Vegan Air Fryer Polenta "Fries"

I think we can all agree that French fries are life. When done well, they are crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside. And we all have our favorite style of fries, am I right??? I love French fries, but sometimes they don’t love me. The grease from frying isn’t always the best choice. So, I only eat them occasionally.

We are big big fans of polenta in our house. It’s creamy, it can be used as a blank canvas for a variety of vegetables, and it’s so easy to make! When my girls were both learning how to eat solid foods, we came up with the idea of polenta sticks as a way for them to learn how to grasp food. They both loved them, and I’m assuming that my son with feel the same when the time comes!

Since my oven has been out of order for a couple weeks now, I have been thinking of creative meal and snack ideas, and those sticks came to mind. I thought about using the air fryer to crisp them up on the outside, and I am so so happy I did! They turned out so good! I had to make myself stop eating them long enough to be photographed!

Some tips and tricks when making these delicious polenta “fries”:

  • Whisk whisk whisk! Do not walk away from the polenta. If you don’t whisk it very often, the polenta will form large chunks, thus making you unable to spread it and make perfect little sticks!

  • Be sure to turn the heat all the way down too low. If not, it might continue bubbling, and it will explode on your hand. I’m not sure if you’ve ever had a hot polenta burn on your hand, but it is NOT fun.

  • Make sure to pour the hot polenta in the baking sheet, RIGHT AWAY. If the mixture begins to cool down, it will be nearly impossible to spread.

What makes this recipe so delicious?

Polenta - Don’t go thinking you can use regular white cornmeal grits for this recipe. It will NOT taste the same.

Vegetable broth - it’s a must to add a bit of extra flavor to the mix.

Parsley - it just adds the best finishing touch!

Coarse Kosher salt - I mean, duh? You gotta have salt for flavor! And do NOT come at me with plain iodized salt. It's gotta be coarse ground!

How does this recipe come together?

Cook the polenta: In a medium pot, bring water, vegetable broth, avocado oil, salt, pepper, chili powder, and garlic powder to a boil over high heat. Once mixture comes to a boil, reduce the heat to low, and whisk in the polenta. Cook, whisking often, until polenta is tender, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat, and stir in the parsley.

Prep your pan: Meanwhile, spray a small baking pan (the one I use is 8” X 11”) with non-stick cooking spray. Spread the polenta in the pan, and place in the refrigerator to let cool completely, about 1 hour. You could even leave this to cool overnight if you want!

Preheat the air fryer: Before you cut the polenta into “fries”, preheat the air fryer. I used the air fryer setting, at 390°F, for 14 minutes.

Cut the fries: Once the polenta has cooled completely, cut into 3 sections, widthwise. Cut each of these 3 sections into 10 equal pieces, to form 30 “fries”. To get 10 equal pieces, I cut each section in half, then cut one small section from the end of each half, about ½ inch thick. From here, I cut the remaining large sections in half, and then in half again. This will give you 10 pieces that are about ¼ - ½ inch thick each.

Fry, baby, fry! Brush the inside of the air fryer with avocado oil. Place “fries” in the air fryer, 10 at a time. Let cook for 14 minutes, tossing halfway through. Repeat the process with the remaining “fries”. Once all the fries are cooked, sprinkle with a bit of coarse Kosher salt and fresh chopped parsley. Serve with dipping sauces of your choice.

ENJOY! And as always let me know what you think in the comments below and over on Instagram @sugarandsalt_co!