Fried Potatoes – Crispy, Easy, and Perfect

Pan fried potatoes that are crispy aren’t difficult but there is a trick to getting that crispy crust and tender, buttery interior. Here are the tips and tricks for getting them perfect every time.
home fries, the best home fries

One of my friends asked me a week or so ago to do a post on how to make pan fries (home fries, country fried potatoes – whatever you want to call them) so that they were both cooked through AND crispy without being burnt. It is one of those things that just never occurred to me to write about but here it is.

5 from 1 reviews
Easy, Crispy Pan Fried Potatoes – Perfect Every Time
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Perfect, crispy pan fried potatoes every single time. The secret is in the two step process. It's easy and it only takes 30 minutes total.
Serves: 6 servings
  • 6 - 8 large potatoes
  • 1 large onion (optional)
  • 1 clove garlic (optional)
  • 1 pepper (green, red, jalapeno - you decide) optional
  • Salt to tast
  • Pepper to taste
  • ¼ cup Peanut Oil
  • 2 tbs unsalted butter
  1. Peel and slice (or cube) potatoes
  2. Let soak for 5-10 minutes in salted ice water
  3. Drain well and pat dry
  4. Heat ¼ cup peanut oil in a skillet on high heat until shimmering and almost smoking
  5. Add potatoes and let fry for 2 minutes
  6. Cover pan and reduce heat to medium Allow to steam for about 2 minutes
  7. Remove cover and turn the heat back up to high
  8. Dump the pan of potatoes into a colander over the sink to remove excess oil and moisture --return them to the pan
  9. Fry, stirring occasionally, until done. Do not cover at this stage of frying because they will get soggy
  10. Add the butter at the very end of cooking
  11. Taste for seasoning and serve hot with plenty of cracked pepper
Nutrition Information
Serving size: Carbs: 60.4 Calories: 319 Fat: 6.5

I grew up with fried potatoes — breakfast, lunch, dinner… I would walk in the house after school on a chilly, blustery Eastern Pennsylvania day and before I even got my coat off the aroma of those potatoes would waft down into the foyer (we lived in a tri-level with a foyer and den on the ground floor, the kitchen, formal dining, and formal living on the 2nd floor and the bedrooms up on the 3rd floor) It didn’t matter to me what else we were having — those potatoes said welcome home!

Depending on the meal my mom would make the potatoes with onion, chopped garlic, or green peppers — and sometimes she would get crazy and toss in everything. The potatoes would sizzle and pop in the pan until the undersides were golden, crispy brown and then she would flip them and brown the other side.

It was magic. How did she know that perfect moment to slide the spatula underneath and begin turning?

Why Your Potatoes Aren’t Perfect

If your pan fried potatoes are soggy rather than crispy, or raw rather than tender, or even burnt rather than golden brown you are probably doing (or not doing) one of the  following:

  • You’re using the wrong oil
  • You’re using very starchy potatoes and not removing some of the starch
  • You’re putting them in the pan wet
  • You are over crowding the pan and they are steaming
  • You are leaving to cover on the pan too long
Even though making home fries isn’t hard it is a bit like riding a bike — easy when you know how.
images of the steps in making fried potatoes

Tips for Perfect Fried Potatoes

  1. Slice or cube them the same size so that they all cook evenly
  2. Slice them into salted ice water and let them soak  for five minutes or so. Drain, rinse and pat dry before frying.
  3. Use peanut oil unless someone has an allergy. It is the best oil I have found for frying.
  4. Fry them in an iron skillet if you have one – try not to fry them in nonstick. The nonstick coating hampers the frying process.
  5. Let the oil get really hot before adding potatoes.
  6. Don’t overcrowd the skillet.
  7. You can put a cover on the skillet to help them cook for the first bit but take it off for the last part of cooking.
  8. If they still aren’t what you want try this. Boil the potatoes until almost done the night before. Drain and refrigerate. Next day pat them dry and fry.
closeup of fried potatoes
Another of my all time favorite potato recipes is Creamy Potatoes au Gratin. It’s old fashioned comfort food, just like these home fries!

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images © 2011 Marye Audet

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  1. tony says

    The recipe does not say at what point 9n the 11 step process to add the onions, garlic and pepper. Sould they be added with the potatoes in step 5 or in step 9?

  2. Leslie E. says

    Lovely. I have been looking for this for a long time and now have eaten wonderful fried potatoes. I have to use olive oil as we live on an island in the Med and I can’t seem to find peanut. Wonderful. Almost perfect!!! (I’ll perfect it the next time, meaning, bigger pan!!!) Many thanks.

  3. says

    Thanks for the information on the fried potatoes. I have been cooking for years but when we go out to dinner my husband will ask me how the fried potatoes are done at the restaurant which made me realize that he didn’t like mine. Instead of hitting him with the frying pan, I decided to find out how others make their potatoes. I’m off to the kitchen now to create your recipe. Thanks again!

