I will always stand by the idea that the most simple, basic dishes, when done well, are my favorites. Take these Southern Fried Potatoes for example. They only call for 5 ingredients – two of those are salt and pepper – but when they’re done right, are one of my most favorite things. Those golden fried, crunchy edges are the perfect complement to the caramelized onions.
Sometimes I eat them just like this; other times drizzled with some tart and tangy ketchup. Regardless, these things are good eats, for sure!
Tips for perfect Fried Potatoes:
Pick the right potatoes. I prefer Russet potatoes for this recipe. They are starchy and hold up better when fried. Some argue that the starch makes them fall apart, but my experience has been that the starch actually helps them get a deep golden color and I think that characteristic is more important. Others say that you should soak the potatoes in cold water before frying to wick away some of the starch, but doing that also requires that you’ll need to dry them completely before putting them in the pan to keep them from getting mushy. The extra moisture will also prevent them from browning. And for me, that’s just one more step I find unnecessary. The last thing I want to be doing when trying to get supper on the table is drying off a bunch of potato slices.
Use the right skillet. I always recommend a heavy cast iron skillet for this recipe because it can handle the heat required to get those potatoes golden brown. A heavy-bottomed nonstick skillet will work as well, just make sure it’s one that can handle a higher heat level. Other cookware, like stainless, will work too, but you might have a problem with the potatoes sticking. With stainless, just make sure to heat the pan before adding the oil to help with that.
Choose the right oil. For high temp frying like this, I always prefer peanut oil, but it’s expensive and since so many folks have peanut allergies, I recommend vegetable oil or canola oil.
Don’t stir the potatoes too much. The more uninterrupted contact the potatoes have with the pan’s hot surface, the greater chance you’ll get them cooked all nice and golden brown. I’d recommend not flipping them much more than about 4 times. Just watch them and flip over a potato or two every now and then to check them and keep them from burning. Flipping too much will also make them start to fall apart.
For even more flavor, you can swap some of the oil out for good ol’ bacon grease. It adds a smokey flavor that’s great in this dish.
Some other recipes out there call for you to cook the potatoes partially before frying them, but I think that’s another extra, unnecessary step. I also find it’s really easy to overcook them when doing them that way.
Also: It’s nearly impossible to get the oil to potato ratio perfect every single time. There are just too many variables. That being said, if you find them to be a little greasy at the end of the cook time, draining them on some paper towels will help.
Southern Fried Potatoes
- 5 medium Russet potatoes (2 to 2 1/2 pounds)
- 1/2 large onion, diced
- 1/4 cup vegetable or canola oil
- 1/2 to 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- Wash, peel, and slice the potatoes into 1/8-inch rounds.
- Heat a large cast iron or nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the oil and heat until it starts to ripple. Add the potatoes evenly and sprinkle the onions over the top. Cover and cook about 8 minutes. Remove the lid and add the salt and pepper. Flip the potatoes and continue to cook for about 10 more minutes, flipping once or twice more, or until golden brown and tender. Drain on paper towels if desired. Serve immediately.