Papas arrugadas are delicious wrinkled potatoes encrusted with a thin layer of salt. The recipe comes from the Canary Islands, but no need to wait for your next holiday to eat them!
I lived in Spain for fourteen years, in Valencia and Madrid, and like most Spaniards, snuck off to the Canary Islands every year for at least a few days.
Every time I was there I would order these tasty potatoes, yet I didn’t realize until recently how easy they were to make at home.
“Papas” means potatoes, and “arrugadas” or “arrugás” means wrinkled or you wrinkle. Originally, they were cooked in seawater by the Canary islanders.
In the rest of Spain, apart from some places in Andalucía, the word patatas is used for potatoes.
Why you’ll love them
- They’re perfectly salted – not too much, not too little. I tested this recipe eight times to make sure the amount of salt is just right.
- They’re super tender and flavorful on the inside.
- It’s a super easy recipe.
- They’re vegan and vegetarian.
- If you can’t go to the Canary Islands, then bring the Canary Islands to you!
- I’ve given very exact instructions which completely remove the need for guesswork and ensure you don’t oversalt your potatoes.
If you came here because spicy sauces are your thing, then I also recommend trying this spicy yogurt dressing with harissa, some tasty spicy crema, or my super popular 15-minute spicy peri peri sauce.
Ingredients and substitutions
With just four ingredients, two of which are optional, papas arrugadas are a breeze to make, and cheap too.
Scroll down and check you have the correct ingredients as in the photo, or look below it to see what substitutions can be made if you are short on an ingredient.
New potatoes: You should use new potatoes (also called baby potatoes) or fingerling potatoes for this recipe. You can use regular potatoes if you wish but keep in mind that you should use the smallest ones, you’ll need to add more water, they’ll take longer to cook, etc. You’ll be eating the skin so you want thin-skinned delicate potatoes. If you have access to Canarian potatoes like papa bonita, azucena or yema de huevo by all means use them instead.
Bay leaf: This is optional, but it does make the potatoes taste nicer to me.
Lemon: Optional again, but gives the dish a nice touch.
Coarse salt: Use coarse salt, not fine, and don’t use salt with added iodine as it gives the potatoes a metallic taste. Coarse unrefined sea salt, coarse Himalayan salt, or kosher salt are all perfect for this recipe.
How to make it
Papas arrugadas are made using a very basic technique that anyone can master. You’ll simply boil the potatoes in salted water, drain off any extra liquid, add the potatoes back to the pot, and shake a bit. If you have any doubts, the in-depth instructions and process photos below should clear them up.
- Clean the potatoes very well as you will be eating the skins. Add them to a medium-sized pot along with the salt and a bay leaf if using. Add enough water to the pot to nearly cover the potatoes but not quite, you should have about a centimeter left uncovered sticking out of the water. If also using the lemon, cut a thick slice about two centimeters thick, pick it up, roughly squeeze about half the juice into the water by pressing the opposite sides of the lemon slice together, and drop it into the water.
- Cover the pot and bring to a boil on high heat. When the water is boiling, reduce the heat to medium and remove the lid. Cook the potatoes uncovered for 25-30 minutes until they are soft, using a fork to check for doneness. Gently stir the potatoes once or twice during the cooking time to rotate them and don’t worry, they won’t get overdone. If you use big potatoes they might need more time, so if they are not done by 30 minutes you can add a little extra water and cover the pot, and test for doneness every five minutes. When the potatoes are done, there might still be some water in the pot, as you can see in image two below.
- Drain off any water left in the pot and remove the bay leaf and lemon if you used them. You can either drain the water using the lid or transfer the contents to a colander to drain and then put the potatoes back in the pot, it makes no difference. Do not dry the potatoes with a towel or kitchen paper, they’ll dry in the pot.
- With the drained potatoes in the pot, reduce the heat to low. Shake the pot every fifteen seconds or so for about three minutes or until the potatoes are lightly wrinkled and completely covered in a fine layer of salt. Once done, immediately tip the potatoes out of the pot onto a serving plate or dish to cool down. If you leave the potatoes in the pot to cool, unfortunately, any excess salt left in the pot will cake on the bottoms of the potatoes and they will be too salty.
