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Roast potatoes – how do you cook yours?

Parboiled or from raw? Goose fat or olive oil? Skin on or skin off? Everybody has an opinion on how to cook roast potatoes – but which method is best?

Roasting the beloved British spud is one of those things that most people think they do better than anybody else. So we want to narrow down the definitive recipe.

Which? can help you pick out a Best Buy potato variety for roasting, and we can even divulge the secrets of how to grow them. When it comes to cooking our spuds though, we bring in the professionals.

How to make the perfect roast potatoes

Chef Adam Byatt told Which? Gardening magazine how he makes the tastiest roasties. He got our mouths watering as he explained how to ensure a satisfying crunch – after peeling, boiling and draining the halved potatoes, he shakes them for a minute in the pan with the lid on to get them fluffed up and slightly broken.

Adam then spreads them on a roasting tray with a preheated lashing of vegetable oil or duck fat, seasons them with sea salt and shoves them in the oven for 50 minutes on 170°C. When the time’s up, the roasties should be crispy and fluffy inside – ready for a sprinkle of finely chopped rosemary and serving after resting them for 10 minutes. Delicious.

Spud, sweat and tears

But not everybody agrees with Adam – other celebrity chefs have their own ideas of how to prepare the Sunday lunch staple.

Jamie Oliver claims that the potato masher is the secret behind getting the best roastie. His trick is to get his potato-packed roasting tray out of the oven after 30 minutes and then gently squash each spud with the masher to increase their surface area and guarantee a great crunch.

Nigella Lawson swears by dredging her parboiled potatoes through semolina before they go in the oven. While Gordon Ramsay (unsurprisingly) likes to give his potatoes a bit of a kick – he adds chilli flakes and turmeric before they go in the oven.

What’s your surefire way to fill your plate with perfect roast potatoes? Do you agree with the experts? Or do you have your own unusual recipe for the ideal roastie?

What's your favourite way to cook a potato?

Roasted (41%, 410 Votes)

Mashed (21%, 215 Votes)

Baked (20%, 200 Votes)

Fried (7%, 74 Votes)

Boiled (6%, 59 Votes)

Steamed (2%, 25 Votes)

My favourite isn't here, better write it in the comments (2%, 25 Votes)

Total Voters: 1,008

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We always parboil in lightly salted water from 5 to 10 minutes (depending on the type of potato). If they are very firm, we may shake them in an old colander with a lid over it to rough them up. Then roast in a hot over for 35-45 minutes in proper fat – goose or beef fat, depending what is available. Now that the ‘experts’ have finally decided that advice on animal fat being so bad, it is good to know that the traditional recipes were just fine after all!


Always make sure your par boiled. Potatoes are dry, don’t roast them straight after draining them.

Mike says:
12 January 2015

Pretty good advice from Adam unsurprisingly – always par boil them!

You can put them to one side at this point and keep for 24 hours if you want to do some of the work in advance.

Goose fat is best (I bought extra at Xmas as it’s most readily available then) and it needs to be crackling hot. Rather than semolina I’ve used plain flour after giving them a good shake in a colander.

They come up nice and crispy!


Seems like I use a similar tactic for my roast potatoes. Once par boiled I drain them and give them a good shake in the pan. I then give them a sprinkle of flour and splash of olive oil – Nigella seems to use semolina but I never have it to hand and think flour does the trick just as well. And once the edges have fluffed up I put them straight into the roasting tray. 40 minutes later you have the perfect roast potato 🙂


Great to hear from all these people with their hints and tips. The one person I don’t think we’ll be hearing from is Aunt Bessie. Who knows what they get up to in the roast potato factory?

MrTayto says:
13 January 2015

I recommend drying them out thoroughly before par-boiling.
Best results, bizarrely, can be had using a tumble drier, on a slow cycle.
My Best Buy machine does a great job!

Clare says:
13 January 2015

I’d love to give this a go, but don’t think that would be covered by the extended warranty on my dryer

Spuds says:
13 January 2015

Mr Tayto makes a valid point, it is all about the reduction of steam in the oven.

I would personally recommend storing your potatoes in bags packed with rice, this will adsorb any residual moisture in your potatoes/cupboard.

To achieve the ultimate crispy skin, ideally empty your oven, additional items (such as roast chicken) create a lot of moisture in the oven’s atmosphere preventing the potatoes from achieving their optimal skin.


First we have Mr Tayto and now we have Spuds contributing. 🙂

What is the current recommendation for the best variety of potato to use for roasting? I have seen some conflicting advice.


I think it’s King Edwards or Maris Pipers isn’t it?

Personally I think their amusing usernames are half-baked. 😉


I wonder if the Duke of York would like to make a comment?


King Edwards used to be a strong recommendation but some would disagree. I wonder if it depends on age, which is a factor in making chips.


The age of the cook or the age of the tatty?


I wonder if the fad for “thrice cooked chips” will spread to roast potatoes?