  4. Anonymous says

    I’m just learning how to cook – potatoes are one of those things that seem like they should be simple but never turn out right for me. They’re either raw in the middle, or when they aren’t, they’re completely burnt on the outside.

    However, with your guide they’ve turned out great! I haven’t been able to get them “perfect” just yet, but they taste and feel like fried potatoes should! Thanks!!

  5. Nik says

    Just want to say thanks. My wife is the cook of the family and she was out visiting for a few weeks. I make these four times and the kids and I ate them up. I did overfill a couple of times but just drained them twice and, extending the cooking time, they were OK.

  6. Cheri Williams says

    Thank you for this! I’ve never had success with fried potatoes and these are super yum … so glad to have the recipe. :)

  7. Chelsea says

    I’ve grew up to these too and one day I just lost my funk and could no longer get the crispy. I tried your recipe and they weren’t as crispy as I like so I figured I messed up but how long after you take the cover off do you cook them for?

  8. Holly Garrett says

    I followed this recipe to the letter and was horribly disappointed in the crispiness factor. They tasted amazing…but alas, were not crispy and got burned. From the other comments, I guess I better buy an iron skillet.

  9. says

    Does your site have a contact page? I’m having a tough time locating it but, I’d like to
    send you an email. I’ve got some suggestions for your blog you might
    be interested in hearing. Either way, great site and I look forward to seeing
    it grow over time.

  10. Eric says

    It seems every time I try to make fried potatoes they stick to the pan.
    I am using a nonstick pan (because that is what I have) and all sorts of different oils. I don’t think I have tried Peanut oil in a long time.
    Any suggestions on how to keep them from sticking to the pan?

    My goal is to make cubed potatoes that are crispy on the outside.

    • says

      Try starting with cubed potatoes that are partially cooked. Drain them and let them dry. Heat a thin layer of oil in your pan (about 1/8 inch) – peanut oil is my preference because of it’s high smoke point. Let the oil heat until it is rippling then put in the dry potato cubes. Stir them once in awhile ans make sure they don’t burn. That should do it for you. :)

  11. says

    I love fried potatoes. I used to be so good at fixing them, have since I was 12, but here lately I just can get them crispy enough & thanks to you I know why! I started using a non-stick skillet! that’s the only thing that’s changed so I will use a different skillet tonight!

  12. says

    I happened to see a TV cooking show that featured fried potatoes just the other night. Unfortunately, I didn’t see it from the start. I’m glad to have found your recipe as I love the thought of crispy potatoes. I will give this a try tomorrow night! Onions, garlic, peppers–they all sound delicious!

  13. Heather says

    Reading your story brought back so many memories! I also grew up in Eastern PA and would come home to the wonderful smell of fried potatoes. My mom often made them as a side for dinner. They were wonderful!

  14. says

    I’ve made these twice this week, and your tips are SO HELPFUL! I love fried potatoes, but have never been able to make them successfully, after many tries. So thankful for your instructions…although it may be dangerous for me to know how to make them. I could eat them for every meal I think. :) Thanks!

  15. danika says

    Thank you for this! I’ve never had my fried potatoes turn out so yummy. Easy and comforting.

    I used Grapeseed oil, which you can actually get at CostCo for less than supermarket.

    It doesn’t say when to put the onions, garlic, etc in. I added them in the last stage of cooking, after dumping the excess oil. Is that when you usually do it?

    • says

      I do like to use Grapeseed oil but I fry so much and in such quantity that I can’t afford it all the time. :/ Thanks for letting me know! When to put the onions in depends on how you like them. I have put them in just before the potatoes to flavor the oil and I have put them in toward the end – just enough time to get tender.

  16. DGS says

    Ok i’ve made these about 5 times now. First time it worked, since then it hasn’t.

    I think I am unclear on when to flip the potatoes, because after 2 minutes on high they start BURNING. So if I don’t flip and cover them it will just get worse.

    What am I missing?

    • says

      I’d guess that you are:

      Having the oil too high
      Not enough oil in the pan
      An oil with a low smoke point like canola

      Use Peanut oil if at all possible. Grapeseed oil is expensive but even better than peanut oil. Hope this helps. If not leave me a message and we can chat on Facebook about it. :)

  17. Elaine says

    Is the salt water for a brine or just to keep the raw potatoes from turning brown before cooking? Also, how much water and how much salt? Thank You!

  18. Rebecca says

    Great recipe! We made them with canola oil and they turned out excellent. The real trick was soaking them and making sure they were dry before we fried them. Super YUMMY! Thanks for the recipe!

  19. Carolyn says

    THANKS! I used the ice bath and peanut oil and they were the best fried potatoes I have ever made! :)

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