Air Fryer New Jersey Disco Fries Recipe

This disco fries recipe is a healthy version of a popular late-night snack from New Jersey. Most disco fries recipes are made with processed frozen french fries, but this healthy version is made with fresh air-fried potatoes and covered in a homemade savory brown gravy, and then topped with melty cheese.

disco fries on a plate with chopped onion on top

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Disco fries, a New Jersey version of Canadian poutine is a popular dish served in New Jersey diners. They are also known as gravy fries, gravy cheese fries or diner fries and have been around since the disco days, back in the early ’80s.

I’m from New Jersey and like to share regional recipes from my state, like this chicken murphy recipe and Jersey burger recipe. Since disco fries were one of my favorites before I cared about how I ate, I had to make a healthier version of this delicious disco fries recipe, a New Jersey diner classic.

What makes this disco fries recipe healthier?

  • Instead of frozen processed french fries, these fries are made with real potatoes that are coated with olive oil and air fried to crispy perfection.
  • The fries are topped with homemade brown gravy made with vegetable broth.

Here is what you will need

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A picture of disco fries ingredients

Ingredient List

Equipment

How to make this healthy disco fries recipe

Prepare: Rinse the potatoes and pat them dry, chop the onion. Shred the cheese if you are using a block of cheese.

cut fries on a cutting board

Step 1. Cut the potatoes

Use a sharp knife or a crinkle cutter to cut the potatoes into uniform-sized pieces shaped like french fries.

Step 2. Soak the potatoes

Place the cut french fries into a bowl of cold water and let them soak for at least one hour.

cut fries soaking in water in a white dish
onions cooking in oil in a saucepan

Step 3. Start the gravy

While the potatoes are soaking, make the gravy. Heat olive in a pan over medium-high heat and cook the garlic for a few minutes until it begins to soften.

Step 4. Make a roux

Reduce the heat to medium heat and whisk in the flour until it forms a thick paste.

chopped onions covered with flour and oil to make a roux

gravy in a pan

Step 5. Finish the gravy

Reduce to low heat, and gradually add the broth stirring constantly until the gravy thickens. Stir in the tamari sauce. Turn the heat to low to keep warm.

Step 6. Prepare the fries

Drain and dry the potatoes. Place them into a bowl. Add the olive oil and toss.

french fries in a bowl with old being added

uncooked fries on an air fryer basket

Step 7. Cook the fries

Arrange the prepared potatoes in an even layer in an air fryer basket or air fryer tray leaving enough space between them to allow the air to circulate between them. Air fry for approximately 15 minutes.

Step 7. Remove from oven and assemble

Flip them over or give them a shake and air fry until golden and crispy approximately five minutes longer. Arrange the fries on a plate, pour gravy and sprinkle the shredded cheese or cheese curds.

cooked fries on an air fryer basket

NOTE: Cooking time can vary depending on your air fryer and the size of the potatoes. The fries are done when they are golden brown and crispy.

Ingredient notes and substitutions

The complete list of ingredients to make this recipe is above. Below are notes about some of the ingredients, along with ideas for substitutes.

Potatoes – Russet potatoes are the best potatoes to use for frying and air frying. They are high in starch and low in moisture. If you don’t have russet potatoes, the next best alternative would be Yukon gold potatoes.

You can cut your potatoes in any shape that you like which is another benefit of making your own fries. I’ve also air-fried potato slices and large wedges to make these. My favorite is thinner crinkle cuts, which are easy to make with this crinkle cutter.

Traditional disco fries are typically cut thick like steak fries. Since we like our fries crispy and thinner, I went with a smaller size, they cook faster and crisp up nicely.

Vegetable broth – I use homemade vegetable broth when I have some in my freezer, otherwise, I use organic vegetable broth.

Vegetable broth can be substituted with an equal amount of chicken broth or beef broth.

Cheese – Traditional disco fries are made with mozzarella cheese, but any kind of cheese works. Experiment with different cheeses, we like white cheddar, Colby jack, and cheese curds.

Tamari sauce – is a rich umami Japanese soy sauce. It brings all of the flavors of the gravy together. It can easily be substituted with an equal amount of soy sauce, coconut aminos, or Worcestershire sauce.

Overhead view of disco fries on a plate with a fork on the side

Serving suggestions

Serve disco fries as an appetizer (they are perfect for game day) or as a side dish with burgers, or grilled meat.

Another fun idea would be to make a disco fries bar. Serve plain fries on a platter and set out a station with gravy, cheese sauce, salsa, different cheeses, and toppings, and let everyone make their own disco fries.

