We have been missing sports these past few months. Like a lot.
Confession? I miss the stadium food. I mean, I love a good baseball or football game. But what I really love is all the deliciousness that surrounds you when you are at a game. Like Crab Fries.
Do Crab Fries exist in other parts of the country? Because I never had one or heard of one until I moved to Philadelphia.
And my life was never the same again.
What is a Crab Fry, you ask?
Crab Fries originated at the sports bar Chickie’s and Pete’s here in Philadelphia, when Pete was looking for other ways to use up his special crab seasoning once the summer crab season was over. He had the genius idea to use the spice blend, which is similar to Old Bay seasoning, on some crinkle cut fries and serve it with cheese sauce. And the rest is Philadelphia food history!
Now, not only can you get Crab Fries at all of their restaurant locations, but at our Philly area stadiums, the Jersey shore boardwalks, and other arenas and amusements.
Or you can try making this healthier, copy cat version for a little taste of Philly right at home.
Ingredients for Copy Cat Philly Crab Fries with Cheese Sauce
For these spicy Old Bay fries, I used my Homemade Fries and my Cheese Sauce recipes to make it all happen… an idea given to me by one of my brilliant readers (Lisa – you ROCK!). You don’t need a lot of ingredients for either, which is awesome! And I even make the cheese sauce in a big batch and freeze it! Here’s what you need:
For the Fries
- Russet Potatoes – you can use any potato, but in my, ahem, research, I have found that russet potatoes work best.
- Old Bay Seasoning – you can grab this in the seafood area of your grocery store
- Avocado or Olive Oil – either works
- Salt – I like to use a fine salt because it sticks to the fries better
For the Cheese Sauce
- Gluten free flour blend – you can sub whole wheat flour
- Vegan butter or regular butter – my son is dairy free, so we only ever have vegan butter here
- Unsweetened original almond milk – you could also use dairy milk if that is what you have
- Freshly shredded white cheddar cheese or Monterey jack – you can also use pre-shredded, but your sauce will be creamier with freshly shredded cheese
Tips for the Best Healthy Homemade French Fries
I talk at length about the fry making process in my Homemade French Fries post, and I give you step by directions in the recipe card and video below. But here are my tips for making the best homemade fries in your oven or air fryer!
- Use russet potatoes. Look for longer, skinnier potatoes if you can.
- Slice your fries in 1/4 inch sticks, attempting to be as uniform as possible.
- Soak or par boil your fries before cooking – this removes some of the starch, allowing for crispier fries.
- Be sure to dry your fries after soaking. And use an olive oil sprayer to add oil without weighing the fries down.
- Use a fine salt so it sticks better.
- Bake or air fry in a single layer for optimum crispiness.
Crab Fries with Cheese Sauce
Whether you bake or air fry your crab fries, making a quick cheese sauce takes them to next level deliciousness! Of course if you are dairy free, you can sub dairy free cheese or omit the cheese sauce entirely. The fries are still yummy on their own!
I love using sharp white cheddar, Monterey Jack, or a combination of both for this sauce. And I typically sprinkle in a little of the old bay seasoning to my portion.
When to Season Fries?
I like to add my Old Bay Seasoning after I cook my fries because my kids aren’t always down with the added spice. So they can still have regular old fries while I enjoy the Crabby goodness.
What should I serve Homemade French Fries with?Print
These Healthy Copycat Philly Crab Fries with Cheese are inspired by one of my favorite Philly area stadium snacks. So perfectly crispy and flavored just right with old bay seasoning, these homemade fries are baked in the oven or made in the air fryer and served with my easy to freeze cheese sauce…so you can make them whenever the mood strikes!
For the fries
3 Small Russet Potatoes
Old Bay Seasoning
Avocado or Olive Oil
For the Cheese Sauce
2 1/2 Tbsp of gluten free flour blend (you can sub whole wheat flour)
2 1/2 Tbsp vegan butter
1.5 – 2 cups of unsweetened original almond milk
2 cups freshly shredded white cheddar cheese or Monterey jack
salt, to taste
- Wash and peel potatoes, then dry so they are easier to handle.
- Slice each potato in half the long way, lay the cut side flat on the cutting surface and cut into 1/2-inch to 1/4-inch slices. Stack these slices and cut them into the same width sticks to make french fries. Repeat with the remaining potatoes.
- Put the cut potatoes in a large bowl and cover with cool water. Soak for at least 20 minutes or up to an hour. This step gets rid of excess starch, resulting in fluffier and crispier fries. Alternatively, you can place fries in a pot. Cover with cold water and add about 1 tsp salt. Bring the potatoes to a boil for 5 minutes. Drain the water. If I am short on time, I skip these steps and the fries are just a little less crispy. No big deal.
- Drain and dry potatoes really well. Sometimes I use a salad spinner, but I always use thick paper towels or clean kitchen towels and really wipe them down. A dry fry is a crispy fry!
- Place fries on a parchment lined baking sheet or in the basket of your air fryer. Instead of coating my fries with olive oil, I prefer to use an olive oil sprayer so the oil doesn’t weigh the fries down. Spray fries well with olive oil spray, then season fries liberally with salt – I like a fine salt because it sticks better.
- Air Fryer: Cook in small batches on 390/400 for 14-16 minutes, flipping or or shaking them halfway through.
- Oven: bake on 450 for 20 minutes, then flip and finish cooking for about 10 minutes.
- After fries are finished cooking, immediately toss with old bay seasoning and additional salt (if desired). Start with a little of the seasoning, then add more as you wish. You can also add the seasoning before cooking, but I like to do it after as my kids aren’t fans (yet, lol!) and I can control the level of seasoning better.
For the cheese sauce:
- In your skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Sprinkle in the flour and whisk together.
- Slowly whisk in 1 1/2 cups of almond milk, and continue to whisk until the mixture comes to a boil and begins to thicken. Once thickened, remove sauce from heat and stir in cheese until fully melted, adding salt to taste. If you need to thin it out, add in some additional milk in 1/4 cup increments.
- You can sprinkle some old bay into your cheese sauce if you want!
21 Day Fix: 1 YELLOW, 1/2 BLUE, 1/2 TSP for 1/2 cup fries plus 2 1/2 Tbsp cheese sauce
Keywords: Crab Fries, Copy Cat Crab Fries, Homemade Fries, Baked Fries, Air Fryer Fries