Amanda Stone: Healthier Cheese Fries Recipe Won’t Disappoint | News

The cheese fries are very good. I don’t want to fight about it. I know they’re supposed to be the ultimate treat, but I’m just not impressed. Give me cheese or give me fries, but if they’re going to be together, they each have to be good enough to stand alone. That’s too much responsibility to put on our favorite restaurants. We are better served if we prepare them at home.

My first experience with cheese fries was at a White Castle in St. Louis, circa 1995. We were teenagers out in the world, left to make our own terrible choices, hence White Castle Cheese Fries. They looked amazing – what a great idea to put cheese on fries. I can still taste the disappointment. And this was just the first time cheese fries let me down.

I’ve certainly had better ones over the years, but it will never be something I choose from a menu. I was burned and a hole shaped like a cheese fry remains scorched in my memory. Poutine helps; thanks to our Canadian neighbors to the north for sharing it and to The Bruncheonette for creating a beautiful version. In case you haven’t had the pleasure, poutine is made with fries with cheese and steroids. Sauce and cheese curds are involved. I don’t need to say more.

I found comfort in making cheese fries at home. This option has workarounds that make it a semi-healthy weekday main dish that the family gets excited about. By “excited,” I just mean they don’t seem disappointed. I take my victories when I can.

The key is to start from scratch with the fries. Settle; it really doesn’t matter. Use an air fryer if you have one, but I was making oven fries long before I had an air fryer, so don’t let the lack of a fryer stop you. Only use a bag of freezer fries if you lack ambition or are ridiculously short on time and for some reason desperately need cheese fries. They somewhat negate the healthier approach of cheese fries because they are already fried and often in oils that taste good but are actually terrible, horrible, bad, very bad for you. Just cut up a potato, for heaven’s sake.

Once the potato is cut into fry-shaped strips, they must be dry to become crispy in the cooking appliance of your choice. Lay them on a towel and let them air dry for about 30 minutes. I’ve heard of using a hairdryer to speed up drying time. I would do that if I was in a hurry. Then toss them in a healthy oil of your choice and bake in a single layer on parchment paper if you’re not using an air fryer. Turn them halfway through cooking and season a little if you wish. These are the basics. After that, the toppings are at your disposal. I like to make a healthier chili filled with crumbled beans and cauliflower and top with a little shredded sharp cheddar and, of course, some chopped green onions.

Try this recipe for a healthier version of cheese fries; they won’t disappoint you, unlike so many others.

Cleaner Chili Cheese Fries

3 1/4 pound Russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/3-inch-thick fries

2 tablespoons safflower oil or olive oil

3/4 teaspoon sea salt, divided

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided

Olive Oil Cooking Spray

1 1/4 pound ground turkey breast

1/2 large onion, chopped

2 cloves of garlic, chopped

1/2 cup tomato paste

1 tablespoon chili powder

1 teaspoon of ground cumin

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, or to taste

1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper, or to taste

1 3/4 cup reduced sodium chicken broth

1 tablespoon of honey

1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt

3 ounces cheddar cheese, grated

4 green onions, trimmed and thinly sliced

In a large bowl, add the potatoes and enough warm water to cover by a few inches; let sit 20 to 30 minutes. Drain and dry carefully. Tip: You can avoid soaking the potatoes if you’re short on time. The fries may not be as crispy, but they will still taste good.

Arrange oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 425 degrees. Line two large rimmed baking sheets with nonstick foil or parchment paper. Stack half of the potatoes on each sheet. On each leaf, add 1 tablespoon oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Toss the potatoes until coated and spread in a single layer. Roast for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and turn over. Return to the oven, changing the position of the baking sheets, and roast until both sides are golden brown, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the chili: Spray a large, deep pot or skillet with cooking spray and heat over medium-high heat. Add turkey, remaining salt and pepper and cook, breaking up with a spoon, until no longer pink, 4 to 5 minutes. Push the turkey to the edges of the pan and add the onion to the center of the pan. Cook, stirring frequently, until translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and stir to combine all the ingredients and cook until soft, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the tomato paste, chili powder, cumin, oregano, cinnamon and cayenne pepper and stir until well combined. Add the stock and bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring frequently, until thickened, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the honey and stir until dissolved. Divide fries among serving plates and top evenly with chili, sour cream, cheese and green onions.

Recipe adapted from

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