Like lots of simple foods, roasting potatoes relies more on smart technique than on expensive ingredients or fancy equipment. All you really need is a sheet pan, some potatoes, olive oil, and salt. (Want more ideas for cooking in a sheet pan? We got ’em.)
If you mess up the method, you might find yourself with burned potatoes, undercooked potatoes, or (worst of all!) a combination of the two. Before we share our recipe, our Test Kitchen’s going to let you in on some key tips.
3 Secrets to Perfect Roasted Potatoes
1. Start with par-cooked potatoes
For years, I chopped up potatoes, tossed them with oil, and stuck ’em in the oven. When the timer went off, the outside was dark brown, on the edge of burned, while the inside was just barely cooked. Now, just about any roasted potato is good, so it’s not like they went to waste. But I had a sneaking feeling they could be better. And I was right.
Here’s the trick: boil the potatoes first. This gives you a head start on the cooking, so the potatoes will be nice and tender sooner. Then you can focus on roasting until the outside is nice and brown, and not a moment longer.
2. Don’t be gentle
After your potatoes are boiled, you might worry that the outsides are getting a little mashed as you toss them in oil and seasoning. Don’t worry-the roughing up is actually a good thing. Having slightly mashed or crushed edges makes uneven places that absorb fat and cook faster, yielding a browner crust with serious crunch.
3. Bake and bake
You’ve already boiled the potatoes, so they shouldn’t need too long in the oven, right? Wrong. You want to really give them time to brown. Let one side brown fully before flipping, and continue to flip and toss the potatoes until they’re evenly, deeply bronzed. This usually takes 35 to 45 minutes, but don’t just flip off the oven just because the recipe says it’s time. Cue off of your potatoes; if they’re not crisp yet, then keep on cookin’.
Keep those tips in mind, and you’ll have perfect roasteds every time. Here’s our Test Kitchen’s full recipe:
How to Roast Potatoes
3 large red or russet potatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes
1/4 cup olive oil or oil of your choice. You can also use animal fat for all or part of the oil. Think chicken, duck, and the like. Or use that saved bacon grease to add loads of flavor.
3 tablespoons lemon juice, optional
1 teaspoon dried oregano or herb of your choice (rosemary, marjoram, basil, and savory are all good)
1/2 teaspoon salt
Step 1: Boil
Place potatoes in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Once it’s bubbling, reduce the heat. Simmer, uncovered, until the potatoes are crisp-tender, about 5-8 minutes. (You should be able to pierce them with a knife, but you don’t need them to be like butter. A little resistance is OK.)
When the potatoes get there, drain them.
Step 2: Season
Dump the potatoes into a big bowl. Pour in the oil, lemon juice, herb, and salt and toss well, until every piece of potato is coated. Don’t worry about babying the potatoes; go ahead and toss ’em like you mean it. (See note above: you want the edges to be roughed up.)
Test Kitchen Tip: If you want to use fresh herbs, add them in after roasting, or they might burn.
Step 3: Roast
Pour the coated potatoes out onto a greased rimmed baking sheet. (Greasing helps prevent sticking.) Bake, uncovered, at 450° until the potatoes just start to release from the baking sheet, about 20-25 minutes. Toss the potatoes.
Test Kitchen Tip: If you’re having a hard time with them sticking, just let them roast a little longer and try again.
Continue roasting, tossing occasionally, until they’re a deep golden brown color, with crisp edges. This should take about 15-20 minutes more.
That’s it! You’ve got a lovely pan of roasted potatoes to pair with roast chicken or another delicious dinner. And now that you’ve got roasting potatoes down, why not move on to other roasted veggies: they’re all fantastic!