parsley leaf potatoes

As you may have noticed, as the week’s progressed, things have gotten simpler. We started with great ambitions — we will make a green bean casserole from scratch! We will trim the beans! make a roux! sauté the mushrooms! coat and deep-fry the onions! We moved onto my favorite stuffing made from torn baguettes, diced apples and onions and celery, three herbs, sometimes cornbread, sometimes sausage; it’s a two-pan ordeal. We slipped quietly into the simple weeknight savior, cauliflower and brown butter breadcrumbs. At the rate we’re going, I’ll have a boiled water recipe on the site by Monday. But somewhere between five-ingredient breadcrumbs and recipes that don’t need to be spelled out, there’s this, a potato recipe with only salt, butter and parsley.

scrubbed russets
halved lengthwise

Why slow down? If you’re like me, at the outset of a holiday, you’re brimming with ideas: dry-brined, braise-roasted and deep-fried turkeys! homemade stuffing from homemade bread! individual miniature pies for every person at the table. As the holiday gets closer — not unlike the progression of this week for me — real life begins to creep in. There are day jobs, flu-like symptoms, traffic jams and extremely dull things like dentist appointments doing everything in their power to interrupt. There are only so many hours in the day, and days left in which one can cook. There are only so many hours of those hours in which one can cook that they actually want to.

one leaf per potato half, plus salt

Less a sign of a failed career as a domestic diva, this is a healthy and balanced outlook. How are you going to enjoy a dinner party if you spend the whole of it in tizzy in the kitchen? How are you going to catch up with your family that traveled on planes and trains, through inclement weather and unfathomable traffic to spend time with you if you’re too exhausted by the time you sit down to do anything but reach for a Negroni? Does cranberry gelee with gingerbread creme really meet greater acclaim than back-of-the-can pumpkin pie? What ever happened to simple roasted potatoes?

roasted face-down. in butter.

In November 2003, Gourmet Magazine published a recipe for Parsley-Leaf Potatoes that have rarely gotten half the spotlight they deserve. No purple majesty, tri-colored miniature or even Yukon gold potatoes are enlisted to make these potatoes, just the Russets that most of this country simply calls “potatoes.” You’re not going to need extra virgin olive oil or goose fat, single-origin sea salt, shallots, minced herbs, lemon, mustard or self-enclosed packets of soft roasted garlic. There isn’t even any freshly ground black pepper. There is only salt and parsley leaves that are pressed flat against cut potato halves that roast in the puddle of melted butter for the better part of an hour until they are flipped over into a serving dish, the leaves and potato edges now crisp, golden and ready for a magazine cover. (Um, yours will be. I used my oldest, crustiest pan and mine look like, aptly, they’re ready for … this blog. Here’s someone who made them look prettier.)

parsley leaf potatoes

Best of all, they’re so easy to make, with ingredients that I know you’ll already have around next week, that you can save your energies for crispy onions. Or pie. Or for changing out of your filthy apron and into your coziest sweater, because your work here is done and it’s time to join the fun.

parsley leaf potatoes

Thanksgiving recipes: My favorites are listed here, but if you think I’ve missed something, head to the search box (top left, under the logo) and type in the ingredient — I bet it’s here. Unless you’re looking for a whole turkey recipe… um, next year, I promise. [Thanksgiving Recipes]

More Thanksgiving: I realized near the end of last week that I had five Thanksgiving dishes left to share with you, and wouldn’t it be fun to post each day this week about one? So, Monday was Green Bean Casserole with Crispy Onions, Tuesday was my favorite Apple-Herb Stuffing for All Seasons and Wednesday was Cauliflower with Brown Butter Crumbs. Thursday got the better of me, but today is crazy simple roasted potatoes, and Monday will hopefully be a fitting new dessert for your repertoire. I love these dishes too much to keep them from you any longer.

Parsley Leaf Potatoes
Adapted from Gourmet

I used Russets, but you of course can you any roasted potato (red or yukon gold) you prefer. When using Russets, the smaller, the better, for maximum creaminess when roasted. As the potatoes roast, the butter in the pan browns and then goes a shade dark — it might smell worrisome, but it will taste wonderful. If you’d prefer, however, you can replace half the butter with olive oil, which will reduce the darkening of the roasted sides. This recipe, uh, uses a lot of butter, possibly more than you need. I’ve gotten away with using just 2/3 of it (4 tablespoons), but I don’t usually bother limiting it. It seems the excess stays in the pan, and the potatoes have just enough to be buttery but not drenched.

