The Real Reason Your Roast Potatoes Are Soggy

While for some roast potatoes are a weekly dinner staple, others only cook them a few times a year, which explains why we can so easily fall victim to soggy spuds. The good news is there are a few sure-fire ways to avoid this potential potato pitfall. According to chef Ashley Palmer-Watts, who spoke with The Telegraph, roast potatoes that are light and fluffy inside but crispy and golden on the outside can only be achieved by removing as much water from the potatoes as possible before roasting.

This makes sense, since any residual water in the potatoes will turn to steam in the oven and prevent the potatoes from crisping up properly. To achieve the driest potatoes possible, let them simmer in well-salted water for 12 to 15 minutes before roasting. Be sure to drain and let them cool completely before moving on to allow all that steam to escape.

There is some dispute about the perfect oven temperature for roasting potatoes, however most chefs agree that you don't want to exceed 400 degrees Fahrenheit (via The Sun). Not only can higher temperatures cause your potatoes to burn rather than turn golden brown, but according to Palmer-Watts it could cause the fat (particularly duck or goose fat) to develop an off-flavor, ruining your roast. 

More secrets for the perfect roast potatoes

The perfect roast starts with the perfect potato. Chef Jeff Baker's recommendation to Mirror is to use either King Edwards or Maris Pipers. However, if you can't find those in your local grocery store, standard white or Yukon gold potatoes will also work (via Bon Appetit). In fact, one way to improve the end result (if you're working with less-than-ideal potatoes) is to shake them in the pot after boiling and draining, but before roasting. This will roughen up the edges of the potatoes, creating a larger surface area for the hot oil to crisp up (via Allrecipes).

It's also important to regularly baste the potatoes in the hot oil, turn them over, and rotate the pan at least once halfway through roasting to ensure they cook evenly and don't burn (via Good Housekeeping). Finally, make sure you don't overcrowd your potatoes in the roasting pan. They should comfortably fit in a single layer to ensure maximum crispiness, and if they don't it's best to use multiple pans, says Kitchn