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Spicy Nacho Cheese French Fries

Ever since Doritos taco shells burst onto the scene, I’ve been all about the Doritos.

Every Taco Tuesday, I grab myself some Old El Paso nacho cheese shells and make homemade tacos. It’s probably been a full year of eating those tacos every single week, and I haven’t looked back.

Well, Doritos have officially infiltrated Fry Day too.

I’ve always been too intimidated to try making fries from scratch, so I always end up buying frozen fries at the store. Don’t get me wrong, frozen fries are great, but homemade is almost ALWAYS better.

It turns out that making fries is very, very easy. If you have an air fryer, you’re going to have super crispy fries that you wouldn’t know weren’t deep fried. Do you need an air fryer? No, an oven will work fine. But air fryers are more than just a fad- they really work well for crispy food!

And before I dive into some of the specifics, I just want to point out that these aren’t necessarily a health food. I know my blog is full of high-protein, low-calorie recipes, but these aren’t necessarily either of those. They’re much lower calorie than regular deep-fried French Fries, but they’re not necessarily the “healthiest” recipe on my blog.

But they’re absolutely delicious and they make an amazing side dish, so I’m all in. Need a main meal to enjoy these with? Check out my Stuffed Mac & Cheese Burger. Cheese on cheese on cheese!


The Seasoning

You can easily play with the ratios here to get the flavor you want, but I loved this version!

I only needed about half the powder to make my fries, so I saved the other half to make more fries the next day.

The main ingredient is nacho cheese powder, which you may have never seen before, but I’m willing to bet is right in your local grocery store. I’ve had it sitting in my cabinet for a while and didn’t even realize it- I used Kernel Season’s Nacho Cheddar Seasoning, which is a popcorn seasoning I bought at my Kroger. It’s a nice small(ish) container that has more than enough to last a while.

If you want to commit to making all the cheesy recipes, you can also buy nacho cheese powder in bulk on Amazon. I didn’t buy these because I doubt I’d go through them, but you can order yourself a full pound if you feel so inclined. My buddy Mason (who has the best healthy recipes in all the land on his website) regularly uses the nacho cheese powder, and you can check out his nacho fries as some extra inspiration.


The Spice Factor

This recipe calls for 1/2 teaspoon of ground cayenne pepper to give it the spice. I LOVE spicy and I think it pairs really, really well with the cheesy flavor, but you don’t have to make these spicy. If you want a regular Doritos flavor, you can leave the cayenne out all together.

If you just want a little kick, use 1/4 teaspoon instead- it should be just enough to get the job done. That being said, the amount I used in this recipe was not too much at all.

In my mind, if it makes you sweat and hurts to eat it, it’s not worth it. The cayenne in this recipe doesn’t have that effect! But if you don’t like spicy, you can definitely leave it out.


Soaking, Tossing, and Everything In-Between

This recipe calls for soaking the fries in cold water before air frying. Do you HAVE to do this? No. If you’re in a rush, you can skip this step.

But I must admit, you can tell the difference when you do take the time to soak them.

The cold water pulls out some of the starch, leading to crispier fries when you bake them. Without the soak, they retain more moisture. If you don’t soak the fries, you’ll still have a good result, but not quite the same.


Do I need to toss the potatoes in oil?

Like soaking, you don’t have to use any oil, but it helps so much.

The first batch I made, I used zero oil. I soaked the fries, air fried them, and then tossed them in the cheese seasoning. The fries ending up being a little bit soggy from the cheese, and were lacking flavor since not a lot of the seasoning was sticking.

For my second batch, I tossed the fries in just one tablespoon of olive oil and the seasoning before air frying. The result was lightyears better!

Even without tossing the fries in extra seasoning once they were done, the flavor was on-point and they were nice and crispy.

I highly, highly recommend not skipping the oil. Yes, it adds some extra calories (60 calories per serving) but it’s worth it.


Do I need to air fry these?

