Patricia Wells' Fake Frites

January 27, 2015

Test Kitchen-Approved

Author Notes: A trick for the best french fries you can make at home -- in the oven, using less oil than you'd put on a salad. Game on. Recipe from At Home in Provence (Scribner, 1999).Genius Recipes

Serves: 4 to 6
Prep time: 10 min
Cook time: 32 min


  • 2 pounds baking potatoes, such as Idaho russets or Bintje, peeled and cut into thick fries, 3/4 inch by 3 inches
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (up to 3 tablespoons)
  • 1 pinch fine sea salt, to taste
In This Recipe


  1. Preheat the oven to 500° F. Bring 1 quart of water to a simmer in the bottom of a steamer. Place the potatoes on the steaming rack, place the rack in the steamer, cover, and steam just until a knife inserted in a potato comes away clean, 10 to 12 minutes. (The potatoes should not be cooked through, or they will tend to fall apart.)
  2. Transfer the steamed potatoes to a bowl and drizzle with oil. Carefully toss to coat evenly with oil. (The potatoes can be prepared to this point several hours in advance. Set aside at room temperature.)
  3. With a large slotted spoon, transfer the potatoes in a single layer to a nonstick baking sheet. Discard any excess oil or liquid. Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake, turning so they brown evenly, until the potatoes are crisp and deep golden brown, 10 to 20 minutes. Remove from the oven, season generously with salt, and serve immediately.

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Reviews (53) Questions (2)

53 Reviews

Alicia J. June 22, 2017
I used russet potatoes and followed all instructions. These did get crispy exteriors, but the texture inside was gluey and tough- too much starch. Cooks Illustrated method, par-boiling with baking soda- produced much better results.
BavarianCook February 7, 2016
I made these with Idaho Russet potatoes - perfect! Steamed them in a single layer and could practically 'see' the starch forming on the potatoes and then swirled them in small batches in olive oil. This recipe rocks!
Kirsten S. January 28, 2016
Totally works! I think I over steamed a bit but they were still undoubtedly the best oven fries I have ever made. The insides were so fluffy and the outsides were the golden brown that I thought only existed at MacDonalds. I could tell the second I took them out of the steamer that all that sticky starchy exterior would cling to the oil and make the perfect baking surface.
Lacey January 20, 2016
Okay this recipe is amazing. I have always just baked oven fries but I have to say steaming made all the difference in the texture. I've made these lots of times now and I love this recipe!
Nancy August 10, 2015
Have been making these delicious potatoes and see why booglix mentions the released starch as a good factor in taste and texture.
Am guessing this is why recipe says to transfer (and not rinse) the steamed potatoes to bowl for oiling.
Annette T. July 8, 2015
This completely redeemed the long overlooked russets in the pantry so much better than potato salad, crispy, not greasy, easy to prep early and have hot when needed. Can wait to try the leftovers with eggs and sausage.
Thank you
tessga June 28, 2015
I microwaved the russet potatoes in a paper towel covered glass bowl for 3 minutes (too hot to steam and have the oven on). worked great. I used grapeseed oil and fleur de sel to finish and cooked about 20 minutes, I tossed the potatoes halfway through. These were fantastic!
Deejay J. June 16, 2015
If you're lazy, you can skip the steaming process and microwave them on high for 3-4 minutes.
Holly May 25, 2015
Mine turned out good in terms of taste. Fries can be crispier. I might have cooked it a little more than desirable during the steaming process even though I only steamed it for 10 minutes. Will try again and be more careful with the steaming process. And will try the preheat hot pan idea. Mine looked close to the picture.
VVV03 April 18, 2015
Okay. I must not be a genius, because I have tried this recipe twice and have run into problems both times. The first time, I overcooked the potatoes in the steaming process and ended up with some of them being really mushy during the baking process. This time, they stuck so badly. I'll admit, my kids still like them, but the end product looks NOTHING like the amazing photo attached to the recipe. It looks like a classic Pinterest fail photo. I may have to call it a day and give up on this one.
Anne W. February 22, 2015
Before I started, I read everyone's comments -thanks! I took into account my 2 week old Idahos, thickness of cuts and kept a careful eye on the steaming process. I did what one commentor did, preheated the pan with vegetable oil. When the fries hit the pan a little sizzle took place which is important in getting a nice crust. Mealy inside, crispy red-brown outside and so delicious! I took my share and tossed the fries in parmesan cheese and white truffle oil. Thanks for this healthier option for fries with minimal mess!
Ed W. February 14, 2015
I'd recommend keeping a very steady eye on them during the steaming process. Even cut thick, mine turned to mush by 10 minutes, and really disintegrated when I stirred in the olive oil. Trying to figure out what to do with them now, as they're not really mashed potatoes at this point. Going to hope for some sort of baked hash brown thing using the same oven method, and look forward to trying the frites recipe again with a severely reduced steaming time.
cookinalong February 15, 2015
Ed, I had the same problem the first time I made these. I think there were 2 reasons: first, I sliced the fries too thin, and second, I used what my local market calls "all purpose" potatoes because that's what I had on hand and didn't feel like getting the dog-sled out to go out and get the potatoes called for. Second time I used yukon golds and this time cut the fries thicker and left the skins on. Same steaming time called for in the recipe, and they were great. Although, like other commenters, I did them at about 425-450. One thing that I think helps prevent sticking is that I put the sheet pan, with a light coating of grapeseed oil, into the oven for about 5-10 minutes, then just dump the potatoes onto the hot pan and spread them around, shut the door, and proceed as the recipe directs. I think keeping the skins on makes the timing less fussy. Also, how old were your potatoes? If they've been hanging around awhile and have gotten a bit soft, that would make them turn mushy when steamed.
Rachel C. February 14, 2015
Wow these are good. I kept the peels on and they came out perfectly. Wish I made a double batch!
hkrf1017 February 3, 2015
Excellent. Used Yukon golds. Did potatoes with both peels on and peeled. I liked them better with the peel on. 2 tablespoons of oil was fine. These were really good served with chili.
LysiaLoves February 2, 2015
So excited to try this recipe!!! The only thing is, my understanding is that it's really not good to heat olive oil above 250*. For several reasons - one being I t has a low smoke point so if you heat it above 250 you will be breathing it toxic smoke. Cooking olive oil also breaks down the healthy components and releases free radicals. Everything I've read says keep olive oil for cold and warm foods, and cook with high-temp safe oils like coconut, grapeseed, lard/tallow (I use the fat that separates off my bone broth). Anyway, I thought that was important to mention, but otherwise looks like a great recipe!!
petalpusher October 25, 2017
Thank you. It is important to mention NOT to heat up olive oil. I wish for everyone to use heat safe oils for the best health outcomes. Thanks for listing them. I know this isn't a health site, but if we all want to continue cooking delicious food over the years, we have to pay attention to the details of what can ruin our health.
Darlene February 1, 2015
These were awesome!!
Suparna B. February 1, 2015
Perfect. Did a parboil with vinegar instead of the steaming. Just perfect.
Hildie L. February 1, 2015
These were great. Definitely use a generous amount of oil, and 450-500 is key. I could have used a larger pan so that it was easier to turn them. I don't use nonstick pans and had a well-used sheet pan that worked great. And it did take at least 20 minutes with a couple of turns. Great technique and recipe.
Jen! February 1, 2015
Made these for dinner tonight. Flawless.
booglix February 1, 2015
Also: the steaming is a great trick. Boiling releases the starch into the water, but after steaming I could see the thick, sticky, milky-white starch coating the potatoes. Not appetizing at that stage, but it led to great frites.