Are Sweet Potato Fries Better Than Regular Fries?

The more important question is: baked vs. fried.

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Food Network Kitchen’s Baked Parmesan Zucchini Fries for Summer Slow Cooker/Zucchini Fries/Picnic Brick-Pressed Sandwiches, as seen on Food Network.

Photo by: Renee Comet ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Renee Comet, 2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Spoiler Alert

The answer isn’t so simple. White potatoes and their sweet, orange cousins are more similar in their nutritional profile than you might have thought. Deep-fry anything and you're introducing extra fat and calories. Get them from a fast-food chain or restaurant and sodium can go through the roof. The real answer is to bake your fries — regular or sweet. Let's take a closer look:

White Potatoes Aren’t Evil

They have a bad reputation but shouldn't: White potatoes are loaded with potassium and fiber, and an average-size white potato is only about 170 calories. They totally deserve a place within a balanced diet.

Sweet Potato Facts

These sweet spuds are also rich in potassium and fiber — antioxidant vitamin A too. And they have comparable calories to regular potatoes at 183 calories. Yes, sweet potatoes are more nutritionally dense but not by much.

The More Important Comparison

Instead of pitting regular potatoes against sweet potatoes, the key is to compare fried vs. baked: To save on added calories and fat, dig out your baking sheet and rely on high heat and healthy fats (like extra-virgin olive oil) for crunchy-on-the-outside and creamy-on-the-inside oven fries.

Try these recipes:

Oven Sweet Potato Fries

Mix together 2 teaspoons each onion powder and garlic powder, 1 teaspoon each dried dill and kosher salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Cut 3 sweet potatoes into 3/4-inch-thick wedges. Toss with 2 tablespoons vegetable oil and 1 1/2 tablespoons of the spice mixture. Roast at 450 degrees F until browned, about 50 minutes. Toss with the remaining spices. Serve with ranch dressing.

Baked French Fries

Preheat an oven to 400 degrees F. Oil two baking sheets with 1 tablespoon olive oil each. Slice 6 large russet potatoes (peeled or not) into 1/2-inch-wide by 1/4-inch-thick fries. Toss in a large bowl with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Spread the potatoes out in a single layer on each baking sheet. Bake, flipping the fries occasionally so they brown evenly and do not stick, until golden brown, 30 to 40 minutes. Sprinkle with salt.

Consider an Air Fryer

There's also a new way to fry a fry: check out our guide to the best air fryers. Circulating hot air cooks food with minimal fat. Add a bag of your favorite frozen fries, follow the air fryer manufacturer's directions and have ketchup handy for crispy fries without all the fat.

Also, There Are Alternative Fries

You can also think outside of the box and let another vegetable have some frying fun. Try these baked zucchini fries that rely on Parmesan-panko breading for their crunch — they're great dipped in ranch.

Nonstick cooking spray

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

Kosher salt

2 large eggs

2 1/2 cups panko breadcrumbs (see Cook's Note)

1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan

1 pound zucchini (2 to 3 small-to-medium zucchini), cut into 3-inch-by-1/4-inch sticks

Adjust 2 oven racks to the top and bottom thirds of the oven and preheat to 425 degrees F. Put the wire racks in the baking sheets and coat each generously with cooking spray.

Combine the flour and 3/4 teaspoon salt in a large resealable plastic bag. Combine the eggs and 3/4 teaspoon salt in another large plastic bag; combine the breadcrumbs, Parmesan and 3/4 teaspoon salt in a third large plastic bag.

Add about a half of the zucchini sticks to the bag with the flour and use a combination of tossing with your hands and shaking the bag to coat the zucchini. Remove the zucchini and shake off any excess flour. Transfer to the egg wash and repeat until coated. (It's less messy if you use only one hand for the dry ingredients and the other for the wet.) Let any excess egg drip off before transferring to the breadcrumb mixture; repeat until fully coated (you'll still see some green and white of the zucchini peeking through the breading). Transfer to the prepared baking sheets and coat the breaded zucchini generously with cooking spray (there's no need to turn them). Repeat with the remaining zucchini.

Bake, rotating the baking sheets from top to bottom about halfway through, until golden brown and tender, 25 to 30 minutes. Sprinkle with a little salt and serve warm with your favorite dipping sauces.

Special equipment: 2 wire racks 2 rimmed baking sheets

Cook’s Note: Some panko breadcrumbs are coarser than others. Rub the breadcrumbs between your fingers to make them finer, which will help them coat the zucchini pieces better.

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