Serves 8 to 12

3 ounces (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter
8 small-medium baking potatoes (about 4 pounds), scrubbed
16 fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
Coarse salt

Heat oven to 450 degrees F. Place roasting pan in oven with butter; once butter has melted, just a minute or two later, remove pan from oven. Halve each potato lengthwise. Place one parsley leaf in the center of each cut half, then sprinkle cut sides generously with salt. Arrange face-down in pan with melted butter; try not to nudge them around or the leaves will move (as mine did) off-center. Roast potatoes for 35 to 45 minutes (depending on size) until tender. There’s no need to turn the potatoes over unless they get so dark underneath (this can happen with a thinner roasting pan or oven than runs hotter) that they risk overcooking before becoming fully tender; if so, just flip the potatoes for the remaining roasting time.

Serve immediately; cut sides up.

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145 comments on parsley leaf potatoes

  1. I know this recipe is dead simple but i love the versatility of it. I can only imagine stitching up the potato type and herbs used in this. I am still a full hearted duck fat potato roaster but I think I might need to give butter a chance here

  2. One of the best things I’ve ever had in my life was when my Latvian best friend from growing up’s Mom boiled some russet potatoes, melted a stick of butter in a pot, chopped some parsley, and poured the butter and parsley over the just boiled potatoes. You must know that flavor with the Russians in your family. Oh god, so good. I think I actually prefer roasted potatoes to boiled though. But the butter. Oh dear god, the butter.

  3. Paula

    I’m wondering what this would taste like if I use schmaltz instead of butter? I’d love to serve this for Thanksgiving, but I keep kosher. What do you think? Would schmaltz work?

  4. I made the cauliflower last night only living with a Type 1, I made the topping sans breadcrumbs! It was the tastiest treat and it was all glommed up! What wonders I can whip up with a veggie diet! HAPPY DANCE!

  5. Mel

    This looks so so delicious!! This week is blowing me away. Tomorrow night we’re having these potatoes with the cauliflower!! Thank you!!

  6. Brittany

    Deb, you are always my go to for recipes and this week of festive fare is no different. I’m having the busiest two weeks I’ve had all year and am so bummed I won’t be able to make the elaborate holiday feast I’ve been planning for months, I even ordered my Heritage bird at the fancy local butcher shop well over a month ago! It just seems so unfair that day to day things have to get in the way *grumble*. Anyway, I’m still excited to cook Thanksgiving dinner and thanks to you I know it’ll still be awesome even if I don’t spend 4 days prepping and have homemade bread.

    Thanks for keeping it real and understanding what your readers really need!! :)

  7. Allie

    What are you talking about? Are you a crazy person? I think your potatoes look BETTER than the ones on that other blog.

    :) thanks Deb!

  8. Jeanne

    My Mother made these every time she roasted a leg of lamb, but instead of butter she used the meat drippings to cook the potatoes. Thanks Mom!

  9. tunie

    They are like, ninja style elegance! Sneakily simple, but so beautiful, they look really special, like love went into them, and clearly effortlessly. Perfect zen potatoes!

  10. Sally

    I can report that these potatoes suit your cookbook’s recipe for pork chops with cider, horseradish and dill–minus the dill, which I didn’t have. Those of you worried about too much butter: don’t. More than half of what I used stayed in the pan when the potatoes came out. It’s nice to have two more good recipes in the repertoire!

  11. Marla

    OMG!! I am babysitting tuesday and working wednesday and had no idea what to make with garlic-parmesan tilapia (made at the local market and baked at home) while trying to bake 6 pies, make stuffing, and bake sweet potatoes. you are my hero, Deb! thank you so much!

  12. OB

    With quality ingredients, the simpler, and less cluttered, the better. I have had instances with Russets where they were so good, I felt like I was having my steak with the potatoes and not the other way around. I usually like to pair my potatoes with rosemary. Beautiful photos as always.

