5 Ingredients or Fewer

The Best Pan-Roasted Potatoes

November 16, 2013
18 Ratings
Photo by Rocky Luten
Author Notes

Deceptively easy to do, requiring only potatoes, oil and salt; the result here is a not-too-salty, creamy, roasted-slash-fried potato. I think this was inspired by small, whole, oven-roasted and salted potatoes. I wanted something in between oven-roasted and some kind of fried potatoes. To my mind they require no butter or sauce. The trick is to exercise patience and restraint; let the potatoes fry until you are sure they are near burning -- no peeking! —Gretchen @ Backyardnotes

Test Kitchen Notes

"Gretchen wasn’t kidding when she named her potato dish 'The Best Pan-Roasted Potatoes.' The dish is absurdly simple in terms of ingredients, but it’s the contrasting play of colors and textures that make it worthy of a community pick. The step of keeping the wedges stuck together while the spuds fry results in a striking contrast of light and dark surfaces. One bite through a wedge leaves a delightful confusion on your palate, simultaneously chip-like in crunchiness and mashed potato-like in fluffiness, all in one bite. The flavor of the potatoes shines through in the absence of potentially overwhelming spices, but feel free to indulge yourself with a dash of your favorite seasonings." —Panfusine

"I have long documented in this space my antipathy for side dishes, and my family has learned to accept a constant round of broccoli, green beans, and yeah, I’ll say it, sweet potato fries straight from the freezer bag.

But sides got a whole new lease on life chez moi with The Best Pan Roasted Potatoes. The best thing here is the reminder to work with waxy potatoes, which really do make a difference in these pan roasted dishes. Yes, you do need patience, and that may not seem like a weeknight virtue—but while these are doing their thing for 12 minutes or so you can be chopping, stirring, or doing whatever else you need to do to get dinner on the table.

Alternatively, you can ask your teenager about her boyfriend, her math homework, or the boyfriend who isn’t really her boyfriend, she says. That took 12 minutes! Okay, it took three. So now go ask another kid why their room looks like a Superfund site. Okay now you can check your potatoes.

Brown! Spitting oil a little! Be careful. Once covered watch them carefully. Mine took 20 minutes to achieve that delicious sort of salty yield between the teeth. Eat on." —Jestei

—The Editors

Watch This Recipe
The Best Pan-Roasted Potatoes
  • Prep time 10 minutes
  • Cook time 40 minutes
  • Serves 2 to 10
Ingredients
  • Small red bliss, yukon gold, or other waxy potatoes, 1 1/2 to 2 inches in size
  • Olive oil
  • Kosher salt (I prefer Morton Kosher salt here as it is more coarse than Diamond Crystal)
In This Recipe
Directions
  1. Halve the potatoes and place the cut side down; halve each half again but keep these halves together.
  2. Choose a cast iron skillet large enough to accommodate the halved potatoes. Add enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan 1/8 inch deep in oil. Heat the oil over medium heat until it begins to shimmer. Sprinkle a generous layer of salt into the oil all over the bottom of the pan, as evenly as possible in a thin layer. Place the potato halves onto the salt (keeping the pieces of second cut together so the potatoes look like just one half). Fry at medium heat (without peeking) until you are sure that the potatoes must be burning (they're not!), about 10 to 12 minutes depending on the size of the potatoes. At 10 minutes, gently turn over a potato half to see if it is nicely browned; if not, continue cooking a few more minutes.
  3. When the potatoes are nicely browned, turn the heat as low as possible and cover the pan. You will hear spattering noises as the potatoes start to steam, and they will continue to brown under cover.
  4. Cook about 20 minutes covered. The potatoes are done when a sharp knife slips into a potato easily. Serve hot. Kept covered with the heat off, they will keep for 30 minutes or more. If you are letting them stand, drain off any excess oil from the pan. They are equally good at room temperature.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

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98 Reviews

POlySammo March 27, 2021
I actually followed the recipe. I suck at that. Ok I used schmaltz instead of olive oil. Freaking delicious. I had to make a second batch because my Sweetie ate so many before the guest arrived. These are definitely going to be used here again.
Next time I shall start a few hours earlier and soak the potatoes to leech some of he potassium so I can actually enjoy them.

 
tastysweet March 28, 2021
Great idea using schmaltz. Trying to find it here in Bonita Springs, or Naples, FL.
What will be also good to use is duck fat. It’s wonderful for potatoes.
 
marymc May 19, 2020
Basically tasty, but way, WAY too salty!! We gave up eating them after a few bites.

