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There’s never a day french fries don’t sound amazing (duh!), but what’s the science behind what makes them so dang crisp-licious, and why does it seem so impossible to achieve that same texture at home? America’s Test Kitchen dispels all that below in the intro for its oven-roasted potatoes recipe so you can achieve fry-like potato wedges in your oven, no deep-frying necessary. After learning this technique and the two key ingredients that make it special, you can get your potato fix at home — no drive-thru necessary.

Thick-Cut Oven Fries for Two

(Serves 2)

Why This Recipe Works: When traditional French fries are fried, water is rapidly driven out of the starch cells at the surface of the potato, leaving behind tiny cavities. It’s these cavities that create a delicate, crispy crust. Since oven fries don’t heat fast enough for air pockets to form, we instead coat the potatoes in a cornstarch slurry that crisps up like a deep-fried fry would. We arranged the coated planks on a rimmed baked sheet that we coated with both vegetable oil spray and vegetable oil; the former contains a surfactant called lecithin, which prevents the oil from pooling and, in turn, prevents the potatoes from sticking. Using the oil spray also allowed us to use only 3 tablespoons of oil, just enough to evenly coat the fries. Covering the baking sheet with aluminum foil for the first half of cooking ensures that the potatoes are fully tender by the time they are browned.

Notes for the Cook: Choose potatoes that are 4 to 6 inches in length to ensure well-proportioned fries. Trimming thin slices from the ends of the potatoes in step 2 ensures that each fry has two flat surfaces for even browning. This recipe’s success is dependent on a heavy-duty rimmed baking sheet that will not warp in the heat of the oven. Spraying the sheet with vegetable oil spray will help the oil spread evenly and prevent sticking. The rate at which the potatoes brown is dependent on your baking sheet and oven. After removing the aluminum foil from the baking sheet in step 5, monitor the color of the potatoes carefully to prevent scorching.


  • vegetable oil spray
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, unpeeled
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • salt


1. Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 425°F. Generously spray rimmed baking sheet with vegetable oil spray. Pour oil into prepared sheet and tilt until surface is evenly coated with oil.

2. Halve potatoes lengthwise and turn halves cut sides down on cutting board. Trim a thin slice from both long sides of each potato half; discard trimmings. Slice potatoes lengthwise into 1/3- to 1/2-inch-thick planks.

3. Combine 1/3 cup water and cornstarch in large bowl, making sure no lumps of cornstarch remain on bottom of bowl. Microwave, stirring every 20 seconds, until mixture begins to thicken, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from microwave and continue to stir until mixture thickens to pudding-like consistency. (If necessary, add up to 1 tablespoon water to achieve correct consistency.)

4. Transfer potatoes to bowl with cornstarch mixture and toss until each plank is evenly coated. Arrange planks on prepared sheet, leaving small gaps between planks. (Some cornstarch mixture will remain in bowl.) Cover sheet tightly with lightly greased aluminum foil and bake for 12 minutes.

5. Remove foil from sheet and bake until bottom of each fry is golden brown, 7 to 15 minutes. Remove sheet from oven and, using thin metal spatula, carefully flip each fry. Return sheet to oven and continue to bake until second sides are golden brown, 7 to 15 minutes longer.

6. Sprinkle fries with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Using spatula, carefully toss fries to distribute salt.

7. Transfer to paper towel-lined plate and season with salt to taste. Serve.

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(Photos and recipe via America’s Test Kitchen)