Make Your Air Fryer Potatoes Taste Deep Fried With One Extra Step

There are crispy potatoes, and then there are truly crispy potatoes. Ultimately, any crunchy carb doused in fat and salt is going to be good, but not necessarily great. After all, it's why both fast food joints crank out French fries, and also why Michelin star chefs also feature the spud on their menus, albeit in elevated form. 

Advertisement

In other words, there's a world of difference between okay potatoes and truly great ones. With extra know-how and steps, you'll never go back to just tossing chunks of regular chopped potatoes in glugs of olive oil, spreading them on a baking sheet to roast, and calling it a day. If that's been your prep method thus far, no judgment, but there's a decidedly better way to get maximum crunchiness and coating around each bite. 

Air fryers are almost always the move for potatoes — they're the solution for perfect baked potatoes, and roasted chunks. The magic for crispy roasted one, though, lies in how you prep your 'taters — specifically, giving them a pre-roast boil in an alkaline bath of baking soda pre-roasting. This method by food writer and culinary consultant J. Kenji López-Alt changes the makeup of potatoes. The alkalinity breaks them down just enough and roughs up the outside of each piece. The slurry that comes from this then crunches up in the air fryer with minimal oil.

Advertisement

Play with the pH and pectin in the potatoes for more crunch

The magic of this tip isn't so much about the air fryer method, the type of potato (though both play a role), or the way you slice your spuds, but instead, it's all about the alkaline bath prep step — which is not to be skipped. This process isn't about softening potatoes — you're not boiling until soft as you would for mashing potatoes. It's all about making the chunks release some of their pectin, a soluble fiber found in most fruits and veggies (you may have heard of it in the context of jams and yes, same thing). 

Advertisement

You can think of pectin as the glue that holds the potato together. When given a quick parboil bath, potatoes develop a film and almost look like they're shedding and developing a film of fluffy bits on the outside that crisp up perfectly. After chopping your potatoes (peeled or not), toss them in a pot of boiling water for about 10 to 15 minutes with about ¼ teaspoon to ½ teaspoons of added baking soda to two quarts of water. After, they're ready to be added to the air fryer. 

The type of potato matters too. No two are exactly alike in terms of flavor, sweetness, and also interior creaminess versus waxiness, and thus will crisp up differently on the outside, and yield a different level of creamy fluffiness when bitten into. For maximum crunchiness and soft interior, go for high-starch Russet potatoes or Yukon golds. 

Advertisement

Skip the excess oil and fat with this method

When most of us think super crispy foods — be it fried potatoes, chicken, or potato pancakes — we're thinking oil and loads of it, and maybe some type of bready coating to really get things crackly. Those methods are delicious, but if you don't want to drown your potatoes in oil or deal with the mess of traditional deep frying, this is a job for your air fryer. 

Advertisement

Because of the air fryer's small size, it can heat up quickly and works to "fry" foods with circulating hot air. And, as the name suggests, there is far less oil required than recipes in a conventional oven. Since you're not using a tray in your air fryer — just placing food directly into the appliance's basket — apply any oil you do use straight to the potatoes themselves, tossing thoroughly before adding to the air fryer. While spraying cooking oil directly onto an air fryer can damage it, spritzing the chunks of spuds directly and then tossing them around with whatever seasonings and chopped herbs you're adding is no problem for your appliance. Plus it's the better method if you're looking to save money and avoid using tons of pricy, premium oils. Just remember, despite all the prep tips you've taken and the promise of an air fryer to cook with less oil, you still do need some to keep potatoes moist and able to achieve that beautiful golden brown crunch.

Advertisement

Recommended

Advertisement