These crispy, oven roasted potatoes are better than fries. Here's the only recipe you need
Unlike easy-to-crisp french fries, when it comes to oven-roasted potatoes, the ideal texture is often elusive. The exterior of roasted spuds typically leans more chewy-crisp and the flesh is more tender than soft and buttery.
But I've discovered a trick for achieving french fry-like characteristics when making oven-roasted potatoes. It comes down to one secret ingredient, likely already in your pantry, and one easy technique.
One of the tricks to getting the crispy crust is to place parboiled potatoes in a bowl and give them a vigorous toss to mash the exterior a bit. It’s this soft, paste-like exterior that gets the crispiest when roasted.
For the ultimate crispy exterior and fluffy interior, you need Russets, which can stand up to the "rough-em-up" technique. You can’t achieve the same result with Yukon gold potatoes, which would be my second choice if that’s all you have.
Either way, be sure to cut your potatoes into big chunks. If your potatoes are cut into small chunks, they’ll fall apart when tossed around in a bowl. Aim for 2- to 3-inch chunks. That typically means cutting a Russet potato into 6 or 8 equal chunks. Another benefit of bigger chunks? More of that velvety, creamy interior.
Okay, now for the secret ingredient: Baking soda. That's right, baking soda.
It all boils down to basic chemistry. When you add baking soda to your boiling water, you create an alkaline solution that breaks down the pectin in the potatoes and pushes the starch to the surface. It’s the starch that browns up in the oven and creates that satisfying crunch.
Don't forget to salt your water as well, because this helps season the potatoes from the inside out.
You're on your way to making the best oven-roasted potatoes you'll ever eat.
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How to make crispy, oven roasted potatoes
Start your potatoes in boiling water.
Most potato recipes that involve boiling water instruct you to add the potatoes to cold water before bringing the water to a boil. This serves a purpose — starting potatoes in cold water ensures that the exteriors don’t get mushy before the center is fork-tender. It's a great tip for potato salad, too. However, in this recipe, we want the exterior of each chunk to get mushy. That starchy slurry on the outside of the potatoes is what crisps up in the oven.
Be sure to shake the pan during roasting. For the first 20 minutes of roasting, we leave the potatoes alone. This guarantees a crispy bottom surface and creates a sturdier chunk for flipping. During the remaining 20 to 25 minutes, it’s important to shake the pan a few times to ensure each side gets crisp and nothing sticks to the pan.
The best sauce for crispy potatoes
These crispy oven-roasted potatoes need no festooning. They’re perfectly fabulous on their own. But I’m wildly obsessed with my version of the sauce for Spanish potatoes.
Also known as "patatas bravas" (and patatas a la brava, and papas bravas), Spanish potatoes are fried white potatoes that are served with a spicy, mayo-based sauce. Since we’re making crispy potatoes, I highly encourage you to make this quick-and-easy dip for serving on the side.
My satiny sauce is a blend of mayonnaise, sweet and smoked paprika, hot sauce and garlic. It’s sweet, smoky and fiery — the perfect addition to these potatoes (and many other foods). You can adjust the heat level in the sauce. I used 2 to 3 dashes of hot sauce, but you can use more or less to suit your tastes.
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Recipe: The ultimate roasted potatoes
These roasted potatoes offer the crunch of french fries straight from the oven.
Makes: 4 to 6 servings
Kosher salt or sea salt
1 tablespoon baking soda
4-5 medium Russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 2- to 3-inch chunks (about 6 to 8 chunks per potato)
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon garlic powder
Freshly ground black pepper
For the sauce:
3 tablespoons mayonnaise, regular or kewpie mayonnaise
2-3 dashes hot sauce, or to taste
¾ teaspoon sweet paprika
¾ teaspoon smoked paprika
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons water
Chopped fresh herbs, such as parsley, rosemary or thyme, optional for serving
Preheat the oven to 425 F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of salt and the baking soda and return to a boil. Add the potatoes and return to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 10 minutes, until a knife inserted into the center of a potato chunk slides in with little resistance. Drain the potatoes carefully and let them rest in the strainer for 30 seconds to allow excess moisture to evaporate.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together the oil, onion powder, garlic powder, ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon black pepper.
Transfer the potatoes to the bowl and toss to coat. Vigorously shake the bowl to rough up the outside of the potato chunks. The outside of each chunk should have a thick layer of smashed potato on it. Transfer the potatoes to the prepared pan and spread them out so the pieces aren’t touching each other. If necessary, use two baking sheets.
Roast for 20 minutes. Flip and roast for 20 to 25 more minutes, until the potatoes are dark golden and crisp, shaking the pan a few times during cooking.
To make the sauce, in a small bowl whisk together the mayonnaise, hot sauce, sweet and smoked paprikas and garlic powder. Whisk in water as needed until smooth and creamy. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.
Garnish the roasted potatoes with fresh herbs (if using) and serve with the dipping sauce on the side.
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This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Roasted potatoes are better crispy. Here's the best side dish recipe