If you ask us, roast potatoes are the best part of a Sunday roast! But what's the trick to cooking roast potatoes that are fluffy on the inside and crispy on the outside? Katy Beskow shares her top tips on how to make the best roast potatoes.
The humble potato becomes the star of the show when roasted, with a crispy outer and fluffy, hot centre.
There is no mystery or magic in cooking up these family favourites, just a few simple steps for fail-safe roasties every time.
Best potatoes for roast potatoes
The variety of potato you choose to roast makes a huge difference to the final result. You want a potato that remains fluffy but is sturdy enough to stand up to high oven temperatures.
When choosing which potatoes to roast, avoid waxy varieties as you won’t get that classic crunch.
Maris Piper makes the ultimate roast potato and are also versatile enough for chips, wedges and mash. Alternatively, King Edward potatoes are also a great option for making roast potatoes.
Keep your roast potatoes of a consistent size, so they all cook through at the same time. Getting the size just right is important – it’s better to have larger roast potatoes than smaller chunks.
Larger surface areas lead to crispier outers and a softer, lighter centre to enjoy.
Smaller chunks tend to get hard on the outside and soggy inside and are at an increased risk of burning in the oven.
As a rule, chop each peeled potato into 2-3 even chunks for the perfect size every time.
How to pre-boil potato
Boiling the potatoes before roasting them breaks down the starchy outers, allowing it to soak in the oil for the ultimate crisp-up in the oven.
It also transmits heats into the centre of the potato, for more even cooking and to guarantee that fluffy centre.
Potatoes that are not pre-boiled tend to have a denser centre, and a greasier texture.
Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil, and boil the potatoes for about 10-15 minutes, until a knife can go through them with little resistance.
They shouldn’t be falling apart as this stage is not to fully cook the potatoes – that happens later in the oven.
There’s no need to add anything extra into the cooking water as the magic happens when the potatoes are out of the boiling water.
One of the most crucial steps in the process of making the ultimate roast potatoes is allowing the pre-boiled potatoes to dry before you roast them in the oven.
This removes as much water as possible from the softened potato to get the outer really crispy. After you’ve pre-boiled the potatoes, drain thoroughly, then place back in the dry pan.
With a lid over the pan, vigorously shake the pan to ruffle the potatoes, then lay them onto a clean tea towel and place another towel on top.
Then, allow to steam-dry for at least 30 minutes, or even better, overnight if you’re preparing your Sunday roast in advance.
If you’ve simply not got the time to wait for the potatoes to dry, towel dry the potatoes and add in 1 tbsp plain flour. Then shake in the pan to ruffle the potatoes and help absorb excess moisture.
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Best oil to use for roast potatoes
As the oven needs to be at a high temperature, you need an oil that can withstand it without developing a bitter flavour.
Sunflower oil has a high smoke point, and has a mild flavour that won’t dominate your roast potatoes.
It’s also versatile enough to use in vegan baking and everyday cooking, as well as being a cheap and healthy oil to use.
A light olive oil is a good alternative, but save extra virgin varieties for drizzling and dressing instead of cooking.
Heating the oil in a deep roasting tray before adding the potatoes is another tool in getting that crispy roast potato.
As a rule 3-4 tablespoons of sunflower oil in a large, deep roasting tray will take 10 minutes to heat up in a fan oven set to 200C.
You’ll know it’s ready when it glistens and shimmers.
When you place the potatoes into the hot oil, you should hear a sizzle. Be sure to leave some space between the potatoes and try not to overcrowd the roasting tray.
Turn the potatoes just once, halfway through cooking, to avoid losing oven temperature and disrupting the roasting process.
Seasoning your roast potatoes
If you’re looking to inject some extra flavour into your spuds, consider adding in woody herbs such as rosemary, sage and thyme, or a halved whole bulb of garlic.
Do this towards the end of the cooking time though, as these flavourings will burn if roasted for too long.
Baste your roast potatoes with Marmite for an unexpected, moreish flavour. Sweet potatoes are a fun alternative, with a shorter cooking time and no need to pre-boil.
Cook them in chilli oil and fennel seeds, and finish with unwaxed lemon zest and smoked sea salt just before serving.
How to make perfect roast potatoes
- 1.5 kg Maris Piper potatoes, peeled and chopped into large pieces
- 4 generous tbsp sunflower oil
- Generous pinch of sea salt
- Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil over a high heat, then throw in the potato chunks. Boil for 10-15 minutes until just tender, then thoroughly drain away the water.
- With the potatoes in the dry pan, place over a lid and vigorously shake the pan to ruffle the outers of the potatoes.
- Lay out a clean tea towel, then place on the potatoes. Cover with another clean tea towel, and allow to stand overnight (in a cool place, or a refrigerator), or for at least 30 minutes.
- Pre-heat the oven to 200C/ Gas mark 6. Drizzle a deep roasting tray with sunflower oil. When the oven has reached temperature, place the roasting tray in the oven for 10 minutes until the oil is glistening.
- Remove the roasting tray from the oven, and use tongs to place the potatoes into the hot oil, allowing some room between each potato.
- Carefully return the roasting tray to the oven for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, turn the potatoes and return to the oven for a further 30 minutes until golden.
- Remove from the oven and season a pinch of sea salt.
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