Baked Yuca Fries Are Delicious!
Originally published November 8, 2017
This post is all about yuca: what it is, its nutrition facts and my baked yuca fries recipe – a recipe that makes delicious fries that are crispy on the outside and light and fluffy in the inside.
What is yuca?
Yuca (pronounced yoo-cuh) is a long, starchy, tuberous and tropical root-vegetable grown as a shrub in Asia, Africa, Mexico, the Caribbean and South America. It bares a resemblance to sweet potatoes/yams and averages between 6 – 12 inches long and 2 -4 inches in diameter.
For taste, it has a nutty flavor and is often mashed, fried, steamed, baked, grilled, boiled or made into chips. Some cultures grate it to make yuca pancakes, bread and muffins.
Other names for yuca include:
- Cassava root
- Mandioca (in Brazil)
Each yuca tuber weighs one to several pounds and has a gray-brown, rough, woody textured skin. Its interior flesh has white, starchy, sweet-flavored meat, that should be eaten only after cooking. Never eat raw yuca.
YUCA vs. YUCCA
Often, yuca is incorrectly referred to as yucca (pronounced yuck-ah). Yuca is NOT the same as yucca. Yuca (with one C) is an edible root vegetable while yucca (with two Cs) is an ornamental plant of the Agave family found in dry climates.
Nutrition facts of yuca
Yuca is a gluten-free, nutrient-dense food that’s rich in carbohydrates and low in calories and fat. Some nutrition benefits of yuca include:*
- Low in fat and cholesterol: An average-sized yuca tuber (about 100 grams) provides 140-160 calories (8% of RDA) and contains 0 mg of cholesterol.
- High in carbohydrates: A 100 gram serving of yuca has 38 grams of carbohydrates (29% of RDA).
- Rich in B-vitamins: Yuca is a good source of B-vitamins such as riboflavin (4% RDA), vitamin B6/pyridoxine (7% RDA), thiamin (7% RDA), folate (7% RDA) and pantothenic acid.
- Good amount of fiber: Yuca has a moderate amount of dietary fiber, which aids in satiety, helps with weight control, prevents constipation, improves gastrointestinal health, stabilizes blood sugar levels and reduces the risk of high cholesterol. A 100 gram serving contains 1.8 grams of dietary fiber (4% RDA).
- Moderately high in vitamin C: Yuca tubers are high in vitamin C, a vitamin responsible for many functions in the body, such as healing wounds, strengthening connective tissue and boosting immunity. One 100 mg serving provides 20.6 mg of vitamin C (34% of RDA).
- Good source of manganese: Yuca root has moderate levels of the mineral, manganese, which helps strengthen connective tissue, aids in sex hormone production and assists with blood clotting. One 100 gram serving contains .383 mg of manganese (1.5% of RDA).
- Provides good levels of potassium: Yuca has adequate amounts of potassium, a mineral that controls cell and fluid levels within the body, regulates heart rate and blood pressure, and aids in nerve and muscle function. One 100 gram serving of yuca provides 271 mg of potassium (6% of RDA).
*Source: USDA National Nutrient database
Yuca and tapioca
Interestingly, yuca is used to make tapioca and tapioca flour: the yuca root is dried and ground to a powder to make tapioca. Tapioca pudding and bubble tea are both created with yuca – something I did not know before writing this post!
Alton Brown demonstrates tapioca pudding
Yuca fries are yummy
One of my favorite ways to cook yuca is to bake them into fries. Yuca makes fries that are crispy on the outside and light and fluffy in the middle – a texture combination that makes them dangerously addictive! If given the opportunity, I would easily eat several pounds of yuca fries all by myself right now.
I don’t have yuca on hand, which means I have to pass on the fries tonight, but if you happen to have some yuca sitting around or are planning a trip to the market, you should get yo’self a couple yucas and make this recipe.
Baked yuca fries recipe
It takes five easy steps to make yuca fries at home:
- Peel and cut
- Bake for about 20-30 minutes
I make mine with sea salt, black pepper, garlic powder, smoked paprika, duck fat, ghee or coconut oil… and if I’m feeling wild, I toss chili or cayenne powder into the mix. I then sprinkle lime juice over the fries before serving.
Here’s my baked yuca fries recipe. If you’ve never eaten yuca before, give this healthy recipe a whirl. You’ll be happy you did!
- Peel the yuca's waxy skin with a sharp knife or vegetable peeler.
- Cut yuca into large wedges and remove the fibrous inner core (the long and stringy part).
- Bring about 3 quarts of water to a boil.
- Place the raw yuca wedges in the boiling water and cook for 12-15 minutes. The fries are ready when they turn translucent, are soft and can be pierced easily with a fork. You do not want them to be soft and mushy.
- Drain yuca thoroughly, pat dry and set aside.
- Pre-heat the oven to 400F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Place ghee or fat/cooking oil of your choice onto baking sheet and place into oven until melted. An alternative is to melt the fat in a saucepan.
- While oven is heating and fat is melting, cut boiled yuca into the shape of fries, about 2.5 - 3 inches long and ½″ thick.
- Spread the fries onto the greased baking sheet, and season generously with garlic powder, sea salt, black pepper, paprika and chili pepper (optional).
- Carefully toss thoroughly.
- Bake fries for 20-30 minutes turning occasionally, until golden brown.
- Remove sheet from oven.
- Carefully remove yuca from the sheet and place onto a plate lined with paper towels.
- Sprinkle yuca fries with lime juice (optional) and if needed, add more sea salt.
Thoughts, secrets, tips?
- What do you think of yuca fries?
- Do you like them? Yay or nay?
- How do you cook and eat yuca?
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.