  13. bergamot

    Must say they make quite an impact. The parsley makes the potato such a beauty. I wont be surprised if I find this on a restaurant menu soon.

  14. HungryMom

    If that pan used to be non-stick teflon or similar, I’d urge you to chuck it and get a new one.

    But, simple potatoes rule, you’re right!

  15. Margie

    What’s not to love – simple, tasty and gorgeous! Try using small russets (I find them at farmers markets) or large fingerlings. A friend who saved all the old Gourmets makes these and I’m so glad you’re giving this recipe the attention it deserves.

  16. These look amazing and would be great as a side for my son’s gfriend who eats GF and so will be forgoing dressing. BUt now I’m wondering -the recipe’s temp for that amount of time will be very hard to pull off in a single oven kitchen the day of.

    Deb – is there any way these could be baked up first thing in the day and then reheated at the lower temps the other sides call for (typically in the 350 range) without losing their glorious crunchiness?

    1. deb

      TexasDeb — Hm, I haven’t tried it this way; I do find that Russets, if fully cooked, don’t reheat as well as I want them too because they tend to just become dry. But it’s possible with other varieties that it won’t be an issue. Or, you can half cook them earlier in the day, finish them before serving.

      HungryMom — No, it was never teflon or nonstick.

      francesca — The butter that ends up on the pan, not under the potatoes, can get a little too dark. But the parts of the butter and potatoes you’ll eat will be excellent. Some butter can always be replaced with olive oil, as I noted, if you’re extra nervous. Mixing in olive oil raises the smoke point of butter.

      ellina — I think it would be fine, as long as you’re okay with the outsides being a little plain/dry because you won’t flip these.

      Lee — Maybe. I don’t always get as good color from foil, but I am all about having fewer dishes to do. BUT WAIT. I thought the person that cooks doesn’t have to do dishes? :)

  17. Shelagh

    I’ve loved all your pre-Thanksgiving recipes this week but this post made me laugh out loud at your sentence starting….”At the rate we’re going…..”

  18. When I was first married, 60 years ago, someone gave me a recipie very much like this except instead of halving the potatoe I cut them into 3/4inch slices. Obviously they then had to be turned during he cooking cycle. This recipe makes me hungry as I remember how fabulous the crispy tops and soft creamy centers were. I think I will brush the snow of of my parsley and make these today!

    1. deb

      mimiindublin — Ha! I really should share some, for balance, but the sad fact is that when real life gets in the way, I’m not in the kitchen at all, I’m running around doing way less fun stuff.

  19. Terri

    Thanks for this! I’m going to use it for my next dinner party, and sent the link to my daughter and bff who love simple but beautiful recipes!

  20. JP

    Typo in instructions: “try not to nudge them around (or) the leaves will move…”. Nonetheless, must stop type checking and get some of those potatoes in the oven. Can’t wait! Thanks for another easy and delicious recipe to use during holidays or any time.

  21. Stu Borken

    To Paula: Of course schmaltz would work. This recipe called for potatoes to be cut in half, but, you could just as well plank them and then you would get more crust and less potato per serving and you could have 2-3 planks per serving. I always have 3-6 pints of schmaltz in the freezer which I use to fry potatoes, season knishes or season chopped liver.

  22. When I was young and newly relocated to California, I lived with a gal who had changed her ways in the kitchen after having spent years cooking elaborate and delicious meals for her two children. Night after night, I witnessed her broil meat and prepare some simple vegetable. Her meals were artful, nutritious, and presumably delicious. She taught me that simple is good too. And it’s great to have both skill sets to draw from. Since some cravings call for simple and some for complicated, but always delicious!

  23. Ha! That’s hilarious – I thought the same thing when I made my cauliflower dish – I thought, Gee, is this really a dish or just a bunch of things roasted together? Does it deserve a post? You’re posts are always worth it – if just for the witty repartee.

  24. Taryn

    Made these beauties tonight and they were fabulous!! I’m proud to say they looked just like the pictures. In addition to the parsley I added a few other spices to the butter (garlic, thyme, onion powder) They were a perfect compliment to my sautéed chicken.

