Ahh, French fries. Who can resist the deliciously salty, crispy, golden goodness? Not us! There’s no shortage of options, from crinkle cut to waffle fries, curly fries, steak fries, wedges and more — but julienne fries are in a class of their own! These long, super-thin fries, also called shoestring fries, are particularly popular thanks to their extra crispy texture.
You can indulge in shoestring fries at restaurants, but it’s surprisingly easy to make them at home. We asked potato pro Adam Moore, chef consultant for the Idaho Potato Commission, for his must-know secrets for whipping up perfect julienne fries. Below, he shares how to make them, plus an easy trick for cooking them in an air fryer, the best seasonings to use and more!
1. Keep the fries uniform
The important key to getting the spuds just right: “If you’re cutting them by hand, make sure they’re all a consistent size,” says Moore. “Bigger pieces cook slower than smaller ones, even when you’re cutting as thin as a julienne strip.” He recommends cutting the potatoes into ⅛” pieces to ensure they all cook well.
2. Use the right tools
Cutting potatoes by hand can be a tedious task. So if you’re looking for a speedier method, consider a mandolin — a cooking utensil that makes easy work of slicing veggies into thin strips. (Using one will ensure your fries come out uniform, too!) Moore loves the Benriner Japanese Mandolin (Buy from Amazon, $29.60). “They’re not like the full metal French ones,” he shares. “They’re pretty economical, and they come with all the attachments that you need and finger guards. So you’re safe using them.”
A mandolin creates those perfectly thin potato slices with half the effort, but if you’re not interested in adding another gadget to your kitchen cabinets, Moore suggests cutting your spuds with a vegetable spiralizer for shoestring fries with a twist! “Those get pretty close to shoestring spiral fries,” he adds. (Click through for more delicious recipes using a spiralizer)
3. How to cook shoestring fries to perfection
Moore’s favorite way to cook shoestring fries: “Nothing beats deep frying.” To do, soak shoestring fries in cold water for a few minutes, then pat dry with paper towels. In a large deep pot, heat 3-4 cups of oil over medium heat until it reaches 375°F. Fry potatoes in batches for 2-3 minutes until golden brown. Check out this video from Becky Hardin, aka, the Cookie Rookie, to see the steps in action:
But if you’re looking for a healthier cooking method, you can always bake them. To do, add fries to a baking sheet lined with foil and spritzed with cooking spray. Drizzle with olive oil. Bake for 25-35 minutes at 450°F. Or you can cook them up in an air fryer. The secret to the best air-fryer spuds? Spritz them with a bit of oil, then cook at 400°F for 10-15 minutes, tossing halfway through.
Frozen potato products cook up great in air fryers, but since they’re par-fried before being frozen, they already have a bit of oil on them, explains Moore. Fresh spuds, even cut as thin as shoestring fries, need the oil to get a similar texture. “That’s the key to really crispy, fried-like foods in the air fryer,” he explains. (Click through for more air-fryer snacks to try).
4. Season with the right ingredients
With this style of fries being so thin and delicate, it can be easy to accidentally overpower them with flavor. But there are a few different ways to add just enough kick to make them even tastier. “I like to use popcorn salt with my fries because it’s really fine,” says Moore. “You can also use different types of exotic salts like pink Himalayan salt or Alderwood smoked salt.”
Herbs like rosemary and basil are also a fantastic option to jazz up your fries. The best way to do so? Fry the herbs up in a skillet. “If you pan fry the herbs a little bit, it brings out those essential oils and the flavor and then you’re creating an infused oil that you can toss the French fries in,” says Moore.
5. Serve them this way
After following the above tips, your fries have been cooked and seasoned to perfection! Before digging in, you’ll want to be mindful of how you serve them. Moore prefers to add the fries to a wide, shallow dish lined with parchment paper or paper towels, spreading them out on the dish. “If they are all clumped together, they’re going to steam together, which makes for soggy French fries.” But giving them a bit of room on your serving plate ensures your fries stay perfectly crisp and delicious.
This article originally appeared in our print magazine, Woman’s World.
For more secrets to tasty potatoes, keep reading!