Recipes

crispy crumbled potatoes

My love of french fries is vast and welldocumented — preferably in a golden, crisp and glittering-with-fine-salt heap with some aioli, an artichoke or oysters and ice-cold, very dry champagne, outside at a bustling cafe in a life that seems a bit distant right now — so I hope you will take this statement with the utmost gravitas when I say that these crispy potatoes are as good as, if not better, than fries.


a few potatoes

I first had a version of them at Barbuto restaurant (of the chocolate budino and kale salad fame) nearly eight years ago, and I’ve watched cooks making them in the open kitchen dozens of times since. Cold, boiled potatoes are crumbled directly into a fryer in irregular chunks and not taken out until they’re a deep golden brown. Once drained they’re tossed in a big metal bowl with salt, a lot of pecorino, and a few sprigs of fried rosemary. They are perfect, absolutely perfect.

boiledeither pre-crush them orthen you wait!scoop them out

I’m sorry, but you’re going to have to do two annoying things to make them at home: you’ll have to cook and fully chill the potatoes for several hours or overnight before you can finish them, and you’re going to have to deep-fry. There isn’t another way around either. That’s why it’s taken me all of these years to share the recipe because, eh, who wants to bother? I mean, not even me, not when I can could* order them at some of my favorite restaurants. The potatoes will be too loose and floury and not crumble into nice chunks unless they’re fully cold. And yes, I’ve tried to roast them instead and it’s just not the same, not even close — the smaller pieces and corners turn black before the angles of the chunks get any color on them. Plus, they always seem oily in a way that the deep-fried nuggets are not. It’s the even toasty color and perfect crisp on every craggy, erratic angle that makes these transcendent.

they're not the same roasteddrain them

From here, you can Barbuto them (pecorino, rosemary), you can MeMe’s Diner them (finish them little drizzle of shallot oil, I presume leftover from crisping shallots), you could patatas bravas them (smoked paprika, aioli, and a spicy tomato sauce), or you can just salt them and not feel, however briefly, that you’re missing out on a single, blissful thing.

crispy crumbled potatoes

* Both Barbuto and MeMe’s Diner are currently closed. MeMe’s has a relief fund here. I wish I could list and support every restaurant I love, but it would be all of them. Here are a few more places you can donate, should you be able.

Previously

Six months ago: Chicken Curry
One year ago: Cannellini Aglio e Olio
Two years ago: Asparagus and Egg Salad with Walnuts and Mint
Three years ago: Almond Horn Cookies
Four years ago: Eggs-in-Purgatory, Puttanesca-Style and Spring Chicken Salad Toasts
Five years ago: Carrot Graham Layer Cake and Wild Mushroom Pate
Six years ago: Three Bean Chili
Seven years ago: Lentil and Chickpea Salad with Feta and Tahini
Eight years ago: Raspberry Coconut Macaroons
Nine years ago: Spaetzle
Ten years ago: Bakewell Tart and Romesco Potatoes
Eleven years ago: Chewy Amaretti Cookies
Twelve years ago: Shaker Lemon Pie
Thirteen years ago: Mixed Berry Pavlova

Crispy, Crumbled Potatoes

  • Servings: 4
  • Source: Smitten Kitchen
  • Print

Use any amount of potatoes you like here; I start with 4 (10 ounces each) because there are four of us. It’s okay if your potatoes are larger or smaller, they may just take more or less time to boil. You want to use Russet or Idaho potatoes here — you need a “floury” not “waxy” potato for it to crumble into nice, craggy nuggets. Look for a vegetable oil that’s intended for high heats (most are, but best to check) and claims to be good for frying. If you can find it, peanut oil is my favorite for fried potatoes, but as I could not either, I can assure you that vegetable oil works fine.

