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What’s the best way to eat fries without feeling guilty? Eat sweet potato fries! Even better, make them yourself at home.
Sweet potatoes are full of Vitamin A and fiber, among other nutrients, so they’re a great choice for your fry craving. But how do we make them at home? You could use a deep fryer…but that’s a sure way to up the fat and calorie content. The best option is to simply use your trusty frying pan on the stove.
Read on to find out how to fry sweet potato fries in a pan.
Prepping the sweet potatoes
Give your sweet potatoes a good wash and dry. Cut the ends off, as they’re often a bit tough and misshaped.
Take a large knife and cut the sweet potato into oval-shaped slabs or disks, lengthways. A good thickness is approximately 1 cm.
Chop each sweet potato slab into fries by cutting the length of the slab so that you end up with 1 cm-wide fries, (give or take a few mm).
Par-boiling the sweet potato fries
This step isn’t 100% crucial, but it does help the process. It gets the sweet potato fries a wee bit soft on the outside, which speeds the cooking process along once they hit the pan. It also allows the oil to soak into the surface of the fries which helps to get a decadent crisp.
If you don’t par-boil, I would recommend cutting the sweet potatoes into smaller fries and expect them to take a little longer to become tender in the pan.
Bring a pot of salted water to a rolling boil and add your chopped sweet potatoes. Allow them the boil for a minute or two, until just becoming soft, but still resisting when you poke a knife through. Stand by the pot and keep checking, you don’t them to become mushy!
Thoroughly drain the par-boiled sweet potatoes, being careful not to break them. Leave them in a colander to dry out as you prep your pan.
Choosing your pan
Choose your largest, heaviest frying pan, preferably with high sides to prevent oil splatter. A large pan will give your sweet potato fries more room to become golden. If they’re too crowded, you risk a soggy fry with uneven browning.
A non-stick pan will definitely help the process along, but it’s not absolutely crucial. It just means that you might have a little more rustic appeal to your sweet potato fries due to scraping them a little more roughly from the pan.
If you desperately don’t want to deal with a pan that isn’t non-stick, you can line your pan with baking paper. This is a great little trick if your pan is extremely sticky, but it does affect the potency of the heat and “sizzle factor”, so bear that in mind.
Adding the oil
Choose an oil with a high smoke point and a mild flavor. I like to use rice bran oil or canola oil. Don’t use your nice extra virgin olive oil, it reaches the smoke point very quickly and the flavor just doesn’t last when the heat is too high. You can use a light olive oil though.
Drizzle the oil into the pan until the bottom surface is just coated. You don’t want the oil to rise up the sides of the pan and slosh around, you just want there to be an even coating of oil.
Finding the right heat
Place your pan over medium-high heat and stand by as the pan heats up. Chop a little piece off one of your fries and drop it into the pan, if the piece sits quietly without sizzling, keep heating the pan. If the piece sizzles pleasantly without a big crackle and spit, the pan is ready.
Cooking the fries
Carefully place one layer of fries into the hot pan, using a flat spoon to distribute them without burning your fingers. You want one single layer of sweet potato fries, with enough room to turn them. If you’re cooking a large amount, you’ll need to do a few batches to get them all done.
After about 30 seconds on the heat, I like to give the fries a shake or even a gentle nudge with the fish slice. This gets rid of any initial stickiness and gives the fries a better chance at cooking loosely.
Leave the fries to cook for a few minutes on one side.
Take a sturdy fish slice and pass it under the fries and toss them as best you can. It doesn’t need to be perfect, as long as they end up on a different side from the one they were just cooking on. You can give individual fries a quick turn with tongs or fast fingers if need be.
Tip your cooked sweet potato fries into a large bowl (preferably metal) and add your seasonings. You could go for plain salt and keep things simple, or add a cajun seasoning mix, or simply a pinch of ground chili for heat. Give the fries a good toss by shaking the bowl, then serve hot.
You absolutely do not need a deep fryer in order to make tasty sweet potato fries in your own kitchen. You need a reasonably deep frying pan, a dash of oil with a high smoke point, a fish slice and some patience in order to do multiple batches. The par-boiling step gives the sweet potatoes head-start in the cooking process, but it’s not entirely necessary.