How to make the best roast potatoes

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I was taught how to roast potatoes perfectly when I worked in a pub kitchen in London many moons ago. We used to make crispy golden roast potatoes to serve with drinks at the bar. The head cook who I worked under knew what she was talking about, and I have been making potatoes like this ever since.

Now that I have progressed somewhat down the culinary road, I have discovered a few new things, like using duck fat instead of sunflower or canola oil. This truly makes a very big difference in terms of flavour. Duck fat can reach very high temperatures which you need to get the potatoes really crispy, and of course, being an animal fat, it is laced with flavour.

I have been reading up on numerous recipes on how to make the best-ever-roast-potatoes, and there are a few similarities. Namely the use of duck fat and the technique of parboiling and fluffing up the spud before roasting.

One part where there seems to be some discrepancy is whether to heat the oil/fat up before you add the potatoes or not. In London we never did. In some recipes, the potatoes get dusted in flour before being roasted and in others, garlic and other bits are added.

At the Woolworths Christmas range launch lunch in July, we were served duck fat roasted potatoes which were heavenly and I asked the chef how he made these. He never pre-heated the fat either.

I had also read about adding vinegar to the water when you par-boil the potatoes, something to do with preventing them potato from falling apart if you over-boiled it – so I used the juice of half a lemon instead, just to give it the mildest zing, although you don’t taste it specifically.

On the potato front, we in South Africa don’t get terribly many varieties as you do in the USA or the UK. Maris Piper is excellent for roasting (and making crispy chips). I like to use Woolworths  Mediterranean potatoes because they have a fabulous taste, but use the best that you can find that are suitable for roasting.

So armed with all this knowledge over the years, this is my version of the roast potatoes.

I ate mine with my Sunday roast chicken, and the recipe for this delicious succulent roast chicken can be found here.

Find a recipe for classic roast beef and Yorkshire pudding.

This is what you need – adjust according to how many you need, and my suggestion is to make way more than you think.

how to make the best roast potatoes

Print Recipe
How to make hte best ever duck fat roast potatoes
Prep Time:10 minutes
Cook Time:1 hour 25 minutes
Total Time:1 hour 35 minutes


  • 1 kg potatoes the best you can find that are suitable for roasting
  • 2 T table salt
  • juice of half a lemon optional
  • 80 – 100 ml of duck fat about 3 dessert spoons
  • a few sprigs of rosemary
  • sea salt flakes I love Maldon


  • Heat your oven to a temperature of 200 C.
  • Peel the potatoes and cut them into chunks -if they are large cut them into 3 pieces with as many angles as you can. It is the number of angels that create the crispness. If they are smaller cut them in half slightly diagonally.
  • Put the spuds in a pot with and barely cover with water, add the salt and the lemon juice, and bring this to the boil. Once it has reached a rapid boil, turn the temperature down to a simmer and cook your potatoes for 5 minutes.
  • Drain in a colander and then return to the pot that they were cooked in and with the lid on, holding oven gloves or a tea towel shake the potatoes about so as to ruffle up the edges. I used a fork to further rough them up.
  • Stir through the duck fat which will immediately melt over the potatoes, and tip them into a large baking tray, making sure you don’t overfill, there needs to be some space between the potatoes. If you add to many the steam will interfere with the browning of them. Scatter over a few sprigs of rosemary leaves, salt and pepper.
  • Roast for 1 1/4 hours or until they are at the desired crispy golden colour. I shook the pan around a few times and turned the spuds twice during the cooking time.
  • Scatter over more sea salt flakes and a few sprigs of rosemary as garnish and serve with your favourite roast.
Servings: 6 – 8


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  1. laura melanie says:

    THANK YOU SAM! I always feel like such a ‘fake’ foodie when they ask me to make roast veg for parties and i absolutely FLUNK at something so simple (like boiling the perfect egg). Now , thanks to you, I can prove I’m better than they judge on my potats!

    x o x

  2. Hi Stephen, I think our mum’s are always the best. I remember my mom use to add them to the roasting pan so they were full of flavour but not crispy. Got to say though, I love the crunch. 🙂

  3. Laura, I think you are one of the few amongst us (after seeing that under water pic) that can happily indulge in these 🙂

  4. Thank you so much for this recipe…..I’m forwarding your blog to relevant people at the Potato Board….I did a food demo for them about a month ago and if only all South africans new of all the amazing varieties of potatoes we have……I run the Platteland Food Market at The Palms in Woodstock and have asked the Potato Board to make use of the market to create an awareness of all the different potatoes we grow just in the Cape region!!! But thanks again…can’t wait to try your recipe. Isabella.

  5. Thanks Isabella, I wish we could walk into a shop and find these varieties, there is always just the one kind. I would love to know where to get them.

  6. Those look absolutely gorgeous – I can almost taste them. I need a big bowl right now!

  7. Thanks Meridy, I ate far too many of these yesterday and fear that one Pilates class was not enough, I would have needed to run a marathon.

