I’ll start by saying I’m probably the last person in the world to figure out how to make decent French fries in the oven. On the off chance that there are still a few others out there who haven’t looked it up or stumbled upon the perfect way to make those crispy-on-the-outside, tender-on-the-inside potato slices without a gallon of extra oil, I bring you today’s post.

I tend not to deep-fry foods very often, but the gorgeous, fresh Maine potatoes from our CSA were tempting. I really like to roast vegetables and usually throw sliced carrots, parsnips, Brussels sprouts, and onion in there with the potatoes. I figured I should be able to roast just the potatoes to approximate fries; though I’ve tried, I never seemed to get the fries just right.

My problem nearly every time has been potatoes that stick. You just don’t get perfectly golden, crispy fries when they’re shredded all over the pan, am I right? So this is what I did differently:

I started by preheating my oven to 400-425°. I greased a baking sheet with about a tablespoon of oil and set it aside. I peeled and washed my potatoes (I always prepare more than my family would eat if they were baked because…well, they’re “fried.” So for my family of 4 I usually use 5 or 6 medium potatoes.) To make the French fry shape you can either cut potatoes into slices and then the slices into sticks, trying to get each piece roughly the same for even cooking. OR you can use a French fry cutter like this one at Bed Bath & Beyond. This is very similar to the one I use and I love it. If you have kids, put them to work; what kid doesn’t love demonstrating great feats of strength?

OK, now you have a pile of potato sticks. I pick out the really teeny pieces because they will burn, and the remaining potato sticks go into the colander for rinsing. Very important! I was always rinsing my potatoes before chopping, but they need to be rinsed afterward, too. Then dry the potato pieces in a clean towel or paper towels. Dry them really well. (Also important.)

Put the potato pieces into a ziploc bag with another tablespoon of oil, zip the bag, and shake well to coat. You may need a bit more oil in order to coat all of your potatoes. Once they are coated, spread them over your baking sheet and bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Carefully stir and flip the potatoes so you can crisp the other sides, then bake for another 15 to 20 minutes. For crispier fries, you can give them a stir and another 10 minutes. Then place the fries on paper towels to absorb any excess oil, add a dash of salt and pepper to taste, and enjoy.

I love my fries with salt and vinegar, but my kids are ketchup fans. What do you like on your fries?