Golden slices of sauteed potatoes make a delicious side that is ready in less than 30 minutes with this classic French recipe. These crispy fried potatoes are a snap to make, and can be served with (almost) anything.
Easy sautéed potatoes
Sautéed potatoes have got to be one of the classic comfort foods – it’s a recipe that you just can’t be without. Golden crispy morsels that are easy to make and oh-so-moreish, with a sprinkle of sea salt.
These are a staple on my table from autumn to spring. They are quicker to make than roasted potatoes, and less messy but more glamorous than chips. There are many versions of this recipe, but this is how I like my fried potatoes – quick, easy and full of flavour.
I used to make sautéed potatoes with leftover boiled potatoes, but I have come to the conclusion that they are so much nicer cooked fresh. In fact, I find that cooked potatoes that have been chilled and then reheated can taste a bit odd.
To save time, I cut the potatoes into slices (you can make cubes, but I’ve always had slices) and gently parboil until very nearly cooked. Then I drain, dry, fry, season and enjoy. Depending on the type of crisp you like, you can use virtually any type of potato.
Why make sautéed potatoes?
- They are seriously easy!
- Parboiling makes them very quick to cook – and less likely to burn.
- They are delicious and comforting – everyone loves crispy potatoes with a fluffy interior.
- They are relatively healthy as you really don’t need that much fat and oil if you use a decent frying pan and follow my tips for cooking them.
- It is a frugal dish – but it tastes really special!
Sautéed potatoes – ingredients
- Potatoes – The choice of potato for a sautéed potatoes recipe can be controversial among chefs. I like a floury potato (but not too floury). You get a lovely fluffy interior with a crispy, but still flaky, outside. I prefer crispy to a hard crunch. However, if you want a crunchier crisp to your fried potatoes, use a waxy variety, boil for a shorter time and fry for longer.
- Olive oil – I fry over a medium heat in a lightly extra virgin olive oil. I prefer to use an unrefined oil and fry over a moderate heat, rather than use a refined vegetable oil over a high heat.
- Butter – This adds a lovely roundness of flavour. You can, however, leave it out and use a little more oil if you prefer a dairy free version.
- Duck/goose fat – A delicious alternative to butter and oil for a special meal, this will give plenty of crunch.
- Seasoning – I use crunchy sea salt flakes and freshly ground back pepper.
Which potatoes to use
For a good solid crunchy crispy fried potato, use a waxy potato like Charlotte or Anya.
For a softer centre with a flakier crisp, use a more floury potato like King Edward, Maris Piper, Russet or Rooster. However the flourier a potato is the more likely it is to fall, so you need to treat them very gently. I like them to fall apart a little as that means more crispy bits!
How to make sautéed potatoes – step by step
Before you start, read my step-by-step instructions, with photos, hints and tips so you can to make perfect saute potatoes every time.
Scroll down for the recipe card with quantities and more tips at the bottom of the page.
Step One – Peel, cut and then slice the potatoes into bite sized pieces. They should be about 1 cm thick.
Step Two – Pop the potatoes into a pan of salted water and gently simmer (so the water is barely moving) for 8 minutes, until they are starting to soften. You need the gentlest simmer possible so they cook, but also retain their shape.
Step Three – Drain the potatoes and allow them to sit in the sieve or colander for a few minutes to steam dry. Don’t be tempted to shake them to speed the process up. The potato pieces are quite fragile and you don’t want them to fall apart.
It is important to allow them to dry well before you transfer them to the frying pan. They won’t crisp up if they are soggy, and are more likely to stick to the pan.
Step Four – Add the oil to a good heavy non stick pan. Heat the oil and then arrange the par boiled potato slices in one single layer to fry. If necessary use two pans rather than crowd them.
Leave the potatoes to do their thing for a few minutes (or they will fall to pieces), and then gently shake the pan to make sure they don’t stick.
To stop food like potatoes sticking when frying it is usually best to leave it for a few minutes so it starts to cook. Its more likely to stick and then fall apart if you keep moving it.
Using a good heavy pan and adding the food to hot oil or fat will also help.
Step Five – Once the potatoes are golden on one side, flip them over with tongs or a spatula. Add the butter and let it melt. Then give the pan a swirl to distribute the melted butter.
Season with pepper and salt and fry for another 6–8 minutes, until your fried potatoes are golden and crispy.
Set a paper towel on a dinner plate of chopping board. Slide the potatoes out of the pan onto the paper towel, allowing it to absorb the excess oil. Then serve immediately.
These crispy fried potatoes are delicious with all sorts of recipes, such as stews, casseroles, as well as steaks, or creamy dishes. Use them wherever you would usually serve mash, roasted potatoes or chips.
I especially like them with my savoury mince, slow cooked beef casserole, hunters chicken, or a steak in Stilton sauce. They are also quite good as an appetiser or snack, served with some dips like my Bloody Mary sauce, or hot cheese dip. Yum!