Anything that is air fried can be baked, but the result is never quite the same. If you’re using a regular oven, I’ recommend baking these at 450 degrees F for about 25-30 minutes, flipping them halfway through. That may not be exact, but should get you close. Just monitor them and adjust the time accordingly.

If you do follow this recipe and use an air fryer, note that I went with 15 minutes for mine (you can see how the air fryer practically cuts the bake time in half). They were definitely ready at 12 minutes, but I prefer a little extra crisp. If you want super crispy, you can always go a little bit longer.

Whether you use the oven or air fryer, the final cook time will be dependent on how thin you cut your fries. The thinner they are, the quicker they will cook. Don’t be afraid to check on these to make sure you’re not burning them, because nobody wants burnt fries.


To Dip or Not To Dip

Oh, definitely dip. These fries are great with just about any dip, but my go-to is always to mix some no sugar added Heinz ketchup with Sriracha to make a very simple, low-calorie spicy ketchup.

These would also be great with honey mustard, chipotle ranch, queso, or garlic aioli. There are probably about 500 other great choices, so if you come up with something else, come over to Instagram and let me know!


Spicy Nacho Cheese French Fries

Spicy Nacho Cheese French Fries

Yield: 2 Servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes

With a simple mix of seasonings, you can transform your boring french fries into spicy Nacho Fries!


Fry Ingredients

  • 400g Russet Potatoes (2 Medium Potatoes or 1 Large)
  • 1 tbsp Olive Oil

Seasoning Ingredients (you'll only need about half)

  • 1oz Cheddar Cheese Powder (roughly 1/4 Cup)
  • 1/2 tsp Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 1/2 tsp Ground Cayenne Pepper (you can cut it to 1/4 tsp for less spice)
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 1/4 tsp Pepper
  • 1/2 tsp Paprika
  • 1/8 tsp Garlic Powder


  1. Wash your potatoes to remove any dirt, then slice into fry shapes. If you need a tutorial on how to do this, YouTube has tons of options! Soak your fries in a large bowl of cold water for 20 minutes.
  2. If you're in a pinch, you can skip the 20 minute soak, but it really helps the fries crisp up.
  3. While the fries soak, mix all of your seasoning together to make your Doritos spice. You can leave the cayenne out if you do not like spicy, or cut it down to 1/4 tsp. I used 1/2 tsp and while it tasted pretty spicy, once added to the fries, it was not overly spicy at all.
  4. After 20 minutes, drain and pat dry the potatoes as much as you can. Add them back to a large bowl with roughly 1 tablespoon of olive oil and toss in your cheese mixture. I used half the mixture for my recipe and saved the other half for another day.
  5. Note that I wouldn't skip the olive oil. I tried a batch without and the fries don't have nearly as much flavor or crispiness.
  6. Add your fries to your air fryer in a single thin layer. Don't stack your fries on top of each or they will not crisp up will, so do 2 different batches if you need to. Air fry at 400 degrees F for 12-15 minutes depending on how crispy you'd like them.
  7. After 8 minutes or so, open the air fryer and give the fries a good shake to move them around, then continue cooking.
  8. Once done, remove from air fryer and toss in some additional cheese mixture, then enjoy!
Nutrition Information
Yield 2 Serving Size 1/2 Recipe
Amount Per Serving Calories 225Total Fat 7gCarbohydrates 51gFiber 3.5gSugar 2gProtein 5g

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About Matt Rosenman

With over 15 years of experience in health and fitness, Matt Rosenman is the expert voice behind Matt’s philosophy is simple: no foods are off-limits, and a healthy lifestyle shouldn't be complicated or restrictive. As a former certified personal trainer with a bachelor’s degree in Health Behavioral Sciences, Matt brings well-rounded expertise to his blog. From revamping classic recipes with a nutritious twist to breaking down fast food menus, his goal is make healthy living less confusing for everyone. Featured in major publications and with a strong following on social media, Matt is committed to making “healthy” uncomplicated—no matter where you are in your health journey. Join Matt on his mission to simplify health without sacrificing flavor. Learn More

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