Crispy outside, tender inside, and seasoned to perfection, these Air Fryer French Fries are the pinnacle of satisfaction. This recipe is THE method to make perfect French fries from scratch in the air fryer!
Yes folks, I am one of the cool kids now: an air fryer owner! (After copious research, this is the one we settled on based on price and capacity.)
The very first recipe I set out to master: French fries.
What is an Air Fryer
For those who are new to the appliance, an air fryer is essentially a super-powered countertop convection oven.
The top contains a heating element and fan, which blows hot air down and around the food on a rack below, cooking it quickly and making it crispy (it even makes scrumptious Air Fryer Pork Chops).
Unlike a standard oven, air fryers can preheat in minutes and their compact size means the food is ready faster (hello, Air Fryer Grilled Cheese on demand).
For example, French fries are healthier in an air fryer, because unlike a deep fryer where the potatoes are completely submerged in a large amount of oil and also absorb the oil, you only need 2 teaspoons of oil to cook a generous batch of fries in the air fryer.
And let me tell you, I air-fried so many potatoes in my quest for the perfect French fry, the healthier factor is something I appreciated deeply. (For reference, air fryer French fry calories are around 107 for 4 ounces, compared with 335 calories for a similar-sized serving of fries at McDonald’s.)
This recipe is based on my go-to oven Baked French Fries. <—If you don’t own an air fryer and want fries that are healthy, that recipe is fabulous and yields the crispest possible fries in the oven.
Translating the original oven recipe to the air fryer, however, did present a few challenges.
In addition to determining the obvious—how long you air fry French fries (answer: 7 to 15 minutes, depending upon your model and if you cook the potatoes in a single or double layer)—I wanted to delve deeper.
After testing different air fryer French fry times, potato varieties, cut sizes, and even numbers of fries in the basket, I can say with complete confidence: these are the best air fryer French fries ever!
How to Make Perfect Air Fryer French Fries
Air frying fries that are supremely crispy, piping hot, and dead ringers for their deep-fried restaurant counterparts comes down to five components:
- The type of potato
- How you cut the potato
- Soaking the potato
- How many layers of fries you cook in the air fryer at once
- Total cook time
Which Potato is Best for Air Fryer French Fries
When it comes to which potato to use for air fryer French fries, you have two options: Yukon gold potatoes and russet (a.k.a. Idaho) potatoes. Each will yield a different result.
- Russet potatoes resulted in fries that were crispy outside, drier inside, and tasted most similar to fries you would eat in a restaurant.
- Yukon gold potatoes resulted in fries that were equally crispy outside, but that had a firmer, creamier inside. Thanks to their naturally buttery taste, the French fries made with Yukon golds also had a richer flavor.
While Yukon golds are my favorites for Oven Roasted Potatoes and Instant Pot Mashed Potatoes, when it came to making a healthy version of classic French fries in the air fryer, russet potatoes did the best job.
Feel free to try both potatoes and pick your favorite!
How to Cut Potatoes for Fries
To create fries that crisped but didn’t burn, I found that cutting the potatoes into matchsticks that were ¼-inch wide on each side and 3 to 4 inches in length worked best.
- In order for your fries to cook evenly in the same amount of time, it’s important for them to be cut the same size.
- I suggest using a mandoline (like this one) for easy cutting and to ensure uniform fries.
To Peel or Not to Peel
When making air fryer French fries, you do not need to peel the potatoes if you do not wish to. Personally, I like the bit of texture the skin adds as well as the vitamins in the skin, so I leave the skin on (the same is true of my Sweet Potato Fries and Roasted Fingerling Potatoes). If you prefer the skin off, you are welcome to peel them as you like.
Soaking: A Crispy Essential
While it may seem like a pain, soaking the potatoes in hot water for 10 minutes prior to cooking them in the air fryer is essential.
- The water removes excess starch, allowing the fries to be their crispiest.
- I like to use hot water to cook the potatoes slightly. This creates the “double fried” effect that makes many restaurant fries so addictive.
Layering Food in the Air Fryer
One of my biggest frustrations with the air fryer is that, despite the basket’s large overall volume capacity, in order for certain foods to crisp properly, they need to be cooked in a single layer.