  25. Barbara

    I just did this with yams for our dinner tonight (with pork roast) and they were delicious and almost more beautiful than Deb’s photos because of their gorgeous color. The burnished coppery-orange with the parsley was exquisite. Thanks for such an easy and delectable recipe, Deb.

  26. kathy

    I just made these with small Yukon Golds; they look fancy but are really simple .. the other recipe says to scatter kosher salt around pan so that’s what I did and used half olive oil, half butter. Great with a dab of sour cream as you eat them.

    1. deb

      Talia — Obviously, all recipes for boiled water on the web need to have the credit line “Adapted from” :)

      cathy — There is a “Pin” link at the bottom of each post before the comments begin. Thanks!

  27. msue

    Years ago I watched an episode of one of Jacques Pepin’s PBS shows in which he roasted potatoes in this same way – halved, upside down – but without the parsley. I remember watching that show with my husband, drooling more and more as the show progressed, especially when we saw the browned bits on the potato surface. For some time after that, halved & roasted potatoes were a staple. The parsley here makes a pretty addition, and I can imagine it with sage, too. Great reminder of a classic!

  28. WifeToAnAmazingCook

    This is possibly my favorite post of yours. The photos are stunning, the simplicity of the recipe is genius and I love your reminder at the end to enjoy the fun; the entire post is a work of art. Thanks Deb!

    1. deb

      Re, using other herbs — I’d read a comment on Epicurious that warned that more wiry herbs (thyme, rosemary) didn’t stick well to the potatoes, but leafy flat ones did better.

  29. Melanie

    I made these for dinner tonight, needed something easy. They were really yummy. The best part was that my 4 year old ate them! He won’t eat any sort of potato that isn’t a fry. Weird kid doesn’t like mashed potatoes, crazy I know. I think it was the fancy “leaves”. Just wanted to say thanks!!

  30. Kevin

    Reminds me of my aunt Betty’s golden fried potato morsels! They looked and felt like the real thing! …so tender and chewy. Melts in your mouth, really!

  31. michelle

    This was awesome! I only had large russets, but I quartered them (halve along the width, then halve lengthwise) and they were still nice and creamy. Used 3 tablespoons butter and the bottoms had a nice brown and crunchy crust nonetheless. I loved the simplicity of this recipe, and I think this is my new favorite way to cook potatoes!

  32. Marie M.C.

    OMG! I hope everyone has read No. 80. When my mother was about 16 she was staying with friends and was asked to “go boil some water”. She didn’t have a clue. OK. She lived in China and always had servants. Oy. What I’d give to be able to say: “I’ve always had a cook/maid/someone to do the never ending errands.” Yes, she finally learned to cook. But she hated cooking and it showed. She did do some things right, one was potatoes. We’d peel them, cut them into large cottage fry pieces. She put them in a pyrex pan with a ton of butter. (She was Russian and there was no such thing as too much butter. I agree with her.) As the chicken roasted she pour off the chicken fat and add it to the butter. We’d turn them, now and then. Amazing. Same for leg of lamb, only no butter just the lamb fat. At Christmas I cook a Beast of Beef and use the fat to cook the potatoes. I tried duck fat one year and wasn’t impressed with the taste. I like the beef fat better.

    Thanks again for all your wonderful recipes — and writing.
    Wishing you and yours a blessed, fun and filling Thanksgiving!

  33. Marie M.C.

    TexasDeb — You might try cooking these earlier in the day at your home. Then try re-heating in a microwave. I’ve never tried it so no idea if or how it might affect the crunch factor. Try it before Thanksgiving to see if it works!

    I reheat leftover fully roasted russet potatoes (or sweet potatoes) the next day several ways. One: Take whole potato and slice into 1/2 inch, largish slices. Put canola oil in iron skillet. Cook one side until golden brown and delicious (GBD) then turn over. I think Deb has a post on this — maybe she can give a link. Or: Peel skin off, cut into chunks (whatever size you prefer from large to small), throw into iron skillet with canola oil. Oil should be hot (and not too much oil) before potatoes go in. Mess around with spatula until GBD. Some may not hold up, but the crumbles are the best. Right before serving cut a chuck of butter, let melt and toss potatoes to be nicely buttered. Salt, pepper. Serve over/next to pouched egg and bacon. (I serve with ketchup to which I’ve added dash of spicy Red Rooster chili sauce.) Eat. Die.

