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As an unabashed kitchen gadget collector, the air fryer is one of my most beloved kitchen gadgets. I air fry many different types of food in the air fryer, but I think the air fryer cooks potatoes and – more specifically, homemade french fries – the best. This air fryer french fries recipe is so easy – chop up a couple of potatoes, throw them in some garlic-infused olive oil, salt and pepper, toss them in the air fryer, and BAM! Recipe OVER – a super delicious, versatile side dish, appetizer or snack is on your table (or maybe already in your mouth…?) in about a half hour. If you’re new to air frying, this is an excellent recipe to start out with as it’s easy but also puts you through some of the main fundamentals of air frying.
Wait, are white potatoes Paleo?
It’s no secret that I love potatoes. 4 out of 5 of the recipes on this blog so far involve potatoes. I launched this blog with a mashed potatoes recipe (crazy, I know). Yet, not everyone in the Paleo eating community considers white potatoes Paleo. Although they are believed to have been around while our ancestors roamed the earth, white potatoes have a reputation for being unhealthy, high in carbs, and lacking in nutrients.
Potatoes and The Whole30
I was originally introduced to the Paleo diet through The Whole30 program. White potatoes are allowed on the program as they are actually rich in nutrients. While I’m not a nutritionist or doctor, according to Potatoes USA, one skin-on, medium sized potato contains 30% of your daily value of Vitamin C, more potassium than a banana, and are also a good source of fiber, magnesium, and antioxidants. It’s true that sweet potatoes, which are considered Paleo, are more nutrient-dense; however, their nutritional benefits are not much higher than that of a white potato. Even though they are high in carbs, white potatoes are not much higher in carbs than sweet potatoes.
Paleo, Whole30 and Low FODMAP
While I wouldn’t consume them as my primary food source unless I was stranded on Mars with no other food but potatoes, I personally could not eat a Paleo diet or do a Whole30 without them. My body just doesn’t get enough carbs without eating them a few times a week. My mood tanks, my brain doesn’t function properly, I don’t sleep well, and I feel just blah. Even if I didn’t consider white potatoes Paleo, I would probably eat them anyway. Plus, they’re considered a FODMAP free food per Monash University’s amazing app, so they don’t hurt my stomach. They actually tend to settle it when nothing else can.
I think potatoes have a reputation of being unhealthy because of the way they are often prepared in our culture – deep fried or loaded with sour cream, bacon, processed cheese, butter, heavy cream, the list goes on – to create a variety of delicious, unhealthy side dishes. They are also often consumed in excess, as is the case with deep fried french fries in particular (would you like that supersized?). The air fryer makes it possible to easily prepare dishes that are typically deep fried in a healthier manner without missing out on flavour or crispness.
French Fries and The Whole30
Commercially produced french fries are not Whole30 compliant; however, as these french fries are air fried, as long as they’re not used to prop a french fry addiction or something along those lines, air fried french fries and baked french fries are deemed okay on the Whole30. Read this thread for more information.
Benefits of Air Fryers
You could bake similar-tasting fries in about the same amount of time in conventional oven; however, an air fryer delivers the following benefits over an oven:
Air fryers are more energy efficient;
While they do emit heat, they don’t emit nearly as much as an oven;
Food that is air fried comes out crispier than food baked in the oven as the heat in an air fryer is more concentrated;
They’re portable, so you can keep them out the reach of children or take them to your hotel room if you’re going on a trip.
Air frying is healthier than deep frying as it only requires a fraction of the oil that deep frying requires to produce a similar-tasting yet way healthier product. Some say that air fryers don’t require any oil at all – in my experience, I think it depends on what you’re air frying. For these french fries, I use 1½ tablespoons of oil; for a chicken tenders recipe that I have yet to post, I simply spray them with a minimal amount of cooking spray. I always use some amount of oil when air frying as I’ve tried recipes without it and they didn’t turn out nearly as well.
The things to remember when making the best air fryer french fries are:
Don’t overload your air fryer with potatoes; and
It would be ideal if your potato pieces would fit in one layer as air circulates around the potatoes, cooking them evenly; however, if your air fryer is like mine and not large, one layer of potatoes does not make a ton of french fries. You could do multiple batches, but it would just take way too much time. My recipe calls for two large russet potatoes (about 1.5 lbs), which don’t fit in one layer, but also don’t overcrowd the pan. This makes about 3-4 servings, which is perfect for our family of three. I toss them three times during the cooking cycle (perhaps 4 if they need more time) to facilitate even cooking.
You could potentially cook more potatoes at a time, but if you do, I’d recommend lengthening the cooking time to up to 30 minutes and tossing every 5 minutes instead of every 7 as the recipe calls for below.
When prepping this recipe, I leave the skins on my potatoes (please refer to the nutritional benefits of potatoes rant above for more clarity) but you can definitely peel them prior to chopping if you prefer.
The fresh chopped chives in this recipe are optional; however, I highly, HIGHLY recommend them. Potatoes and chives go together like pea and carrots, and the taste, flavour and aroma of these fries coated with garlic oil and chives is just heavenly. I could barely keep myself from eating them while photographing them, they smelled so good. Dipped in my dairy-free homemade ranch dressing or homemade chipotle mayo, they taste even better. I hope you enjoy them as much as our family does!
While the air fryer preheats, chop the potatoes lengthwise into ¼” pieces and put into a large bowl.
Add garlic-infused olive oil and toss fries with your hands to evenly coat.
Add sea salt and pepper and toss fries again until evenly seasoned.
Once air fryer is preheated, spray with cooking spray. Add fries and shake the pan to spread them more-or-less evenly. Cook for 21 minutes, tossing to redistribute in the pan every 7 minutes. After 21 minutes, check doneness with a fork, toss again and air fry for an additional 2-5 minutes or until they are to your desired crispiness.