Potato Peels Are Your Secret Weapon Ingredient For Textureless Dishes

One of the beautiful things about food, and especially produce, is that you can make use of the entire vegetable, repurposing its would-be discarded parts in ways you may never have thought of before. Take potatoes, for instance. Why get rid of that delicious leftover skin when you can use it to elevate another meal?

Next time you peel some spuds for mashed potatoes or make gnocchi from scratch, resist the urge to throw the peels away. Because one dish's trash is another's treasure — and those unassuming potato peels can completely transform an otherwise textureless dish into something crispy and delicious.

You can make potato peels your secret weapon for adding texture and crunch to creamy or melty meals that will taste that much better with a few crispy bites. Sprinkle the recycled garnish on top of soups and casseroles, add it to scalloped or mashed potatoes for some balanced crunch, or even use it in place of croutons or breadcrumbs on dishes like salads or mac and cheese.

How to make potato peel crisps

Pretty much any type of potato peel will work to turn into crisps, whether you've got leftover russet peels, yukon gold peels, purple potato peels, or sweet potato peels — the key is that you have a lot of them. There are two ways you can go about transforming the peels into a crispy, chip-like topping: either by roasting or frying.

Roasting the peels will be the simpler, easier method. All you need is some olive oil and salt, but you can always add any other spices or flavoring you'd like, from garlic to paprika to chili powder. To roast the peels to crispy perfection, toss them in your oil and seasonings and bake at a high temperature in the oven (400 to 425 degrees Fahrenheit) for around 15 to 20 minutes until they're a deep golden brown.

You can also take the crisp to the next level by frying your potato peels. To cook them this way, it's best to soak the peels in cold water first for 15 minutes or so; this will help reduce some of the starchiness and achieve the crispiest results. Then dry the peels well and fry them in a few cups of hot vegetable oil for a few minutes until golden and crunchy. Work in batches so the pot isn't too crowded, and salt the peels as soon as you remove them from the oil.

More ways to use leftover potato peels

In 20 minutes using this hack, your potato scraps will become a delicious topping that'll level up many meals with some added texture. But that's not the only way to repurpose leftover potato skins and turn your food waste into something special.

Rather than crisp them in the oven or fryer, you can also saute the peels with onion, garlic, and your choice of spices and enjoy the medley as a simple, warm side dish. Or you can leave the peels as is and add them to the mix the next time you make a stock — whether it's vegetable, chicken, or beef, the peels will add a nice touch of potato flavor. You can also make the potato peels a main ingredient by turning potato skins into makeshift hash browns, potato peel soup, or potato peel pie (yes, that's a thing).

Outside of cooking and consuming the potato peels, these scraps have other uses in the kitchen and beyond. Did you know you can season cast iron or carbon steel pans with boiled potato peels? And they can even make a helpful addition to your beauty routine, as a natural way to even out or brighten skin.