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May 30, 2013

Spicy Tortilla Fries--Gluten and Potato-Free

Attempting to eat gluten-free is a plenty large enough task, something I discovered I needed to do just about a year and a half ago. But long before that, when I was an early teenager, I discovered that I am allergic to apples and peaches. Those were the first two to go. Then when I was in college, I finally figured out that I am allergic to potatoes. POTATOES. Giving up apple pie and peaches on pancakes is one thing. But giving up french fries and potato chips? I really just try not to think about it. And recalling how it would make me feel if I did eat some goes a long way in the area of self-control.

Naturally, when I discovered the gluten intolerance, my thoughts were, “Great, what next? You take away my fries, now I can’t even eat pizza.” And for all I know, this won’t be the last of the foods I have to cut out. But for now, you’ll notice that any recipes I share with you are not only gluten-free, but also free of potatoes, apples, and peaches!

I don’t know why it took me so long to think of this recipe as a substitute for french fries, as it was less than a year ago that I figured out this concoction and I’ve been potato-free for four or five years. But I was thrilled with my first attempt—dipped in ketchup and eaten with a burger, the fries could have passed for the real thing to my potato-deprived taste buds. Then I discovered what spices to add to get close to the taste of curly fries—my favorite! Now I’m hooked. And I now prefer to get burgers to go (without the bun of course, unless you’re at Red Robin) rather than eat them at restaurants so that I can whip up my fries to go with them.

So if you’re looking for some gluten-free “fries” (as finding those in restaurants can be tricky), or if you’re ready for something different, or if you’re a fellow enemy of potatoes, please give these a try! Plus, these are SO easy to make. I mean, I made them up, so how hard can they be? 

Now, some may find these fries spicy. My mom does, but my husband and I don’t, but then we’re rather hot-food freaks. So feel free to go easy on the spices and figure out what combination you like best.

Spicy Tortilla Fries (the “curly fry” version)

Total time: About 15 minutes

You’ll need:
  • several corn tortillas (I do 10 small ones for me and my very hungry husband)
  • vegetable or canola oil (I prefer vegetable, which lets the fries get a little crunchy without becoming rock-like crunchy, though both work) 
  • salt
  • butter
  • paprika
  • onion powder
  • cayenne pepper

Step 1) Cut the tortillas into strips.

Step 1

Step 2) Heat oil in a skillet on medium to medium/high heat (the amount of oil depends on how many tortillas you’re using—with 10, the oil should spread over about three-fourths of the skillet’s bottom), along with a couple small slabs of butter. **Be very careful to not get the oil too hot. It can start popping and flame up and/or splash on your hands when you put the tortilla strips in the skillet. I may or may not be speaking from experience… :P)**

Step 3) Once the butter has just started to melt, add the tortilla strips. Sprinkle them fairly generously with salt. Then sprinkle the paprika, onion powder, and cayenne pepper, also pretty generously.

Step 4) Once the strips have sat just long enough to get a little oily and buttery, turn them over with a spatula (very carefully) and repeat the sprinkling of salt, paprika, onion powder, and cayenne pepper, all while leaving the stove on medium to medium/high heat.

Step 3 and Step 4

Step 5) Every so often move the strips around with a spatula to try to ensure they all get time in the buttery oil. Knowing when they are “perfect” is rather an art I am still getting down—do them too long, and they’re all crispy; too short, and they’re flimsy and a bit soggy. So keep an eye on them, and when you see a happy medium between crispy and soggy happening (there will be versions of both in the final product regardless), they’re done! Even 15 seconds can make a difference in how done they are, so when you think they’ve reached it, remove them from the pan right away. If they’re still too soggy, you can always put them back in for a bit longer. 

Step 5

Step 6) Serve with ketchup and preferably a burger. ;)

Variation: Classic Tortilla Fries

Simply follow the same steps as above, keeping the salt generous, but omit the paprika, onion powder, and cayenne pepper. I know that may sound rather boring, but this version really tastes like your classic french fries and complements a burger so well, possibly even better than the spicy version.

Enjoy, and let me know what you think!


  1. Hello from Iowa..... at -15 today :) This recipe looks wonderful..... did you use about 2 tbps. butter in the oil for the frying ? also is the seasoning added during the frying or when taken out of the pan ? thanxs....... marilyn :)

  2. Oh wow, it's in the high 30's here! I feel better about our weather now! ;) Thanks so much for your kind comment! They really are delicious. :) For the butter, I would say at most 2 tbsp., and slightly less would be fine (sorry I didn't have an exact measurement in the recipe--I like to wing it...). And the seasoning is added in two steps: once the "fries" are first in the pan and then again after they're flipped over, all while still frying. Hope that helps, and thanks again for stopping by! :)


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