Healthy, Low-Fat French Fries That Don't Disappoint

carrot fries and dip
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Let’s face it: If you poll 10 of your friends, at least half of them are likely to claim French fries as their favorite food. But since a medium order at a fast food restaurant has an average of 400 calories and 20 grams of fat, diet-friendly recipes are an absolute must. Here's everything you need to whip up your own guilt-free fries at home.


  • Baking Sheets and an Oven: That's right, these French fries are baked, not fried. And they're completely delicious. One to two large baking sheets (plus your oven, of course) are necessities. Also handy? An oven thermometer to ensure that your oven is preheated to the correct temp. You'd be surprised how many oven displays are inaccurate.
  • Nonstick Spray: This stuff should be a staple in your kitchen. As the name implies, it keeps food from sticking to whatever you're cooking it in. And in the case of baked French fries, it also brings some extra crispiness to the outside. If you were to use regular oil instead, you’d be adding 120 calories and 14 grams of fat per tablespoon. So not necessary.
  • Crinkle Cutter: While you can bake low-calorie French fries without one, a crinkle cutter will make your fries at least 34 percent more enjoyable. The familiar fry-like ridges it creates make your French fries feel more authentic. Plus, crinkle cutters are designed to cut through potatoes and other tough-to-slice veggies.

Main Ingredient Options

  • Butternut SquashMy go-to vegetable for guilt-free fries is butternut squash. The taste and texture are extremely similar to sweet potatoes, yet the squash has around half the starchy carbs and calories. Each ounce of the raw squash has 13 calories, plus half a gram of fiber. Just weigh the squash flesh accordingly before cooking it up.
  • Turnips: This is a surprisingly delicious way to get your French fry fix, especially if you prefer the classic potato taste as opposed to sweet potato flavor. There is a slight cabbage taste to it—it's a fantastic spud swap. Turnips also have only 8 calories per ounce and a half gram of fiber. The average medium turnip weighs about 12 ounces—just 95 calories.
  • Carrots: Another shockingly wonderful fry base. Fans of sweet potato fries will love this swap. An ounce of raw carrot has 12 calories and just under a gram of fiber. These don't get quite as crispy as some of the others, but they taste incredible.
  • Russet Potatoes: Sometimes, only potato-based French fries will do. The crispy outside and tender inside are undeniably delicious. And if you watch your portion size and stick with my baked-not-fried method, you can enjoy them guilt-free. There are 22 calories in each ounce of raw potato, plus about a half-gram of fiber. It's extremely important to weigh your potatoes. There's a common misconception that an average russet potato weighs 6 ounces, but our test kitchen has that found 12 ounces is more accurate.
  • Half 'n Half: The best way to get a huge portion of fries, using real potatoes, is to go "halfsies." Sweet potatoes pair well with butternut squash or carrots. Russet potatoes are perfect with turnips.

More Ingredient Must-Haves

  • Seasonings: I'm generally a purist when it comes to seasoning my French fries—a little coarse salt is all it takes. If you want to spice things up, experiment with garlic powder, onion powder, and chili powder. Or give your fries a sweet spin with cinnamon and some no-calorie sweetener.
  • Guilt-Free Dipping Sauce: Ketchup is an obvious choice, and it's low in calories, with about 15 per tablespoon. Barbecue sauce is also good—look for one with 45 calories or less per 2-tablespoon serving.


  1. Preheat oven to 425 F. Spray a baking sheet (or two) with nonstick spray.
  2. Peel your vegetable of choice, and cut it into spears/French-fry shapes. Blot away excess moisture, and sprinkle with seasonings.
  3. Place fries on the sheet(s), evenly spaced. Don't crowd them, or they won't crisp up as well.
  4. Bake until crispy and cooked, flipping halfway through, 30-40 minutes. (Time may vary based on the size of your fries.) Serve with your favorite dip.

By Lisa Lillien
Lisa Lillien is a New York Times bestselling author and the creator of Hungry Girl, where she shares healthy recipes and realistic tips and tricks.