Here’s how to make the best baked french fries that are tender in the middle, caramelized, and crisp on the outside. After testing popular methods for baking french fries, we’ve zeroed in on our favorite way to make fries in the oven.
Watch the Video
Related: Our homemade ketchup goes perfectly with these fries!
We’ve been roasting potatoes in our oven for years but never really were happy with our baked French fry game. So we took a deep dive into some of the most popular methods and found the one that works the best for us.
How do you bake fries in the oven?
To bake fries in the oven, we follow three steps:
- Cut russet potatoes into similarly sized matchsticks to promote even roasting.
- Soak the fries in cold water for 30 minutes to remove starch, which helps them crisp in the oven.
- Bake the fries in a cooler oven so that the middles cook. Then, increase the oven’s heat for the last 20 minutes to get them browned and crisp.
Try our homemade sauces:
- Homemade Ketchup
- Homemade Mayonnaise or try our Vegan Mayonnaise
- Garlic Aioli
- Creamy Honey Mustard Sauce
Let’s walk through the steps I mentioned above. First up, you need to cut your fries.
How to cut potatoes for French fries
When it comes to baked fries, we reach for a regular baking potato. However, feel free to use creamier potatoes like Yukon Gold potato if that’s what you have. Fries made with russet (baking) potatoes will have a fluffier interior, which we love. We love using Yukon Gold potatoes when making these roasted potatoes.
It’s up to you whether or not you peel your potato. You can see from our photos that we don’t. If you don’t peel them, make sure that you scrub your potatoes and rinse them with water to remove any dirt.
Next, you’ll need to cut them into fries. We both love thin-cut fries, but any thickness will work in this recipe. The thicker you cut your fries, the longer they will take to crisp up in the oven.
If you have one, a French fry press or a mandoline with a fry blade is helpful, especially if you make many French fries. You can find them online; make sure you look for a heavy-duty one.
You can also cut the potatoes by hand. To do this, slice the potato into 1/4-inch slabs, stack them up, and slice them into 1/4-inch matchsticks.
Do I need to soak French fries in water?
I’m always looking for shortcuts in recipes, so we tried to skip the soaking step. Unfortunately, after baking both unsoaked and soaked fries, the soaked fries were much better! When you bake fries without soaking them in water, they tend to stick to each other and the baking sheet. They also bake up to be gummy and don’t crisp as well.
So, in our recipe below, we ask that you soak your fries in cold water for thirty minutes. After thirty minutes, you will see how much starch seeps into the water.
If it works out better for you, you can soak them longer. For example, you can soak the rinsed and cut fries in cold water overnight in the fridge.
However long you plan to soak your cut fries, please give them a rinse and pat them dry before cooking them. Damp fries won’t brown in the oven, so pat them dry with a clean dishtowel before tossing them with oil and spices.
How long do I need to bake fries?
It takes 40 to 50 minutes to bake fries in the oven. The trick to the best baked fries is to use two oven temperatures. First, bake the fries in a 375° Fahrenheit oven for 20 minutes. At this time, the fries will begin to cook in the middle but will look floppy and sad.
Next, increase the oven temperature to 425° Fahrenheit or even to 450° Fahrenheit. This warmer temperature transforms the sad, floppy fries into browned and crispy baked fries.
The fries need 20 to 30 minutes at a higher temperature. I’m giving such an extensive range because it depends on how browned you like your fries, how crispy you like them, and how thick you cut them.
I like my French fries to be pretty well browned, so even when I’m making thinner, matchstick fries, I keep them in the oven longer.
The other thing to note when baking French fries is to be careful when you stir them. I stay away from them until they are about five minutes into baking at the higher temperature. This way, the fries have a chance to firm up, so when I move them around the baking sheet, they don’t break on me.
I should also mention that if you are lucky enough to have an oven with a convection setting, you should use it when making fries. Keep all the temperatures the same, and watch for them to take a few minutes less than when using a conventional oven. Convection moves the hot air around the fries in the oven, which promotes more browning and crisping (like an air fryer — on that note, notes on using an air fryer are in the recipe below).