  8. My mouth is watering profusely…… dying for some tatties now!!

  9. ahh…putting them around the joint is essential ! She always used beef dripping. I use a combo of duck fat and dripping so you get the flavour and the crunch ! Have you tried a little semolina flour ? Amazing crunch then ! And I see you have chicken here.
    Are you a bread sauce convert ? I introduced bread sauce to so many in CT !! 🙂

  10. Hi Stephen, I have never been able to get crunchy roast spuds when cooked around the meat, but delicious never the less. I have also heard fabulous reports about semolina flour, so I am keen to try this method and then just adding semolina.The idea of bread sauce, and I have seen Nigella make it on TV, does not appeal to me at all. Its not something familiar to me, but I would be willing to give it a try. My thinking is that there is more than enough starch at the Christmas table?

  11. Nina, I ate so many yesterday and now full of remorse (and salad) today :-/

  12. Oh my word… :o) Those look just divine. Mortified to admit I have never really tried t make my own roasties – always default to a creamy potato bake instead – I think it’s deep-rooted fear of failure (or at least mediocrity!!). But a friend over here makes perfect roasties and his method sounds a lot like yours, minus the lemon juice trick. I might just have to have a go at making my own this season (or I *have* to find me a pub that serves roasties as bar snacks. Genius!)

  13. OH.MY.SOUL!!! There is my next Sunday dinner right there. Those tatties look incredible. I’ll sell my soul for a good potato.

  14. Ok, sold, I am definitely giving the goose fat a try! Damn the LCHF (low carb, high fat) people!

  15. Thanks Hennie, I’m also a total sucker for a good roast tat 🙂

  16. Thanks Jeanne, someone of your cooking calibre could easily master the roast tat.

  17. I get my duck fat from the Duck Lady at the Shongweni Farmer’s Market – I stock up on my visits to Assegay! Once you’re used Duck fat for roasties, you’ll never use anything else again! 🙂

  18. Beautiful post – such comfort x

  19. Ana Mitrovic says:


    I wonder if I can use pork fat instead of duck fat?
    It’s easier to find it and I know that baked potatoes with pork fat are delicious.

  20. HI Ana, I am sure you can. I have only ever used sunflower oil or duck fat.

  21. Hi Sam,
    I “par boil” my spuds in the microwave. Just put them in a plastic bag with salt to taste and 1/4 to 1/2 cup of water and nuke for about 10 min then rough up surface of spuds with fork and roast. Stove top is always so busy with veg and other stuff when doing a Roast Dinner and no pot to clean up. I first did this when making Thanksgiving Dinner for about 20 and it sure made life in the kitchen a lot easier. After seeing your beautiful photos I think flank steak and roast tatties on the dinner menu tonight. Thanks for the inspiration!

  22. Hi Susan, that sounds like a top tip for the spuds, thanks for sharing.

  23. As soon as I saw that picture of your potatoes on Pinterest, I knew they had to originate in the UK! My daughter married a lovely young Scottish man and his mum has taught her how to make these potatoes. When i’ve asked how, they always say to use ‘fat’. I asked what kind and they say, just fat! So i’ve concluded it is regular ‘Crisco’-type fat (soybean/cottonseed/canola), but I think using different types of animal fat would add a distinct flavour as you mentioned. Sadly, I’m always trying to make things a little more ‘healthy’ and can’t bring myself to use the Crisco or other solid fat, just yet. I’ve managed to make what we think is second best to this style of potato using olive oil, but I’m curious now about using animal fats (and only eating them once or twice a year 🙂 Thank you so much for your wonderful explanation and beautiful photos! I’m craving these now and in lieu of making a trip to the UK to satisfy my craving, I think I’ll just cave and use duck fat if I can find it, otherwise maybe pork fat? Off now to explore your beautiful site!

  24. HI Cathy, thanks for the kind words. Yes this is indeed a rare treat. The alternative is a vegetable oil. My thinking however is that roast potatoes are already quite indulgent, you may as well do it right.


  25. Any suggestions for a substitute duck fat? My boyfriend cannot eat poultry. Ducks, chickens, turkey…its all out.

  26. Hi Bobbi – just use sunflower oil.

  27. The duck fat is a really good tip! I wonder where I can find them!

  28. Hi Sam I found your recipe for these potatoes on Pinterest about 6 months ago. I make them at least once a month and occasionally more often. They are definitely my husband’s favorite! I just signed up to get your blog by email. And I am in the US – South Carolina.

  29. Hi Victoria, Im so glad to hear, they are a firm favorite in my house too. 🙂

  30. Sam–most impressed by your London Pub potatoes. What would you say to using pork fat? (I’ve got a glorious cupful after making Chinese roast pork.) FYI, when chunking my potatoes I use a ripple cutter–the ridges develop a little extra crispness.

  31. HI, Bill and thank you. I’m not sure about pork fat, maybe you should give it a go and see for yourself. I love the idea of the ripple cutter too and those edges would be super tasty 🙂

  32. Made this tonight, deeeeelish! A firm favourite! Didn’t have any animal fat but oil did the trick ? yummmm !

  33. Awesome Any, so glad you enjoyed the recipe

  34. I recommend adding a good few shakes of white pepper, leaving out rosemary which is a bit of an acquired taste. You can easily substitute goose fat or good beef dripping in lieu of the duck fat if you haven’t any to hand. If you’re really pushing the boat out, put the par boiled potatoes into a pan on gentle heat with a couple of chunks of meat stock from the freezer, and turn a few times to coat before adding the fat.

  35. Wow!

  36. Carma-Jade says:

    Hi Sam, I made these on Sunday and they came out beautifully! Thank you for sharing.

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