Caramel Potatoes

Caramel Potatoes
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caramel potatoes
Caramel and potatoes? No way!

This is the recipe to which we were referring on Wednesday when we said that we had plans for those little new potatoes. Yes, we’re making caramel potatoes. And yes, they’re made with real caramel — like candy — but we’re making everything ourselves. (As an aside, although we doubt that anyone would try it, we don’t think you can use caramel pieces that you buy at a store. Of course, once you see the recipe, you’ll realize that there would be no time or effort saved, anyway.)

We found this recipe in Scandinavian Christmas, by Trine Hahnemann, but we’ll admit to modifying it a little to make it easier to make the caramel, and we hit the potatoes up with just a touch of kosher salt at the end. We also scaled it down, but feel free to scale it back up if you’re making this dish for Christmas dinner.

Caramel Potatoes

Yield: 2-3 servings

Caramel Potatoes


  • 1 1/2 pounds small potatoes
  • Salt
  • 1/4 cup (50 g) granulated sugar
  • 2 Tbs water
  • 4 Tbs (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • Kosher salt

Abbreviated Instructions

Boil potatoes in salted water until fork tender, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Cool potatoes by running water over them, then peel, transferring peeled potatoes to a bowl of cold water.

In a heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat, combine sugar and the 2 tablespoons of water and cook, swirling if needed, until melted and golden, about 15 minutes.

Add butter pieces, and swirl in, continue to cook, swirling the pan occasionally, until caramel syrup forms, about 10 minutes.

Drain potatoes and add to syrup, lower heat, and simmer for 30-35 minutes, turning the potatoes often until well-coated with caramel.

Serve with a sprinkle of kosher salt.

Ingredient discussion:

There are two salts listed; the first is for the salted water used for boiling the potatoes, and we just use table salt. Then, there is kosher salt for finishing. We like kosher for the flakes; it provides a slight salty crunch. For the potatoes, use small new potatoes that are good for boiling. Finally, we use unsalted butter; the original recipe called for salted, but we think it’s better to have the kosher salt added at the end. Besides, we never have salted butter in the house — too salty.

Procedure in detail:

boiling potatoes
We were only making a small batch of caramel potatoes for a side.

Boil potatoes. Trim off any bad spots and place the potatoes in a saucepan with cold salted water over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and let the potatoes simmer until fork tender, about 15 to 20 minutes, depending on the size.

peeled potatoes
Once the potatoes are boiled, peeled, and placed in cold water, you can hold them in the refrigerator for several hours.

Peel. Place the pan under running water to cool the potatoes. When cool enough to handle, peel, placing the peeled potatoes into a bowl of cold water. You can keep the peeled potatoes in the water in the refrigerator for several hours, if needed.

boiling sugar water
It should only take a few minutes for the sugar to dissolve and start boiling.

Melt sugar. In a heavy-bottom skillet over medium heat, combine sugar and 2 tablespoons of water, swirling the pan around to mix. Continue heating, swirling the pan, only once or twice, if needed, until the mixture begins to boil. Do not stir. Just so you know, the water helps the sugar melt, and stirring can cause the sugar to re-crystallize and seize up. And we can tell you from experience that it will happen in an instant, making your hard work all for naught.

Let caramelize. Let the sugar water boil, without stirring, until it starts turning a nice golden color, about 15 minutes.

adding butter
The bits of butter make for a smooth, melty sauce.

Add butter. Add the chunks of butter and swirl the pan to combine. Let the caramel cook, swirling occasionally if needed, until it’s lightly browned and looks like melted caramel (which it is, of course), 10 minutes.

cooking caramel
Don’t stir the caramel while it’s cooking. If needed, give the pan a gentle swirl.
draing  potatoes
Drain the potatoes well; any residual water will spatter when it hits the caramel sauce.

Add potatoes. Drain potatoes and place them, carefully, into the caramel sauce, turning to coat.

adding potatoes
Watch those fingers when you add the potatoes, they’ll spatter when they hit the caramel sauce.
caramel potatoes
Cook the potatoes in the caramel sauce for about 30 to 35 minutes, turning often to coat.

Cook. Reduce the heat to a simmer, and let the potatoes cook about 30 to 35 minutes, turning every few minutes to ensure that they’re evenly coated with caramel sauce.

caramel potatoes
Just a sprinkling of salt is enough for these caramel potatoes.

Serve. Plate and sprinkle with a couple of pinches of kosher salt.

You might not think that potatoes and caramel would be a good combination, but it works. The slight sweetness of the caramel is offset by the starchiness of the potato and that bit of kosher salt. Now, we probably wouldn’t want to eat these every day, but this recipe is well worth breaking out for those special occasions, as it will surprise people who haven’t had them before. We’ll say four stars.

Worth the trouble?

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