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.
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.
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
Tips for Perfect Fried Potatoes
- Slice or cube them the same size so that they all cook evenly
- Slice them into salted ice water and let them soak for five minutes or so. Drain, rinse and pat dry before frying.
- Use peanut oil unless someone has an allergy. It is the best oil I have found for frying.
- Fry them in an iron skillet if you have one – try not to fry them in nonstick. The nonstick coating hampers the frying process.
- Let the oil get really hot before adding potatoes.
- Don’t overcrowd the skillet.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- Peel and slice (or cube) potatoes
- Let soak for 5-10 minutes in salted ice water
- Drain well and pat dry
- Heat ¼ cup peanut oil in a skillet on high heat until shimmering and almost smoking
- Add potatoes and let fry for 2 minutes
- Cover pan and reduce heat to medium Allow to steam for about 2 minutes
- Remove cover and turn the heat back up to high
- Dump the pan of potatoes into a colander over the sink to remove excess oil and moisture --return them to the pan
- Fry, stirring occasionally, until done. Do not cover at this stage of frying because they will get soggy
- Add the butter at the very end of cooking
- Taste for seasoning and serve hot with plenty of cracked pepper