end up with some that are burnt and others that are undercooked.
Air Frying French Fries
Once you’re ready to cook, time and temperature are key.
Cook your fries at 400F for 20 minutes, and don’t forget to shake once or twice during the cooking time! Shaking helps make sure your fries cook up in a uniform way.
The cooking time will vary depending on how full your basket is. More circulating air means less cooking time, so a half batch of fries will cook more quickly than a full, 2-potato batch.
When your fryer beeps, pull a fry out of the middle, and taste it. If it’s not as crispy as you’d like, cook the fries for another 2-3 minutes at 400F. Repeat, until you have your dream basket of fries!
The final cooking time will depend on how thick your fries are and how many are in your basket. A less-full basket always cooks faster, because more air is moving around.
Common Air Fryer French Fries Mistakes
Got your unsoaked Russets cut to just the right size? Avoid these common pitfalls for the perfect results!
DO NOT overfill your basket.
Depending on the size of your air fryer, you can usually make between one and three Russet potatoes’ worth of fries. For the best fries, I try not to fill the basket more than 1/2 to 2/3 of the way, even when the fill line marked on the basket is higher than that.
This is the most critical thing to keep in mind when you’re making air fryer french fries, y’all. A packed backed will give you some perfect, crispy fries, but the ones in the center will be alternately undercooked and mushy.
That’s because when you overfill your air fryer’s basket, you hinder the air flow, and that hot air whooshing through the fryer is the key to air fryer magic.
DO NOT forget to shake.
Shake at least once during the cooking cycle, preferably twice. Shaking helps ensure that all of your fries can a shot at being in the outer layer in the basket, which is how they’ll get uniformly crispy.
DO NOT skimp on the liquid.
You can technically make air fryer french fries with no oil or other liquid, but I don’t recommend it. I like to toss my cut potatoes together in a bowl with a little bit of salt (and sometimes seasoning) and a tablespoon of oil before placing in the basket. You can also use spray oil, if you’re trying to avoid cooking with oil.
If you absolutely do not do oil, toss your potato pieces with soy sauce or a fat free salad dressing or with a tablespoon or two of aquafaba (a trick I learned from A Virtual Vegan). That little bit of moisture will help you avoid dry fries. No one wants a dry fry!
About My (NEW!) Air Fryer
Y’all, I am so excited to tell you about the new air fryer that I used to make these fries! It’s the ZenChef PRO XXL Air Fryer from Zeny, who is sponsoring this recipe (and a few upcoming air fryer recipes, too!).
I’ve been experimenting with this air fryer for about a month now, and I am all in. the bask et is nice and large (5.8 quarts!), and I love the way it’s designed. As you probably know, I am extremely picky about air fryers, and this basket design is the kind I like: it pops out for easy cleaning, and it has holes at the bottom (rather than mesh) to allow air flow.
This is also the first air fryer I’ve tried that you can turn off before the cycle is done.
The ZenChef PRO XXL has a temperature control from 160F up to 400F, and you can set it for up to 60 minutes. Most of the air fryers I’ve tried only go up to 20 minutes, and that extra flexibility is handy for things like making baked potatoes.
So far, I’ve used it to make:
- more Gardein than I should admit to eating (400F, 10 minutes, you’re welcome!)
- probably 1000 batches of air fryer french fries
- Air Fryer Tofu
- my Air Fryer Tofu and Potato Scramble
Everything has turned out great. The ZenChef PRO XXL cooks things quickly, evenly and consistently. And, of course, you can use little to no oil, if that’s your thing. The Air Fryer French Fries recipe below has options for using a tablespoon of oil or just a few spritzes of spray oil, if you’re trying to really limit your oil consumption.
Perfect Air Fryer French Fries, 4 Ways
For the Fries
- 2 russet potatoes - cut into 1/4" thick 'fingers.'
- 2 teaspoons neutral-tasting oil (divided) - like sunflower oil (or spray oil, if you prefer)
- 1 batch any of the spice mixes below
For Salt and Pepper Fries
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
For Ranch Seasoned Fries
- 1 1/2 teaspoons dried dill
- 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 3/4 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon nutritional yeast - optional
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
For BBQ Fries
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon mild chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- pinch of ground cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
For Garlic Fries
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons minced garlic
- 2 tablespoons minced parsley
- In a large bowl toss the potatoes with 1 teaspoon of the oil or spray with oil, coating thoroughly. Air fry at 400F for 15 minutes, shaking every 5 minutes.
- With the potatoes still in the air fryer basket, toss with the remaining teaspoon of oil or spray with a little bit more oil, then toss the fries with your spice mix of choice (For the Garlic Fries, DO NOT add the parsley at this point - toss with the parsley just before serving).
- Cook at 400F for 5 more minutes, then serve. If you're making the Garlic Fries, this is the point at which you'll add the parsley.
- You can cut this recipe in half, if you only want to make 4 servings. Half of 1 tablespoon is 1 1/2 teaspoons.
- The cooking time will vary depending on the size of your air fryer. A larger air fryer means more circulating air and a shorter cooking time.