There’s nothing quite like a plate of crispy and golden fried potatoes to round off a hearty meal.
But getting the perfect fry on your potatoes can be tricky.
Do you need to boil them first? What kind of oil should you use?
And how do you get that crispy outer layer without making the potatoes too dry on the inside?
Read on for our comprehensive guide on frying potatoes so they come out crispy and delicious every time.
For the best french fries make sure to check out these guides on how to soak potatoes before frying and the best potatoes for the crispiest french fries.
Can You Fry Potatoes Without Boiling Them First?
There’s some debate on whether you need to boil your potatoes before frying them.
After all, boiling usually will help with cooking the entire potato so let’s cover when you should boil potatoes before frying.
You do not need to boil potatoes when pan-frying thin slices or deep frying potatoes.
You can pan-fry potatoes without boiling them if you’ve cut them into thin slices. This often means that you more than likely won’t have a fluffy interior, especially if the potato slices are so thin.
When deep frying the potatoes, however, you simply don’t have to boil them first. It helps to add a little bit of water into the oil (Not hot oil, please), to guarantee that the interior cooks fully before the skin crisps.
You should boil potatoes when pan-frying larger cuts or pieces of potatoes.
Pan-frying larger cuts or pieces of potatoes, such as diced potatoes, then you may want to boil the potatoes first.
Frying larger potato pieces will lead to either undercooked potatoes where the inside remains hard or the exterior will burn before the inside cooks enough. So boiling larger potato pieces before frying is highly recommended.
You can also steam or microwave the potatoes to help cook the inside of larger potatoes before frying them.
Benefits of Boiling Potatoes Before Frying
The number one reason why people boil potatoes before pan-frying them is to pre-cook them. The goal is to have a potato that is cooked about three-fourths of the way. By doing so, you won’t end up frying potatoes that are fully cooked and browned on the outside but still undercooked or raw on the inside.
Parboiling potatoes before cooking them also facilitates a process known as gelation.
Gelation is what gives fried potatoes their distinct, crispy outer layer. It’s a process that involves the starch molecules in potatoes absorbing water and swelling up.
For gelation to occur, the potatoes have to be heated in the presence of water. When these potatoes are then fried, the starch granules will burst and create a crispy outer layer while the inside remains fluffy.
Best Oil for Frying Potatoes
When it comes to frying potatoes, the oil selection is critical to ensuring that the potatoes fry until their golden brown and fluffy on the inside.
At first, butter may seem like a good idea, but butter can quickly burn and become too dark. The same goes for margarine.
Instead, opt for cooking oil that has a high smoking point like peanut oil, canola oil, or sunflower oil. If you still like to use butter, first fry your potatoes using the aforementioned high smoke point oils, until they start to turn golden brown and crispy.
At this point, remove the potatoes from the oil and add butter that’s mixed with other ingredients such as garlic, parsley, pepper, and rosemary. Stir the mixture with the potatoes until the potatoes are fully done.
Can You Use Olive Oil to Fry Potatoes?
A common question I hear is if you can use olive oil when it comes to frying potatoes. After all, most people have olive oil laying around for salad dressings so can we use olive oil to fry our potatoes as well?
Yes, you can pan-fry potatoes using olive oil. Just remember that olive oil has a lower smoke point in comparison to other oils such as peanut oil, canola oil, or sunflower oil.
As such, if you’re deep-frying the potatoes, you wouldn’t want to use olive oil as the oil will smoke and leave a burnt taste on the potatoes. Not to mention using olive oil for deep frying is much more expensive than using peanut, canola, or sunflower oil.
When using olive oil for pan frying, you can use either refined or extra virgin oil (EVOO). You should, however, opt to go with EVOO as opposed to refined olive oil since EVOO is healthier and more flavorful.
How to Fry Potatoes Without Oil
If you’re a health enthusiast then you may be wondering if it’s possible to fry potatoes without oil.
To begin with, it’s essential to understand how frying works. Frying is a method of cooking that involves immersing food in hot oil.
The purpose of using oil is to help transfer heat to the food being fried. Oil also helps to create a crispy outer layer while keeping the inside moist.
That said, it is possible to fry potatoes without using oil. The most reliable way to do that is by using an air fryer. Air fryers work by circulating hot air around the food, thereby cooking it.
Air fryers are a healthier alternative to deep fryers since they use little to no oil. They also cook food faster while still maintaining the crispy outer layer.
You can also use non-stick cookware to fry your potatoes without oil. You’ll need to use a cooking spray or water to prevent the potatoes from sticking to the pan.
The result may not be as crispy as it would be if you used oil, but it’s a healthier option. You could also opt to bake your potatoes instead of frying them.
Should You Cover Potatoes When Frying Them?
Another common question I hear is whether or not the potatoes should be covered while frying them.
Generally, covering food when cooking will trap the heat and help cook the inside of the food. So should potatoes be covered while frying them?
It’s not necessary to cover potatoes when frying them after precooking. In fact, it’s better not to as it can result in soggy potatoes.
Additionally, the best way to ensure that your potatoes are crispy is to fry them in batches. This allows each potato to have enough space so that heat can properly circulate and cook them evenly on all sides.
Frying in batches also ensures that the potatoes don’t stick to each other, which can make them difficult to flip.
How to Keep Fried Potatoes Crispy for a Long Time
The key to making sure your fried potatoes stay crispy is to let them cool on a wire rack. When you place them on a plate or paper towel, the steam will make them soggy.
A wire rack will allow the air to circulate around the potatoes and prevent them from getting soggy. You can place the wire rack on a baking sheet to catch any excess oil.
If you’re going to leave the potatoes in the pan, avoid covering them so that the steam can escape. Covering your fried potatoes will cause them to reabsorb the water and become soggy.
To reheat fried potatoes, place them on a baking sheet and reheat them in a 400°F oven for about 10 minutes. You can also reheat them in the air fryer for 3-5 minutes at 400°F.
When it comes to frying potatoes, there are many things to consider. However, as long as you follow the tips in this guide, you’ll be sure to end up with crispy and delicious fried potatoes.