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Baked Yucca Fries

Baked Yucca Fries

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A few years back, the sweet potato revolutionized the way we eat fries. This Latin America treat has the same consistency as a potato.MORE+LESS-

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  • 1

    Preheat oven to 450° F .

  • 2

    Fully peel and rinse the Yucca. Cut in half (this bad boy is on the more difficult side to slice). Once cut in half, slice the stem that's going along the groove out of the vegetable. Then, chop into small spears.

  • 3

    Place chopped Yucca on a cookie sheet and splash olive oil and the remaining ingredients. Cook for around 10-15 minutes or until golden brown.

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More About This Recipe

  • If you’re new to yucca, this starchy South American root vegetable will quickly become a favorite. Similar in texture to a potato, this root can be boiled, chopped up, mashed, fried, baked and most importantly, turned into fries. Baked yucca fries are the snack or side you’ll want on every dinner, game day and party menu. Baking it ensures the fries are golden brown and crispy on the outside without becoming too greasy. They taste great with ketchup or garlic aioli, and even plain with a little salt. And if you’re looking for more veggie-friendly dishes check out our vegetable recipes for all your meal, snack and appetizer needs.

Yuca Fries

The word of the day today is Mandioca! Or manioc. Or… cassava, aipim, macaxeira… tongue twisters, huh? Well, these aren’t even all the names this awesome tuber is known for. In the U.S, the name you hear most for this Latin American potato-like root vegetable is yuca. But what’s really cool about yuca is that it has as many uses as it has names! And because it’s so important in Brazilian cuisine, I created a miniseries to show you what you can do with yuca. WOOT WOOT!!

Yuca is super versatile and you can make a ton of delicious recipes using the root itself, such as purees and fries, or you can use the starch to make breads, puddings, and even cakes!

Yuca Fries Are the Crispy-Fluffy Childhood Treat I Constantly Crave

The only thing better than a good recipe? When something's so easy to make that you don't even need one. Welcome to It's That Simple, a column where we talk you through the process of making the dishes and drinks we can make with our eyes closed.

I was probably 12 years old when I had the disappointing realization—for everyone else, not for me—that not all moms make crispy and fluffy mogo fries on Sunday afternoons. Mogo is the Swahili word for yuca (pronounced YOO-KAH), which is also known as cassava and manioc. Not to be confused with yucca, a pretty flowering desert plant that you most definitely should not eat, yuca is an unattractive tubular root vegetable that you most definitely should eat.

Native to the tropical Americas, where it’s been harvested for thousands of years, yuca was brought to Tanzania by Portuguese traders a very long time ago—I'm talking circa the 1500s. But it’s not just popular in Africa (which as of 2002 was growing about half the world’s supply)—it’s also an essential ingredient in numerous cuisines across the globe, from South and Central America and the Caribbean to West Africa, Thailand, India, and China.

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Its versatility makes it a go-to ingredient in so many East African households, including my own. Of all the ways we cook yuca (it should always be cooked and never eaten raw)—slow-cooked with beef and coconut milk for a creamy and hearty stew, sliced paper-thin and fried, then tossed in chili powder and salt to make mogo chips, or shredded and flash-fried to make a crispy and crunchy garnish for soups—my favorite yuca preparation is mogo fries: The yuca is cut into strips, boiled, seasoned, then fried to create an extra-crispy exterior to encase the velvety interior.

Before you can actually make the mogo fries, you’ve got to get your hands on some yuca. Find this super-starchy root vegetable, not unlike a potato, in the produce sections of most international grocery stores and at some farmers markets. If you can’t find it fresh, try looking in the freezer section where it’s sold peeled and cut into segments.

In terms of flavor yuca is pretty neutral, so it takes on whatever flavors you choose to season it with. But the standout here is the texture—it's so starchy that for the most part it holds its shape even when cooked to death, which is why this method for mogo fries works out so well. The boiling ensures a fully cooked mashed potato-esque texture on the inside and, when fried, the natural starch from the mogo, along with the dusting of flour, creates an impressive outer crisp to contrast.

Now when it comes to actually handling yuca, it takes some extra elbow grease. Its woody, waxy skin needs more than the swipe of a vegetable peeler to be removed. Instead, trim the ends, stand it up on a flat side, and carefully run a sharp knife down the sides to peel it. After that it's pretty much smooth sailing—the white fleshy interior is similar in texture to a raw sweet potato and can be easily cut into with a sharp knife. For 4–6 servings of fries, start with 3 medium yuca, peeled and cut into spears. As you prep the yuca, bring a large pot of water to a rapid boil on high heat. When it’s boiling, add the spears and at least 2 Tbsp. kosher salt. Boil the yuca until they can be easily pierced with a fork, about 25–30 minutes. Use a colander to thoroughly drain the yuca, then let them sit out for about 15 minutes to allow the moisture to steam off. You might notice a woody stem running through the edge of some of your spears. If you find one, gently remove it by peeling it away with your fingers or a knife and discard it. I find it’s easier to do this after the mogo is boiled.

In a medium-size bowl, combine another ½ teaspoon kosher salt, the juice of 1 lemon, ¼ tsp. Kashmiri chile powder, and ¼ tsp. ground turmeric. This will act as a flavorful seasoning for the yuca. Add the yuca and toss to coat evenly. Then sprinkle over 1 Tbsp. flour and toss again.

Heat a large pot of vegetable oil on high heat for deep-frying. If you have a kitchen thermometer, aim for about 425°. Carefully add the yuca to the hot oil in batches, about 4–6 pieces at time, and fry until golden brown and crispy, about 3–5 minutes. Remember, the yuca is already cooked through—we're only looking for color and crispness here. Use a slotted spoon or spider to remove the fries from the hot oil and place them on a paper-towel-lined plate to drain any excess oil. Serve immediately with a squeeze of lemon and a sprinkle of flaky salt or some tamarind chutney.

