salt & pepper garlic fries with jalapeno & cilantro

This uses my favorite crispy oven french fry method from Deb of Smitten Kitchen, but I’ve been very intrigued by her “easiest french fries,” and would happily hear your take on those!


  • For the fries:
  • 1 1/2 lb potatoes (about 3 small Russet potatoes or 4 medium Yukon Golds)
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • flaky salt, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • ⅔ cup cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 2 jalapenos, sliced (about ½ cup)
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • For the garlic aioli:
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • 3 tablespoons garlic chili olive oil (recipe here), with purée
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • Salt and black pepper


  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Peel or scrub the potatoes, depending on your preference. Cut the potatoes into just-shy-of 1/2-inch batons (or narrower, if you like skinny fries). Place in a large pot and cover with an inch or two of water. Set heat to high and set timer for 10 minutes. If the potatoes come to a boil in this time, reduce the heat to medium. (Mine did not; Deb also notes that hers generally do not.) Otherwise, when timer rings, whether or not the potatoes have boiled, test one. You’re looking for a very “al dente” potato — one that is too firm to eat enjoyable, but has no crunch left. A good sign that they’re not too cooked is when you roughly tumble them into a colander, only one or two break.
  2. Meanwhile, coat a large baking sheet with 2 to 3 tablespoons of the olive oil and place it in the oven for a few minutes, so that the oil gets very hot and rolls easily around the pan. (See Notes.)
  3. Drain your potatoes and immediately spread them on the oiled baking sheet in one layer. (Note: You may need to split the batch into two pans, depending on the size of your baking pans.) Drizzle with the last tablespoon of olive oil, sprinkle with salt and roast for 20 minutes, until golden underneath.
  4. While the fries are, well, frying, make the aioli: Whisk together the mayonnaise, garlic chili olive oil, and lemon juice. Season to taste with coarse salt and pepper, and set aside.
  5. When the fries are golden, toss potatoes around to encourage them to color evenly and return them to the oven for another 5 minutes. Add the minced garlic and toss to evenly distribute.
  6. Roast another 5-10 minutes, tossing every 5, until fries are deeply golden. Deb shoots for 30 minutes, and that was what worked for me, too.
  7. Season with more salt and toss with the chopped cilantro and jalapenos while they’re hot, then pile them on a platter and dig in, with plenty of garlic aioli on the side.


I am sometimes a little skittish about pulling out a hot sheet pan with hot oil on it, and have found that heating oil in a pan until shimmering, then pouring over the french fries and tossing before spreading on a sheet pan, also works very well.