Crispy Cornmeal Sweet Potato Fries

fries You know those conversations you have with friends where you discuss, in all seriousness, that if you were animals which one you would be? Well, my buddies and I do this, but with vegetables.
“You are so totally an artichoke!”
“No, she’s a cucumber.”
“Guys, I’m dating a turnip.” etc, etc.

Well, it has been widely agreed upon that I am a sweet potato. This pleases me a great deal.
I could easily write an entire blog just about sweet potatoes. I am in fact so obsessed with them, that I find myself holding back from posting yet another sweet potato recipe for fear of boring you all to tears. But today I can’t help it.

For anyone who is as wild about this tuber as I am, you’ve undoubtedly tried making sweet potato fries. Have the results disappointed you? Yea, I think most people are pretty bummed that unless a deep fryer is involved, sweet potato fries simply don’t get as crispy as regular potato fries. This is just the way it is. But! I’ve come up with a way of getting them about as close to crispy as one ever could and I am wildly excited to share the recipe with you.

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The secret to this recipe is not just about the ingredients, but the process. You can imagine I’ve tried just about everything to achieve the perfect baked fry so hear me out on the following steps.

One, size matters. By this I mean that the fries need to be the same thickness otherwise they will cook at different rates, and that they should be sliced somewhere in the 1cm (¼ – ½ inch) ballpark range.
Two, rinse well. Although some recipes claim that soaking the fries for up to 8 hours has a profoundly positive effect on crispness, mine have always been worse after soaking. I do agree however, that rinsing the fries just after they’ve been cut does help. This step removes some of the starch from the vegetable and helps improve crispness while baking. It is also important after this step to dry the fries well. The more water you can remove from their exterior, the better.
Three, these fries need their space. Much like mushrooms, if the sweet potatoes are too close together on the baking tray, they will steam each other. Steam equals soggy. No thanks.

The last little element that really makes these fries special, is of course cornmeal. The idea came to me recently after trying polenta fries and making the connection between the delightfully crisp texture around the edges, and the cornmeal from which they were made. I realized that by coating veggies in cornmeal before baking them may deliver the same effect. Ta-da! I was right.

I did go the arrowroot road (or as some of you may have tried, the cornstarch coating) but I think it’s better when you are deep-frying case, not baking. Plus, the lovely thing about the cornmeal, is that is simulates that blistered, fried-textured exterior without the hazards of eating oxidized fats. Yay! And it adds a lot of crispness that you couldn’t get from the sweet potato fry on its own.

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Passing on the Healing Vibes
I recently found out something really cool about sweet potatoes, and that is the amazing properties of their “storage proteins”. Storage proteins are unique nitrogen sources that exist in most dry beans and tubers, generated mainly during seed production. Soybeans have glycinins, potatoes have patatins, yams have dioscorins, and corn has zeins.

Sweet potatoes contain storage proteins called sporamins, and recent studies have shown their important healing benefits. It turns out that when a sweet potato plant is subjected to physical damage, sporamins are produced to help the plant heal! Their ability to do this is significantly related to their role as antioxidants, which help prevent oxidative damage to our body’s cells. When sweet potato is being digested inside our gastrointestinal tract, we may get some of their antioxidant benefits. [1] This means that the healing properties sweet potato plants exhibit on their own cells is passed on to us when we munch them. Talk about a good sharer.

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I paired the sweet potato fries with a tangy chermoula and yogurt dip. Chermoula is a marinade frequently used in Moroccan, Tunisian, and Algerian cooking. Typically, it is used to flavour fish, but I am all about it with vegetables.

Like many herb and spice blends from around the world there are a number of variations, but the base is traditionally made of parsley, cilantro, pickled lemon, garlic, cumin, olive oil, and salt. Obviously, this already floats my boat. Some versions, including mine, take it to the next level with saffron, ginger, and smoked paprika. I didn’t have any preserved lemon, so I used the zest and juice of a lemon instead. When all was said and done, this blend was ridiculously delicious and I have been slathering it on anything (bread, for instance).

I mixed the chermoula green goodness with goat yogurt for this recipe. I felt that the tang offset the sweetness of the fries in a really addictive way, plus it was easier for the chermoula to “stick” to the fries with the yogurt addition. If you are not into yogurt, try blending up the chermoula with a ripe avocado, or soaked cashews. In either of these instances, use a little more lemon to simulate the yogurt-y tang. You can also leave the chermoula as is.