Done! Serve hot or at room temperature with plenty of mojo for dipping them in.
I add much less salt than what is traditionally used because in my opinion they are otherwise way too salty, but feel free to add more if you wish. Similarly, I prefer my papas arrugadas tender and lightly wrinkled but if you like them to have a crisper exterior and stiffer crust increase the amount of time you shake them over low heat from three to ten minutes.
Have an Instant Pot? Then this recipe just got ridiculously easy.
Wash the potatoes and add to the Instant pot with two cups of water and three and a half tablespoons of salt. Seal the Instant Pot and set it to high pressure for five minutes. When the time is up, do a quick release, drain any leftover water, press cancel, and then set it to Sauté mode.
Use a wooden spoon or soft silicone spatula to gently push the potatoes around every fifteen seconds or so until lightly wrinkled and coated in salt. Done.
What you’ll need:
- A medium-sized saucepan with a lid.
- Measuring spoons or digital kitchen scales.
- A sharp knife and chopping board if adding the lemon.
- If you get a bit over-excited about salting your potatoes and add too much and your potatoes are now too salty to eat, or you discover you don’t like salty wrinkled potatoes after all, don’t worry, you can remove the excess salt by wiping your potatoes with some paper kitchen towel or by rubbing them between your hands.
Papas arrugadas are normally served with “mojo”, which means dip, or occasionally with alioli as a starter by itself or a side with the main course.
You can also change up your regular mealtime by swapping these Canadian goodies instead of normal boiled potatoes.
Store your cooked potatoes in the fridge tightly covered for up to three days, once they have cooled to room temperature. To reheat, microwave uncovered until just warm, not hot.
Technically you can freeze these potatoes once cooked and cooled, for up to a year, but I don’t advise it as the moisture from defrosting will wash off the salt layer.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Papas arrugadas are fairly healthy as they are basically boiled potatoes with salt. However, they are a bit saltier than potatoes are usually served so it goes without saying that it’s not a good idea to eat them if you’re avoiding sodium for health reasons.
Did you make this dish? Let me know how much you loved it with a star rating ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐and a comment below.
- 1 pound baby potatoes (453g)
- 3½ Tablespoons coarse salt (50g)
- 1 2cm thick slice lemon, OPTIONAL
- 1 bay leaf, OPTIONAL
- Wash and scrub the potatoes well as you'll be eating the skin.
- Add the potatoes, salt, and bay leaf if using, to a medium-sized pot. Add enough water to nearly cover the potatoes, the water level should be 1-2 cm below the top of the potatoes. If using the slice of lemon, squeeze half of its juice into the pot by hand and then drop the squeezed slice into the water.
- Cover the pot with a lid and bring to a boil on high heat, then remove the lid and reduce the heat to medium to maintain a simmer. Cook for 25-30 minutes, gently stirring the potatoes about three times. Check the potatoes are done by sticking a fork in the largest potato, if it is soft and easily pierced they are done. If the potatoes need more time, continue to cook and check in five-minute increments for doneness, adding more water if needed.
- Drain any remaining water from the pot, remove the bay leaf and lemon slice if used, and turn the heat to low. Now shake the pot every fifteen seconds for around three minutes until the potatoes are lightly wrinkled and evenly covered with a thin layer of salt. Remove the potatoes from the pot immediately and serve hot or at room temperature with mojo sauce or alioli.
You can use baby potatoes or fingerling potatoes, or any small thin-skinned potato. Bear in mind that if the potatoes are large you will need to cook them longer and add more water.
The salt should not have iodine, coarse unrefined sea salt, Himalayan salt or kosher salt are perfect for this recipe.
If you have an Instant Pot, you can add everything plus two cups of water, set to high pressure for five minutes, do a quick release and drain off the water, set to Saute mode and gently stir every 15 seconds or so until done.
Serving Sizehalf a small plate
Amount Per Serving Calories 212Total Fat 0gSaturated Fat 0gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 0gCholesterol 0mgSodium 11126mgCarbohydrates 48gFiber 5gSugar 3gProtein 6g