If you are even the slightest bit hungry for crispy roasted potatoes, you’re too late. Banish this thought from your mind and replace it with the measured anticipation of eating regular roasted potatoes. The length of time it takes to make crispy roasted potatoes will always eclipse the amount of time your hungry stomach can wait to eat crispy roasted potatoes.
The answer is simply to begin making crispy roasted potatoes before you’re hungry for them. In fact, if you start even a day or two before you’re hungry for them, all the better! This is how I make crispy roasted potatoes every time. I typically use Yukon Gold or fingerling or assorted small potatoes, which I find get the creamiest insides upon roasting.
A prologue: How long does anything take? I don’t know, and I’ve found that most food professionals who are not specifically responsible for writing recipes don’t know either. “Til it’s done/hot/cold/finished,” chefs at the cooking classes I’ve attended will tell the other attendees who are inexperienced enough to ask such a question. Take roasting potatoes, for example. How big are the chunks? How big is the pot you boil them in? How quickly can your burner bring it to a boil? How big is the batch you’re roasting? How crowded does that make the baking sheet(s)? How long do you have? If you don’t have long, make everything smaller and hotter. They’ll cook faster. My default for roasting vegetables is 425°F, check after 20 minutes.
- Most importantly, roughly chop and parboil the potatoes. This means partially boil but I pretty much fully boil them to the point where they’re a texture where if you were making potato salad, you’d be fine and comfortable biting into these soft potatoes as-is. You’ll stick a fork in one of the floating chunks and it’ll go through quite easily, again, as if you’re eating potato salad. How long will this take? See above. 20 minutes? Drain and salt.
- Unsure if this makes a discernible difference or not, but I typically let them cool so all the steam can evaporate. Less water now means crispier potatoes later, because wet is the opposite of crispy. Remember this as a universal rule of cooking. How long? If you have 5 minutes, 5 minutes. If you have overnight, overnight (it doesn’t matter if they go into the oven hot or cold).
- Pour oil onto the potatoes in whatever vessel they’re in and mix so they’re evenly coated. This will also smush and break apart some of the potatoes, which makes for smaller bits, which get even crispier in the oven. Great! How much oil? As much as you want. More equals crispier, but if you’re trying to not eat a bunch of oil for health reasons, just do a little. Add optional minced garlic or fresh or dried herbs (thyme, rosemary) at this time.
- Spread on a greased baking sheet (or two) to prevent sticking. The more spread out they are, the faster they’ll cook and crispier they’ll be. Crowded sheet pans are a HUGE culprit of food being less crispy than you thought it would be because all the little steams hover over the food in a cloud of anti-crisp.
- Bake anywhere between 350°F and 450°F– lower temp will dry them out slowly over a longer time, higher temp will be faster. How convenient for you if you also have other things in the oven that are more temperature-sensitive! These are the freedoms of cooking you can enjoy! I usually go 400°F or 425°F and check after 20 minutes.
- When they’re golden and shrunken, they’re ready to flip. That’s one lesson is that the potatoes will become very shrunken. That’s because they’ve shriveled away all their moisture. They are no longer water potatoes, which, again, are the opposite of crispy. The bottoms will be darker and should pull away easily because they’re hard and crispy. Flip ’em all, put back in the oven and check after 10-15 minutes. The second side won’t take as long.
- When complete, you will have tiny, crispy bits of potatoes just like you always imagined but have never achieved because of all the recipes that lied to you or didn’t warn you about crowded sheet pans. You will have also become hungry during this time, coinciding with the time the crispy potatoes will come out of the oven for you to enjoy.
- These completed potatoes also do reheat well in the same hot oven over the next several days. These little friends got a little dark in spots but were still delicious. And that’s how it’s done!