  • 4 medium/large Russet potatoes
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 cups vegetable or peanut oil
  • Finishes of your choice (see suggestions in post)

Boil your potatoes: Place potatoes in a medium/large pot and cover with an inch or two of cold water and big spoonful of salt. Bring to a boil over high heat; once boiling, reduce to a simmer and cook until a toothpick or skewer can be inserted into potatoes without crunchy resistance. From the time I turn on the stove with cold water in the pot, this takes 45 to 55 minutes with 10-ounce potatoes. Drain and chill in fridge for several hours, overnight, or up to three days.

Crumble and fry your potatoes: Once potatoes are fully cool in the center (you can check by inserting a skewer or toothpick and holding it there for a few seconds; if it feels cold to the touch when you remove it, the potato is chilled inside), heat oil in a 9-inch heavy frying pan to 350 degrees F. You could use a bigger one and it will go faster, but you’ll need more oil.

Line a tray with paper towels or a torn paper bag to blot oil. Messily crumble and tear potatoes with your hands into large and small chunks, including the skin. Add 1/3 to 1/2 of the potatoes to the oil at a time. Let them fry for 8 to 10 minutes, turning pieces over as they brown underneath, until pieces are a deep golden brown all over — don’t compromise on the color. Remove with a slotted spoon, shake excess oil back into pan, and drain on towels, showering immediately with salt. Repeat with remaining potatoes. Eat immediately.

Rewarm potatoes: In a 350 degree oven on a big tray.

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114 comments on crispy crumbled potatoes

  1. JP

    Just what I needed today while sheltering in place…a sort of recipe that only can usually be purchased in a restaurant (impossible!) but now at home. Yay!
    Looks so incredibly tasty. Thank you and stay safe and well. Can’t do without your blog! It does bring a bit of joy into my life! So thank you for all you do!

        1. I love the s.k. recipes, but wish there was a way to flag junky comments like this & have the comment just go *POOF!* after it got multiple flags. Dreaming a little dream . . . ;-)

  2. Kimberly

    Deb, do you not ~hide~ a photo of one or both of your children in posts anymore? That was my favorite part! Clicking the italics to see the kids…

      1. Eve Stewart

        Deb!! They are yummy little dumplings. Love to see them all grown up. Your videos are the best. Make more! Thank you for all you do for us. I’ve been making all of your recipes. That surprise button gives me life, I tell ya. This week we had the white beans with rosemary oil (we are lucky to have some herbs growing) and the apple cider caramel. My husband and kids are grateful benefactors! All the best from our family to yours.

    1. Megan

      This is my favorite potato recipe, I’ve made them a million times and made them last night. Before I started reading Deb’s post I assumed that was the recipe she used. But, I’m excited to try Deb’s recipe too, it seems like a similar effect with different methods.

  3. Alden

    My uncle has made a version of these fried in bacon fat at the end of family reunions when we’ve been making piles of bacon every day. They are absolutely transcendent. And now I’m stuck at home with a 10 lb bag or russets and a big bottle of vegetable oil. I usually avoid deep frying at all costs but I may need these.

  4. Hi Deb – great recipe! Right in time for my patata bravas craving! I made the lazy girl version of this – washed and cut potatoes (keeping the peel on), wiped water away with paper towels, did a shallow fry (because I’m afraid of deep frying). I twice fried the potatoes to make them extra crispy (since I didnt let them rest overnight). Made brava sauce with 1.5 cups mayo + 1 tbsp sweet paprika (not smoked – dont like the flavor) + 1 tbsp tomato paste + 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar. Delicious :)

      1. JV

        Oh no, bought a bunch of Yukon Golds in preparation to make your french fries and was going to switch to this for breakfast, but not anymore! Guess I will just have to make the french fries 🤷‍♀️😁

  5. Meg

    I was going to make your potato kugel to go with my braised brisket this weekend, but now I am leaning towards this…esp because I am limited to one oven. Do you think it would be an okay switch? Really hoping to put together a lovey – albeit isolated – Easter.

  6. Caroljne

    Hi Deb! I only have Yukon Gold on hand – are they worth a shot or should I wait until I can procure some russet potatoes?

