The only way to make French fries is in an air fryer

Swan Retro 6L Manual Air Fryer
(Image credit: Swan)

I challenge you to find me someone who doesn't enjoy French fries, chips, pommes frites, those golden sticks of salt, carbs, and fat. They're tasty in so many ways, covered in cheese curds and gravy, stir fried with onions, steak and tomatoes, or served with burgers, mussels, or fried fish. Sure, there are those who won't partake, in consideration of their waistline or heart, but there's no denying this simple side dish is delicious. 

There is a way to eat French fries without all the guilt. Instead of grabbing a carton of takeout fries that have been deep fried in gallons of old oil, use an air fryer. The best air fryers heat up quickly, use less energy, and don't require any oil at all. They cook by circulating hot air around foods, gradually drying them out until a desired crisp is achieved.

Although I have reviewed many appliances, big and small, I am ashamed to admit I never tried out an air fryer until very recently. I started off by looking for the right air fryer. There are 6 things to consider when choosing an air fryer, which eventually led me to the beautiful Swan Retro Air Fryer. This appliance is currently under review, but (sneak peek!) I can already tell it's a good one and I'm not afraid to admit that I enjoyed using it.

I didn't follow a recipe for air-fried French fries but I referenced the Retro's manual for cooking time and temperature. The manual has suggested times and temps for many popular dishes. I'm so pleased by my successful foray into air frying that I can't wait to try other recipes. But first, let me show you how I air fried such a tasty batch of fries.

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Why do you need an air fryer?

Air fryers aren't that bulky so you should be able to find some counter space for it. They're also quick to heat up and can pretty much cook any food that doesn't have a wet batter. Most importantly, air fryers can help you cut out unnecessary calories from foods you love — like fries.

How I cooked our first air fryer French fries

chopped potatoes for air frying

(Image credit: Future)

1. Peel and chop potatoes

We wanted chunky fries with no skin that were all approximately the same size. I cut the potatoes in half, trimmed the curves, and then cut the halves into thirds. I cut the individual pieces a little more to get chunky fries of roughly the same length and width. 

2. Soak in water

We read somewhere that if you soak peeled potatoes in water, it draws out the starch, giving fries a crispier texture. I let the potatoes soak for no more than 10 minutes.

3. Drain the water

Drain the water so the potatoes have a chance to drip dry.

draining potato before air frying

(Image credit: Future)

4. Lightly cover in oil

This is to help get a good crisp. You really do not need a lot of oil. We drizzled just a bit of vegetable oil all over the cut potatoes and then rubbed the oil in with our hands, to get a more even coating.

We then returned the potatoes to the sieve used to drain the water to remove any excess oil. 

5. Pat lightly with a paper towel

You want to make sure that as much liquid as possible has been removed from the surface of the raw potato fries. We lightly, and quickly, dabbed the potatoes with paper towel until we couldn't really see any new oil spots.

The fresh potatoes should be put in the air fryer within a few minutes of adding oil to ensure and ideal crisp.

6. Heat up the air fryer

This happens quickly so no need to pre-heat. After adding the potatoes to the basket, we set the temperature to 180 C and set the timer on the Swan Retro 6L Manual Air Fryer for 20 minutes, which falls within the manuals' recommendation of 15-22 minutes.

After the timer went off, we checked our fries and we could see that they basically looked like fries. They were, more or less, evenly brown and had a crispy exterior. 

Once we salted these fries, all we had left to do was try them. As I mentioned before, these fries were glorious! True, they're not quite the same as potatoes that have been sizzling in a vat of hot oil and then salted to the nines, but I'll opt for this air fry recipe over and over again to satisfy a craving while saving both my heart and the planet. 

air fried french fries

(Image credit: Future)

Top tip: make sure that the potatoes are evenly spread in the basket to guarantee they're full and evenly cooked when the timer goes off.

Jennifer Oksien
Editor, Top Ten Reviews

Jennifer (Jenny) is currently the editor of Top Ten Reviews, but prior to that, she was TechRadar's Homes Editor. She has over a decade of experience as a digital product writer specialising in appliances, smart tech and mattresses for some of the UK's leading retailers and magazine titles such as Real Homes, Ideal Home and Livingetc. Generally, you’ll find her watching the latest Netflix series, digging around in the garden or attempting to make a cake that is edible.