I don’t know anyone who doesn’t love oven roasted potatoes. Golden and crisp on the outside, soft and tender on the inside. But… it can be a kind of Holy Grail situation. Achieving that perfection can seem like an insurmountable task. Under-, or over- cooked inside and soft, burned, or just not spectacular on the outside are all too common. Many older recipes pretend that all you need to do is throw them in a pan with a large piece of meat and, hours later, perfection. Ignore those. If you follow a few simple steps, your oven roasted potatoes can go from an often unsuccessful let-down to an easy, simple, perfectly crispy treat—every time.
Preheat your oven to either 475 or to 375 degrees fahrenheit (I will explain later!). Place a metal pan in your oven while it preheats. If you have room, a good roasting pan is perfect. Just make sure it’s large enough to hold all of your potatoes without crowding. No matter how soon your oven says the temperature has been reached, preheat for at least 45 minutes.
Now start with the potatoes you like best. My two choices would be Russets (my go-to for most things because they taste more “potato-y” to me) or Yukon golds. Peel them, cut them into approximately 1-inch pieces, trying to make sure the sizes are as uniform as possible, and place them in a bowl of cold water. I was testing with approximately 1 pound of potatoes, but as long as you don’t crowd the pan, you can easily roast more.
Drain your potatoes well and put them in a bowl. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil (or, if you have access and are feeling decadent, duck fat, goose fat or beef fat… any of these are an indulgence that’s totally worth it), 2 teaspoons of salt, and ½ teaspoon of black pepper. Toss to coat. Remove the pan from the oven and carefully pour in the potatoes. There will be sputtering and hissing; this is a good thing. Shake or stir the potatoes minimally, and return pan to the oven.
Now, let me explain the two possible oven temps. Both ways work just fine. I like the higher temp for the shorter time. But the lower temp for the longer time works great too. It all depends on what else you’re cooking and preferred timing. So… for 475 degrees, cook for 40 minutes. For 375 degrees, cook for 60 minutes.
I recommend carefully shaking or gently stirring the potatoes every 10-15 minutes, for even browning. And, if you want to add minced, fresh herbs like sage, thyme, or rosemary, I recommend tossing them into the pan for the last 10 minutes, so you don’t risk burning them.
There should be some oil remaining in the pan when you remove it from the oven. Pour it off and discard. Check the potatoes for salt, pepper, and a further showering with fresh herbs (if using). And remember, I was testing on 1 pound of potatoes. You might need a bit more oil and seasoning if you’re using, say, 2 pounds. Do not, however, double the oil or seasonings—even if you double the amount of potatoes.
As with all cooking, rely on your own taste. Check for the level of doneness that appeals to you, and for the color and seasoning that appeals to you. But for perfectly crispy-on-the-outside, tender-on-the-inside roasted potatoes, this tried and true method is here for you.