    1. deb

      You can strain and reuse it. It can be frozen too for longer-term storage. Don’t pour it down the drain, of course. Once cool, you can also pour it back in the bottle it came in and seal it for easy disposal (although it’s then not to go in recycling).

      1. Freezing the oil! That’s smart. I was coming here to ask about logistics with that oil, the main thing that stops me from deep frying. The other was the fried smell, but I found that boiling a little pot of white vinegar with a cinnamon stick or two will take the odor right out after a frying session.

  7. Deanna

    Another recipe to help me use the 15 pounds of potatoes(all of the same variety) I somehow ended up with! There’s still brown butter mashed and potato kugel in 5e fridge, but once I’m no longer sick of potatoes these are first on my to make list.

  8. Vicki

    These look amazing!
    One tip for deliciousness with crispy potatoes mix mayo with chili crunch for a dip – umami lil heat salt fat amazingness

  9. Donna P Copeland

    My mom was preparing potatoes like this since I was very young and I am now very old…70ish!😊I absolutely loved them! Thanks for bringing them back.

    1. deb

      4 hours should do it. Depends on size and thickness of potatoes. I put them right on the fridge shelf (ours are racks) for max air circulation.

  10. Karen Brown

    Ok, I’m salivating! These are going on the meal planner shopping list for when I can face going to the supermarket again. Any suggestions from you or your readers as to what I could serve with this to make dinner. I’m omnivorous, so open to all ideas. Cheers from New Zealand, karen

    1. Jane

      I’d probably do a meat (pork chops? roast chicken?) and a veg. You could do baked butternut squash, or broccoli, or a green salad.

      You could also make a quick tomato salsa, fry a couple eggs, and make a stack of potatoes, then salsa, then eggs, then a crumbly cheese like feta. Mmm :)

  11. Brenda

    Thank you Deb! These are fantastic. Didn’t hesitate to boil some potatoes when I first saw this and just finished eating some! The hubs said do again!

    1. Jane

      I think avocado oil has too low a smoke point (the temperature when the oil starts to burn). You can check different oils by Googling “[name of oil] smoke point.”

      1. deb

        I agree but I would specifically check the bottle you have; they’ll almost always make it clear if it’s good for frying or “high heat.”

  12. E

    I, being a bad descendant of strong Irishwomen who would have never gotten themselves into this predicament, did not buy enough normal potatoes for this self-isolation situation. But I do have 5 sweet potatoes hanging out, waiting for the right recipe to come along. Do you think this would work decently with sweet potatoes? I’d probably skip the cheese and serve with aoli.

  13. Edward Kaminsky

    These look amazing, I seem to be missing a step in the recipe or just missed it.

    When you say crumble your potatoes can you clarify?

    Are you cutting after they are boiled and chilled?
    Is it ok to cut them before they are boiled?
    Does crumble mean just break the cold cooked potatoes apart with your hands?

    Thanks for your tips.

    1. Susie

      Edward, she means to just break the cold cooked potatoes apart with your hands. No cutting. You want those “crags” and rough edges. And no, don’t cut them before you boil them. Boil them whole and chill thoroughly.

    2. deb

      Crumble by hand — you want very big and very small chunks. Don’t skimp on either. You can tear them if you wish, but I find this leads to more even pieces, which is less ideal here.

  14. devancameron1

    Hi Deb,

    I just stumbled across your blog and absolutely love it! These potatoes look deadly! Now I really want to make them at home! One thing that I miss with the quarantine going on is definitely fried things :) Keep up the good work!

    Respectfully,
    Devan
    http://devancameron.com/blog/

  15. mary

    Easy enough to have boiled potatoes for dinner one night and save enough back to make this yummy dish. Using up the leftovers is a great skill to have up our sleeves right now!

  16. I often bake russets along with whatever else isin my oven and then leave them in the fridge for future uses. Is there any reason I should boil them for this recipe instead, or will baked and cooled work just as well?

    1. deb

      I haven’t tested this method with baking them. My only concern is that they could be a bit more dry inside, and we want big chunks when it crumbles. But it might all even out in the fridge — not sure.

