Hack Your Way To Extra Crispy Smashed Potatoes With A Lemon Press

Regular roasted potatoes can be tasty, but let's be honest, sometimes they have little to offer in terms of texture. If you use a waxy spud variety, for example, or don't coat them in enough fat, they could easily end up being soft all the way through rather than crispy on the outside. That's precisely where the smashing technique comes into play. Just by smashing down the potatoes, more of the flesh and skin comes into direct contact with the heat of the pan, which in turn leads to crispiness.

Usually smashing is done with the bottom of a frying pan or glass, however, using a lemon press instead is more effective. To pull off this nifty culinary hack, you'll need to cut your potato to size or use one that will fit in the handheld tool, such as a red or baby Yukon. Then, like you would with a halved lemon, simply press down on the potato, crushing it. What results after being roasted is an even crispier smashed potato.

Why a lemon press results in even crispier smashed potatoes

Increased surface area and maximum contact with the pan may be the most obvious reason smashing potatoes causes them to be crispier. However, there's actually another explanation for why this happens: smashing also damages and exposes the potato's starches. As a result, these starches become almost like a built-in breading, crisping up when they come in contact with oil and heat.

Although using the bottom of a frying pan or glass, or even just shaking the potatoes around in a colander, can accomplish this without much issue, a lemon press does so far more effectively. That's because instead of flattening it by pressing it down from the top, a lemon press squeezes the entire potato. This causes even more of the starches to get agitated, yielding potatoes with maximum crispiness. You'll have to press the potatoes one at a time, but if you like crispier potatoes, the resulting texture is well worth it.

What if you don't have a lemon press?

If you don't own a lemon press, or if you're working with potatoes that are larger than lemons and the extra step of cutting them is too much of a hassle, the good news is you can still achieve extra crispy smashed potatoes. Ree Drummond of The Pioneer Woman notes that you can also use a potato masher instead of a lemon press, and it'll still be more effective than the bottom of a glass.

In order to roughen up the potatoes similar to a lemon press, the celebrity chef recommends first giving the potatoes an initial smash with the potato masher, then twisting the tool before smashing them down for a second time. For best results, you'll also want to use a wire masher, since it has a lot of edges that will break down the starches. A lemon press is still the ideal way to go about it, but you can still get pretty crispy results without one.