Southern fried potatoes and onions make the perfect side dish with classics like soup beans, collard greens and a steaming hot slab of meatloaf or fried chicken. Simple to do with potatoes, onions, and some good quality fat and you have something magical.Jump to Recipe
How to prepare potatoes for frying
Before hopping into frying, it is important to properly prepare your potatoes. Start by washing the skin with cold running water.
It is not necessary to peel them, but you can. Just make sure to give them a second rinse if you peel them to get any extra dirt off.
Next, start slicing. Cut the potatoes in half and then slice if they are large or just into rounds if they are small. Keep them all about the same thickness so they cook evenly.
I like 1/4″ thick slices but you can do cubes too–just know that the bigger and thicker they are the longer they will take to cook.
Ingredients You’ll Need
Should sliced potatoes be rinsed?
I don’t think it makes a difference if you rinse them or not. No woman in my family ever did.
I tested rinsing for this recipe and I include those steps in the recipe–but you just have to be very thorough about drying them so they don’t splatter when they hit the lard.
In the end I don’t feel like rinsing made any noticeable difference.
What oil is best for frying potatoes and onions?
When frying potatoes and onions (or anything for that matter), it is best to use a frying fat that has a high smoke point so that the temperatures reached do not cause it to smoke and release free radicals.
Both butter and olive oil have a low smoke point, so steer clear of these and reach instead for bacon grease or a bit of lard.
In a pinch? Avocado oil or refined coconut oil does a good job as well. Make sure that your coconut oil is refined otherwise, you will encounter a coconut flavor in your finished dish.
As always, avoid refined vegetable/canola/sunflower oils. They are inflammatory!
Choosing the right skillet for success
When frying, it is crucial to use proper cooking tools. The wrong skillet can do you in. Make sure to use a heavy-bottomed skillet, such as cast iron or quality stainless steel.
If your skillet is too thin, you risk the chance of burning your dish.
In addition, do your body a huge favor and avoid the temptation of buying those discount store skillets. They are low quality and not only do they warp easily, but they release toxins and have hot spots that love to burn food.
And go ahead and clear your cabinets of non-stick pans. They carry harmful chemicals that can transfer to your food and, as a result, into your body.
Why won’t my fried potatoes get crispy?
When you hear “fried”, you think crispy. So of course you want to do everything you can to prevent a soggy potato.
Keep in mind that southern fried potatoes and onions cook in two phases:
Phase 1: The potatoes hit the hot pan, get tossed around a little and the lid goes on to steam them and soften them. This can take 15 minutes or so.
Phase 2: Once the potatoes are soft, you take off the lid and add a bit more fat if needed. Stir every few minutes and let the potatoes begin to get some crispy edges. Flip them well so no one is stuck to the bottom of the pan.
Fact: Your potatoes won’t all be golden
Fried potatoes aren’t usually all golden brown on all sides. They should all be cooked through and well seasoned but some will be nice and crispy and some won’t. This is normal and expected.
Here are some other tips for helping your potatoes crisp up:
- Don’t crowd the potatoes! You’ll have potatoes on top of each other. That’s okay but don’t pile them super high–don’t fill the pan to the top. If you have too many potatoes on top of each other, none of them will get a chance to crisp up.
- Make sure to start with a hot pan. You want to get that initial sear that will lock the moisture inside the potato slices and allow for that crisp. Preheat your cast iron for a couple of minutes on medium high then add the lard and the potatoes promptly.
- The skillet matters. Refer to my note above on selecting the right skillet. Some materials, such as ceramic and non-stick, do not provide a surface that allows for a good sear.
What onion is best in fried potatoes?
There are many different kinds of onions. Some sweet and mild, some more punchy.
Here we are aiming for a milder, sweeter onion. I am a big fan of Vidalia for this recipe, but feel free to grab a few shallots instead. A red onion may be too strong and could overpower the dish.
Add the onions last
Onions will get dark or burn super fast if you add them too soon. Hold them for the last five minutes of cooking and let them wilt, steam and soften with the potatoes.
How to store leftover fried potatoes and onions
When storing leftover fried potatoes and onions, make sure to cool the dish completely before transferring your goodies to an airtight container, such as a zip lock bag or Tupperware container.
Once cooled and stored properly, you can keep these them in the refrigerator up to a week.
To reheat: Simply throw them in a skillet over medium-high heat on the stove. You can also microwave them.
Other potato dishes to love
Try these other great potato dishes when you’re looking for side inspiration:
- Leftover baked potato casserole
- Sour cream mashed potatoes
- Loaded potato soup
- Rosemary roasted little potatoes
- Mashed potato cakes
Southern Fried Potatoes and Onions
- 1 10-12 inch cast iron skillet
- 4-6 medium russet potatoes (about 4 cups in 1" pieces)
- 3/4 cup onion diced, Vidalia or other white onion preferred
- 1 tablespoon lard oil or bacon grease will substitute
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- black pepper to taste, optional
- Peel potatoes if you choose, cut in half lengthwise, and quarters lengthwise.
- Cut quarters into 1/4" thick slices.
- Add the slices to a bowl of cold water and swirl to remove extra starch if you want to, but this step is optional.
- Dry well on a clean kitchen towel if you rinsed yours. If not, move to frying:
- Heat a 10-12 inch heavy skillet over medium-high heat 2 to 3 minutes (use your senses to know when the pan is hot) then add the lard and heat until melted.
- Add the potatoes and cover with a lid. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for 10 minutes. Don't move the potatoes for the first three or so minutes of cooking. Then stir occasionally after that.
- Remove the lid and add salt and pepper.
- Cook, stirring occasionally until the potatoes are soft throughout; another 8 to 9 minutes.
- Add the diced onion and stir to combine. Turn the heat down to low if needed but keep an eye on your onions so they don't burn. Cook another 5 minutes to 7 minutes until the onions are translucent and soft. Taste for seasoning adjustments and serve warm.