The best part of a big weekend breakfast — is the crispy fried breakfast potatoes. Perfect, diner-style fried potatoes have to be super-tender, uber-crispy and golden brown. Breakfast fries also need a few veggies for flavor and color, but not enough to detract from what they actually are… the crunchy skillet potatoes of your brunch dreams. These are quick and easy to make and some of the prep can be done a day or two ahead of time.
Easy, crunchy, skillet potatoes are wonderful for breakfast or brunch with eggs and a rash of bacon or sausage, but you can enjoy, this simple recipe at any time of the day. Please don’t let the word “breakfast” limit you to morning hours. Truth is, you could easily serve them for dinner with a roast chicken, grilled steak or pork chops.
For simple skillet potatoes
- Potatoes (Red, white or russet)
- Olive Oil
- Salt & Pepper
- Sweet or Smoked Paprika (optional)
- Green Pepper
Use whatever type of potato you have for these breakfast fries. I happened to have red skinned potatoes, so that’s what I used. You’ll also need a little onion, green pepper and scallions, though the recipe doesn’t use much. Just enough to add a smidge of color, flavor and aroma normally associated with the perfect, crispy breakfast potatoes you find in homestyle diners.
Prepping the spuds
I’ve used several methods to make skillet breakfast potatoes in the past, however, my favorite way, is to boil the potatoes first. This way, you’re assured that the skillet potatoes will be perfectly tender on the inside, even before frying them (nothing worse than an under-cooked potato, right?).
- Instead of frying diced raw potatoes in a skillet, cook them first in a pot of boiling water until the potatoes are tender, about 10 -15 minutes.
- Remove them from the pot to cool, then peel the potatoes with a paring knife and chop them into a 1/2″ dice.
I also like this method, because you can prep the tubers ahead of time, so that when you’re ready to make the breakfast fries, it only takes a quick 15 minute crisp and you’re done.
- Boil, peel and dice the potatoes and store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator. They’ll keep for up to a week and be ready to fry when you are.
The one piece of equipment I recommend, is a good, heavy 12″ nonstick pan (mine is All-Clad – and I just got one for my birthday —thanks, Mom & Dad).
- Keep in mind that your pan needs to be large enough to accommodate all the potatoes in a SINGLE LAYER. That’s key to getting them crispy and browned. A 12″ skillet is perfect and leaves plenty of room.
- With a good non-stick, the potatoes literally slide across the pan with no fear of sticking.
- However, if you have a well seasoned cast iron skillet you can use that too.
- For a regular stainless steel pan, you’ll want to spray it very well with non-stick vegetable spray before you add the olive oil and potatoes to ensure a non-stick environment for them to cook.
How to fry breakfast potatoes
- Over medium high heat in your nonstick skillet, sauté the onion, bell pepper and scallions in olive oil until they’re crisp-tender (2-3 minutes) and transfer to a small bowl.
- Drizzle more olive oil into the non-stick pan and add the diced potatoes.
- Season with salt, pepper and paprika and shake the pan vigorously to spread the potatoes into a single layer, then let them cook for about 3-5 minutes WITHOUT STIRRING OR TOUCHING, so they can start to get that golden fried crust.
- Shake the pan or use a spatula to flip the potatoes ever 2-3 minutes for another 10-15 minutes or so until the breakfast fries are crispy and golden.
- Add the sautéed vegetables back to the skillet and warm them through.
The key to crispy breakfast fries – Stop fussing with them!
Most home cooks, stir and flip incessantly, which isn’t inherently bad. Obviously, you don’t want to burn your food and paying attention to their progress is a good thing. However, to achieve that classic crusty, brown exterior, you have to give the potatoes enough time and contact with the heat source (the pan). Continuously flipping and stirring impedes the process.
Fact: When we’ve gone out for breakfast (pre-pandemic) hubby, Scott, always asked for extra crispy potatoes and isn’t afraid to send ’em back if they’re not up to par. The photo below accurately depicts his expectations.
The best crispy breakfast potatoes
Hearty, skillet fried spuds are THE BEST. With a burnished crust and tender interior, these lightly seasoned breakfast fries are the best part of the morning. Topped with an oozy, fried egg and served with bacon or sausage, it’s like eating at your favorite local diner — without the 45 minute wait.
Customize your flavors:
These potatoes are simply seasoned, but don’t be afraid to kick up the flavors. Instead of plain salt, pepper and paprika, try these options:
- Smoky Chipotle Seasoning & Dry Rub.
- Use fire roasted hatch chiles in place of the bell pepper for a Southwestern flair.
- Use 1 1/2 teaspoons of Cajun seasoning instead of the salt, pepper and paprika.
- Sprinkle with fresh herbs like thyme, rosemary, sage or chives.
What else goes with fried breakfast potatoes?
- Ham and Cheese Frittata with Asparagus and Sun Dried Tomatoes
- Quick and Easy Crustless Vegetable Quiche
- Homemade Applewood Smoked Bacon
- Cajun Andouille Sausage Sweet Potato Frittata
- Smoked Salmon Omelette
- V-8 Bloody Mary
Crispy Breakfast Potatoes
- Heavy 12-inch Non-Stick Skillet
- 1 pound potatoes (red potatoes, white potatoes or yukon gold
- 3-4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4- 1/2 teaspoon smoked or sweet paprika
- 1/4 cup sweet onion diced
- 1/4 cup green pepper seeded and diced
- 2 scallions white and green parts, chopped
- Place the potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil over high heat and cook for 10-15 minutes or until tender. You can tell when the potatoes are done by sticking a sharp knife into the center of the spud – if the knife pulls out easily, they're done.
- Drain the water from the potatoes and set them aside to cool.
- Meanwhile, heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil in a large 12" nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add the onion, green pepper and scallions and cook for 2-3 minutes or until crisp tender and fragrant. Transfer the veggies to a small bowl and set aside.
- When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, use a sharp paring knife and peel away the skins (doesn't have to be perfect – and if you don't mind the skin, you can leave it on).
- Dice the potatoes into 1/2" pieces and spread out on your cutting board for more of the heat to evaporate. You want them to be as dry as possible for frying and evaporation will help with that.
- Add 2 tablespoons of oil to the skillet and heat over high heat. When the oil and pan are hot, add the potatoes and gently spread them out in the pan so they're not crowded and in a single layer. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook for 3-5 minutes WITHOUT TOUCHING OR STIRRING.
- Shake the pan and if you're handy with it, you can gently toss the potatoes. If you're not as comfortable with tossing them, use a spatula to gently flip them and cook for another 3-5 minutes. The potatoes will start to take on some color.
- Cook the potatoes for an additional 15-20 minutes, shaking and flipping until they're a dark golden brown and crispy on most sides. If the potatoes need additional oil to crisp, drizzle it in 1 teaspoon at a time before adding more.
- Add the sauteed vegetables and paprika and toss to combine evenly. When the veggies are heated through, serve the potatoes.