  17. cflower1947

    These look delicious. I was getting ready to make my mother’s American Fries for my blog but now I’ve gotta try these first. Good think I have a large bag of potatoes.

  18. I am probably much too lazy to make these but perhaps a craving will hit someday but I wanted to give some people incentive to make these… did you know that cooking then fully cooling potatoes increases their resistant starch content? One study actually found they increase it by three times! I know Deb that this is a food/cooking site so I’ll leave it up to folks to google to find the health benefits.

  19. Susan

    Woo Hoo! I’m heading to the garage to get into my stache of potatoes! This will be a nice surprise for the family tomorrow.

  20. Joycelyn

    Oh they look delicious Deb, and I can see why since it’s not a one step recipe that’s come together in a few minutes, why it took you a while to get around to making them. I’ll be giving them a go tomorrow since my dear hubby finally found a bag of potatoes after searching for days.
    I also watched your video with you and your youngsters making the noodle dish. I tell you girl, you’ve got the patience of Job on that one!
    Yes.. It is sad to see so many restaurants we all love now shuttered with owners and staff suffering. As you say, it’s impossible to support them all as there’s also the homeless and those living on the poverty line or below it going without food due to lose of the meager hours they were working or other reasons such as health and mental health issues, to help support as well.
    Where I live, it’s expected that over 50% of our restaurants many of them extremely popular with locals and tourists from all over the world, will not re-open.

    1. Joycelyn

      Was it necessary to be so nasty? People are dying around us left and right, we’re all worrying if one of our loved ones will be next, yet all you can think of to do instead of saying thanks Deb for helping us get through these stressful days with your posts, you chose to chastise her instead.
      Seriously, if you found Deb’s article was not up to your standards, all you had to do was go elsewhere.

  21. DTI

    Sounds heavenly! Almost any kind of double-cooked potato is great, including mom’s leftover mashed potatoes fried up as potato pancakes the next morning.

    It’s that starch gelation thing, right?

    Anyway, never having heard of french-fried crumbled potatoes I didn’t miss never having them. Till now.

  22. Ellen

    Made this last night. These are “restaurant” potatoes, which was a nice treat, esp under quarantine. I boiled them in the morning right after reading Deb’s email. :) They were plenty cool by the time I was ready to cook them for dinner. I kept the rest of the menu simple so that I could keep a close eye on these while they cooked. Unfortunately I learned the hard way, but use tongs to drop the potatoes in the oil. :( I think I managed to dip a fingertip in the scalding hot oil. But these were absolutely delicious potatoes.

  23. Susan Searle

    Marvellous! First bite, my husband turned to me and said “the potatoes are good”! He doesn’t like potatoes and had no idea I was trying anything different.
    Thank you.

  24. JM

    Apologies for the newbie-ish questions, but:
    1) what is your oil of preference, and have you tried any other than vegetable and peanut for the task?
    2) what do you do with your ‘used’ oil? Is it one-and-done, or can you reuse / repurpose it?

    1. deb

      Here’s what I had to say about oil:

      Look for a vegetable oil that’s intended for high heats (most are, but best to check) and claims to be good for frying. If you can find it, peanut oil is my favorite for fried potatoes, but as I could not either, I can assure you that vegetable oil works fine.

      I’ve only fried in peanut and vegetable. For doughnuts and sweet things, however, I rather like Crisco.

      Leftover oil can be strained and reused. It can be frozen too for longer-term storage. Don’t pour it down the drain, of course. Once cool, you can also pour it back in the bottle it came in and seal it for easy disposal (although it’s then not to go in recycling).

  25. Those potatoes are amazing! I thought they would be good. But, they’re even better than I imagined. I was going to use sour cream for dipping but changed my mind. No need for that! Wow!

