If you aren’t from the Northeast, you might not be familiar with Syracuse salt potatoes. But if you live in or around New York, chances are you’ve had them a few times.
This simple, three-ingredient side dish is a staple in many households. It’s especially popular for those with Irish heritage or who live in or near Syracuse.
We’ll explore their history in the next section, but first, let me tell you why you’ll love them. Syracuse salt potatoes are quick, simple, salty, and delicious.
You can make them with three ingredients, and they pair well with everything. What’s not to love?
Syracuse Salt Potatoes
Syracuse salt potatoes have a fascinating backstory. They date back to the mid-1800s when salt production was a major Syracuse industry.
Because of the potential for jobs, many Irish immigrants moved to Syracuse. And one of the most common jobs for them required them to boil salt water in large cauldrons.
This task evaporated the water and left the profitable salt behind. Soon, however, the workers realized they could use these vats to their advantage.
They were great for flavoring their lunch potatoes!
So, they’d toss their potatoes in the boiling water. Then, when they removed them, the potatoes would develop a thin crust of salt. This turned their ordinary potatoes into something incredibly delicious.
Thus, Syracuse salt potatoes were born. And they’re still a popular staple in many New York households today.
The ingredients list for this recipe is short. Here’s what you need:
- Potatoes – Specifically, the recipe calls for new potatoes. However, you can use whatever small-sized potatoes you like best, including red potatoes.
- Salt – I like using fine sea salt, but regular table salt is okay, too.
- Butter – Melt it before drizzling it over the potatoes. Use unsalted butter to avoid overly salty potatoes.
How to Make Syracuse Salt Potatoes
The directions for making these potatoes are also wonderfully simple. Here’s what you do:
1. Wash the potatoes. Scrub them thoroughly, but don’t peel them.
2. Boil the potatoes. Fill a large pot with water and add the salt. Stir until all the salt dissolves, then add the potatoes.
Once the water boils, reduce the heat, cover, and let the potatoes simmer. They shouldn’t need more than 15 minutes. They’ll be tender but still firm when ready.
3. Melt the butter. Use the microwave or stove to melt the butter. Do so when the potatoes are just about finished so the timing lines up.
4. Let the potatoes rest. Once the potatoes are ready, drain the water from the pot. Then, re-cover the pot and let the potatoes sit. They’ll remain warm, and the salty crust will form on them.
5. Add the butter. Once the crust forms, drizzle the melted butter over the potatoes.
6. Serve and enjoy! Add any toppings you might want to add (Parmesan, herbs, etc.) Then, serve and devour them.
Tips for the Best Salt Potatoes
Before you jump to boiling your potatoes, keep these final few tips in mind:
- Add an herby twist. If you want to give the potatoes even more flavor, add lots of herbs. Fresh herbs taste best. Mix them in with your melted butter before drizzling it. Or sprinkle them on top after adding the butter.
- Resist the urge to slice. Remember to boil them whole and don’t slice them first. Otherwise, they’ll become too salty.
- Get cheesy. You can also dust these buttery potatoes with some freshly grated Parmesan. It transforms them into an extra cheesy treat.
- Go for garlic butter. Use melted garlic butter to add extra flavor. You can buy it from the store or use this simple garlic butter recipe.
- Switch up the salt. The type of salt you use will affect the overall taste of the potatoes. Try table salt, sea salt, Himalayan salt, etc., to find what you like best.
- Smaller potatoes are superior. Some people ask if they can make this recipe with large potatoes cut into smaller pieces. Unfortunately, you can’t. If you cut the potatoes, the salt will sink into them, making them too salty. Boiling them whole means the salt only forms as a crust on the outside.
- Don’t overcook. Remember, the potatoes should be tender but firm when they’re ready. You shouldn’t cook them so long that they fall apart.
- Don’t trash your leftovers. I have tips for storing your leftovers down below. However, these also make excellent pan-fried potatoes if you want to use them the next day.
What to Serve With Salt Potatoes
These potatoes are a delicious side dish with any main course. They’re like a mix between boiled new potatoes and baked potatoes.
They have the tender, melt-in-your-mouth buttery texture of boiled potatoes. However, they have the saltiness of your typical baked potato.
Because they’re the best of both worlds, the serving suggestions are pretty much endless. Here are a few of my favorite pairings:
- T-Bone Steak
- Buttermilk Baked Chicken
- Air Fryer Chicken Wings
- Oven-Fried Pork Chops
- Slow Cooker Texas Pulled Pork
- Air Fryer Salmon
How to Store & Reheat
Unlike some potato recipes, Syracuse salt potatoes taste fantastic as leftovers. I’d be willing to argue they’re better on day 2!
To Store: Place them in an air-tight container in the fridge. They’ll last for up to 4 days in most cases.
To Reheat: Pop them in the microwave for 1 to 2 minutes on high.
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