Our go-to French fry seasoning
One last thought: a nice seasoned salt takes baked French fries up a notch. You can buy them, but I find it easier to make a batch at home. It’s a simple blend of salt, smoked paprika, garlic powder, and onion powder. It’s a flavor powerhouse and adds a lovely color to the fries.
Here’s our basic seasoned salt recipe, it makes just over one tablespoon. We use 1 to 1 ½ teaspoons of it in the French fries recipe below:
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
Stir all the spices together, and then keep the blend in your spice cabinet. This seasoned salt works just as well for meats, seafood, sweet potato fries, baked potato wedges, and other vegetables as it does for French fries!
The Best Baked French Fries
Here’s how to make the best baked french fries that are tender in the middle, caramelized, and crisp on the outside. Don’t skip soaking the rinsed and cut fries before baking them. Soaking the cut fries in cold water helps to remove excess starch from the potatoes. When you bake fries without soaking them in water, they tend to stick to each other and the baking sheet. They also bake up to be gummy and don’t crisp as well. Soak the fries for at least 30 minutes. If you want to do this step in advance, soak the fries in cold water in the refrigerator overnight.
Watch Us Make the Recipe
You Will NeedFrench Fries
1 pound russet potatoes, 2 large potatoes
3 tablespoons vegetable oil or high-heat cooking oil
Seasoned salt (recipe below) or fine sea saltSeasoned Salt (Makes about 1 tablespoon)
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- Baked French Fries
1Adjust an oven rack so that it is towards the middle of the oven, and heat the oven to 375° Fahrenheit. If your oven has a convection setting, use it. You do not need to adjust the temperature. Set aside a large non-stick or anodized aluminum baking sheet; we prefer these because we can bake the fries directly on the baking sheet. If you do not have either, place a sheet of parchment paper or a silicone baking mat down onto your baking sheet to prevent sticking.
2Scrub the potatoes and cut them into sticks about ¼-inch thick.
3Submerge the potatoes in cold water and leave them to soak for 30 minutes. Drain and rinse, then pat the potatoes very dry. As a make-ahead option, you can soak the potatoes in cold water in the fridge overnight.
4Rinse and dry the bowl used to soak the potatoes, and then add the fries to it along with three tablespoons of oil and 1 ½ teaspoons of seasoned salt (recipe below). If you are using plain sea salt, use 3/4 teaspoon. Toss well.
5Spread the fries onto a baking sheet, and then bake, without moving them for 20 minutes.
6Increase the oven temperature to 425° Fahrenheit. Bake until the fries are golden and crisp, another 15 to 25 minutes. I’m giving such an extensive range because it depends on how browned you like your fries, how crispy you like them, and how thick you cut them. Keep an eye on them. If most of your fries are not browned or crisp, leave them in the oven for another 5 to 10 minutes.
7Wait to toss or move the fries around the pan until they are 25 to 30 minutes into the baking process, then give them a toss to promote even browning. I do this two or three times during the last 10 to 15 minutes so that all the fries have a chance to get crispy.
- Make Seasoned Salt
1Stir salt, pepper, paprika, garlic powder, and onion powder together. Store in an airtight jar. After making the French fries recipe, you will have some leftovers, but the seasoned salt will last in your spice cabinet for months. Use this on vegetables, meats, and seafood.
Adam and Joanne's Tips
- Airfryer French fries: Toss the soaked and dried fries with a tablespoon of oil and season with seasoned salt (or plain salt). You will need to cook the fries in batches. Place as many fries in the air fryer basket that will fit without them touching too much. Air fry at 375°F for 12 minutes or until crispy. Repeat with remaining fries. Just before serving, place all the fries back into the air fryer (it is okay if they touch this time), and air fry for another 2 to 3 minutes or until they crisp up again. Serve.
- Make-ahead, freezer-friendly fries: Freeze the baked fries in a single layer on a baking sheet. When they are completely frozen, transfer them to a freezer-safe container and freeze them for up to 6 months. Bake the frozen fries in a 425°F oven until hot and crisp.
- Nutrition facts: The nutrition facts provided below are estimates. We have used the USDA database to calculate approximate values.