Cheesy, saucy, and impossible to eat just one, these French Onion Fries takes fries to the next level. Crispy air fryer fries smothered in a French onion gravy, and topped with Gruyere and cheese curds – these might just be some of the best fries you’ll ever have. These saucy fries are a great appetizer among friends or the perfect game day snack.
HELLO AIR FRYER
I did it. I finally bought an air fryer. After years of protesting and shaming everyone who used them on the reg I bit the bullet and bought my own. I must say I am impressed. While I still believe that nothing beats the flavor and texture of good old frying the air fryer is a nice alternative… but you already knew this. The below recipe gives the recommended temperature and cook time however air fryers vary by brand. For reference I have the Ninja AF101. After making 10 lbs of potatoes for this recipe, I learned a few tips on how to get suer crispy air fryer fries.
Do not Overcrowd – This one seems like common sense, but it made such a difference so I needed to put it in. Don’t overcrowd the basket. A busy basket led to soft fries not crispy, and took much longer to cook. If you need to make more than 1 batch.
Preheat the Basket – This was the suggestion by the air fryer. I preheated the air fryer for 3 minutes before putting the fries in. This helped cook the fries faster as well as aided in even browning.
Tossing Every Few Minutes – Seems annoying i know. I tossed every 3-4 minutes to ensure they were cooking evenly. This is especially important if you didnt listen to tip #1 and added too many potatoes.
Fry Preparation – Soaking and rinsing the starch off the fries is a pro kitchen tip that makes fries crispy. While it is an extra step and 30 extra minutes it is a must. In addition coating the fries in corn starch gives then a crispy exterior. I go into it more below.
WHAT YOU’LL NEED FOR FRENCH ONION FRIES
Potatoes or French Fries – I am giving you two options here. If you are team homemade french fries, then I have step by step instructions on how to make crispy air fryer fries. If you have 0 time and don’t want to spend time cutting and soaking your potatoes, then buy frozen. For fresh buy russet potatoes. You can also substitute the russet potatoes for sweet potatoes.
Corn Starch – The secret to getting crispier fries.
Gruyere Cheese – Ah, the funky iconic cheese on top of French onion soup. If you are sensitive to funky cheese shall I recommend substituting for Swiss.
Cheese Curds – It wouldn’t be poutine if it didn’t have cheese curds. I understand if you aren’t in the midwest these might be hard to come by so don’t worry if you can’t find them. The fries are just as good without them. I buy mine from Wegmans and the occasional farmers market.
FRENCH ONION GRAVY
Yellow or Sweet Onion – Vidalia onions are the preferred variety, but any yellow or “sweet” onion will work for this recipe.
Dried Bay Leaf
Worchester Sauce – Still can’t pronounce this to this day. You only need a little for this recipe but I promise you it is worth it. If you are looking for another recipe to use this sauce check out my French Onion Gnocchi.
French Fry Cutter – Completely optional, however if you want those perfect 3/8″ fries then this tool comes in handy. I suggest you buy one that is metal, I used to have a plastic one… it didn’t last long. THIS is the cutter I bought and used for this recipe. Overall very pleased with it, it does what it needs to do. If you are using it for sweet potatoes cut them in half prior.
HOW TO MAKE FRENCH ONION FRIES
Make the Fries – Only start this step if opting for fresh french fries. Cut the potatoes either by hand or use a fry cutter and slice into standard cut ( 3/8″ x 3/8″). Place the fries in a bowl and cover with water. Soak for a minimum of 30 minutes to an hour. These can sit up to several hours though if you want to prep them way in advance, just make sure they are fully submerged. After they soak, and only after the gravy is underway, rinse off and dry completely.
Cook the Onions – These onions take approximately 35-40 minutes. Is this time extensive, yes, but is it also completely worth it? Absolutely. In a pan over medium-low heat melt the butter. Dice the onions and place them in the pan once hot. Add a pinch of salt and toss to coat. Mix every 5 minutes trying to leave them undisturbed in between. The onions will look like they aren’t doing anything at all until the end.
Make the Sauce – Once the onions are a dark caramel brown add the thyme and flour and mix to combine. Cook for 1 minute before deglazing the pan with the broth. Add the bay leaf and worchester sauce and cook until reduced to desired consistency approx. 5 minutes.
Air Fry the Fries – Toss the dried fries in 1-2 tbsp of olive oil , 1 tbsp of corn starch, and a heavy pinch of salt. Toss with your hands to coat thoroughly. Preheat the air fryer to 390 degrees, after 3 minutes of preheating add the fries and cook until desired crispiness 10-14 minutes.
* If opting to start from frozen fries cook as per packaging when the onions are a light caramel color. This way they finish when the sauce finishes. I like to drizzle just a little bit of olive oil to get them a little extra crispy.
Assemble the Fries – Place cooked fries on a sheet try and cover in a generous amount of gruyere cheese. Place in a 400 F degree oven for a few minutes just until the cheese is melty. Top with gravy, and cheese curds. Serve immediately.
Sorry there is no storing this French onion poutine. You can however store the gravy for about a day in an airtight container. After a day the texture is a little off.
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1extra largeRusset Potato or 2 large sub out for sweet potatoes
If starting with potatoes, clean and cut the potatoes either by hand or using a fry cutter. Soak the cut potatoes in water for a minimum of 30 minutes.
French Onion Gravy
In a frying pan over low-medium heat melt the butter. Once melted add the onions a heavy pinch of salt and mix to coat. Cook the onions down for 35-40 minutes until they are dark caramel brown but not burnt. Mix every 5 minutes but try and leave them undisturbed between mixing, this helps with the browning.
Once the onions have caramelized add in the thyme leaves and 1 tbsp of flour. Mix to combine and cook for 1 minute.
Deglaze with the beef broth. Add the bay leaf and the worcester sauce.
Simmer and reduce until desired consistency aaprox. 5 minutes.
Rinse the fries off and dry. The fries must be bone dry before cooking.
Toss the dried fries in 1-2 tbsp of olive oil , 1 tbsp of corn starch, and a heavy pinch of salt. Toss with your hands to coat thoroughly. Preheat the air fryer to 390 degrees, after 3 minutes of preheating add the fries and cook until desired crispiness 10-14 minutes.
If opting to start from frozen fries, cook as per packaging when the onions are a light caramel color. This way they finish when the sauce finishes. I like to drizzle just a little bit of olive oil to get them extra crispy.
Place cooked fries on a sheet tray and cover in a generous amount of gruyere cheese. Place in a 400 F degree oven for a few minutes just until the cheese is melty. Top with gravy, and cheese curds. Serve immediately.