I never met a potato I didn’t like.
Roasted, boiled, mashed, fried, steamed – if there’s a potato on my plate I’m starting with that first. Bonus points for being super cheap and keeping in the pantry for weeks before turning into tiny potato trees, too.
This technique originally came to me via Cook’s Illustrated, a food magazine I always loathed (because I crave pictures, like a five year old) until I actually started, you know, cooking the food. Its recipes seemed boring and common sensical for the longest time, but once I realized how much trial and error went into creating each one I realized I should stop being a stubborn magazine snob and just try some recipes from CI already. I’ve never had one not turn out.
Anyway, the trick to these potatoes is all in the method. I’ve used all different kinds of potatoes, seasonings, oils, and pans, but if you stick to the details they’ll be the best damn un-fried potatoes you’ve ever had. And that’s saying a lot.
Crisp Roasted Potatoes Recipe in Cook’s Illustrated
The Crispiest Oven Potatoes You’ve Ever Had
As many potatoes as you want (*I like Yukon Gold for this best, and use about 4-8 per meal, depending on size and number of people)
Kosher salt (*Yes, you really need chunky, thick kosher or sea salt for this)
Table salt and water
1. Preheat your oven to 475 degrees with the empty baking sheet(s) you’re going to use inside it. This part is critical – you want the pans to be screaming hot when the potatoes hit them. Make sure your oven’s nice and clean or you’ll smoke yourself out. Meanwhile, peel your potatoes (not essential, but helpful for the technique) and slice them into 1/2″ wide circular discs.
2. In a big pasta pot, put a good bit of table salt, the cut potatoes, and enough water to cover the potatoes by about an inch or two. Bring to a low boil (over medium-high heat) and allow them to boil for about 7-10 minutes. You want them to be soft-ish when you stick them with a knife, but not so soft they fall apart when you take them out of the pot. Not quite cooked enough that you want to eat them yet, but close.
3. Drain the potatoes. Put them back into the pasta pot or in a large bowl and add a lot of olive oil, sea/Kosher salt, and pepper (about 1/4 cup olive oil, at least 1 Tbsp. salt, and pepper to taste). Using a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, gently toss the potatoes around with the salt and oil for at least a minute. They’ll get ragged and shaggy looking, but you want the craggly salt to basically create a layer of mashed potatoes on the outside of each disk – this is what will get crisp. Don’t worry if some of the pieces break apart.
4. Take the baking sheet out of the oven and immediately sprinkle another 2-4 Tbsp. of olive oil all over it to keep the potatoes from sticking. Pour the potatoes onto the sheet and use tongs if necessary to ensure they’re in one layer. Don’t crowd them! Use two baking sheets if there’s any question whether they have enough room.
5. Bake for 40 minutes…ish. Every 12 minutes or so, take the pan out of the oven and flip all the potatoes to get them nice and crispy brown on each side. How crispy you get them is a personal preference – they’re pretty much edible when you put them in the oven, so don’t stress here.
If you have a convection oven (and you probably do – most newer ovens have a convection setting), you should use it. It’s meant to keep hot air circulating evenly throughout the oven so when you cram it full of baking sheets, each one gets plenty of heat from all sides. Traditional ovens heat from above and below, so the middle bits can get a little steamy. Just remember, convection cooks a little hotter, so I usually turn the temperature down about 25 degrees and halve the baking time before I start checking the food constantly. In a recipe like this you don’t have to worry so much about the temperature being spot on, so play around!