What are Sweet Potato Fries?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Sweet potato fries are not a new invention, though they have been gaining in popularity in regions where they were not traditionally served. Actually, the idea of frying sweet potatoes isn’t exclusive to the US or the American South. The Japanese have been frying round slices of sweet potatoes in tempura for a very long time. The tubers that Americans call yams may also be used for frying — these are not the huge fibrous roots used in places like South America. Instead, you may see these marketed as garnet or jewel yams, and they’ll work just as well as those that are sold as sweet potatoes.

Blue cheese, which can be used to make a dressing for sweet potato fries.
Blue cheese, which can be used to make a dressing for sweet potato fries.

When people discuss sweet potato fries today, they usually are referring to sweet potatoes that are cut in typical french fry shapes and are either deep-fried or oven baked. As previously stated, recipes for these go way back. The great agricultural researcher and innovator George Washington Carver published a recipe for sweet potato fries in the early 1930s. These were deep fried wonders, though many people prefer to bake their sweet potato fries to slightly reduce fat intake, and to avoid the work of deep-frying.

Today, sweet potato fries are generally cut and fried like traditional french potato fries.
Today, sweet potato fries are generally cut and fried like traditional french potato fries.

Unlike the regular french fried potato, sweet potato fries live up to their name by being much sweeter, and they may also have a creamier texture inside. Though you might imagine serving these with sweet things, actually many people prefer to contrast them with savory spices or dips. It’s not uncommon to see garlic salt or chili seasonings added to these fries before cooking them, and people can dip them in ketchup, mustard, ranch dressing, or even blue cheese dressing.

Though sweet potatoes are a nutritious food, frying them doesn’t exactly enhance their nutritional profile. Some people have found themselves near helpless addicts to sweet potato fries once they've tried them. You can reduce fat by preparing them in an oven bake method. Some people have challenges getting the fries as crispy as they are when deep-fried, and there are several suggestions for how to make the fries crunchier when you prepare them in the oven.

For instance, you can give the sweet potato fries a dipping in egg and then breadcrumbs, which will add a crisp texture when baked at high heat. Most recipes call for oil, but you can simply cut fries and broil them for a few minutes without oil, if you’re looking for a low fat dish. This method of preparation is extremely healthful and a great way to add nutritional benefits to a meal without adding extra fat.

Some recipes call for coating sweet potato fries in breadcrumbs before cooking.
Some recipes call for coating sweet potato fries in breadcrumbs before cooking.
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent wiseGEEK contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

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Discussion Comments

Wisedly33

@Scrbblchick -- Try them with two things: lots of red pepper and a bleu cheese dipping sauce. I think seasoning makes all the difference, and I also put in a generous dose of paprika when I make them. But I agree with you. Unless you really, really like sweet potatoes in general, then sweet potato fries are going to be a little much, unless they're really seasoned well. I guess the bleu cheese dip kind of defeats the purpose of a lower fat food, but you can always use lowfat sour cream for the binder.

Scrbblchick

I know sweet potato fries are becoming more and more popular, but I just can't get excited about them. They're just a little too weird for me, I guess. I like regular fries, although I try not to eat them too often, but sweet potato fries are just a little too odd.

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