Sweet Potato Fries

Homemade sweet potato fries on the left, Alexia frozen sweet potato fries on the right

For the first 18 years of my life, I thought that sweet potatoes were only eaten in marshmallow topped casseroles.  My family only ate sweet potatoes in the traditional seasonal side dish at Thanksgiving and, as it was much too sweet and gooey for my tastes, I rarely ate any of it.  Then I had a plain, baked sweet potato, simply topped with a pat of butter and my opinion changed entirely.  I now love sweet potatoes and have tried them in several different forms including baked, fried, in a pecan-topped casserole and, my favorite, sweet potato fries.  Sweet potato fries are such a quick, easy way to enjoy this underrated vegetable as they bake much more quickly than a whole potato. Also, sweet potato fries are a healthier option than the ubiquitous potato french fries and a substitute that most children will love. Sweet potatoes are a great source of fiber and vitamins A and C, which is why I let my daughter devour an entire plate of sweet potato fries as an afternoon snack!

This is how I normally make sweet potato fries at home (makes enough to feed 3 adults as a side dish): Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Cut a sweet potato into 1/2-inch thick pieces and place them on a large sheet pan. Toss the cut up potato with about 1 teaspoon canola oil and sprinkle with salt. Bake in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes, tossing halfway through.

Lately I’ve noticed bagged, frozen sweet potato fries in the freezer aisle and decided to put them to the test. I chose Alexia Sweet potato fries as my store bought option because they had a simple, all-natural ingredient list.  Once the frozen fries were out the package, they appeared to be lightly breaded on the outside with some kind of batter but, other than that, they looked very similar to the freshly cut sweet potato. In flavor, however, the two kinds of fries were very different.

Homemade sweet potato fries on the left, Alexia frozen fries on the right

After baking up the two kinds of fries, I served them both with turkey burgers for dinner and we all agreed:  fresh sweet potato fries tasted better.  This was the first comparison that my 2 year old daughter has participated in and even she showed a marked preference for the homemade fries. Despite their light breading, the Alexia fries were fairly bland and had a chewy texture instead of the crunchy coating that I expected. The homemade fries were intensely flavorful and, while not as crispy as a traditional french fry, were slightly more crunchy than the frozen variety. It seemed like the frozen fries were closer to tasting like a regular potato french fry with a blander flavor and salty, breaded coating.

The homemade fries not only tasted better, but were the clear winner in the price category. I bought a 1.25 pound bag of frozen fries for $3.99 and this seemed to be about 2 sweet potatoes worth of fries. Sweet potatoes are a very economical vegetable and I bought 2 for under $1 making the frozen fries 4 times the price of homemade.

The only category that the frozen fries won hands down was time. The Alexia fries only take 25 minutes to bake and no peeling or slicing is required. Homemade fries take more preparation and a little longer to bake bringing the total preparation time to about 45 minutes.

Bottom Line: Homemade sweet potato fries are an economical, flavorful, healthy alternative to regular french fries.  They take a little longer to prepare than frozen sweet potato fries, but they only cost 1/4 of the price and have a more authentic sweet potato flavor.