  34. Erica

    Yummy and the parsley leafs is so pretty – a nice touch to a plain old potato.

    They were SO worth the smokey kitchen!

    Thanks Deb for sharing this recipe. Simple cozy food just in time for winter

  35. Karen

    I haven’t even read the recipe yet but from the pics it looks lovely. But I just wanted to thank you for referencing the hilarious boiled water recipe from Epicurious all those years ago. I’m trying to catch up on my blog reading while nursing a newborn, and can’t stop laughing just remembering those recipe reviews.

  36. Thank you for this wonderful recipe and prep method. Yes, we had to temporarily disconnect one of the smoke detectors, but oh, how wonderful! Crisp on the outside, tender & fluffy inside, and pretty! My son wants me to try it with some fresh crushed garlic next time.

  37. Dorinda

    I made this dish with Yukons today for Thanksgiving, with only 1/2 stick of butter, and, well, I’ll never make them any other way again – crispy on the outside and oh-so-tender inside – and hardly any effort at all. Simple is perfect!

  38. Sarah

    We made these last week for Shabbat and ended up making them again for Thanksgiving. So easy! We used olive oil instead since not everyone eats dairy. I want to try them with butter just for us soon. They are so great. Easy enough for a weeknight although they do take about 45 min in the oven. We used yukon golds. My husband is really happy since he loves potatoes but I hate peeling them. With this recipe I don’t have to!

  39. Jenna

    I love reading your blog – it is life as well as food inspiration! I tried to buy the smitten kitchen ebook on my kindle but it wouldn’t let me because I live in South Africa : (

  40. Euchre

    I just made these potatoes for dinner and they are AWESOME. I still have some parsley growing out on my balcony even though it’s been snowing in Toronto, so making them was a snap.

  41. Leila

    I’m sure you’ve probably already read this, but I tried this recipe with red (new?) potatoes I bought from the farmers market. They came out really great! I overdid it on the salt, but other that that they were excellent. They even crisped up nicely in a non-stick skillet for breakfast the next morning. I made them again Saturday night, but with salted butter and a little pepper. Excellent again. This may be my new go-to recipe for roasted potatoes! :)

  42. pjillyb

    Made these this weekend for breakfast and oh goodness…they were every bit as good as you said, AND…much to my happiness…just as pretty as yours! Such a simple food but oh how satisfying! Another winner, Deb!

  43. I remember making these! And I can’t believe it was all the way back in 2003. Wow. I do remember that they were great and I am looking forward to pulling out the issue from my archive and making them again. Gourmet, you are still very much missed.

  44. Amy

    Made these for thanksgiving! Super easy to make! Was devoured within minutes. One relative snuck away a few in the refrigerator to snack on after thanksgiving!

  45. Kimber

    OMG, I just made these last night with little Yukon Gold potatoes – they are as delicious as they are gorgeous! So simple for everyday and so beautiful for dinner parties. These are going on heavy rotation at my house.

  46. Kat

    Didn’t have potatoes or parsley, but was intrigued with the technique and so forged ahead using sweet potatoes and rosemary. Sprinkled the cut surfaces with a pinch of salt and a pinch of sugar. Delicious! It’s worth trying this variation.

  47. KatieK

    Made these a couple of weeks ago; could have sworn I commented at the time, but looking through the blogs, I guess not. I’d written the comment in my head. I didn’t have a smoking issue at all; reading the comments I made certain my exhaust fan was on high when I preheated. Yummy, the parsley only added a look so I may skip next time. The potato was creamy and the skin was crispy, just the way I like it. Used butter but could see using olive oil or a combo. The post describing the sweet potatoes sounds yummy as well. I’m assuming baking for about the same amount of time?

  48. Lori

    Whole family enjoyed this and kids kept saying how pretty they are! Love recipes that have very little prep and then just pop in the oven and walk away. Thank you!

  49. lia dominique andress

    Made these the other night. Deceptively simple for their complex and out of this world finale. I could have eaten every half on my own. I sorta did ;/

  50. Linda

    Deb – do you think it would be ok to roast these and then remove from the oven and let sit at room temperature while the fam goes to Christmas eve mass. Then reheat briefly when we get home? I’m worried that they would get soggy

  51. I made these tonight with red potatoes. They were smaller and took about 30 minutes. Such a good recipe! I look forward to trying this one again. Very easy and delicious.