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I’d be nuts to end this post without reacting to the insane explosion-of-awesome from the last My New Roots recipe. I could seriously not believe the response that the Life-Changing Loaf of Bread got, so thank you for all of your enthusiasm, kind comments, tips and tricks! I also loved hearing how many of you actually made it and let me know how successful it was for you! That kind of feedback means the world to me, really. I hope you will all give this tasty recipe a go too. Crispy sweet potato fries; life-changing? How about life-improving?  Whatever vegetable you are, just enjoy.

Love always,
your Sweet Potato Sarah B.

Source: [1] whfoods.com 

144 comments

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  6. Gabi

    LOVE this recipe! The fries were as close to tasting fried as I’d think possible, and the dip was flavorful and had a nice tang that really complemented the sweetness of the fries. Will certainly be making this agains soon!

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  12. Kari@Loaves n Dishes

    Honestly, I’ve never even attempted oven baked sweet potato fries, knowing that they would just be thin roasted sweet potatoes. Love this clever tip for making them crispy, thanks for possibly changing my life Sarah!

  13. Elisa

    Am trying these right now. So far, the cornmeal hasn’t seemed to stick to the potatoes though. I used melted coconut oil. Not sure what I did wrong. Maybe my potatoes were too cold, as the oil seemed to solidify making the cornmeal resistant to sticking. They’re in the oven. Will see how they turn out.

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  15. Jeannie

    Made Life Changing Bread AND sweet potato fries today! Love them both. Thanks so much for sharing! I posted pics of my bread. Had some pumpkin seeds and pistachios so I used a few of those. The incredible flavor of this bread is due in large part to the hazelnuts! Just altogether a beautiful thing!

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  17. Corie Anna

    I am new to the plant-based diet lifestyle and not completely converted yet, but am making strides! We made these and they were AMAZING! We didn’t even have anything else for dinner.. just at a TON of these tasty fries. Also for the dipping sauce I put everything together and hit it with my stick blender and it was great! Very robust and creamy. SO…GOOD. I put this sauce on just everything until it was gone. My favorite combo was with high quality vegetable chips. Seriously… thank you!

  18. LaceyAnn

    I left these in a bit too long and scorched the bottom of about half of them… but my boyfriend and I devoured them anyway, they were delicious! Thanks for the recipe :)

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  21. Debra Matlock

    Are there different types of cornmeal? I just whatever I had in an unmarked jar in my pantry (i.e. I have no idea what exactly I used!) and it was a little unpleasant/gritty. But we brushed off most of it and it was tasty nevertheless. BUT when I warmed up the leftovers the next day, the cornmeal had softened and it was fine. I wonder if the cornmeal wasn’t a fine enough type?

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  24. Irene

    Anxious to try these, But I have a question on step 2. 2. Preheat the oven to 400°F/200°C. On low heat, melt coconut oil or ghee in a small saucepan. Place cut potatoes in a plastic bag, seal and shake bag vigorously to coat Is the oil poured into the plastic bag or what am I shaking to coat the fries?

  25. pakistan mobile prices

    Oh my! These look incredible!! Too funny I just tried to make the hubby yam fries the other night…they did NOT turn out like this and while still delicious were so, so soft. I am totally making these, thanks Sarah!

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  32. Rebecca

    Oh wow! I’m new to your site and these are incredible! My only complaint is that I can’t stop eating them!

  33. deb

    WOW! These are so, so good. I have made a lot of oven fries, but not turned out this well. These tips are amazing.

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  36. Maya

    great recipe for a healthy alternative to fries.. BUT have you ever tried with a lightly whisked egg instead of the oil or ghee? tastes just as great and less oily!

  37. Anthony

    Made these this afternoon with a few improvisations (partially because I’m a complete amateur).. probably overdid the cornmeal and salt as I found myself rushing for a drink, but the flavours were brilliant. Great recipe here Sarah!

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  40. Olivia

    I just made these. They are wonderful and very simple! Both my roommates were impressed with how good they were (and the dip! What?! So fresh and perfect with the fries). We ate the whole thing in ten minutes. The addition of polenta is a stroke of genius. We will be making them again in the summer with a nice garden burger. Thanks so much, Sarah. Your recipes make me so happy!

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  42. yoko

    i love sweet potatoes too – have you ever tried japanese satsuma sweet potatoes? purple skin, deep golden flesh, sweeter & more moist than your usual sweet potato. you’d also love kabocha squash (more of a sweet pumpkin than a squash) :)

  43. lisa

    Making these for the fourth time tonight, so needless to say they turned out amazing! New family favorite for my husband & I and our two year old. LOVE the coconut oil and cornmeal. Thanks!

