The Key Ingredient For The Crispiest Possible Sweet Potato Fries

The ever-popular sweet potato fries are not only a delicious addition to so many different meals, but they're also relatively easy to make for yourself at home. There's just one thing that's imperative to achieve: crispiness. Because the last thing you want your sweet potato fries to be is soggy.

But achieving the crispiest possible sweet potato fries can be a challenge because their flesh is generally softer than regular potatoes once cooked. So how do you ensure ultimate crispy success? There's one ingredient that will get you there: cornstarch.

Whether you bake or fry them, if you're looking to cook your sweet potato fries to the golden standard of crispiness — one that will hold up even after the fries sit around for a while — tossing the sweet potato wedges in cornstarch before you cook them will replace any starch lost in the washing or soaking process and allow the fries to crisp up to perfection.

How (and why) to use cornstarch for crispy sweet potato fries

It doesn't just come down to the key ingredient you use, but how you use it. There's a certain way to use cornstarch when you make sweet potato fries that will maximize the ingredient and produce the best results — and it's all about understanding the role of starch.

Many french fry recipes call for rinsing or soaking the potatoes first to remove unwanted sugars from the surface, allowing the inside and outside of the potatoes to cook at a more even rate. But this also rids the potatoes of some of their starch, which is what caramelizes while it cooks, making the outside crispy. So coating the sweet potatoes in cornstarch is a way to restore the surface with the starch it needs to crisp up properly.

You want the cornstarch to essentially form a film over the potatoes, on the outermost layer of the fries. So if you're frying, toss the potatoes in cornstarch and let them dry out a bit to develop a coating. If you're baking, toss the potatoes in oil first, and then coat with cornstarch, so the starch can work its magic in the oven. How much cornstarch? A good rule of thumb is around a tablespoon for each pound of potatoes.

More tips for cooking up crispy sweet potato fries

There are many things to keep in mind as you make your sweet potato fries that will help give you the tastiest, crispiest fries. First and foremost, don't skip the soaking — you want to remove some of that surface starch and sugar for optimal cooking, so be sure to rinse and soak your potatoes in cold water for at least 10 minutes but preferably 30.

If you're baking your sweet potato fries, the oven needs to be hot enough to deeply brown and crisp the potatoes evenly, but not too hot that it'll burn them, so an ideal oven temperature is 425°F. And speaking of cooking evenly, every oven is different; another way to ensure an even crisp is to rotate your pans and flip your potatoes while baking.

If you're deep frying, the best method to ensure the crispiness you crave is to double-fry the potatoes. First, fry them at a lower oil temperature of 325°F for about five minutes, and then fry them a second time at 375°F for just a couple of minutes until they're deeply golden brown. When it comes to the best oil to use to make fries, go for something neutral-tasting with a high smoke point, like safflower or peanut oil.