The quest for healthy french fries will never end, because let’s face it: French fries are everyone’s favorite, but we all know they’re far from health food. Luckily, they can be made healthier—and you can even enjoy keto fries if you’re on that low-carb diet.
While it makes for a less traditional tasting french fry, sweet potatoes offer an excellent alternative and increase a fry’s nutritional value. Check out our excellent Sweet Potato Fry recipe, using only cornstarch, ghee, minced garlic, paprika, chili powder, and black pepper. Be sure to avoid overcrowding the pan with fries in order for even cooking and pull them out when they appear golden brown.
While french fries are often defined by the flavor they take on, consider cutting back on the salt and incorporating other, more nutritional spices. Garlic, rosemary, thyme, paprika, and onion powder are just a few flavorful alternatives to avoid heavy sodium intake. If you’re opting for sweet potatoes, think about using a sweeter spice—like cinnamon, brown sugar and nutmeg. (Go easy on the sugar though! We’re trying to be healthy here.) Or try something new, like vadouvan, “a French interpretation of Indian masala curry powder, blending classic curry spices of mustard seeds, fenugreek, cumin, coriander, cardamom, and chili peppers with aromatic onion, garlic, and shallot.”
Consider this—”French fries” are not at all French. They actually were made popular in the United States after American soldiers learned the recipe from some French-speaking Belgians. If the word “French” is a fallacy, why not nix “fry” too? Slice a few potatoes into ½-inch pieces, going longways. Put the potatoes in a bowl with two tablespoons of olive oil, or just enough to entirely coat each potato. Add spices of your preference—garlic and parmesan are a classic, but you could also go the direction of spicy Cajun seasoning.
Then, instead of a fryer, pop them in the oven on a baking pan lined in foil or parchment and covered in cooking spray or oil. Bake them at 450 degrees for 10-15 minutes, or until brown. By avoiding the fryer, this baking method cuts out a lot of the grease (and potential for hot oil accidents)—and if they’re not from France and we want a more accurate alliteration, we could dub these fries “Belgian Bakes.”
Another oil-free option is the grill; just be sure to keep an eye on them—turning the french fries often to avoid sticking (see our Grilled Sweet Potato recipe for more pointers).
A happy medium between the dreaded deep fryer and the baking sheet is to use an air fryer for crisp, nearly oil-free potato fries (or other veggie fries or chips). Because it uses super hot circulated air to cook your food, you need far less oil for a satisfying crunch. Try this Easy Air Fryer French Fries recipe.
Related Reading: 15 Unexpected Air Fryer Recipes You Should Try
Speaking of oil, combined with the baking method, you can replace the oil with another crisping agent—whisked egg whites or broth. By using these healthier alternatives, your french fry still has the crispiness you want without the weight of using heavy oils. Or, just leave those potatoes naked, as in this Oil-Free Baked Fries recipe. If you go the substitute route, consider spicing the egg whites or broth before saturating the potatoes for extra flavor.
Whether or not you’re actually on keto, instead of filling up on carb-filled potato fries, try opting for a different veggie. Jicama fries are one popular option, but still too high in carbs for strict keto eaters. Zucchini, however, is a great choice; this Baked Parmesan Zucchini Fries with Marinara Dipping Sauce recipe offers a healthy crunch with plenty of zesty seasoning and cheese. (If you’re on keto, you’ll need to swap the bread crumbs out for almond flour or even finely crushed pork rinds, but otherwise you’re good to go.)
You can treat turnips, parsnips, and rutabagas the same way.
If you’re missing fried potato chips, our Veggie Chips are another great snack alternative with plenty of crunch, and can also be made from many varieties of vegetable. They’re the perfect guiltless binge snack.
No matter what kind of fries you make, they’re begging to be dipped in some kind of sauce, but commercial ketchup and other store-bought condiments can be high in sugar, and creamier dips like ranch can add back all the calories you saved and then some. One solution is to make healthier homemade sauces like paleo ketchup or Greek yogurt ranch dressing. Or try something less conventional, like our Garlic Mint Greek Yogurt Dip recipe, which pairs particularly well with sweet potato fries. You can also swap in vegan ingredients to use in place of dairy.
Related Reading: 12 Delicious Vegan Sauces to Put on Everything
While in general, fries hold a special snack place in most of our hearts, it’s not hard or expensive to create healthier alternatives at home. Baking fries, breaking out the air fryer, minding your spices and oils, and considering nixing the potato all together are just a few options we have in the kitchen to turn our guilty pleasure into a nutritious, guilt-free satiation. So next time you need a side for your cheeseburgers or a snack between meals, consider opting for some healthier, alternative french fry varieties.