How to store and use leftovers

This is a recipe that really doesn’t do well leftover. The fries get soggy, but the flavor is still there. If you don’t mind soggy fries and you have leftover disco fries, you can store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two days.

Reheat them in the oven or microwave.

Variations

These fries really are a blank slate. You can add any combination of ingredients to come up with your own version. Here are some suggestions.

Mushroom Disco Fries – Add sliced sauteed mushrooms to make mushroom gravy for the fries, and top with freshly shredded Gruyere cheese or swiss cheese.

Blue Cheese Fries – Top the fries with crumbles of blue cheese and beef gravy or hot sauce.

Vegan Disco Fries – Use vegan cheese or sprinkle a tablespoon or two of nutritional yeast on top of the fries.

Chicken Disco Fries – Add shredded chicken, chicken gravy, and provolone or swiss cheese, and top with sliced green onions.

Jalapeno and Bacon Disco Fries – Top with cheddar, cotija, or pepper jack cheese, bacon crumbles, and jalapeno peppers – the gravy is optional.

a close up picture of disco fries on a white plate

Tips

  • For the best results assemble the disco fries just before serving.
  • To keep the gravy from becoming thick while the potatoes are cooking, give it a stir every few minutes.
  • If your air fryer is small, you may need to make the fries in two batches. Keep the first batch warm in a 300-degree f. oven on a baking rack so that the air can circulate around them.
  • Be sure to thoroughly dry the potatoes before adding the oil so that the oil adheres to the potatoes.
  • If you are using shredded cheese, shred the cheese yourself. Pre-shredded cheeses have additives that keep the cheese from clumping, which also prevents the cheese from melting nicely.
What is the purpose of soaking the potatoes before cooking them?

Soaking the potatoes before cooking them in an air fryer will draw out some of the starch which will help make the fries crispy.

Do potatoes need to be peeled before air frying them?

That is up to you. Potato skins are the most nutritious and flavorful part of the potato, so it’s okay to not peel them.

Can the potatoes be cooked in a regular oven instead of an air fryer to make french fries?

Yes, they can. Arrange the potatoes in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet, and don’t overcrowd the pan. Place them into a preheated 425-degree f oven and bake for 10 minutes. Flip the potatoes over and bake until the fries are golden and crispy; about 8 to 12 minutes longer.

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a close up picture of disco fries on a white plate

Air Fryer Disco Fries

Disco fries made healthier with fresh air fried potatoes covered in a homemade savory brown gravyl
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Soaking Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 35 minutes

Click on serving size to scale this recipe

Course: Appetizer, Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Disco fries recipe, disco fries
Servings: 2 People
Calories: 326kcal
Author: Anne Lawton
Scale this Recipe 2 People

Ingredients

  • 2 russet potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil divided
  • 1 tablespoon onion chopped
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth low sodium
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1/4 cup cheese shredded mozzarella or cheese curds
  • 1 teaspoon tamari sauce Optional

Instructions

  • Use a sharp knife or a crinkle cutter to cut the potatoes lengthwise into uniformly sized french fries.
  • Add the french fry slices to a bowl of cold water and soak for at least one hour.
  • While the fries are soaking, make the gravy. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a pan over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, add the chopped onion and cook for few minutes until it begins to soften.
  • Reduce the heat to medium heat and whisk in the flour until it forms a thick paste. Reduce the heat to low heat and gradually add the broth stirring constantly until the gravy thickens. Stir in the tamari sauce and turn the heat to low to keep the gravy warm.
  • Drain and dry the potatoes thoroughly and place them into a shallow bowl. Add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and toss making sure all of the potatoes are covered with oil
  • Arrange the prepared potatoes in an even layer in an air fryer basket leaving enough space between the potatoes to allow the air to circulate between them.
  • Place the potatoes into a a preheated at 400 degree f. air fryer. Air fry the potatoes for approximately 15 minutes. Flip them over or give them a shake and air fry until crispy up to another 5 minutes longer.
  • Remove the fries from the air fryer and place them on a plate. Pour the gravy over the top of the fries and top with cheese.

Notes

If you are not using low-sodium vegetable broth, add tamari or soy sauce to taste. 
See article above for tips, serving ideas and more!

Nutrition

Serving: 1half | Calories: 326kcal | Carbohydrates: 44g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 10g | Cholesterol: 1mg | Sodium: 260mg | Potassium: 976mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 65IU | Vitamin C: 13mg | Calcium: 35mg | Iron: 2mg

Nutrition information provided is an estimate and can vary based on cooking methods and ingredients used

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