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These easy home fries are a hearty breakfast idea sure to please everyone at the table. Fried onions and warm spices like smoked paprika and cayenne bring the perfect balance of sweetness and heat.
Nothing says “good morning” better in our house than the smell of bubbling butter, fragrant spices, and frying onions wafting through the air. Soft and fluffy but with a crisped exterior, these home fries pair perfectly with Cheesy Scrambled Eggs or omelets to make a simple and filling breakfast meal. With a versatile mix of flavors and textures, you can serve these potatoes with just about any breakfast dish you can think of!
What Kind of Potatoes to Use
Different kinds of potatoes work better for different applications based primarily on whether they are “starchy” or “waxy” varieties.
Starchy Potatoes Work Best
For this recipe, you definitely want to stick to starchy potatoes like russets or Idahos. Starchy potatoes soften nicely when they are cooked and absorb flavors better than their waxy cousins – both critical elements to this recipe as you want the potatoes to be tender and to absorb the flavors of the spices and onions once you add them to the pan. Other starchy potatoes like Yukon golds can also work, but avoid waxy varieties like red potatoes that won’t absorb the spicy goodness as well.
Choose Similarly Sized Potatoes
Size matters. Choose potatoes that are roughly the same size and cut them into similar sized quarters so that they cook at the same speed in the boiling pot. The larger the potato the longer it will need to boil. If you boil the potatoes for too long they will fall apart and turn to mush.
How to Tell When Potatoes are Done Boiling?
Test for doneness by piercing them with a fork (should slide in easily) before removing them from the water starting at around 15 minutes.
Home Fries vs. Hashed Browns
Our skillet-fried breakfast potatoes are home fries, not to be confused with hash browns.
Hash(ed) browns are grated potatoes, usually deep-fried in oil into patties without much in the way of additional flavor, the breakfast equivalent to French fries.
Home fries on the other hand are much more interesting, cooked with spices and usually onions (and sometimes bell peppers) they have a great deal of flavor. They use far less fat to cook and have a more varied texture that is both crispy on the outside and soft and fluffy within. Both can be tasty, but we’re team home fries in this house!
Tips for the Best Breakfast Potatoes
This is a simple, down-home recipe, but there are some tricks to making even this delicious comfort food stand out:
- Don’t burn the butter! Be sure to watch your melting butter closely, timing here is everything. You want to create what the French call “buerre noisette” or “nut butter” due to the slightly nutty aroma. The butter should be melted and the bubbling subsided with a very light brown color forming when you add the spices and onions. If you wait too long you will burn the butter, rush this and you’ll miss out on the flavor of the noisette butter.
- Don’t stir the potatoes too much in the pan. Give everything a good mix when you add the potatoes but then stir only every minute or so to prevent the onions from burning. You want the pan to crisp the potatoes.
- Make sure not to mash the potatoes. You want to break them up a bit in the pan but it is easy to overdue it and end up with a (tasty) mash instead of home fried potatoes.
- Don’t skip the time in the oven at the end! The potatoes are technically done after they cook on the stovetop but the time in the oven at high heat helps to create the crispy exterior texture. It will also drive out any excess moisture in the potatoes leftover from boiling. It is worth the wait!
- Use the baking time to cook your eggs. Speaking of the time in the oven at the end, this is the perfect time to whip up your scrambled eggs and slice some fruit to complete the breakfast.
Make Sure You Use an Oven Safe Skillet!
After you cook everything on the stovetop you want to place the whole pan in the oven to finish crisping up, that means you need to make sure you are using an oven-safe skillet from the start. The hot pan in the oven is what provides the crispy exterior and helps keep things from getting mushy.
Just be careful when you take the pan out of the oven! We like to put an extra oven mitt over the pan handle to make sure no one grabs it by accident while it is still hot from the oven.
These potatoes are the ideal breakfast sidekick.
- Eggs – Scrambled eggs, fried, poached, omelets – these potatoes turn any egg dish into a complete and filling meal.
- Breakfast Burrito -Serve them on the side or put them in your burrito with other ingredients like fresh Pico de Gallo Salsa, eggs, beans, and cheese.
- Carne Asada – Serving some carne asada or breakfast steak? Potatoes go with breakfast meat, like, well meat and potatoes!
- Popovers – Stuff your popovers with scrambled eggs and potatoes, then top with cheese!
- Sweet Potato Biscuits – Another classical pairing, serve potatoes with some biscuits and herb butter.
- Pancakes or Waffles – These home fries are the perfect veggie to fill you up on the side with pancakes or waffles.
- Kid-Friendly – Serving these potatoes to little ones? Leave out the cayenne pepper to eliminate the heat and let them add some ketchup. What kid doesn’t like ketchup with their potatoes?
Can I Make This Recipe Ahead?
You can certainly make the entire dish ahead of time and reheat, but their flavor is best when prepared fresh. There are some shortcuts that you can take to reduce the preparation time to just over 20 minutes if you plan ahead.
Prep your potatoes. You can boil the potatoes ahead of time for use in this recipe. Just let them cool after draining them, then keep them in the fridge in a covered container for up to three days. When you’re ready to cook, simply add them to the pan when the onions are done cooking with the spices, no need to reheat. They’ll warm right up in the pan and the oven.
Dice your onions. You can also dice your onions in advance and store them for several days in a covered container in the fridge until you are ready to use them.
How to Store and Reheat Leftovers
Let the cooked potatoes cool and then store them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three days.
To reheat you can just use the microwave or place them on a sheet pan in the oven at 350 degrees F for 10-15 minutes or until warmed through.
Skillet Breakfast Home Fries
- 4 large russet potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters (about 2 pounds)
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus a pinch for the boiling pot
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 large onion, diced
Boil the Potatoes
- Prepare the potatoes. Peel the potatoes and quarter them. Place the potatoes into a large pot and add enough cold water to cover them. Add a pinch of salt to the pot, then cover the pot and place over high heat to bring the water to a boil. Once boiling, remove the cover and reduce the heat to medium. Let the potatoes cook for 15-20 minutes depending on the size of the potatoes. The potatoes should be soft but not yet falling apart. Remove the potatoes with a slotted spoon or drain in a colander and set them aside while the onions cook.
- Prep the oven. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F.
Cook the Onions and Potatoes
- Melt the Butter. In a 12" or larger, oven-proof skillet (cast iron or non-stick is fine) melt the butter over medium-high heat until the bubbles subside and the butter turns a very light brown with a nutty aroma.
- Cook the Spices. Reduce the heat to medium and add the paprika, salt, pepper, and cayenne. Stir for 15-20 seconds.
- Cook the Onions. Add the onions to the pan. Give them a quick stir to coat them with the butter and spices and then let them sit for 1 minute before stirring. Cook them for 4-5 more minutes, stirring regularly, before adding the potatoes.
- Cook the Potatoes. Add the potatoes to the pan and stir everything together well to make sure the potatoes soak in all of the spices. Gently break the potato quarters into several large pieces using the spatula. Stir everything well again and cook for 4-5 more minutes, stirring every minute or so to prevent the onions from burning.
- Crisp in the oven. Give everything a final good stir then place the hot pan into the preheated oven. Let the potatoes cook for about 10 minutes or until desired crispiness. This is the perfect time to cook some eggs or finish prepping breakfast.