Crispy 20-Minute Air Fryer French Fries
Learn how to make homemade French fries in the air fryer with russet or Yukon gold potatoes, using a quicker & simpler method! Unlike most recipes, there’s no soaking required here. You can have crave-ably crispy air fryer French fries ready in just 35 minutes—with 15 minutes of prep & 20 minutes cooking! Made with minimal oil & minimal effort.
Best Potatoes for Air Fryer French Fries
For fresh cut fries in an air fryer, it’s best to use high-starch potatoes like Yukon gold or russet (a.k.a. Idaho potatoes). Or try my other favorite: air fryer sweet potato fries! But you don’t want to use lower-starch potatoes like round red or white potatoes, or new potatoes. Both russet & Yukon gold are ideal for crispy homemade fries because they’re dense and lower in moisture. Either will work in this recipe—so use whichever appeals to you most!
Russet vs. Yukon Gold French Fries
- Russet potato fries get nice and crispy on the outside, but they’re drier inside & less flavorful than Yukon gold. Because these taste the most like restaurant fries and tend to turn out the crispiest overall, russet potatoes are the most common choice for making French fries at home.
- Yukon gold fries are much more moist, tender & creamy on the inside, with a rich, buttery flavor. They can also get deliciously crispy on the outside, but they take a bit longer than russet potatoes. This is my personal favorite potato for homemade fries—the flavor reminds me of McDonald’s fries!
Air Fryer Fries Ingredients
- Potatoes. You can make crispy air fryer French fries with Yukon gold potatoes or russet potatoes. Use your favorite, or try them both!
- Avocado Oil. You do need to use some oil to cook crispy fries in the air fryer, but much less so than deep frying. For air fryer recipes, you want an oil with a high smoke point like refined avocado oil (~500°F), refined or light olive oil (465°F), or refined coconut oil (450°F). Oils with lower smoke points like extra-virgin olive oil (325°F) or unrefined coconut oil (350°F) are not ideal for air fryer recipes
- Salt & Pepper. Season your air fryer fries to taste, and feel free to add additional seasonings like garlic powder, paprika, chili powder, dried herbs, ranch seasoning—whatever you like!
How to Cut Potatoes for French Fries
Most people focus on soaking for crispiness, but I find spending more time cutting your French fries for the air fryer makes a bigger difference. Because smaller fries will turn out crispier! You want your fries to be around ¼-inch to ⅜-inch thick, making them as consistent in size as possible so they’ll cook evenly. Here’s how I do it:
- Peel your potatoes if you’d like, or you can leave the skin on.
- First, cut off both ends of each potato, so the ends are flat. Then, cut the potato in half lengthwise.
- Next, cut each potato lengthwise into slices—aiming for around ¼-inch to ⅜-inch thick. Personally, I use my mandoline to make it easier to cut even slices, with the slicer on the largest setting. But you can also do this with a knife and a steady hand.
- Finally, cut each potato slice into sticks for your fries, aiming for the same thickness (¼-⅜-inch).
Do you have to soak fries before air frying?
The short answer: No, you don’t need to soak the fries before air frying, and it really doesn’t make much of a difference! Most homemade French fry recipes insist on soaking (for 30 minutes or as long as 8 hours) because they claim it’s the secret to the crispiest fry. The theory is that soaking the potatoes will remove some of the starch, so the starch won’t interfere with the frying process or become sticky.
But in reality, there’s no evidence that soaking fries makes them any crispier. (What’s more important is the type of potato you use & the size you cut your fries.) And, waiting 1 or 2 or 8 hours while they soak makes me not even want to make fries at home! These homemade air fryer French fries will turn out amazing with no soaking at all, but you can soak them if you’d like.
How to Make French Fries in the Air Fryer
- Cut your potatoes into fries around ¼-⅜-inch thick (as described above).
- If needed, preheat your air fryer to 370°F (190°C).
- Rinse the cut fries with cold water in a sieve or colander. (Instead of soaking the fries for hours, a brief rinse can remove excess starch & produces an equally crispy result! Optionally, you can soak the fries in a bowl of cold water while the air fryer preheats, or up to several hours.)
- Pat the fries dry with paper towels or clean kitchen towels, getting them as dry as possible. (The drier they are, the crispier they’ll get!)
- Next, season your fries by tossing them with oil, salt, & pepper, until they’re well coated.
- Transfer the fries into the air fryer basket, spreading them out in an even layer so they’re not too overcrowded. (Cook in multiple small batches for crispier fries that will cook more quickly. Or simplify and cook 1-2 larger batches for a bit longer, tossing halfway.)
- Air fry French fries at 370°F for around 20 minutes—18-20 minutes for russet fries, or 20-22 minutes for Yukon gold fries. (No need to toss them halfway unless you want to!) Cook until the fries are golden-brown and as crispy as you like them.
- If needed, keep the air fried fries warm in the oven (preheated to 180°F) while you cook the remaining fries.
