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I spotted these Salt Potatoes at a friend’s party several weeks ago. What caught my eye was the visible salt crust coating the cute crescent moon shape of fingerling potatoes. And then I had a bite! Crackly, crisp skin gave way to a hot, creamy center – all the qualities I look for in a perfect french fry, but without a bit of oil. I had to have the recipe.

salt potatoes served on a brushed metal platter

At first I thought my friend was joking when she said that they were just potatoes boiled in salted water. But here’s the key: they are potatoes boiled dry in salted water.

I imagine some distracted cook letting potatoes boil away, then a moment of realization and panic hits: “I forgot the potatoes!” Only to discover a dry pan of pristine potatoes clothed in crispy skin with a fine as fairy dust salt crust. Thank goodness for happy accidents!

Recipe Origins

Her salt potatoes recipe came from a cookbook called Spanish Flavors by José Pizarro. But I’ve since discovered that these are a favorite in the US too.

I grew up on the west coast of the US. If I’d grown up on the east coast, specifically in Central New York, these would have been familiar. Apparently “Syracuse Potatoes” are a summer staple at family get togethers and fairs when potatoes are first harvested.

The main differences between José’s recipe and traditional Syracuse potatoes are: the style of potato he suggests (fingerling instead of young, white potatoes), that his are boiled dry (Syracuse potatoes are boiled until tender and strained), and that he calls for a lot less salt. The traditional recipe for Syracuse Potatoes calls for a whopping one cup of salt to six cups of water. José’s recipe calls for 2 tablespoons of flaky sea salt to a quart of water and, after testing the recipe several times, I prefer even less.

Get the salt just right.

A heaping tablespoon of flaky sea salt per quart of water coats each potato in a thin, sharply salty crust. Perfect. Any more than that creates a thicker, too-salty crust that I found myself aggressively brushing away.

For the majority of the 30 minutes or so that it takes for these potatoes to boil dry, you can busy yourself with other things. But when the water is nearly gone, you’ll need to watch vigilantly until the last sign of water evaporates. Then you’ll turn the heat to low and give the potatoes a few gentle turns to fully dry the skin and set the salty crust.

Pair With

Salt potatoes are wonderful on their own and even better with something delicious for dipping. You have endless options! Melted butter is the dip of choice in Syracuse and José includes a recipe for Cilantro Mojo (what my friend served), or creamy, spicy Jalapeño Ranch: all wonderful choices, but dangerous for people who have a knack for dribbling drippy dips down their shirts at parties. (ahem) I prefer serving these with a thick dip like Garlic Aioli or a version of it like Pesto Aioli (equal parts aioli and pesto – classic pesto or Almond Pesto) or Sriracha Aioli (aioli made with a generous dose of sriracha sauce).

More of My favorite Potato Recipes

How to Make Salt Potatoes

Step 1: Cover a single layer of fingerling potatoes in a wide, shallow pan. Cover with cold water and sprinkle with salt.

pouring water and sprinkling salt over fingerling potatoes in a wide shallow pan

Step 2: Bring to boil; allow to rapidly boil until water has evaporated.

Step 3: Reduce heat to low and gently turn potatoes until their skin is completely dry. Transfer to platter and serve.

salt potatoes ready to serve

Recipe Video (sound on 😉)

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Salt Potatoes

5 from 14 votes
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 30 minutes
Course: Appetizer, Side Dish
Cuisine: American, Mediterranean
Calories: 116
Servings: 6 people
Who knew that just potatoes, salt, and water could create such a delicious dish! Fingerling potatoes get buttery smooth on the inside with a crisp, salty crust on the outside to make an addictive appetizer!

Ingredients  

  • 2 pounds fingerling potatoes ideally of similar size, scrubbed but not peeled
  • 1 heaping tablespoon flaky sea salt such as Maldon
  • 1 quart cold water just enough to cover

Instructions 

  • Arrange the potatoes in a single layer in a wide, shallow pan (I used an 11" diameter pan with 2 1/2" high sides). Pour enough cold water to cover (about 1 quart). Sprinkle salt over water and bring to boil over medium-high heat.
  • Leave potatoes at a rapid boil until water has evaporated, about 30 minutes. Reduce heat to low and gently lift and turn potatoes until their skins are wrinkled and completely dry. Transfer to platter and serve.

Notes

  1. Serve these potatoes with melted butter, pesto, or, my favorite, Garlic Aioli.

Nutrition

Calories: 116kcal | Carbohydrates: 26g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 1180mg | Potassium: 637mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin C: 30mg | Calcium: 23mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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40 Comments

  1. Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella says:

    5 stars
    Marissa, these were wonderful! Thank you so much for sharing this recipe 😀 And I think your measurement of salt was spot on.

    1. Marissa Stevens says:

      You made my day, Lorraine! I’m so glad you enjoyed these. Love to think of you serving these at parties since you throw the best parties EVER.

  2. Susan says:

    I had never heard of these and made them for the first time last evening to accompany a roast. A delicious meal as an offset to the snowy day-in in Toronto, made even better with these potatoes! Definitely a company-worthy dish.

    1. Marissa Stevens says:

      I’m so glad these were a hit, Susan! It’s so fun to serve these to people who haven’t had them because they look a bit curious, but then taste incredible!! 🙂

  3. David Porter says:

    5 stars
    These are great. A speciality of the Canary Islands, or so they claim! Really easy to cook and very good to eat1

    1. Marissa says:

      Thanks, David!

  4. Aruvqan says:

    Coming from western NY, the recipe for our salt potatoes was supposedly originated by workers at the salt mines boiling potatoes in the brine tanks, and we don’t boil them dry, they don’t have a salt crust of any sort, they are served drenched with butter and fresh snipped parsley if you have the parsley. Occasionally a sprinkle of paprika if you want to get fancy.

    [I actually use True Lemon salt free Lemon Pepper and dried thyme on my salt potatoes with the butter – never margarine, though it is pretty good with olive oil if you have a vegan around.]

    1. Marissa says:

      Drenched in butter sounds good to me, Aruvqan! Thank you for your comment. 🙂

  5. mimi rippee says:

    I’m not sure they look like French fries, but I’m so intrigued! I cannot wait to make them!

    1. Marissa says:

      I’m excited for you to try them, Mimi!