Mary Berry's Unexpected Secret Ingredient For Crispy Roast Potatoes And Parsnips

The advice comes from none other than the queen of baking herself.
Bowlful of crunchy roast potatoes
JohnnyGreig via Getty Images
Bowlful of crunchy roast potatoes

It takes a lot for me to change my tried-and-tested roast parsnip recipe, but if there’s anyone who can convince me to alter my beloved roaster routine, it’s Mary Berry.

Writing for Love to Cook, the author and cooking guru shared that “Crunchy sweet parsnips are the perfect side dish. The addition of semolina gives them a lovely crispy outside.”

The trick works for spuds, too, she says ― “With the addition of semolina, these golden parsnips become extra crisp in the oven. Throw some in with your roast potatoes for something a bit different this Sunday.”

So, we thought we’d share why it works, as well as some other root veg-roasting tips:

It’s all about moisture

Semolina has a moisture content of around 14%, which is why you need to hydrate it with milk or another liquid to access its fluffy deliciousness.

Meanwhile, spuds sit between 75% and 85% moisture. Parsnips are 80% water. That means that both veg tend to steam a little as they bake, providing the softer, fluffier texture we love on the inside of our roasters.

So, when you coat either option in small, dry semolina, the cereal stays dry and crispy when you bake them while the insides of the veg grow fluffy.

And because the grain is so fine and small, it clings easily to the outside of your roasted roots.

Anything else?

Yep! Mary Berry recommends cutting your parsnips into eighths rather than quarters for that extra-crisp finish, as you’ll have a larger surface area (and corners) for the oil to cover.

For both parsnips and potatoes, the semolina trick takes a similar pattern. Par-boil the veg (par-boiling should take four minutes for parsnips and up to ten minutes for spuds).

Cool them a little before placing some oil in a baking tray to get hot when you’re ready to prep the veggies for roasting.

Then, coat the parboiled veg salt, pepper, and a little oil before adding semolina and your herbs of choice. Cook until golden and deliciously, perfectly crisp.