Since the surface area of the basket is small, that means you end up making a lot of batches, taking away from the air fryer’s quicker cook time.
To determine whether or not you could fit more fries into the air fryer at once, I tested a few different methods. Here is what I found:
- Single Layer of Potatoes. Cooking just one layer of potatoes at a time resulted in the best, crispiest fries. The downside was that I needed to make at least 4 batches, which extended the recipe’s total time.
- Double Layer of Potatoes. My next test was to see if I could stack the potatoes in two layers. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the double-layer fries, while not *as* crisp as the ones I cooked in a single layer, were still delightfully crispy and very satisfying. This approach also cut my number of batches in half.
- Three Layers or More. When I stacked the potatoes in three layers or more, they were noticeably less crisp and representative of “fried” fries. I would not recommend this method.
Ultimately the number of layers of fries you air fry at once depends upon how picky you are about the fries being maximally crispy and how much time you have for multiple batches.
For us, the double layer was the perfect balance between crispiness and faster recipe time.
Air Fryer French Fries Cook Times
The amount of time you need to air fry French fries will vary based on your model and its power.
- I primarily tested these as Ninja air fryer French fries, as this is the model I own. My cook time was 8 minutes.
- Other popular air fryer models include the Phillips, the Vremi SkinnyTaste air fryer, and budget-friendly GoWISE USA.
Since models vary, I recommend you check a few minutes early, and then again towards the end of cooking time to make sure your fries do not burn.
How to Cook Air Fryer French Fries from Scratch
This recipe *could* feed 3 to 4, but the two of us have no problem devouring the whole batch! Feel free to scale it up or down as you like.
- Potatoes. There’s nothing like a plate of hot and crispy potatoes, especially when they’re this easy to make! Plus, potatoes are rich in minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants. Both russet potatoes and Yukon Gold potatoes will work here.
- Olive Oil. A little oil helps the fries become perfectly crispy.
- Seasoning. The options are endless! I love the classic combination of salt, pepper, and garlic powder on its own, but you can add any of your favorite seasonings. I’ve listed some fun ideas below.
- Slice the potatoes into sticks.
- Soak the potatoes in hot water.
- Drain and dry the potatoes. Rinse the bowl before returning the potatoes to it.
- Toss the potatoes with oil and seasonings.
- For fairly crispy fries: Cook the potatoes in 2 layers in the air fryer basket at 375 degrees F for 5 minutes. Toss the fries, then cook for 3-7 minutes more.
- For maximum crispy fries: Cook the potatoes in a single layer in the air fryer basket at 375 degrees F for 5 minutes. Toss the fries, then cook for 4-8 minutes more.
- Transfer the fries to a plate, and sprinkle them with salt. Repeat the cooking process with any remaining potatoes. DIG IN!
I’ve suggested my go-to seasoning blend here, but you have plenty of options!
- Cajun. Toss your fries with Cajun seasoning for a bold, lightly spicy flavor. (This would be tasty with my Skinny Greek Yogurt Ranch Dip.)
- Italian. Try your air fryer fries with some Italian seasoning for a delicious Italian spin. (Pair these with the basil yogurt dip from my Zucchini Fries recipe.)
- Seasoning Salt. Add seasoning salt for addictive salty and garlicky flavor. Omit the kosher salt, as seasoning salt is already salty.
- Curry. For warm and richly-spiced fries, try adding curry powder.
- Parmesan Truffle. Enjoy an elegant, restaurant-worthy spin by adding truffle salt and topping your finished fries with freshly grated Parmesan.
- To Store. Place leftover fries in an airtight storage container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
- To Reheat. In the unlikely event of leftovers, you can reheat the baked fries in the air fryer at 375 degrees F or by preheating your oven to 400 degrees F and placing an empty baking sheet in the oven while the oven preheats. Spread the leftover fries in a single layer on the hot pan (or in the air fryer basket), and recrisp. Nothing replaces the just-cooked taste (the fries will dry out a bit), but they do perk up. I found air fryer fries reheated even better than regular fries, since the lesser amount of oil inherently prevents them from getting soggy.
- To Freeze. Freeze fries in a single layer on a baking sheet until solid. Transfer the frozen fries to an airtight freezer-safe storage container or ziptop bag for up to 3 months. Reheat from frozen as desired.
Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe
- Air Fryer. The air fryer I own and love.
- Baking Sheet. I use these almost every day.
- Mixing Bowls. Perfect for soaking your fries and tossing them with the spices.
Do you have an air fryer yet? What other air fryer recipes would you like to see from me? Please let me know in the comments below (and let me know if you try this recipe too!). I love hearing from you.
Air Fryer French Fries
- 1 large or 2 small/medium russet potatoes* or Yukon gold potatoes, about 1 pound
- 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil**
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt plus additional for serving
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- OPTIONAL: ½ teaspoon dried dill weed Italian seasoning, or dried herbs of choice (see blog post above for more ideas)
- OPTIONAL: pinch cayenne pepper see blog post above for more ideas
- Toppings optional fresh parsley, chives, freshly grated Parmesan cheese (or nutritional yeast)
- Scrub the potatoes and peel if desired (I leave the peels on). Slice in half lengthwise, then cut into 1/4-inch-wide slices (a mandoline is the best way to get even fries; watch your fingers!). Turn the slices on their sides and cut into 1/4-inch sticks. If the sticks are long, cut them in half so that your fries are about 3 to 4 inches.
- Place the potatoes in a large bowl, then pour very hot tap water over the top so that it covers the potatoes by at least 1 inch. Let sit 10 minutes. <—Must do! If you skip the soaking step, the fries will not be as crisp.
- If you’d like to keep the fries warm between batches, preheat the oven to 200 degrees F and keep a baking sheet handy.
- Preheat the air fryer to 375 degrees F according to the manufactuers instructions. (For my air fryer, that is 3 minutes of preheat time).
- Drain the potatoes, then transfer them to a clean towel and dry as completely as you can, changing the towel as needed. Rinse and wipe out the bowl you soaked the potatoes in, then return the potatoes to the bowl.
- Drizzle the potatoes with the olive oil and sprinkle with salt, garlic powder, black pepper, and any other desired seasonings. Toss to coat, making sure the spices and oil are well distributed.
- FOR FAIRLY CRISPY, SATISFYING FRIES IN FEWER BATCHES: Place the potatoes in the air fryer basket, doing no more than two layers (my air fryer is 5 ½ quarts and I can add about ⅓ of the fries). Make sure the fries are not completely packed together so that the air has plenty of room to circulate. Cook the fries for 5 minutes. Slide the basket out and use tongs to toss the fries. Return to the air fryer and continue cooking for 3 to 7 additional minutes, until crispy and golden brown. The time can vary by several minutes based on your air fryer model. Check on them a few times during the last few minutes to make sure they don’t burn and make note of the time for future batches.
- FOR MAXIMUM CRISPY FRIES IN MORE BATCHES: Place the potatoes in just one layer in the basket, being careful that they don't touch much or overlap. Cook for 4 minutes, slide the basket out and flip with tongs, then continue cooking for 4 to 8 additional minutes, until the fries are as crispy as you would like (again, the time will vary based on your model, so check them several times during the last few minutes and adjust as needed).
- Remove the fries to a baking sheet or serving plate and immediately sprinkle with kosher salt.
- Repeat with remaining potatoes, keeping the cooked fries warm on a baking sheet in the oven between batches as desired. Discard any liquid the potatoes have given off that has collected at the bottom of the bowl. Sprinkle with any extra desired toppings. Enjoy!
- *Russet potatoes are drier inside and give you a fry more similar to what you’d have in a restaurant. Yukon golds will give you fries with firmer, creamy insides and crispy outsides. We love both! Feel free to use your favorite or try them both ways.
- **You also can make air fryer fries with no oil. Coat the air fryer rack with non-stick spray to prevent sticking.
- TO STORE: Place leftover fries in an airtight storage container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
- TO REHEAT: In the unlikely event of leftovers, you can reheat the baked fries in the air fryer at 375 degrees F or by preheating your oven to 400 degrees F and placing an empty baking sheet in the oven while the oven preheats. Spread the leftover fries in a single layer on the hot pan (or in the air fryer basket), and recrisp. Nothing replaces the just-cooked taste (the fries will dry out a bit), but they do perk up. I found air fryer fries reheated even better than regular fries, since the lesser amount of oil inherently prevents them from getting soggy.
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