A few months ago we asked people on social media how they make their roast potatoes, and boy was the response enormous. Everyone has their own unique way of making their ideal roastie… but can they all be right? From King Edwards roasted with coconut oil to Maris Pipers tossed with flour and cooked in goose fat, there were so many different ways of making them. So we decided – in our quest to find the ultimate roastie – to try them all. How do you make the best roast potatoes? Here’s what we found.
Maris Piper: the most popular roast tater variety
By far the most popular potato variety was the Maris Piper. Waxy and fluffy, these taters are made for the oven. We stuck with them for the whole test (because we want this to be conclusive, right?).
We started by peeling and halving them, then boiling them in well-salted water until an inserted knife pierces straight in, with just a little give. Everyone seems to agree on steam-drying them in a colander and chuffing them up until they are soft and fluffy, and looking nice and rough around the edges. So far so simple.
Left to right: olive oil, rapeseed oil, ghee, goose fat and coconut oil
But now’s the part that nobody could quite decide on. What type of fat to use. A lot of you recommended coconut oil, goose fat and olive oil, and a good proportion of you use ghee and rapeseed oil. We tested them all, cooking each batch of potatoes for exactly the same amount of time (we took this very seriously).
Hot oil or cold oil? Controversially, we found it made no real difference, but if you’re using solid fats (like ghee or coconut oil), you’ll need to heat it up in the roasting tray beforehand. Once coated in oil, we put each potato-fat combo in the oven at 200ºC for 45 minutes until nicely crisp and golden, flipping halfway. Here were the results.
The best fat for flavour?
The most disappointing were olive oil and coconut oil. Although the latter made for really crisp results, the coconutty taste was confusingly sweet and not what you’re looking for in a good spud. Olive oil made our roasties unpleasantly oily and there were no distinguishable flavours. As for goose fat (and we know it’s a popular Christmas option) we found the flavour musky and intense. Rapeseed oil was close, but perhaps tasted too much of the bitter rapeseed itself. Pipping them to the post was, surprisingly, ghee! Rich and buttery, these guys got the all-round office vote. Totally moreish and utterly delicious.
Coconut oil 1/5
Olive oil 1/5
Goose fat 2/5
Rapeseed oil 4/5
Grass-fed ghee 5/5
The best fat for fluffy crisp potatoes?
A lot of you use coconut oil and we can vouch that it makes for nice, fluffy, crisp potatoes (shame about the taste). Rapeseed oil spuds were even better; the yellow rapeseed gave them a nice bright, golden colour, they were crisp and they were the fluffiest of the lot. Olive oil was again a bit of a disappointment and made for a very average, not-so-crisp spud. Goose fat was slightly better than olive oil, while ghee spuds came in at joint-first with rapeseed oil for top marks on fluffy insides and crisp, golden outside.
Coconut oil 4/5
Olive oil 1/5
Goose fat 3/5
Rapeseed oil 5/5
Grass-fed ghee 5/5
All-round winner for flavour and texture? Grass-fed ghee everytime!
But is it worth going the extra mile?
Now we’ve come to a decision about the best potato (Maris Piper) and the best fat (ghee), you could stop right there and achieve the most incredible roast potato ever. But the social media community had more to say, so we tried out a few of their tips and tricks to see if they were worth the extra effort.
Flour or polenta coating… is there any point?
Lots of you sprinkle your par-boiled potatoes with flour or polenta before adding the fat as a way of guaranteeing crunchy results. We tested this method out. Necessary? We don’t think so. Flour seems to dry out the potato, making for a dry hard skin as opposed to crunchy and crisp. The polenta had the same effect, with an even harder shell that sticks in between your teeth. No thanks.
The Jamie method
We’ll let the man himself explain: “Now’s the time for my trick. Gently squash each potato with a potato masher to increase the surface area – the more of your potato that’s in contact with the pan, the crispier it will be.” Jamie does this after about 30 minutes in the oven. It does make for crisp spuds we have to say, but we found if you’re using the right fat, you don’t need to. Ours were crisp enough already. Perhaps not totally worth the faff?
Click here for our tried and tested perfect roast potato recipe.
Got something to say on how to make the perfect roast potatoes? Comment below.
Are you a potato perfectionist? Here are our favourite potato varieties, whether you’re mashing, roasting or chipping.