Do you have a craving for a delicious, crispy and nostalgic snack? Look no further than homemade smiley fries! These cute little potato snacks (made completely from scratch!) are not only fun to eat, but also easy to make at home using just a few simple ingredients and an air fryer. I got my kiddos to help me and they LOVED seeing their smiley fries come to life.
Whether you’re hosting a party, feeding a hungry family or simply looking for a perfect snack, homemade smiley fries are sure to please everyone. In this blog post, we’ll guide you through step-by-step instructions on how to make homemade smiley fries in an air fryer that will make you feel like a professional chef in no time. So, let’s get to cooking’ (and then to dipping!). ( A printable recipe card is included at the end of this post)
I decided to learn how to make our own smiley face fries at home because it was a lot easier than packing everyone up on Saturday morning at 11 and going to the local grocery store to get them. And also, I already had leftover mashed potatoes on hand so it really just made more sense, and in the end took less time than a store voyage would have.
I know already that my kids really enjoy store bought curly fries, sweet potato fries, crinkle cut fries and potato wedges, but presenting homemade Mccain smiley fries in place of legit McCain products (even if they are cute smiley fries) is really a gamble because there may be a picky eater or 4 in our crew.
Because I’m a renegade… (who is veering away from the frozen foods section these days to both save money and support local when I can) I did it anyway.
My homemade air fryer smiley fries turned out tastier than I anticipated, honestly, and is now a family favorite! Making the smiley shape in the “dough” was fun for my kiddos to help with, and these made a great addition to an easy Saturday lunch. The whole family thought they were good (even the husband, who is truly the pickiest of the crew), and it was such a great way to use up the leftover mashed potatoes. This potato smiley recipe would be great served as a side dish, and would also make delicious snacks for the middle of a day or for a Super Bowl (or Teen Titan, if you live here) party.
The great thing about using an air fryer (instead of a conventional oven) is that the smaller size of it means that your food cooks so much quicker, and you don’t have to worry about having a preheated oven (which uses extra power).
Also, even though you are using a bit of oil to make sure the DIY mccain smiles don’t stick, the light basting is still a far healthier way to eat foods like these than deep frying. (Although I do love me some deep fried mozzarella sticks. Keeping it real.)
Variations for homemade air fryer smiley fries recipe
Seasonings: While I just used a simple seasoning for this recipe, you could definitely add other seasonings or even parmesan cheese! They would also taste great with finely chopped fresh herbs like oregano or parsley.
Shapes: We made this recipe using circles (actually leftover plastic easter eggs) to make the traditional smiling faces on our air fryer fries, you could, however use any shape! You could grab any small- medium cookie cutter to create different potato shapes. It could be a super fun activity to celebrate Halloween (pumpkin shapes) or Christmas (tree shapes).
Cooking: If you prefer lighter, more golden brown fries, you can take your fries out earlier. If your preference is more for darker crispy fries, you can leave them in a bit longer. It’s nice to be able to choose your level of doneness.
Size of your air fryer: This will determine how many smiley fries you can cook at once. Whatever size your air fryer, I recommend using an over style air fryer (we love the Instant pot one), as the trays make it easier to lay out and cook the smiles.
Tips for making from scratch smiley fries in the air fryer
Making homemade from scratch smiley fries is surprisingly simple, here’s how to do it:
1- Mix mashed potatoes, corn starch, garlic salt, eggs and bread crumbs in a large bowl.
2- Flour counter top then put the potato mixture on top of the flour, dusting the mixture on top as well.
3- Shape the dough into smiley faces using circle cookie cutters, a straw and a knife.
4- Coat the bottom of the baking sheet with cooking oil, then arrange the smiley fries on the baking sheet. Baste the smiley fry tops with oil.
5- Put the smiley fries in the air fryer for 8-10 minutes. Remove them when they are golden brown. Cool before eating on some paper towels or a plate, and serve with your favorite dipping sauce (we really like ketchup or barbecue sauce)
Ingredients For Homemade Smiley Fries
Mashed potatoes, 4 cups- you can use leftover mashed potatoes, make fresh ones with Yukon Gold (or any regular potatoes ) or even use boxed mashed potatoes. You’ll need 4 cups (measured in mashed form). You can also make these using sweet potatoes!
Garlic salt, 2 tsp- This is one of my most favourite seasonings because it’s simple, and always produces delicious, well seasoned food without much fuss, and its simple enough that my children enjoy the taste of it too. You can buy it in bulk or in a shaker.
Bread crumbs, 1 cup- Any type of bread crumbs that you like! You can also blitz some crackers in a blender and use those instead.
Corn starch, 1 cup- Corn flour is added to the mix to help the batter bind together well.
Eggs,2 – large eggs, these act as a binder.
Vegetable oil– the vegetable oils are used to grease the baking sheets and the tops of the fries so that your smileys don’t stick
Flour– to dust the working surface and the tops of the potato mix so it won’t stick
Besides being kid-friendly to eat, this recipe is also a great recipe for Kids-In-The-Kitchen.
Tools to make Homemade (from scratch) smiley fries in the air fryer
Air Fryer- THIS is the one that I use and I very highly recommend it. We make grilled cheese sandwiches in it in 2 minutes or less, cook chicken from raw to done in 15-20 minutes, use it as a 20 second broiler instead of turning on the oven etc. etc. This one also has a dehydrate feature and can be turned into a mini oven. If you’re looking into buying an air fryer for your family, this one is worth its weight in gold.
Spatula- for gently moving the smileys from the creation station to the baking sheet.
Basting brush– for brushing the fries with oil before they are cooked
Circle cookie cutter– whatever size you want your smiley size fries to be will work. You can also just find something small and circular to use ( I used an old easter egg half and it worked marvellously).
Straw- to make smiley fry eyes. Any type of straw! I used one of our reusable metal straws (I plan to get these onesthough, because they’d be easier to clean) and then just washed it out later with the straw brush.
Knife- I used a butter knife to make small half circle cuts for the smiley face mouths.
Of course I had to go through a bit of trial and error in making these…but because of that now you don’t! I’m sharing (below) all of my tips to make your smiley fry making process go smoother.
Nostalgia is really interesting in that even though its the THINGS (the smells, the smiley fries, the music etc.) that we remember, the reason that we remember things from the past is because of the emotional imprint it made on us…how it made us FEEL. For me, this is a timely reminder that while I have a tendency to focus on what I can do, it’s the heart that I give and do life with that will, ultimately, make the difference.
Your homemade (from scratch) smiley fry FAQ’s answered:
Aja Celeste is a mom to 6 beautiful children and a twin mom! She is also creator and writer of That Zoi Life and a professionally trained Evolutionary Astrologer who has been doing astrology for 7 years. She is also a health care assistant, has a Bachelor of Ministry Degree, and is passionate about supporting people in conscious parenting. She also does Psychosomatics using Recall Healing.
Please contact her at [info@ThatZoiLife.com] if you would like to find out more about working with her.