Pictured recipe: Baked Parmesan Zucchini Curly Fries
Looking for a delicious way to eat more vegetables? How about turning them into crispy, healthy curly fries? Curly fries are surprisingly easy to make, especially if you use our preferred prep method and bake them instead of deep-frying. You can dip your toes in with straightforward Oven Baked Curly Fries or think outside of the traditional fries box with zucchini fries and even jicama fries. Make them straight-up or add herbs and spices, like in this recipe for dreamy Garlic-Herb Shoestring Fries from our sister site, CookingLight.com. Here's how to get your curly fry on with almost any vegetable.
Pictured recipe: Baked Sweet Potato Curly Fries with Parmesan
Start with Spirals
If you have a spiralizer, now's the time to pull it out and let it serve perhaps its highest purpose: making fries (it's honestly the only thing I use my spiralizer for). Not to worry if you don't have a spiralizer—see our guide on How to Spiralize Vegetables Like a Pro to learn how to spiralize vegetables with or without a spiralizer. Or simply start with packaged vegetable noodles, which can be found in the produce department of many supermarkets. Spiralize whatever vegetable you're using, such as carrots, zucchini, potatoes, sweet potatoes or butternut squash, then cut the spirals into 5- to 6-inch pieces.
Shake on Some Seasonings
While baked curly fries are delicious simply seasoned with salt, they get even more special when you add seasonings such as garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika, cayenne, herbs (dried or fresh) and Parmesan cheese. Toss the fries with dried seasonings before baking, but hold off on adding cheese until the last five minutes of cooking so it doesn't burn. Fresh herbs are best added just after the fries come out of the oven.
Pictured recipe: Spicy Jicama & Red Onion Shoestrings with Herbed Chipotle Aioli
When it comes time to bake your fries, there are a few steps you can take to ensure maximum crispiness—because a soggy curly fry is just sad. Adding some oil or cooking spray will help the fries to crisp up. Preheating the baking sheet before you add the fries also helps them get crispy. Some softer vegetables, such as zucchini and yellow squash, benefit from a breading. Our Baked Parmesan Zucchini Curly Fries, for example, are breaded with panko breadcrumbs, which give an even crispier texture than regular breadcrumbs. And finally, don't overcrowd the pan—overcrowding leads to steaming, which is the enemy of crispiness.
Keep an Eye on the Fries While Cooking
Different vegetables will cook at different rates, so it's key to keep an eye on your fries while they're cooking so they don't burn. Start with about 10 minutes for softer vegetables like zucchini and 15 to 20 minutes for harder vegetables like sweet potatoes, white potatoes and butternut squash. Give them a stir about halfway through to ensure even cooking.
Add a Final Flourish
Once you pull the fries from the oven, add a sprinkle of salt and any chopped fresh herbs you'd like to use—parsley, cilantro, basil and chives all work well. A dipping sauce is also a nice addition: You can go as simple as ketchup or mayo, or try ranch dressing, marinara or a flavored aioli (as in our Spicy Jicama & Red Onion Shoestrings with Herbed Chipotle Aioli). We also like to swirl two sauces, such as marinara and ranch, together to create special sauces.
Serve baked curly fries with your favorite burgers or sandwiches, or put out a batch as an appetizer. We can't think of a better way to veg out.