You can watch this whole process from start to finish in my Easiest Air Fryer Fries video!
Do you have to cook air fryer fries in batches?
The short answer: No, you don’t have to air fry French fries in batches, but it can help them get crispier. Most recipes recommend cooking a single layer of fries in the air fryer, so you end up cooking 4+ small batches. Batch-cooking is essential for larger items like air fryer egg rolls or crab Rangoon—but it can be tedious & unrealistic when you’re cooking fries for a weeknight dinner!
So, if you have the time & patience to cook small batches of fries, go for it. But if you want a simpler method, just cook 1 big batch or split the fries into 2 larger batches. They’ll still get crispy—they’ll just need to cook longer! Spread them out in the air fryer basket as best you can, maybe toss them halfway through, and pull them out once they’re as crispy as you like.
How long to air fry French fries?
I recommend cooking fries in the air fryer for around 20 minutes at 370°F—depending on your machine, the type of potato, the batch size, and your crispiness preference. In my air fryer, russet fries needed 18-20 minutes & Yukon gold fries needed 20-22 minutes. If you want extra-crispy fries,just let them keep cooking & check on them as they go! Larger batches with ½-lb or 1-lb of fries at a time may need 25-35 minutes or longer to cook.
Tips for Crispy Air Fryer Fries
If you’ve cooked your homemade French fries in the air fryer but they didn’t turn out as crispy as you wanted (or they’re overcooked), there are a few best practices to try for the next batch:
- Cut Small, Uniform Fries. Thinner fries will get the crispiest—aim for ¼-⅜-inch thickness And uniformly shaped fries will cook more evenly in the air fryer, so they all crisp up at a similar rate.
- Don’t Overcrowd the Basket. Whether you’re making fries or chips in an air fryer, the heat needs room to circulate all the way around the food to crisp it up on all sides. So, if you’ve been loading up your air fryer basket, try cooking in smaller batches.
- Keep Cooking. The simplest trick for crispy air fryer French fries is to just cook them longer—especially if you’re using Yukon gold potatoes or cooking in larger batches. If they aren’t browning much yet, let them keep cooking! (Just be sure to check on them every 1-2 minutes, because they can go from perfectly cooked to overcooked quickly.)
- Turn up the Temperature. I find that 370°F (190°F) is the perfect temperature for French fries in my air fryer, but every machine is a bit different! Consider increasing the temperature to 400°F (200°F) if your fries aren’t crisping up in your air fryer, or if you’re cooking larger batches.
Air Fryer French Fries
- 16 oz Yukon gold potatoes, or russet potatoes, (~1-2 large or 2-3 medium potatoes)
- 1-2 Tbsp avocado oil
- ½ tsp salt, to taste
- black pepper, to taste
- Optional: Peel potatoes if desired.
- Cut potatoes into fries using a mandoline or knife. First, cut off both ends of the potato, then cut it in half lengthwise. Next, slice it lengthwise into slices around ¼-⅜-inch thick. (I used a mandoline with the slicer on the largest setting.) Finally, use a knife to cut each potato slice into sticks for fries. (Smaller fries will turn out crispier!)
- Preheat air fryer to 370°F (190°C) if needed. (To keep fries warm after they cook, preheat your regular oven to 180°F / 80°C.)
- Add fries to a sieve or colander and rinse with cold water.
- Optional: Transfer rinsed fries to a bowl and fill with in cold water, so they’re completely submerged. You can let the fries soak while the air fryer preheats, or soak them for a few hours.
- Drain water then pat fries dry with paper towels. Get them as dry as possible!
- In a bowl, toss fries with oil, salt, & pepper.
- Add seasoned fries to bottom of preheated air fryer basket, in an even layer so they’re not overcrowded. (Cook in batches as needed. Taking the time to cook more batches will make them crispier in the end! Or you can cook in 1 larger batch—they’ll just take longer to get crispy.)
- Air fry for 20-22 minutes for Yukon gold fries, or 18-20 minutes for Russet fries—until crisp and golden. (You can flip them halfway if you want, but I usually don’t, and they turn out great!) If desired, season cooked fries with additional salt or seasonings.
- To keep them warm, add cooked fries to a wire rack on a baking sheet and transfer to a preheated oven (180°F) while you air fry the remaining fries. (Or, you can reheat all of your cooked fries in the air fryer for 2-3 minutes to refresh them before serving.)
- Serve hot and enjoy!
Nutrition for Russet vs. Yukon Gold Fries:Per 4-oz serving of russet fries:
135 calories | 4.7g fat | 20.1g carbs | 1.5g fiber | 0.5g sugar | 2.6g protein
296mg sodium | 0mg cholesterol Per 4-oz serving of Yukon gold fries:
123 calories | 4.7g fat | 18g carbs | 1.6g fiber | 0.8g sugar | 2g protein
292mg sodium | 0mg cholesterol