The Simple Trick For Getting The Crispiest Roasted Potatoes Ever

For the crispiest roast potatoes, don't just roast them. Boil them first. This technique is nothing new for British readers. Across the pond, roasties are something of a national pastime. They have the technique down pat: Peel your potatoes, boil them in salted water, shake them, then roast them in hot oil. When done right, the result is a potato that practically shatters when you bite into it.

Why does par-boiling the potatoes make such a difference? Boiling your spuds gets them tender on the inside, starchy on the outside. When you toss them into sputtering hot oil, that starchy outer layer begins its transformation into a crispy golden crust.

If the only change you make to your potato-roasting technique is boiling them first, you'll already see a big improvement. But you can make them even better with baking soda, duck fat, and elbow grease. Here's everything you need to know.

How to par-boil roast potatoes

Boiling your potatoes before baking accomplishes two things. First, it gets them tender and fluffy so they don't have to roast for ages. Second, it results in a starchy slurry on the surface of each potato that crisps up beautifully when baked. The more starch, the better.

For the starchiest par-boiled potatoes, start at the grocery store. The best potato varieties for roasting to a crisp are floury, not waxy. Think russets, not reds. Once you're back in the kitchen, peel those potatoes. Potato skins are delicious and nutritious, so keep them to snack on later. But for the best roasties, you want as much flesh as possible exposed to boiling water.

Speaking of boiling water, supercharge its slurry-making abilities by adding baking soda. The alkaline solution breaks down the potato just enough to boost surface starch. Try adding ¼ teaspoon of baking soda per quart of water.

Once your potatoes are cooked and drained, it's time for the fun part. Shake them. You should have a heap of potatoes covered in a film of carby mush.

More tips for superior roast potatoes

The real magic happens when your starchy potatoes hit the sizzling hot roasting pan. "If it's not searingly hot, you don't stand a chance," domestic goddess Nigella Lawson wrote in her roastie recipe. Make sure to preheat your pan and oil in the oven.

What kind of oil? Duck and goose fat are classics for good reason: They have high smoke points and they taste great. Beef tallow is another delicious choice (McDonald's french fries, anyone?). Neutral oils like canola and safflower will also do the job.

The only seasoning a great batch of roast potatoes really needs is salt and pepper. But you can certainly add more than that. Add bay leaves to the boiling water at the beginning, or pour garlic butter and parsley over the finished product at the end. Jamie Oliver recommends tossing your potatoes with clementine peels and sage before you pop them into the oven. Once you've achieved crispy, golden roast potatoes, you can play with the flavor profile all you want.