And just like that, I’m 12 again, it's noon on a Sunday, and I’m sitting on a stool by the island in my mom’s kitchen.

Zaynab Issa is a writer based in New York. Most recently, she has published the zine-style cookbook Let’s Eat that features some of the East African and Indian recipes she grew up eating.

Chef's Notes:

Just be sure to boil the yuca first, since they can be toxic eaten raw in larger amounts. Why you'd ever want to eat a big pile of raw yuca is beyond me, but the legal department wanted to mention that regardless. Anyway, once boiled, they can be pan-fried as seen here, deep fried, or placed on a foiled sheet pan, brushed with oil, and baked at 425 degrees F, turning occasionally until browned and crusty.

Please note that on larger roots there may be a tough fibrous part running through the middle, which can be trimmed out after boiling. These didn't really have one, but you'll know if yours do.

You can also cut the yuca into smaller pieces for a home fries-style breakfast dish.

The yuca root may look rather ugly, with a coarse brown skin that leaves brown rust-like powder on your hands. But apart from it’s ugly external appearance, the skin can be easily removed with any normal vegetable peeler (or potato peeler). I like to use a big knife to cut off the ends before peeling the yuca root so it makes things a little easier.

Once the skin is removed, cut the yuca root into wedges like you would normal potato wedges. I recommend cutting into thicker wedges so the fries don’t dry out when you cook them later on.


Cut yuca pieces in half and remove the inner root. Then cut into them into fingers. Heat the oil in a large skillet or cast iron with oil up to ½ inch over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. Fry the yuca fries in batches, turning once until golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon. Drain over paper towels.

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Jennifer is a certified NASM Personal Trainer, MovNat Trainer, and a C.H.E.K Holistic Lifestyle/Nutrition Coach. As the Founder and CEO of BambooCore Fitness, she delivers sustainable lifestyle, nutrition and movement strategies to people looking to improve their health and performance.

When she is not slaying fat and building muscle, Jennifer can be found trekking barefoot, traveling, cooking and refining her photography skills. She also enjoys reading and writing about food culture, history and the science of human movement.

Jennifer is a certified NASM Personal Trainer, MovNat Trainer, and a C.H.E.K Holistic Lifestyle/Nutrition Coach. As the Founder and CEO of BambooCore Fitness, she delivers sustainable lifestyle, nutrition and movement strategies to people looking to improve their health and performance.

When she is not slaying fat and building muscle, Jennifer can be found trekking barefoot, traveling, cooking and refining her photography skills. She also enjoys reading and writing about food culture, history and the science of human movement.

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  • 1 lb. of peeled yucca root
  • Himalayan or sea salt (to taste)
  • Black pepper (to taste)
  • 1/4 cup of light olive oil
  • 1-2 cloves of finely grated garlic
  • Boil the yucca root for 10-15 minutes
  • Remove from water and let cool to the touch
  • Cut into long strips about 1 inch wide
  • Toss gently in large bowl with olive oil and grated garlic
  • Place each strip of yucca on a cookie sheet that is non-stick
  • Place in preheated oven and bake 450 degrees for 20-30 minutes turning over once halfway through baking-time
  • Remove from oven, let cool for a few minutes and enjoy warm baked yucca root fries

Cook The Yucca: Peel yuca, split in half crosswise, and cut into 1/2- to 3/4-inch thick batons. Immediately place in a pot and cover with broth and water then add garlic and a big pinch of salt. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce to a simmer, and cook until tender and yuca is starting to fray, about 10 to 15 minutes. Drain well and pat dry.

The yucca will oxidize and turn brown if you don't immediately put it in water. I like to just put it in the stock mixture in the pot I'll cook it in.

Make The Mojo Mayonnaise: While yucca is cooking, combine mayonnaise, cilantro, lime juice, jalapeño, and honey in a mini food processor and process until smooth. Season to taste with salt if necessary. Set aside.

Mayonnaise can be made up to a 1 day ahead. Store covered in a refrigerated container until ready to use.

Fry The Yucca Once yucca is drained, heat oil in a heavy-bottomed pot, Dutch oven, or large wok over medium-high heat. Once the oil has reached to 350°F , adjust heat to maintain temperature. Add one-quarter of the yucca and cook, agitating and flipping every minute, until golden brown and crisp, about 3 to 5 minutes total.

Transfer to a paper towel-lined baking sheet and season with salt. Repeat with remaining yucca then serve with mayonnaise and a few lime wedges.


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Aida Mollenkamp

Aida is a food and travel expert, author, chef, Food Network personality, founder of the travel services company, Salt & Wind Travel, and partner at the creative agency and educational platform, Border Free Media. She has made her career in food travel media and hospitality and has crisscrossed the globe to search out the best food destinations.

After graduating from the Cornell Hotel School and Le Cordon Bleu Paris, she joined CHOW Magazine where she ran the test kitchen and worked as Food Editor. Aida then moved to television, hosting the Food Network show, Ask Aida, FoodCrafters on the Cooking Channel, In The Pantry on Yahoo!, and the TasteMade series, Off Menu. Her cookbook, Keys To The Kitchen, is a go-to for home cooks who want to become more adventurous cooks and the Travel Guides For Food Lovers series she has co-authored are beloved among food travelers.

Through Border Free Media, Aida shares the lessons she’s learned as an entrepreneur with other creative businesses. From teaching our Cooking Club classes to cohosting our group trips, in all that she does Aida aims to help discerning travelers taste the world.


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