Next time you get the craving for fries, ditch the spuds and try yuca fries (aka cassava fries). They’re creamy in the middle, crisp on the outside, and can be baked, fried, or air fried!
Crispy Oven, Skillet, or Air Fryer Yuca Fries
To say that I’m nowhere close to running out of delicious fries recipes would be an understatement. With regular french fries/wedges, plantain chips, and carrot fries already at our fingertips, now it’s the turn of these Latin American/Caribbean-inspired yuca fries (also called cassava fries).
You can make fried, baked, or air fryer yuca fries (the latter are my preferred method). Once cooked, they’re crispy on the outside with a creamy, subtly sweet, and nutty middle. They’re perfect for enjoying as an appetizer, snack, or side dish, and are naturally gluten-free, paleo, whole30, and vegan!
What Is Yuca?
Yuca (pronounced YOU-cuh), also referred to as cassava and manioc, is a native South American woody shrub known for the starchy tuberous root, aka yuca root (sometimes spelled yucca root). It’s similar to long sweet potatoes in terms of shape, with a brown outer peel and white-cream inner flesh.
It’s also the third-largest source of food carbs in the tropics behind rice and maize, thanks to how easy it is to grow, even with fairly poor soils and in drought conditions. Actually, since I live in the Dominican Republic, I am growing and harvesting my own yuca root all year long. It also comes in both sweet (which is what they usually sell in U.S. stores) and bitter varieties.
It has several culinary uses, including cassava flour, tapioca, and to be boiled/ cooked and eaten in various yuca recipes. Once cooked, sweet yuca tastes fairly mellow, nutty, and with a subtle sweetness, and makes for a wonderful potato substitute.
Is Yuca Healthy?
Compared to potatoes, this starchy root vegetable is a resistant starch, meaning it’s slower to digest with less chance of blood sugar spikes. It also contains higher potassium levels as well as plenty of antioxidants, fiber, and several nutrients, including calcium, vitamin C, and phosphorus.
However, it’s important to point out that raw cassava is toxic, so it’s important to learn how to cook yuca properly to detoxify it. Luckily, with the soaking and boiling process used in this yuca recipe, you’re good to go!
Note that yuca is often misspelled as yucca, and recipes refer to yucca fries. However, a yucca plant is actually an ornamental (i.e., non-edible) plant from the agave family. I’ve used ‘yucca’ several times for the users’ benefit.
1. Yuca: You’ll need one large yuca root (cassava) or use several smaller roots. You can find them in some grocery stores and many ethnic stores and markets.
You may also find frozen yuca, which is pre-peeled and prepared. That way, you can cook it according to the package instructions, and then slice and air fry it as instructed.
2. Seasonings: I used a simple seasoning combination for these yucca fries, made with
- Garlic powder
- Onion powder
- Black pepper
3. Oil: Any neutral cooking oil will work (avocado oil, canola, vegetable, etc.)
- Other seasonings: The main way to adapt this cassava fries recipe is with your seasoning of choice. These can include: Thyme, rosemary, cayenne pepper, chili powder, cajun seasoning, Italian seasoning, nutritional yeast
For the full ingredients list, measurements, complete recipe method, and nutritional information, read the recipe card below.
How to Make Yuca Fries?
The process for preparing cassava fries is actually very similar to regular fries and requires just 5 steps.
- First, peel and slice the yuca root into sticks. To do so, cut it into 3 to 4-inch-long sections and then slice it into batons/wedges (refer to images).
To peel the yuca root, start by cutting off both ends. If the root has a thin peel (like mine had), simply use a peeler. If not, then make a thin slice down the length of the root. You can then dig a finger underneath the peel and peel it away by hand. Alternatively, use a knife, but you’ll lose more of the flesh.
- Transfer the yucca root wedges to a large bowl of water and soak for five minutes, then drain. This step helps to remove excess toxins and starch and will yield crispier fries.
- Then, transfer the sticks to a large pot filled with salted water and boil for about 20 minutes, or until fork-tender.
If you notice a fibrous ‘spine’ on the pieces of cooked yuca, you can remove them, as they can be tough and woody (like a pineapple core).
- Drain the water well (you could pat the sticks dry with a kitchen towel, too), then add them to a bowl along with the seasonings and oil. Toss to combine until well coated.
- Finally, transfer the fries to your air fryer basket in a single layer, with space in between (cook in batches if necessary). Depending on the thickness of the yuca fries, cook at 380 °F (190 °C) for about 15-18 minutes or, until golden brown and crispy. Enjoy with the dip of your choice!
See the FAQs section below to learn how to fry and bake the fries.
How to Store?
Make ahead: You can peel, chop and soak the cassava fries in water for up to 24 hours before continuing the process. Not only does this cut down on prep time, but the soaking further reduces anti-nutrients and toxicity in the plant.
Store: Allow the yucca fries to cool, and store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days.
