This post may contain affiliate links.
If you buy something from one of the linked sites you won’t pay anything more, but I might make a commission.
Have you ever tried to make fried potatoes like you get in a diner, and they just didn’t turn out the same? I was having a hard time getting the inside cooked without burning the outside. That’s because there’s one important trick to getting them right! Read on to find out how to make perfect, crispy diner-style home fries.
I love diner food
I’ve lived in the same neighborhood since 2002. That’s twelve years of going to the same diner. And I always get one of three meals: Grilled Cheese with Fries, Egg Salad Sandwich with Onion Rings, or Bagel with Cream Cheese and Home Fries. Can you tell I love comfort food?
Incidentally, time of day does not affect which one I choose. In fact, my favorite breakfast when I was pregnant with my daughter was the egg salad sandwich with onion rings. I would drop my son off at preschool twice a week, and go straight to the diner to feed my growing belly.
When I’m not pregnant, though, I usually go for the bagel and fried potatoes.
Home-cooked diner food
Now most of the time, if I’m too lazy to go to the diner, I can just recreate the food myself at home. I make an awesome grilled cheese, great egg salad, and I always have frozen fries and onion rings in the freezer. I even make my own bagels when I don’t feel like walking to the bagel place.
But the home fries? Those I couldn’t do until recently.
Figuring out how to cook them
I’d tried cutting potatoes into all sorts of sizes and slices, par-boiling, cooking over low flame, cooking over high flame. They were all just OK. Fine. I mean, OK potatoes are better than no potatoes any day, but I wanted the diner-style potatoes, and these weren’t them.
Sometimes the outsides would be perfectly crispy, but the insides would be too hard. If I sliced them smaller to avoid that, I didn’t get enough fluffy potato goodness on the inside—the whole thing was just tough. Boiling the potatoes first worked a little better, but it was a pain—I had to use a whole different pan, and a strainer, and who wants to do all of that on a Sunday morning? And if I accidentally over-boiled them even a little, they would fall apart when I friend them and turn into a whole different dish (one that had possibilities, but not what I was trying to make!)
The secret ingredient
So I started searching for diner home fry recipes and tried a bunch. And while none of them were right, my research did clue me into one (probably very obvious) thing that I hadn’t figured out for myself: I needed to start with baked potatoes!
Diners, apparently, use last night’s leftover baked potatoes to make the next morning’s home fries. Brilliant!
What if you don’t have leftover baked potatoes?
Of course, I rarely have leftover baked potatoes, so I decided to try microwaved potatoes. Now, I’ve always avoided those because they just don’t taste great. The skin doesn’t get crispy. But for this, I didn’t think it would matter. And I was right.
You’re going to be crisping the potatoes up in the pan, so I swear to you, microwave baked potatoes work just as well here as potatoes that were baked in an oven or roasted on a grill.
Some tasty add-ins
Every diner I go to adds in onions, that’s a key ingredient. They give the potatoes a ton of flavor.
Some diners also add bell peppers. Here’s my thing with peppers: I love the flavor that they add, but they have to be really well cooked. So slice them thin enough that they’ll get nice and soft with the onions.
That’s all diners usually add, but hey, you’re in control of your own kitchen, so you can go crazy! I would add these in towards the end of the cooking time.
Add-in ideas for home fries:
- leftover bacon, crumbled into pieces
- diced tomato
- minced garlic
- crumbled blue cheese
- shredded cheddar cheese
- chives (as a garnish—sprinkle on top as you’re serving)
Can you use oil instead of butter?
Sure, you can. But just know that the home fries won’t have the same flavor. If you’re trying to cut down on butter but don’t need to do away with it completely, you could substitute 1.5 tablespoons of vegetable oil for 2 tablespoons of butter, still keeping one tablespoon of butter in to give it a little flavor.
You could also substitute olive oil, but just know that that will change the flavor of the dish even more than vegetable oil will.
How many potatoes?
If your family goes as crazy for these as mine did, figure on one large potato per person, and when I say large I mean those really big baking potatoes.
If your family is normal, then probably 2/3 of a large potato per person. And if you’re making home fries as more of a side dish than the main part of the meal like it is for me, you can probably go down to half a large potato per person.
And if you do better with video instruction to walk you through things, here’s a video:
- 2 large russet potatoes, either raw and scrubbed or leftover baked
- 1/2 small or 1/4 large yellow onion, peeled and sliced (more or less depending on your tastes)
- 3 tablespoons butter
- paprika to taste
- salt to taste
- pepper to taste
- If your potatoes are already baked and are cold from the fridge, warm them up in the microwave for a minute
- Otherwise, prick the potatoes all over with a knife or fork and microwave for 8 to 10 minutes on high, turning over halfway through
- Heat a medium frying pan (metal if you want crispier potatoes, non-stick otherwise) over medium-high heat and add the butter
- When the butter is melted and foamy, add the onions, cooking for a few minutes until soft
- While the onions are cooking, slice the potatoes about 1/4-1/2 inch thick
- Add the potatoes to the onions, stirring to coat with butter
- Sprinkle on some paprika and stir
- Cook the potatoes on one side for a few minutes, until golden brown and crispy
- Flip the potatoes (or as many pieces as you reasonably can), and let that side cook for a few minutes more
- Season with salt and pepper to taste, stir to combine, and serve immediately!
Weight Watchers Points
11 points per serving, although you can reduce that to 8 points per serving by using just 2 tablespoons of butter instead of 3.
As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases (but you won't pay anything extra!)
Serving Size1 large serving
Amount Per Serving Calories 452Total Fat 18gSaturated Fat 11gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 6gCholesterol 46mgSodium 302mgCarbohydrates 68gNet Carbohydrates 0gFiber 5gSugar 3gSugar Alcohols 0gProtein 8g