  26. Haley Clayton

    These made our Easter brunch! We’ve been struggles make crispy potatoes at home in the oven and now these! The flavor and crisp is amazing, I’m sure we’ll be making them again asap :)

  27. Hillary

    Deb, where do you get your blue (and white) dish towels?? I love all the different designs you have in all these recipe pictures on the site, but didn’t see anything in the gift guide.

    1. deb

      I get 95% of my dishcloths from Fog Linen (this one is actually charcoal gray but my kitchen light is blueish in the afternoon). I love the designs and quality. Not sponsored, obviously, but I just realized I’ve been shopping there since 2011.

  28. These were so good they were practically gone before they were all made. As I scooped them out and they cooled they were eaten. My daughter now wants this a part of her birthday dinner!

  29. Sara Dankert

    These are SO good … Next time though, I will have to keep in mind that for me, cooking them in my Staub coquette over high heat, they took quite a bit longer to crisp up than I expected.

  30. mghstl

    Wow. I mean, WOW! Who knew that this would be the recipe I would finally comment on. This, and Deb’s Melting Potatoes, is all I will ever need. Okay, maybe a mashed potato on occasion. I made a truffle aioli with a forgotten tablespoon of truffle oil that I found will cleaning out my pantry (don’t hate me). Beyond divine! Know that the browning effect will happen during the last 5 minutes of frying…be patient and you will be rewarded. Thank you for a blissful meal, Deb!

  31. Ashiya Naved

    I love the way you explained some difficult recipes in a very easy way…
    You are my inspiration for blogging thank you so much…..

  32. Sharon

    It’s been ages since I’ve commented on here but oh my!!!! These are truly the best potatoes ever. Just trying to decide if it’s excessive to make them every other day during lock down.

  33. Kathryn

    I made these last night as part of a tapas night. Paired them with Trader Joe’s dolmas, their gigante beans (which I warmed in the oven), and one of their frozen apps (vegetable pouches + homemade sauce). While this recipe didn’t allow tapas night to be easy like I’d planned, that’s largely because I never fry anything, and I had to make due with yellow potatoes and sweet potatoes. Still yummy. Dipped them in the red sauce that coated the gigante beans. Figured this combination might help someone who’s out of ideas, doesn’t usually have canned goods, or just wants an excuse for wine drinking. Hope everybody’s staying healthy.

  34. These were SO GOOD. My husband likes them more than fries. I served them with Julia Turshen’s patatas bravas sauce (1/4 cup of mayo, 1 tbsp tomato paste, 1 minced garlic clove, 1/2 tsp smoked paprika, 1/4 tsp cayenne, 2tsp red wine vinegar) and they were gone in a hot second.

    1. Beth

      I just made these. You have to be a little rough, but they hold up. I stuck my thumb right into the middle of the potato and pulled it into two pieces, then just kept breaking each piece into smaller pieces the same way.

    2. deb

      It’s easy! If you need, use your nail to break the skin. You can also break it into chunks with your two hands, but make sure they’re not all even. You really want a mix of quite large and small chunks.

  35. Beth

    I made these last night with the last few aging Russets I had in the pantry. So fluffy and delicious! I used peanut oil and made them in the Fry Daddy – even though it runs hotter than 350, they turned out great. I only adjusted the time by 30 seconds or so.

  36. Sarah R

    Best potatoes I’ve ever had. Totally redeemed my most terrible day. Love every recipe you post, but this one was perfection.

  37. Jill Rezek

    Making this for a quarantined Friday night treat. Delicious! Don’t have any ice cold very dry champagne (oh how I wish we did!) but we are having Tom Collins so it’s all going to work out. Fried potatoes and refreshing lemon gin drink. If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.

    Thank you so much for the comfort food recipes. It helps.

  38. Antonia

    These are wonderful! I boiled the potatoes in the evening and had them for lunch the next day. They are absolutely foolproof (as long as you are careful when frying, as with anything). I used sunflower seed oil and it worked perfectly! They were perfectly crispy all over but fluffy inside. Thank you Deb for the recipe, and greetings from Chile!