Freeze: I haven’t done this myself. However, it should be possible. First, flash freeze the fries by spreading them on a tray (not touching) and freezing until solid. Then transfer to a Ziplock bag and store for between 3-4 months. You can reheat them from frozen.
Reheat: Pan fry them with a little oil or use an over or air fryer to reheat the fries until warmed through and slightly crispy. Avoid the microwave as it will take away all the crispiness.
Yuca fries make for a wonderful potato substitution and can be enjoyed in many of the same ways, including with:
- Dipping sauce: Use your favorite like cilantro-lime mayo, creamy avocado sauce, vegan ranch, yum yum sauce, ketchup, etc.
- Burgers/sandwiches: Like this black bean burger, a grilled vegan cheese, or shawarma sandwich.
- Tacos: Like these chickpea tacos or baked spinach tacos. Veggie quesadillas would also pair well.
- BBQ dishes: Like portobello steaks, cauliflower steaks, and tofu skewers.
You can also enjoy the yuca fries with a salad or as part of a finger food party layout.
Can I fry the yuca fries?
Prepare the yuca root as written (minus seasoning the fries). Meanwhile, heat a large, wide skillet with at-least ½-1 inch of oil over medium-high heat.
Once hot (around 375F/190C), transfer the fries in batches and cook, flipping halfway, until golden-brown and crispy.
Use a slotted spoon to transfer the cooked cassava fries to paper towels to drain excess oil, then season and enjoy.
Can I make yuca fries in the oven?
Absolutely. Follow the recipe, but instead of transferring them to an air fryer, spread them across a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.
Bake in a preheated oven at 425F/220C for about 25 minutes, turning halfway. Baked yuca fries won’t be as crispy, but are delicious.
How can you tell when yuca is bad?
The inner flesh should be completely white or cream. If there are dark spots or flecks, don’t use them.
What else can you use yuca root for?
Like potatoes, yuca root can be boiled, fried, roasted, mashed, etc. You can also use it in soups and stews in place of potatoes.
Recipe Notes and Tips
- Make sure it’s thoroughly cooked: Cassava root is toxic (with cyanide) before it’s properly cooked, so don’t be tempted to try it mid-boil.
- When cutting the yuca: If you cut the batons against the grain, you get fraying edges that don’t look particularly nice but make for lots of super crispy edge bits. When slicing with the grain, it makes cleaner slices.
- Salt the water for more flavor, just like cooking pasta or potatoes.
- Dry them well: If the yuca fries are wet before they’re seasoned and cooked, this can affect their ability to become super crispy on the outside.
- Cooking time will vary: Based on how thick you cut the fries.
More Simple Vegan Snack Recipes
- Crispy onion rings
- Air fryer zucchini chips
- Crispy chickpeas
- Chickpea broccoli nuggets
- Vegetable fritters (zucchini and potato)
- Air fryer potato chips
- Buffalo cauliflower wings
If you try this easy yuca fries recipe, I’d love a comment and ★★★★★ recipe rating below. Also, please don’t forget to tag me in re-creations on Instagram or Facebook with @elavegan and #elavegan—I love seeing them.
Yuca Fries Recipe
Peel and slice it
- You can watch the short video for visual instructions.To peel the yuca root, start by cutting off both ends. If the root has a thin peel (like mine had), simply use a peeler. If not, then make a thin slice down the length of the root. You can then dig a finger underneath the peel and peel it away by hand.
- Slice the yuca root into sticks: Cut it into 3 to 4-inch-long sections and then slice it into batons/wedges (refer to images/video in the post).
- Soak in cold water for about 5 minutes, then drain the water.
- Boil the sticks in plenty of fresh salted water for about 20 minutes, or until fork-tender.
- Drain the water very well (optionally pat-dry with a kitchen towel), then add the cooked yuca sticks to a large bowl together with all other ingredients.
- Toss to combine until well coated.
Cook it (air fryer method)
- Finally, transfer the fries to your air fryer basket in a single layer, with space in between (cook in batches if necessary). Depending on the thickness of the yuca fries, cook at 380 °F (190 °C) for about 15-18 minutes or, until golden brown and crispy.Check the recipe notes below for the oven and skillet method.
- Prepare the yuca root as written (minus seasoning the fries). Meanwhile, heat a large, wide skillet with at-least ½-1 inch of oil over medium-high heat.
- Once hot (around 375F/190C), transfer the fries in batches and cook, flipping halfway, until golden-brown and crispy.
- Use a slotted spoon to transfer the cooked cassava fries to paper towels to drain excess oil, then season and enjoy.
- Follow the recipe, but instead of transferring them to an air fryer, spread them across a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.
- Bake in a preheated oven at 425F/220C for about 25 minutes, turning halfway. Baked yuca fries won’t be as crispy, but are delicious.
- Cooking time will vary: Based on how thick you cut the fries.
Nutrition information is an estimate and has been calculated automatically