  52. Jenny P

    I’m late to the party! These are awesome. We call these tattooed potatoes. A local chef who owns a restaurant in town and makes them on occasion. I use all sorts of herbs, like others above do as well, and whatever potatoes I have on hand. So glad to see the recipe here! :)

  53. Jennifer

    I must have missed this post back in November. I stumbled across this on pinterest. I have actually been making the recipe from Gourmet for several years now. It’s my go to holiday potato. Easy, tasty and gorgeous!

  54. Una

    omigod, better than french fries, by far, and so easy, and so elegant in presentation! I used half-ish olive oil, and red potatoes, and it was divine. Thank you for making me look so good.

  55. Judy

    I did something like this years ago for an appetizer. I sliced small potatoes ~1/4″ thick, placed on a foil-lined baking sheet, placed a sage leaf on each potato slice and then brushed with olive oil. I baked these slowly until cooked through and slightly crisp. I had these ready, with a chilled bottle of wine after picking up a friend at the airport. For this, I turned the heat down to 200 degrees since I didn’t know how long it would be. They were wonderful! Oh! I also sprinkled with a little kosher salt.

  56. Heather E.

    I used three small russet potatoes. I melted 1 TBSP butter on the pan then added 1 TBSP olive oil. Cooked for 40 mins at 425 (needed lower temp to cook rest of meal). Smelled amazing while cooking, looked beautiful and tasted so good that my 5 yo that only eats mashed potatoes gobbled up a half and my 7 yo (who hates mashed) ate 3 halves!!

  57. Julie

    In case anyone doesn’t have a super cute and tiny roasting pan like Deb, I can say this scales VERY WELL using a cast-iron skillet.


    I have a question about roasting in general. I was about to make these potatoes in either an enamel or a glass baking dish (I find them easier to clean than metal baking pans). Does the material of the baking dish used have an affect on the outcome? Will the vegetable cook the same regardless of the cooking vessel? What is (are) your preferred roasting pans? And thanks for all your great recipes and tips!

  59. bianca

    Fantastic. So easy and it came out exactly as your photos showed. I used 2 medium potatoes, 3T of butter and a couple glugs of olive oil. 35 minutes was all I needed.

  60. Barbara Jefford

    I have been doing these for years (in the UK) but using good olive oil brushed onto the baking sheet with salt, pepper and herbs. Great way to do a giant potato between two people if that’s all you happen to have.

  61. Sandy

    The butter, whenever I use a roasting pan at 450 and butter is in the dish my whole house has a definite level of smoke, setting off smoke detectors 😬. The potatoes look too delicious in your photo and I am going to risk the smoky haze that could possibly be in my future endeavors. Love your blog and wonderful recipes 😘👍

  62. F. Comden-Greene

    These were terrific and very, very pretty. We used medium-sized russet potatoes. Salting the potatoes first really intensifies the flavor. One half was a good-sized serving, but they were so good, everybody went back for more. Want an easier clean-up? Just line your baking sheet with nonstick foil. We’re going to make these often.

  63. laurakolker

    I made these for the first time tonight. I wasn’t certain how my family would receive them. My 4yo in particular has strong feelings about the form of potato she will consume (french fries, for the most part, with a very recent and sudden agreement/180 on the topic of mashed potatoes). But it went great. My husband ate 4 of them (!) and my kid after looking at the cut up pieces skeptically for a minute, announced that it was like mashed potatoes and ate all the insides. Plus! Plus!! Most of the cooking steps were things she could help me with. She liked helping add the salt and choosing the parseley leaves for each potato. Resounding success. Thank you!

  64. Jody

    Many years ago, I made a variant of this that involved bay leaves in place of the parsley. The recipe came from The Frugal Gourmet cookbook. I’m going to give these a try-they look great!

  65. Silke

    Deb, I today made these and as everything you suggest they were done easily, looked beautiful and tasted great!
    I kept to the recipe and nothing went wrong.
    We enjoyed them as a side and added some sour cream.
    Take care!