Why You Need To Stop Bothering Your Roast Potatoes

Potatoes in any form are always a welcome addition to the table. Whether they are mashed, fried, roasted, or baked ... there is something so comforting about them. Potatoes are the perfect side dish staple — not only are they delicious, they are healthy, too. They are packed full of nutrients like magnesium and vitamins C, and B6, as well as minerals like potassium, folate, and niacin, per Healthline. They also contain antioxidants and help balance blood sugar.

It sometimes seems that roasted potatoes are a less celebrated preparation in the potato world. After all, mashed potatoes are a featured player on the Thanksgiving table, and fries are the trusty sidekick in the fast-food arena. The Huffington Post pointed out that home fries ranked 9th place in DoorDash's list of most popular potato orders in 2019, and home fries are arguably just roast potatoes. This form of potato, while delicious, can be difficult to make. Achieving the perfect crisp outside with a buttery, soft inside isn't always intuitive. If you want to give roast potatoes the chance to shine, here are some tricks for making them perfectly at home.

Leave 'em alone

While you might be tempted to tend to them, potatoes are best when left alone until they're ready to move. According to Food & Wine, the best thing you can do when roasting potatoes is to give them a chance to brown enough on one side before you try to flip them. Just like a steak, you want the potatoes to get a proper sear before you handle them. Moving them around too much might give you varying levels of done-ness rather than uniformed, golden-browned morsels of deliciousness.

Roast potatoes do need a little bit of a nudge to flourish. Serious Eats notes that waiting too long to flip can result in uneven cooking, so allow potatoes to cook about 20 minutes (or half their cooking time) before you use a thin metal spatula to flip them. Leaving your potatoes alone for the right amount of time is not the only trick to getting perfect roast potatoes. But if your potato game isn't otherwise solid, flipping them at the right time won't do much to improve them. With that in mind, here are some other hacks to help you roast potatoes like a seasoned pro.

Further improve your roast potato game

One of the best ways to ensure that your roast potatoes come out crispy on the outside and tender on the inside is to boil them first. Serious Eats notes that this technique is used in England to prepare incredible roast potatoes and here's how it works. First cut the potatoes, then boil them until tender. Serious Eats also recommends adding a half teaspoon of baking soda per two quarts of your boiling water. This will make the water more alkaline, which allows the pectin in the skins to break down a tiny bit and draws the starch to the surface. 

Once boiled, you'll want to rough up the potatoes a bit, notes Serious Eats. This gives them a more "mashed" consistency on the outside that will crisp up nicely in the oven. Douse the potatoes in the fat of your choice (not too much that they're soggy, though) and then pop them in the oven at 450 degrees Fahrenheit.

A final note: When it's time to roast the potatoes, never use a cold pan. Food & Wine notes that a cold pan can result in potatoes sticking to it. Try to give the potatoes a little room on the roasting pan so they don't end up steaming, flip them once halfway through, and you're golden. Pun intended.