  44. Lisa

    Love this idea. I make Kumara chips (that’s what we call them in NZ. Kumara is the Maori word for sweet potato) all the time but of course without that lovely crunch. Guess what we’re having tonight, can’t wait to see how they turn out :)

    Do you have a preferred variety? ie red, gold, white, etc?

  45. Hila

    Just before making those for the third time….. These are great ! My kids never liked sweet potato before , but these ? Work like magic ! Thank you :-)

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  47. Sheridan

    I love, love, love this recipe!! I too am a sweet potato lover/addict and I’m delighted that I can now have crispy sweet potato fries. Thanks you! :)

  48. Von

    made these…used the wonderful Tinderbox Herbal sprinkle instead of salt…had no cornmeal so improvised and used semolina and also combined with standard spuds…so yummy there were no leftovers!

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  50. Margrietje01

    Don’t know if anyone else asked already but what to do with the heated coconut oil. Do you shake the sweet potatoe with the oil in the plastic bag of pour the oil over the potatoe sticks on the baking sheet?

  51. Amy @ The Moveable Feasts

    Hi Sarah B,

    Made these for dinner the past two nights. Loved the tip about swirling around the potatoes in water before drying them thoroughly. I liked the cornmeal topping, but I’m not sure I’m sold on it yet — still missing the beloved deep-fried counterparts, but that’s only expected. Instead of the chermoula I served them with a tahini-honey dip — divine combination. Anyway, thanks for the recipe!

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  53. Carisa

    I made this tonight and while waiting for the potatoes to bake I was tasting the Chermoula and thinking it really needs a sweet note. And my brain said to me, “Duh! That would be the sweet potatoes!” Now that they’re done and I’m eating it all together it is perfection!

  54. courtney

    yum! i tried this last night but with nutritional yeast instead of corn meal… i think a blend of corn meal and yeast would good.

    just discovered your site– it’s a beaut! xo

  55. nantucketdaffodil

    Oooh, thanks for this! Were your ears burning? My blogging friend Carol Maynard and I were chatting about you on instagram…she told me I just HAD to visit your site, as we were chatting about sweet potatoes. I am so glad I did! What a lovely blog!

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  57. Michelle

    I made them with nutritional yeast instead of cornmeal and they are great!!!!! thanks for the recipe and your inspiration :0)

  58. Daria

    it definitely changed my attitude towards sweet potatoes! it’s great, and it’s… crispy!!
    I made edges with herbs last week, they were delicious, but not very crispy, these are really good!

  59. Julie Seifert

    I was so excited by this posting I went right home and tried it. I followed the recipe exactly but unfortunately after 40 minutes of baking my fries were still not crispy. I put them in for another 10 minutes and then they were burnt. I’m heart broken it’s the same thing that happens every time I make baked sweet potato fries.

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  61. Michaela

    Saw this and thought, Not only is that recipe THE most delicious thing I can think of, I actually have all the ingredients … how often does that happen? Chermoula’s on the counter and the fries have 10 minutes to go. Can’t wait!

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  63. Molly @ SprueStory

    Those look amazing; I love how crispy the ends are! (Also, I pretty much want to make every other sweet potato recipe you listed at the end of your post. Does that make me a sweet potato, too? I’d like that!)

  64. Inkie

    hey! I’m just wondering if you’ve ever tried spaghetti squash? I’ve made some “lasagne” of it, but I’m quite sure you would come out with something really inspiring :)

  65. Simmie

    Hey Sarah,
    Just wondering whether as a ‘sweet potato’ you’re aware of a wonderful blog that I follow called http://www.sweetpotatosoul.com/
    You’re probably already following her but if not, check it out and thanks for constantly keeping ‘my new roots’ so fabulous!

  66. Denise | Chez Danisse

    I’ve been involved in such vegetable discussions. I particularly recall the laughter that followed labeling one gentleman we did not particularly favor as white asparagus. He was such a white asparagus. Ha!

  67. Dawn

    I luuurve sweet potato fries! I will definitely give this a go, don’t suppose you have a vegan dip option??? I appreciate all the health tips and nutritional info that you provide in your posts. I’ve made a few changes in my pantry as a result. Thanks!!!

  68. Radhika @ Just Homemade

    These fries look gorgeously delicious! I could eat them right off the screen, Sarah..
    What’s not to love about sweet potatoes.. Love the idea of using cornmeal for crunch.
    I can imagine how awesome the Chermoula dip must be, the ingredients are so flavor packed..