In all honesty I think that these are pretty good as they are and really don’t need much messing around with. However …
- They are awesome cooked in duck or goose fat rather than the mix of oil and butter. This will give an especially crispy result.
- Add some peeled chopped garlic once you have flipped the potatoes. (If you add at the start of cooking it will burn, so don’t do that!)
- Herbs – Add finely chopped woody herbs like rosemary along with any garlic, or garnish with chopped leafy herbs (parsley, coriander/cilantro, tarragon etc) just before serving.
- Bacon – Most potato dishes can be improved with bacon! Add chopped up bacon (or a few dollops of ‘nudja) half way through the recipe to make bacon fried crispy potatoes.
Storage / Freezing?
Sautéed potatoes are far better made and served fresh as described in the recipe above. You can, however, get ahead with these in two ways.
First – Peel and slice the potatoes and keep in the fridge in a bowl of water for a day or two.
Secondly – Partially fry them and then allow to cool. Pack into a covered container and store in the fridge for up to a day, and then finish frying them.
Having said that, I find that potatoes that have been cooked at home, chilled and then reheated never taste as good as freshly cooked.
Leftovers – Allow to cool, store in the fridge in a covered container. You can refry them in a little oil, or reheat in a single layer on a tray in the oven.
In spite of all that I’ve said about cooking them fresh, leftovers are AWESOME when fried along with a couple of eggs for breakfast.
Hints and Tips
- Gently par-boiling will make all the difference to the finished fried potatoes. You want them almost cooked, but do not let them fall to pieces.
- Allow to fully steam dry. This means that when you put the potatoes in the pan they immediately start to fry, rather than steam. Steaming will result in mushy potatoes.
- Use a good heavy pan, and cook in one layer. Each slice of potato needs to be in contact with the pan so it fries in the oil and crisps up. The best way to prevent sticking is to leave them so they from a crispy skin, and then nudge a spatula underneath to move them.
You can, but it takes so much longer. There is also such a fine balance between properly cooked, crispy potatoes and burning the outside that I find it far easier to par boil them. Some recipes will tell you to boil the potatoes whole, but cutting them first is quicker. Just be careful to cook them gently.
Sauter is the French word for pan frying in a little oil. Keeping the food in a single layer and using a good heavy non stick pan will help prevent sticking.
It depends how you like your potatoes. For a good solid crunch, use a waxy potato like Charlotte or Anya. For a softer centre with a flakier crisp, use a more floury potato like King Edward, Maris Piper, Russet or Rooster.
If you use a good heavy non-stick pan, you really do not need that much oil to make this recipe. You only need about 3 teaspoons or one tablespoonful. The trick is to let them sit and cook in the pan so they form a crust. If you keep moving them about too much, as you would when stir frying, the the potatoes will stick and then absorb all the oil or fat.
More potato recipes
- Parmentier potatoes – the easy way to make a French classic of roasted cubes of potato flavoured with garlic and herbs
- Roasted baby potatoes – delicious crispy roasted baby potatoes, infused with herbs, garlic and olive oil
- Greek potatoes – roasted with lemon, feta and oregano
- Healthy Potato Salad – dreamy and delicious but with a clever sub to halve the mayo!
- Potato and boiled egg salad – A delicious summer salad with potatoes, eggs, green beans and tomatoes
- No Mayo Potato Salad – still creamy, and served with crunchy cucumber and refreshing mint.
- All my easy potato recipes – love potatoes? Then you will love all these recipes.
- 400 g potatoes (about three medium small potatoes)
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 15 g butter
- salt and pepper
- Peel, cut and then slice the potatoes into bite sized pieces. They should be about 1 cm thick.
- Put the potatoes into a pan of salted water and simmer very gently for 8 minutes, until they are starting to soften. The water should barely move, to avoid breaking the potatoes up.
- Drain the potatoes and allow them to sit in the sieve or colander for a few minutes to steam dry. Do not be tempted to shake them.
- Add the oil to a good heavy non stick pan. Heat the oil and then arrange the par boiled potato slices in one single layer to fry. If necessary use two pans. Leave to cook for a few minutes, and then gently shake the pan to make sure they don't stick.
- Season with pepper and salt and fry for another 6–8 minutes, until your fried potatoes are golden and crispy.Once the potatoes are golden on one side, flip them over with tongs or a spatula.
- Add the butter and let it melt. Then give the pan a swirl to distribute the melted butter.
- Set a paper towel on a dinner plate. Slide the potatoes out of the pan onto the paper towel, allowing it to absorb the excess oil. Then serve immediately.
- For extra crispy fried potatoes cook in duck or goose fat
- Add some chopped bacon half way through cooking
- Add some finely chopped garlic for the last few minutes of cooking
- This recipe is worth 9 Weight Watchers Smart Points per portion