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Updated! Even More Crispy Baked Sweet Potato “Fries” Recipe (GF, V, P, NF, AF)

Updated 9/24/2014: Higher heat and only one rotation makes this recipe a bit lower maintenance and, most importantly, more crunchy! Also updated 10/14/14 with small tweaks of goodness.

Confession time! I have a sweet potato addiction. I ate a whole sweet potato, like a pound’s worth, just today. I’d stop myself, but for ONCE something that tastes so good IS SO RIGHT. These babies are loaded with Vitamin A, Vitamin C, beta-carotene, calcium… all the good stuff. The best part is, they’re pretty easy to make and require minimal ingredients, yet they can be dressed up with more yummy stuff if you want! Awesome. (Of course they are a starchy veggie so try not to eat a whole sweet potato by yourself in one day).

Crispy Baked Sweet Potato Fries (gluten free, vegan, paleo, nightshade free, allergy friendly)

Here’s what you need:
A sweet potato. I used about a quarter of a 1-lb beauty when I made these. Any more and they won’t all fit on the pan (see below).
Cooking oil of choice. I used olive oil but you could go with coconut to maintain vegan or if not, lard or tallow would be amazing (I hope to have results of tallow rendering up soon!)
Salt. I’m a fan of Himalayan pink sea salt.

Here’s what you do:
Step-by-step photos are below, but basically you….
1. Preheat oven to 425
2. Cut potato into strips.
3. Coat with oil.
4. Arrange fries on a baking sheet with space between each potato piece. Sprinkle with salt.
5. Bake for 15 minutes on the top oven rack, then flip potatoes, turn the sheet around, and bake for 10 more minutes or until the fries are browned well but not burnt. (Different color sweet potatoes cook at different rates, so keep watch. I find white sweet potatoes are the fastest, followed by purple and orange take the longest amount of time.)
6. Let fries cool outside the oven for a bit, then arrange on a serving dish.
7. Watch your “fries” disappear!

This recipe yields enough fries for one person (I’m selfish). Just make at least two trays-worth if you’re sharing because they go so fast!

Now for a little more detailed instruction, with photos!

I start by selecting amazing produce. We’re heading deep into sweet potato season right now, so start looking at the farmers markets and local grocery stores for classic orange sweet potatoes, edgy purple ones or, even, the illusive white sweet potato (the latter is to be used to trick your family into thinking they’re eating actual potatoes – muhahahaha). Our market was just full of sweet potatoes last week so I scored a bunch of orange ones. Purple ones would really take these fries to the next level!

After selecting, washing, and drying the perfect sweet potato, preheat your oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit and get to work on washing the produce. Once they’re washed they can cut. For fries I like to slice them thin, about 1/4″ square by a few inches long, depending on the shape of sweet potato you have. I also enjoy slicing them in cubes sometimes. They’re so versatile! Here you can see my chopped produce for this recipe.

 photo 2014-09-17 15.04.31_zpsei6luoqv.jpg

Don’t eat the penny! It’s just there for scale.

Save yourself the trouble and leave those tasty skins on when you slice them! Just make sure you washed them well before you start chopping.

After slicing, it’s time for some fat to help these beauties taste even yummier and not stick to the pan. I use maybe a tablespoon of olive oil. You could also use coconut oil or, if you’re not vegan, some tallow or lard.

 photo 2014-09-17 15.03.24_zpsdkwgwgh3.jpg

Just enough oil

Now just toss your produce around in the oil to cover it. CRISP TIP #1: Well-coated fries get crispier than fries that are sparsely coated or not coated with any oil or fat at all.

 photo 2014-09-17 15.02.19_zpszhq6rm6t.jpg

Getting yummier

And arrange on a baking sheet. Don’t rush this step! CRISP TIP #2: You want to give each fry some space, otherwise they won’t get crispy.

 photo 2014-09-17 15.00.58_zps0qixgttr.jpg

Blurry because I’m so excited to eat them!

Second confession! I have an aluminum foil obsession too. I always line my pans with aluminum foil because they’re so much easier to clean. Just toss the foil! But I’m creating a lot of waste that way. Plus I’m not so sure if cooking on all that aluminum is good for us… but the pans themselves are aluminum too! So maybe once I get some better pans (stainless?) I’ll else up on my foil use. UPDATE: I’ve been using wax paper instead of foil lately. The wax paper just gets so smokey, so I wonder if it is any better than the foil…

Now is a good time to salt the fries so that the salt sticks to the oil. It’s okay to salt them after baking, too, but I find more salt ends up on my plate if I wait.

Now the baking part! CRISP TIP #3: My fries tend to get more crispy if I place my baking sheet on the top rack in my oven. I don’t know why, but that’s my oven’s sweet spot.

CRISP TIP #4: Rotate those fries! I bake them for 10-15 minutes, or until I can tell the bottoms are getting browned. Then I take them out and flip them all over. Before I put the sheet back in the oven, I spin it around so that the fries that were in the back of the oven move up to the front. If you’re baking multiple trays, move the bottom one to the top and vise versa. If your fries are of varying sizes, you may want to pull some out of the oven while the others are still baking. It is a delicate balancing act. Once you’ve got everything flipped and rotated, roast again for another 10 minutes or so, or until your fries are sufficiently browned. Browning makes them crispy!

 photo 2014-09-17 14.57.32_zpsiuz4hkjd.jpg

After roasting on all sides.

Then let them cool a little and put them on a plate.

 photo 2014-09-17 14.55.56_zpsmw9pa3xl.jpg

Salted and ready for my mouth!

There are variations a-plenty for these too!

Try adding your favorite seasonings! Just chop them fine and add them with the oil to make them really stick.
+ Minced garlic, or garlic aioli, or garlic powder
+ Rosemary
+ Cinnamon (toss with honey for an even sweeter treat!)
+ Balsamic vinegar
+ Thyme
+ Onion powder

For more variations, substitute another veggie for the sweet potato! You can make fries out of almost anything.
+ Yams
+ Squash (the shape of butternut or delicata works out the best for fries)
+ Zucchini
+ Rutabaga
+ Turnips
+ Beets
+ Celery root/celeriac

And speaking of shape, these don’t even have to be fries! They can be cubes or rounds. Slice rounds super thin and you’ll get chips! Just make sure to oil them really well or the chips will burn and stick like crazy to the pan. Experiment with oven times for these other veggies so they don’t burn and get nice and soft in the middle. Now I’m inspired to try variations too!

Enjoy the yummy healthy goodness!

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