Crispy Paprika Oven Fries
Perfect homemade oven fries where the tender, evenly cooked, starchy insides of the fries contrast the crisped, pan-blistered outsides.
Today’s post is all about oven fries. We moved a few weeks ago (just up the street), and that meant packing up my cookbook collection. It’s a slow process, because I tend to flip through every book before boxing it. Some books like to fall open to a much-loved recipe or photo spread, and that was the case with NOPI (Ramael Scully & Yotam Ottolenghi). The recipe was their crispy, spicy Paprika Oven Fries. I made them for years before leaving San Francisco, and have been happily revisiting them again lately.
These fries are brilliant because you get the tender, evenly cooked, starchy insides of the fries contrasting crisped, pan-blistered outsides. All without the use of a deep fryer. The trick is a quick pre-boil of the potatoes prior to seasoning, and then baking in a hot oven. I’m including the NOPI paprika seasoning method in the recipe below (slightly tweaked), but will also include a list of variations we’ve loved over the years, in case you want to switch it up from time to time.
Choosing the Best Potatoes
The potato of choice here is something thin-skinned and waxy textured like Yukon Gold, or other new potato. They hold their shape and structure once cooked and are rich and creamy. That said, you can absolutely use russet potatoes if that's what you have. Your oven fries will still be so good! Be careful not to over-boil them though - start checking the potatoes about 3 minutes into the boiling step. Russets start to fall apart sooner than waxier new potatoes.
Variations on Oven Fries
- Masala Oven Fries: Swap a favorite curry powder in place of the paprikas. A teaspoon or two should be a good place to start. Or if you have the chana masala powder from the chana masala recipe, that is amazing one these fries.
- Curry Oven Fries: In place of the paprikas and garlic, use a scant tablespoon of a favorite yellow or red curry paste.
- Lemon Oven Fries: Use a lemon olive oil, and finish with lots of fresh lemon zest and grated Parmesan when the fries come out of the oven. Bonus points if you have Meyer lemons.
- Big Wedge Fries: Cut the potatoes into big wedges instead of batons and proceed with the recipe from there.
- Simple Rosemary Garlic Oven Fries: Skip the paprika, double the amount of garlic, and add a tablespoon or so of finely chopped fresh rosemary.
If you're looking for other ways to use potatoes right now. These mashed potatoes are next level, you could try making gnocchi, or just make baked potatoes and keep it simple. Or browse these potato recipes. I also love this Samosa Shepherd's Pie, and this potato salad.
Keep in touch with Scully, here and here. And keep in touch with Yotam here and here! And, more info on the NOPI cookbook.
Crispy Paprika Oven Fries
I listed off a short list of oven fries variations in the post up above. Also, the recipe calls for semolina flour, if you don't have it on hand, I've listed off a few reasonable alternatives.
- 6 large waxy-skinned potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch wide batons (~ 2 1/2 lbs.)
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled, crushed, and chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tsp fine semolina, rice flour, or fine breadcrumbs
- 1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt, plus more to taste
- freshly ground pepper
Preheat the oven to 375F.
Place a large saucepan with plenty of salted water over high heat. Bring to a boil, add the potatoes, and blanch for 5 minutes. Drain, then place in a bowl with the garlic, paprikas, olive oil, semolina, salt, and plenty of pepper. Mix gently but thoroughly, be careful not to break the potatoes.
Arrange across two parchment-lined baking sheets in a single layer. Avoid crowding the potatoes so they will color nicely. Roast for about 30-40 minutes, flipping the fries half way through, until the fries are deeply golden and crisp.
Adapted from NOPI by Yotam Ottolenghi & Ramael Scully (Ten Speed Press, 2015)
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I really enjoyed these. I used rice flour because it's what I had on hand. Will try other variations!
Sorry for the typo: I drizzle the flat baking pan with "Olive Oil" not olives, then place the fries over that and drizzle the top some more, with the seasonings I mentioned.
I make my own delicious baked Rosemary Fries cut into wedges , that I've been making for years. I use: I sprinkle some olive on a flat baking pan lined with aluminum foil. Then place all my fries flat, in one layer, making sure none are overlapping. I then lightly drizzle all the fries with olive oil, a light sprinkle of Goya Adobo (Red Cap), Black Pepper, 1 packet of Goya Sazon Con Achiote, and dried Rosemary over the top. I then bake them at 375 for 25 to 30 minutes. I have an all in one electric range stove and conventional oven, so it can cook things pretty quick and burn them as well. You have to keep an eye on them.
I loved the rosemary and garlic version of these. Will try the paprika next. I did end up turning the oven to 425 (on convection) to get them to the right color. In addition I pre-soaked the cut wedges (made my fries into wedge shapes) because that has helped me with crispier roasted potatoes. I really appreciated this recipe--used a lot less oil and no smoke in my kitchen (used grapeseed oil). A welcome improvement to the method I was using before where I preheated oil in the pan before adding the potatoes.
Wow, these are the best baked potatoes I ever made. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I am hardly waiting to start making other versions. It will definitely go into my rotation ;-)
Thank you for this! Do you have to pat the potatoes dry after the par-boiling and before coating them in the spices! Or is it OK if they have water clinging to them?
Yeah, gently shake off as much water as you can & then go for it.
These are fabulous, Heidi! I spiced them simply with smoked Maldon Salt, pepper, paprika and garlic powder, knowing my husband would smother in ketchup anyway LOL. So crunchy and satisfying. Hope you are well.
Lol - Wayne does the same thing to everything, but instead of ketchup it's sriracha...
In your instructions you forgot to mention at what point in the process you cut the potatoes into fry shape: before or after boiling?
Hi Junior - it's tucked into the ingredient list. Cut first, then boil, then bake. Enjoy!
Can I use Aquafina I place of oil? Or something else?
Hi Elizabeth - if you try it let us know how it goes!
Can I use unsalted water for the blanching?
You can if you're trying to reduce salt - season to your liking before & after baking.
Heidi, Ever since I had a child, I've been experimenting with microwaving potatoes and sweet potatoes as a more efficient method than boiling...either for a pre-cook situation (like this) or even just to eat plain. The reason I'm bringing this up, is that it is much faster, uses less energy (and no water), retains nutrients, and results are good once you have the hang of it! In two minutes I can have a potatoe ready to serve my toddler. Just curious if you've considered this or have something against microwaving, or just never thought of it. :) Keep the good recipes coming!! - Lise
Love this idea Lise!
Great recipe. I only have sweet potatoes so will try and experiment using them for this recipe. Thanks!