Also, I have a question for other folks who've made this: how did you manage to fit an adequate number of potatoes, in a single layer, in a normal-sized skillet? I bought 1-1/2 lbs. of potatoes, sized 1-1/2" to 2", just like the recipe says. I jammed them in as close together as possible and filled the bottom of my 9" cast iron skillet--and I'd only used half the potatoes. I got out my 7" skillet and filled that, too. And I STILL had potatoes left, but no more cast iron! So, that's all the potatoes I cooked. I guess it wasn't altogether a bad thing that we couldn't eat many because of all the salt--if everybody had wanted a normal portion, there wouldn't have been enough!

I will probably make this recipe again, with modifications. I won't be using all that salt, for sure! I hope I can get that nice brown crusty bottom on the potatoes without it, but using it isn't an option--it made the potatoes inedible. I'm not sure what I can do about the pan space problem--I won't be buying a third cast iron pan just for this recipe, so I guess I'll keep using the two I have, and serving small portions.
 
Smaug May 19, 2020
There's no great necessity for precision in this- there are versions such as potatoes Lyonaise, where the potatoes are cut in thick slices, or Spanish "Poor man's potatoes" where they are cut in thin slices. The simplest is to cut them in bite sized pieces- especially if you are using random sized potatoes. I prefer a nonstick skillet, as it takes less oil, and it needs a decent cover. heat butter or oil, put potatoes in pan (no problem with more than one layer) and brown as desired, stirring occasionally. If you don't add liquid they can be browned more as they go or after they're done. Or you can add a small amount of liquid, such as stock; the potatoes will absorb it. Salt to taste (always), cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until done-15-20 minutes. Regulating the heat is the only (mildly) tricky part- best to check them every 5 min. or so. You can add other ingredients along the way, such as onions or other chopped vegetables. You can add a finish right at the end- parsley for Lyonnaise style, for example. I like to use a glaze made of white wine, vinegar, garlic, mustard and various herbs or spices, and cooked the finished potatoes with it until it's absorbed (somewhat similar to a German potato salad), but they're potatoes; they'll go with pretty much anything. The only essential, really, is to cover and cook on moderate heat for 15-20 minutes.
 
marymc May 19, 2020
Your suggestions all sound tasty, but they're not THIS recipe. What I asked was how other folks have managed to make THIS recipe, using THESE directions, and do it without having a skillet the size of a manhole cover.
 
Smaug May 19, 2020
Well, if you just want results there are a lot of ways to get there. If you want to follow these directions exactly you need this equipment- it's part of the recipe. If you're going to "choose a cast iron skillet large enough to accommodate the potatoes" then the number of potatoes will be limited by the size of the skillet. Of course you could choose a huge one down at the local skillet monger; one gets so few chances to buy new cast iron ware.
 
Author Comment
Gretchen @. May 20, 2020
Hi MaryMC,
When I first devised this method I used what I thought was appropriate for two-three servings, or whatever would fit in the pan I was using at the time. The size of the potatoes and number of servings will determine the size pan to use. My largest cast iron skillet is 12 inches and the smallest is 8, which will accommodate 3-4 medium size potatoes (about 2-21⁄4").
 
Author Comment
Gretchen @. May 20, 2020
P.S. The bottom of the pan does not need to be 'white' with salt. Just enough to slightly elevate the potatoes above the oil. Try using less next time.
 
POlySammo March 27, 2021
I did two batches. We used a heavy bottomed stainless steel pan
 
Maryann S. June 25, 2021
Invest in a 12 inch cast iron skillet. It’s a workhorse and a future heirloom. If you don’t have a matching cover, use one from another pan or a sheet pan.
 
Carly B. May 7, 2020
The name of this recipe is true, these are the best pan roasted potatoes! They really are the perfect combination of crunchy and creamy. I'm obsessed with this method and have made these 3 times, husband approved. Mine did not come out too salty, I actually finish them off with a sprinkle of sea salt on top at the end of cooking. Super easy and quick recipe. Great side dish for many meals!
 
Carly B. May 7, 2020
The name of this recipe is true, these are the best pan roasted potatoes! They really are the perfect combination of crunchy and creamy. I'm obsessed with this method and have made these 3 times, husband approved. Mine did not come out too salty, I actually finish them off with a sprinkle of sea salt on top at the end of cooking. Super easy and quick recipe. Great side dish for many meals.
 
Ginny April 29, 2020
Excellent and fuss free. Thanks for the video tutorial!
 
Suzanne April 19, 2020
Mine came out really salty and I like salty but even too much for me. I clearly put too much kosher salt in the pan. Anyone else experience this?
 
Patricia D. May 31, 2020
I did the same as you but still loved the potatoes as I’m a salt eater. If making this again though, I would use less salt. I think it would be healthier and appeal to mire of my guests. This recipe is great!
 