  69. Taye

    Honestly, I feel like if the whole internet went down except for your blog, I wouldn’t even mind. Your recipes totally inspire me and I think you and your blog are the best of the best!

  70. Neeza

    U r like the sister from another mother that i wish cld be mine. Solely mine. The way u write about anything makes me wanna drop everything and jump on that band wagon. Im a sweet potato too. Always have been. Always will be. Toasting u sista! X

  71. Bridget

    Mmmm these look delicious, especially with that dip! And I had to laugh out loud at the “I’m dating a turnip”. [But if I were a vegetable I'd maybe be an artichoke or beat.]

  72. Jenné @ Sweet Potato Soul

    Perfection, as always!
    I’m glad you’d be a sweet potato Sarah B., because so would I! I think I might have been one in a previous life : )
    These fries are amazing, yet so simple. They remind me of my pecan crusted sweet potato fries (made a video for that one..so yummy).
    Thanks for sharing sweet potato sista!
    Jenné

  73. Alicia

    Sarah,

    I love love love sweet potatoes. I could live off of them. I have had many a baked sweet potato fry over the years, but I have never tried soaking them in water first! I’m looking forward to trying this variation!

  74. Suzanne @RollWithIt

    WOW – what a great idea! We make sweet potato fries almost every week. I like them with a curry flavour and then a rosemary yogurt dip (with lots of lemon juice). My husband has perfected the size they are cut to for the best results when baked. We will have to find some organic corm meal to try your method out! Thanks for sharing Sarah!

  75. Veggie Wedgie

    I totally do the same with vegetables and fruit. For example my best friend is a date, I am a young coconut and don’t even get me started with playing this game with people that walk by…

  76. Emily

    Finally a recipe for crispy sweet potato fries! My biggest pet peeve is when I am served limp fries. Ok maybe it isn’t my biggest pet peeve but I still don’t like it. I will have to hit up the grocers and get some sweet potatoes so I can try this recipe.

    -Emily

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  78. Sini

    This is the recipe I’ve been waiting for! It’s so very hard to get those perfect sweet potato fries without deep-frying them (which I’m not that fond of). Need to make this asap!

  79. Sasha

    You cracked the code! I cannot wait to finally have crispy oven-baked fries. And I had thought that I tried everything (an egg white wash, over-night soaking, painfully drying each fry with a tea towel) . . . you are certainly amazing Sarah B!

  80. Rachel White

    Loved the recipe! Dont forget that 80% of the corn in the US is GMO so make sure to use Organic Cornmeal. Thank you for your great ideas!!

  81. Sarah | The Cyclist's Wife

    What a great idea! I had the same experience soaking our sweet potato fries=soggy! We usually broil them for the last few minutes which makes for a crispier fry, but I thinking adding the cornmeal will really do the trick. Can’t wait to try this!

  82. stephanie

    First off, these look amazing … I’ve struggled with sweet potato fries before, so I can’t wait to try this. Size of course as you mention is key, how did you get yours to be uniform size / what is the easiest way that you’ve found to slice them into the ‘sticks’? Thank you!!!!

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  84. Shira

    Oh my! These look incredible!! Too funny I just tried to make the hubby yam fries the other night…they did NOT turn out like this and while still delicious were so, so soft. I am totally making these, thanks Sarah!

  85. lynsey

    I too can’t get enough of chermoula and the thought of combining this with another love (i.e. the oh so sweet sweet potoato) is almost too much. great post! xo

  86. Andrea

    This looks amazing, so excited to try it out. Tried the bread the other day and thought it was really tasty and so easy to make, although a little hard to digest. I also found myself getting extremely thirsty, i’m assuming this is because the seeds absorb a lot of water? Do you think soaking it for a longer period of time would help?

  87. Elenore Bendel Zahn

    Ehhhh – HELLO gorgeous fries!

    So.. now I’m off to figure out what kind of veggie I am.. Ideas? ;)
    Miss you babe! + jealous of all the goat product you have on the other side of that bridge, may them come to Sweden too!

    Big hearts to ya genius!

  88. natly

    aww, they look absolutely amazing!..sad i’ve used my sweet potato lately and i have no other chance to buy it unless i’ll go to another, bigger city supermarket..

  89. Alexa Loy

    Just come across your blog – awesome stuff! I’m making sweet potato wedges for dinner tonight and was only whinging to my husband yesterday that I couldn’t make them healthy AND crispy! :O) Thanks so much for this!

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