These pomme frites taste as good as any bistro! They’re oven baked, then pan fried until crispy. Serve with creamy aioli for dipping.
Here’s how to make fries just as good as any European bistro: homemade pomme frites! Yes, these bistro style frites are crisp on the outside, tender on the inside, and salted to perfection. This special method is better than any fries you’ve made at home: bake them in a hot oven, then pop them in a skillet for a quick pan fry. They come out blazing hot, and paired with a creamy aioli dipping sauce, you’ll feel like you’ve been transported to a restaurant. Here’s what you need to know about making pomme frites at home…and a little background on this famous fry!
What are pomme frites?
Pomme frites is the French term for French fries: thinly sliced potatoes deep fried in hot oil. But did you know fries are not French at all? They were invented in Belgium! According to historians, they were invented in the 1600’s in Belgium. American soldiers stationed in Belgium came across them in World War I. They called them “French fries” because the official language of the Belgian army was French: and it stuck.
What is the difference between pomme frites and French fries? They are the same! But there are a few minor serving differences between American style French fries and frites. Pomme frites are traditionally served in paper cones with aioli, a creamy Mediterranean-style mayonnaise sauce. Also authentic Belgian-style frites are typically thicker cut, but the thickness varies greatly depending the on restaurant and country.
What does pomme frites mean?
You might think that it means fried potatoes in French. But here’s the thing: “pomme” means apple! Yes, pomme frites literally translates to “fried apples.” Here’s why: the French word for potato is “pomme de terre,” or “fruit of the earth.” So though it translates literally to fried apples, the term means French fries.
How do you pronounce pomme frites? To sound like a pro when you order them, say it like “Pum freet.”
How to make homemade pomme frites: the outline
This homemade pomme frites recipe uses a secret method to get that deep fried flavor…without the deep frying. Don’t get us wrong: we’ve tried the deep fried way. But at home it’s messy, and to be honest: it doesn’t make as as good of fries as this method. Here are our secrets to the best pomme frites with crisp outside and tender inside:
- Soak the fries (10 minutes). This gets the interior perfectly soft. You can do this while you preheat the oven.
- Bake the fries (30 minutes). This gets the outsides crispy.
- Pan-fry the fries (2 minutes). A quick fry in a skillet locks in the crispiness and adds the restaurant-style texture and flavor!
As you can see: homemade pomme frites take a bit of time and love to make. Only make these when you have enough time! But you’ll find that they’re absolutely worth the effort.
How to cut French fries (two ways)
Pomme frite are actually easy to cut by hand: once you know the trick! Here’s a video we made to break down the process, or follow these steps:
- Slice the ends: Slice off the ends of each potato, then slice off part of the side to make a base.
- Make 3/8-inch slice: Place the potato half cut side down and cut off a 3/8-inch slice.
- Cut the slice into strips: Then lay the slice on its side and cut it into several long 3/8-inch wide strips. Repeat until all potatoes have been cut into fries!
Or, use the special equipment method: If you want to make pomme frites all the time, here’s a secret. Get a French fry cutter! It cuts a potato into fries in literally 1 second. (Yes, it’s pretty sweet!) The only downside is storage space for a one-use gadget. It’s great for cooking nerds or an interesting gift. Here’s the French fry cutter we use.
The secret pan-frying step! (Genius.)
Here’s one important thing to note about homemade pomme frite. The magic step of pan frying after baking them is what takes them to over-the-top epic status. But you need to know this caveat:
- Pan frying after baking dulls the flavors: so season AFTER frying! After you pan fry them, add the salt (and other seasonings, if you’d like). Because they’re lightly oiled at this point, the seasonings stick to them.
- If you want to skip the pan frying step, you’ll have to season the fries before baking. Go to Perfect Seasoned Fries and follow the method there. You can still serve them in a paper cone and call them fries.
Serve pomme frites with these aioli flavors
Want to really feel like you’re in a Euro bistro? Serve pomme frites with aioli! Aioli is a sauce that comes from the South of France and Spain, and it often accompanies frites. The traditional version is made from garlic that’s blended in a mortar and pestle with egg yolk, lemon juice or vinegar, and olive oil. But it’s very similar to mayonnaise: so similar that many restaurants and grocery stores call any high-quality flavored mayonnaise aioli.
Here are a few different aioli recipes that would be fantastic alongside these pomme frites:
- Aioli Recipe The classic aioli: made the traditional way! It’s full of creamy, authentic flavor.
- Garlic Mayo A shortcut to the classic aioli: using high-quality mayonnaise!
- Basil Aioli You’ll want to use this incredible basil aioli on everything! It’s quick and easy to make, featuring this fresh and peppery green herb.
- Lemon Aioli This tangy dipping sauce is zingy and perfect for French fries.
- Pesto Aioli A favorite! Full of incredible basil and Parmesan flavor.
This pomme frites recipe is…
Vegetarian, vegan, plant-based, dairy-free, gluten-free.Print
These pomme frites taste as good as any bistro! They’re oven baked, then pan fried until perfectly crisp. Serve with creamy aioli for dipping.
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Evenly space the oven racks to ensure even cooking.
- Meanwhile, cut the potatoes into fries: (Watch this video or use a fry cutter.) Wash the potatoes, leaving the skins on. Slice off the ends of each potato, then slice off part of the side to make a base. Place the potato half cut side down and cut off a 3/8-inch slice, then lay the slice on its side and cut it into several long strips. Repeat until all potatoes have been cut into fries. The pieces can be uneven, but aim for as uniform of thickness as possible. See the video for full instructions!
- Soak in cold water (10 minutes): Place the cut fries into a medium bowl and rinse with cold water until water is clear. Then fill the bowl with cold water and allow to rest for 10 minutes (while the oven preheats). Then drain the potatoes and dry them thoroughly with a clean dish towel.
- Mix with olive oil (you’ll season after frying**): Add the fries to a dry bowl and toss them with the olive oil. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Spread the fries in straight lines on the paper, placing them as far apart as possible.
- Bake: Bake the fries for 20 minutes. Take them out of the oven and carefully flip each fry. Return to oven (reversing the pans on top and bottom racks). Bake additional 8 to 10 minutes until they are crisp and golden brown, watching carefully as the bake time depends on the fry thickness and your oven. (If the majority of the fries seem soft, continue to bake a few more minutes.)
- Pan fry the fries: Heat the neutral oil and butter over medium heat in cast iron skillet or Dutch oven. When the fries are done baking, transfer half of the fries into the skillet and cook for 1 minute turning several times, until crispy and browned. Remove to paper towel lined sheet and sprinkle liberally with salt. Repeat with other half of the fries.
- Taste and add a few more pinches of salt if desired. Serve immediately for the best texture and flavor.
*This makes a good amount of fries, but much less than a restaurant portion (that’s as intended!). The largest quantity of fries that fits on two baking sheets is 2 pounds, you can increase to that much if desired (adjust seasonings accordingly).
**If you want to skip the pan frying step, you’ll need to season before baking. Go to Perfect Seasoned Fries.
- Category: Side Dish
- Method: Baked
- Cuisine: Fries
Keywords: Pomme frites
About the Authors
Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.
Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.