I have a dietary weak spot. In fact, as a child I sometimes needed an intervention. I am not talking about sweets. My issue was, and still is, potatoes. I like them in chips, deep fried, baked whole, roasted, scalloped, and I could go on. My favorite has always been French fries with ketchup. The fries have to be crispy and the ketchup has to be Heinz. That is what I ate as a kid.
On special occasions, after a kids’ sporting event, or because mom didn’t feel like cooking, we would pile into the car and get McDonald’s French fries and thick vanilla shakes from the drive-thru. If you like fries, you probably like those skinny, crispy, salty fries from McDonald’s.
As I have honed my culinary skills and grew more aware of my diet and nutritional needs, I have limited my intake of potatoes. When I do make them, I like healthier oven baked fries and I will sometimes make my own ketchup. I really enjoy homemade ketchup, but you don’t have to go that far. There are some really great organic and reduced sugar ketchups available. And yes, Heinz actually makes an organic ketchup.
Making French Fries in the Air Fryer
Now that I have a Ninja air fryer, I love transforming foods that are normally deep fried in fat and high in calories for a healthier spin. I make French fries from fresh, whole potatoes with just a spritz of oil in the air fryer. When I am pressed for time, or just exhausted after work, I will head to my freezer and air fry some frozen French fries. I don’t have to deep fry them or heat up the oven. These are fast, crisp, and healthier. There are some really good frozen fries available these days.
I personally like either shoestring or crinkle cut frozen potatoes. That is likely because it is all we were offered back in the day and they remind me of a heaping plate of fries you can get at a local diner. Waffle fries and steak cut fries also work just fine. You may have to adjust the timing for thicker cut fries.
I recommend looking for frozen fries with very few added ingredients. The fries that are all natural or organic, minimally seasoned, gluten-free, and no added saturated fat always air fry the best for me. They also taste good. Many frozen fries have been dusted with gluten flour and other (unrecognizable) ingredients to form a crust and enhance flavor. The added ingredients aren’t really necessary when cooking in your air fryer. Though, I am not averse to fries seasoned with herbs.
The trick to making crisp frozen French fires in your air fryer is to cook them at high heat. 400°F is what works best in my fryer. A single layer also ensures that the fries won’t go limp. If the fries are free of any fat, give them a spritz of olive oil spray. And, don’t defrost the fries. Just add them to a preheated air fryer while still frozen.
Air Fryer Frozen French Fries (Vegan)
You can easily double this recipe and air fry in 2 batches. Just keep the cooked fries warm on a sheet pan in a low oven.
- 1/2 bag (13 ounces) frozen French fries
- Olive oil spray
- Sea salt to taste
Total time:15 min – Prep time:1 min – Cook time:14 min per batch – Serves:2 people
1. Preheat your air fryer to 400°F for 5 minutes.
2. Give the air fryer basket or crisper plate a light spray of the oil. Place the frozen fries in a single layer in the air fryer basket or on the crisper plate. Give them a light spray of the oil.
3. Close the fryer and cook for 7 minutes. Shake the bucket to rotate the fries and cook for an additional 7 minutes or until the French fries are crispy.
4. Place the cooked fries on a serving platter. Season with salt and enjoy right away with the dipping sauce of your choice.
For additional French fry ideas and dipping sauces, check out our post of homemade air fried French Fries.
Homemade Ketchup and Other Dipping Sauces
I have included a recipe for homemade ketchup because I really like to treat myself once in a while. It is also a good conversation topic. This is definitely the more labor intensive part of the recipe. However, this lovely ketchup can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks and enjoyed on other foods, such as hamburgers, meatloaf, and zucchini sticks.
There are other dipping sauces for French fries that you might want to try. These include:
- Spicy chili sauce
- Ranch dressing
- Honey mustard
- Brown gravy
- Malt vinegar
- Russian dressing
- Seasoned mayonnaise
- BBQ sauce
- Cheese sauce
Ketchup, or catsup, is a tomato based condiment that is sweetened with sugar and seasoned with fresh and dried aromatics and spices. This recipe is sweetened with maple syrup and molasses. Feel free to use brown sugar or honey, if that is what you have in your pantry.
While the spices are a bit complex, you can easily just use salt, pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder and skip the fresh aromatics. It will still be good. If you want to infuse more flavor, add chopped jalapeno peppers and cumin, cooked bacon crumbles, or a spoonful of prepared horseradish.
Homemade Ketchup for French Fries (Vegan and Paleo)
- 1-1/2 TBS extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup finely chopped yellow or sweet onion
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1-1/2 tsps chopped fresh ginger
- 1 tsp mustard powder
- 1/4 tsp ground allspice
- 2 TBS tomato paste
- One 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
- 1 dried bay leaf
- 1/3 cup pure maple syrup (for Paleo) or brown sugar
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1-1/2 tsps blackstrap molasses
- 2 tsps sea salt (adjust to your liking)
- 1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper (optional)
Total time: 90 minutes – Cook time: 90 minutes – Yield: 2-1/2 cups
Total time: 1 hour 40 min – Prep time: 10 min – Cook time: 90 min per batch – Yield: 2 cups
1. In a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat, warm up the oil. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent, approximately 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic, ginger, mustard powder, and allspice. Cook for an additional minute until fragrant.
2. Add the tomato paste and cook for 1 minute. Then, add the tomatoes and scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon. Just warm this through for 30 to 60 seconds. Remove the pot from the heat.
3. In a blender, puree the ketchup base in batches until smooth and return to the pot. Alternatively, puree the ketchup with an immersion blender right in the pot.
4. Add the bay leaf, maple syrup or brown sugar, vinegar, molasses, salt, and pepper. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat and cook, stirring occasionally to avoid burning, until very thick, approximately 1 hour 20 minutes.
5. Remove the bay leaf and allow the ketchup to cool. Transfer the cooled ketchup to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.