  39. Kristy Lin

    Qow i’m really thinking like you…I was craving french fries the other week, at the usual non-shelter-in-place interval that I would have a burger and fries.
    Instead I made the much easier pan-fried potato slices which was very nostalgic since the last time I regularly requested them from my mom was 6th or 7th grade. A baked potato is also glorious.

  40. Elaine

    OMG! These are amazeballs! Literally messy crispy delicious potato “balls” of heaven! We had a much needed social distancing approved “picnic” on my son’s driveway (for my sister’s birthday) with his homemade replica In-N-Out Burgers (from The Burger Show). Using a friend’s deep fryer and splurging on $10 worth of Peanut Oil. Even the fussy grandkids said they were the best “french fries” ever. Thanks, Deb, for the recipe and photo enhanced instructions! (Having my son’s high tech infrared point and shoot thermometer made keeping oil up to temp a dream!) Credit given on instragram at my Redtortoise account.

  41. Cristina

    I made these last night and they were delicious. My oven is out of commission for the next few days (sob), and I needed a crispy potato. They were as delicious as promised. I used one Russet potato and some miscellaneous potatoes that I thought were Yukon golds but they came out equally crunchy! The thick skin on the Russets is especially tasty, however. I sprinkled them with rosemary, lots of salt, and a squeeze of lemon juice.

  42. Colleen

    It is ridiculous how incredible these are. MAKE THEM NOW!
    I had some salsa verde from Salt Fat Acid Heat (shallots, parsley, oil, and vinegar) in the fridge (lucky me) to go with them (and braised lamb shoulder and a Barolo). After finishing dinner, I put a few more potatoes on to have in the fridge. Life is stressful, and the weather is supposed to be terrible this week. I will need some more.

  43. I could live on potatoes and these look amazing! Pototes and veggie tonight and potatoe and eggs in the morning, yum. Working from home during the stay-at-home order gives my a couple extra hours a day to try new recipes and this one jumped to first place!

  44. Susan Fox

    I loved making this almost as much as eating it! My dilemma is: my sweet SO tried to help by boiling the potatoes the day before and boiled a five pound bag of potatoes instead of five potatoes. Can I keep some whole boiled potatoes edible for a week or two? Should I freeze them or will they survive for a week in the fridge. Much as I like potatoes, I have other plans for the rest of the week, and can use these only one more time till next week.

  45. Diane L

    I love you with all my heart. ❤️ I finally found someone who loves potatoes as much as I do. I have been smitten 😊 with your oven fries for some time now. I can’t wait to try these. Thinking it will be tonight, even though we had potatoes with breakfast this morning. Many thanks and peace. ✌🏻

  46. JP

    Although I was first to comment, we only now made these for tonight’s dinner. We used our Roto-Fryer to deep fry the potatoes, and I am not sure how many will be left for dinner…we just had to try one to see how it was…oh, maybe another! So, so good. Even though there are only the two of us, I am very glad that we used the same amount of potatoes in your recipe (for 4 servings) because we will enjoy them, hopefully for two dinners. These crispy, crunchy potatoes are a real treat!
    Thank you for the recipe!

  47. Angel Holland

    Am I the only person who had to fry these for like, 22 minutes or more? I’m aware that I’m cooking on a hot plate, not a gas stove, but I used my candy thermometer to confirm that the oil was 350 before I dropped the taters in, and they just took ages to even consider browning.

  48. Ndeye Laura

    I’m a pretty confident cook, but this was my first time deep frying by myself. Absolutely delicious and really easy- I only stirred them a few times. I don’t have a thermometer and they took about 12 minutes. I made a lazy aioli (mayo, smashed a garlic clove w/salt, added a squeeze of lime and some pepper) and it was perfect.

  49. Lisa

    I made these along with Jonathan Waxman’s roast chicken with salsa verde via NYT Cooking, and if I closed my eyes, I could have sworn I was at Barbuto. Now if I could only eat it al fresco, it would truly be the real deal… perhaps I’ll sit on my fire escape next time!