Roasted potatoes are an art form. My ideal, oven-baked spud is creamy on the inside, crispy on the outside, properly seasoned, and finished with a kick of something acidic. That’s why these lemon za’atar potatoes are my absolute go-to.
These potatoes make for a tasty, starchy side for a low-key dinner or your next holiday spread. You can dress ‘em up with some crumbled feta and fresh dill, though it’s certainly not necessary.
I prefer a waxy potato like Yukon Golds for this recipe, but you can use russets instead—they’re just a bit starchier.
My Secret to Oven-Roasted Potatoes
My favorite oven-roasting technique for potatoes is adding a bit of water to the sheet pan. When the pan hits the oven, the water starts to evaporate and creates steam. This yields potatoes with creamy, soft interiors.
In this recipe, I mix water with fresh lemon juice to not only introduce some steam to the situation but a whole lot of bright, acidic flavor. Sure, you can always finish off your roasted ‘taters with a squeeze of lemon before serving, but this way the lemon is infused into every inch of potato.
Turn Up the Heat
The second key to these roasted potatoes is a hot oven. We’re talking 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Because the oven is at such a high temperature, it’s a good idea to check on the potatoes at least every 10 minutes. High heat is how you’re going to achieve a delightfully golden brown exterior, but if you don’t keep a close eye your potatoes can burn pretty quickly, too.
Especially during the last 20 to 30 minutes, get in there a couple of times and flip the potatoes so that all sides get some color. If a potato is starting to look a little dark, you may want to pull it off the sheet pan before the rest of the potatoes finish cooking.
Tips for Sheet Pan Roasting
When it comes to roasting anything, I like to say that you know your sheet pans best. If you find that you have a lot of “stickage” issues, it’s not a bad idea to lay down a piece of foil or a silicone baking mat. I have used my sheet pans for years and I know that as long as I use enough fat (like olive oil) on whatever I’m roasting, I won’t have any issues.
This recipe is inevitably going to dirty up your pans. That said, it’s nothing a quick soak, a hearty scrub, and a little bit of elbow grease can’t rescue. Try using a fish spatula to help wiggle any stubborn potatoes free from the pan (as long as your sheet pans aren’t non-stick).
Cooking with Za’atar
Za’atar is a Middle Eastern spice mixture of sesame seeds, oregano, cumin, coriander, and sumac. Most groceries stores sell it in the spice aisle–I happen to love Trader Joe’s za’atar.
The spice mix is added halfway into roasting the potatoes. This is because if it is added at the start the sesame seeds will burn before the potatoes finish cooking. Sprinkle the potatoes with an extra pinch of za’atar after they’re done cooking for an added punch of bright, earthy flavors.
Can’t Get Enough Spuds? Try These Recipes
Lemon Za’atar Potatoes
3 pounds large (about 4-inch) Yukon Gold potatoes
1/2 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon kosher salt, or to taste
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (from about 3 lemons)
1/2 cup cold water
1 tablespoon za’atar seasoning, plus more for garnish
1/2 cup crumbled feta, for serving (optional)
1/3 cup chopped fresh dill, for serving (optional)
Preheat the oven to 450°F.
Prep the potatoes:
Slice each potato in half, then slice each half in half. Slice again in the opposite direction for 8 (roughly 2-inch) pieces per potato.
Toss in oil and add the lemon:
On a rimmed half-sheet pan, toss the potatoes in the olive oil and kosher salt. Arrange the potatoes in a single layer, cut-side down.
In a measuring cup or small bowl, mix the lemon juice and water. Pour over the potatoes in the sheet pan.
Roast the potatoes:
Roast the potatoes until lightly browned and most (but not all) of the liquid has evaporated, about 30 minutes.
Remove the pan from the oven and sprinkle with za’atar, tossing the potatoes with a rubber spatula to incorporate. Roast until the potatoes are a deep golden brown and all the liquid has evaporated, another 20 to 30 minutes. Check every 10 minutes and flip the potatoes until they are fork-tender and both sides are golden brown.
Garnish and serve:
Check for seasoning, sprinkling with more salt if needed. Garnish with more z’atar, feta, and dill (if using). Serve immediately.
Leftovers will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
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|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Servings: 4 to 6|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 18g||24%|
|Saturated Fat 3g||13%|
|Total Carbohydrate 49g||18%|
|Dietary Fiber 5g||19%|
|Total Sugars 3g|
|Vitamin C 25mg||124%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|