Terry April 19, 2020
Just made these. I used red potatoes. Couldn’t be easier, didn’t taste greasy, perfect!
 
bistro B. April 14, 2020
These were awesome...great recipe. The potatoes though were more brown towards the middle of the pan than the outside. I guess if you had a gas range the cast iron would heat better. Any suggestions? Maybe heating the pan up in the oven? But then it starts to become a little more complicated. In any case, we devoured the entire pan...the two of us...I think you eat more when you are self isolating. Just sayin....
 
Thea M. April 14, 2020
I have a gas range and had the same problem with my cast iron. I have two solutions... either remove browned potatoes and shift outer ring to the middle, or use a different pan. I have the food52 green pans and the big one is perfect and all of the potatoes get brown. I agree tho, they are amazing. My two small kids jump up and down when I make them!
 
Suzanne R. April 14, 2020
Cast iron needs a long heat time, I like to leave on medium to med-low so the heat can spread throughout the piece while I prep the ingredients; then give it a blast of med-high, then once I drop the food in, drop the temp back to med-low. This should work on electric (a bit slower but still works) and gas. Covering the pan should create a similar effect to throwing in the oven, although I have to admit that when I made these I also ovened them for a bit. I don’t remember why, I think I was combining two recipes that both looked amazing. Result: amazing.
 
bistro B. April 14, 2020
These were awesome...great recipe. The potatoes though were more brown towards the middle of the pan than the outside. I guess if you had a gas range the cast iron would heat better. Any suggestions? Maybe heating the pan up in the oven? But then it starts to become a little more complicated. In any case, we devoured the entire pan...the two of us...I think you eat more when you are self isolating.
 
ihaventpoisonedyouyet February 2, 2020
You had me at “can be served at room temperature” because I always need something that doesn’t require cooking the split second before serving. Make these all the time and they’ve always been delicious and only human error (mine) has screwed them up. Thank you for this recipe!
 
NAIOMI H. November 28, 2019
Nice and brown and buttery soft on the inside. Mine weren’t particularly crispy though.
 
m M. February 9, 2021
In my experience two things prevent crispy potatoes — too many potatoes in the pan (too close together) or potatoes were not dry when put into the pan.
 
Ika X. November 7, 2019
I love it! I tried it last night, and it turned out amazing. Thank you for taking the time to offer the details.
 
RASGarNO October 20, 2019
I love this recipe! Such an easy care free method for mornings.
 
tastysweet August 14, 2019
I would definitely make these. But what I would use is Duck Fat. You can order this online and will keep a long time. Also can be frozen. Could do in an icecube tray and then into a baggie.
 
Suzanne R. June 17, 2019
Why do you skip browning the inside sliced edges?
 
Thea M. June 18, 2019
Honestly it just creates this nice contrast of the crisp brown side and the baked potato like sides. But having the slice creates a vent and helps them cook more evenly.
 
Thea M. May 11, 2019
I love this recipe and my husband asks for it constantly. It’s a winner!
 
Joyce March 9, 2019
I did the entire recipe in the oven at 400, on a sheet pan.Delicious and much simpler and cleaner all around! Thank you for the wonderful recipe!
 
Carrie April 22, 2020
I was just thinking I might like to try doing this on a sheet pan. I am so glad to hear they came out great!
 
Jackie D. January 25, 2019
I just a week ago saw the video for this recipe. Was looking up a new way to make potatoes for the family. I am just in awe at the simplicity and goodness of this ''new way'', at least for me, to cook potatoes in a no-fuss way. Sincere compliments. P.S. The family loves them and I've already made them twice since discovering the recipe.
 
LFK October 1, 2018
Cast iron doesn't heat evenly. Next time I'll put the skillet in the oven at 400 or so to get the entire pan to the same temperature. The potatoes at the center of the pan were browned, but the potatoes away the edge were not. I would consider using a higher smoke point oil rather than olive oil, perhaps avocado? I used kosher salt and found the potatoes to be far too salty. I may have put down too much salt.

 
LFK October 1, 2018
Oh...I found just shy of 1.5 pounds of halved small red potatoes filled a 12" skillet.
 
Thea M. June 18, 2019
I have the same problem with the cast iron!
 
Carol G. August 20, 2018
I followed the recipe except I used refined coconut oil. They turned out perfect! I did monitor the time though as I am not yet skilled using cast iron cookware. Potatoes were the Dynamic Dual creamer potatoes from Costco. I halved the smaller ones and quartered the bigger ones. Followed the instructions for placement etc. Awesome!!!!