greek lemon, oregano and garlic roast potatoes

THIRTY-SOMETHING YEARS into life as a vegetarian, I have consumed more potatoes than I can even imagine, and eat them several times or more a week. So how to make them different, and special? Memories of a favorite Greek restaurant I frequented decades ago sent me looking for a recipe for patates riganates, roasted potatoes with the flavors of lemon, garlic and oregano. Here’s how I make it, and some variations:

My recipe, if you could call it that, is simple. Since no two potatoes or lemons are alike, and I don’t weigh things, I eyeball it all to make sure I have enough of the marinade to go around. If I have time, I marinate the potatoes all afternoon; if not, I just combine ingredients and roast right in time for supper. But the idea goes something like this:


  • About 5 or 6 medium potatoes, or about 3 pounds, cut up into equal-sized pieces (many people prefer Yukon Gold or another waxy, fine-textured potato; any will do)
  • juice of 3 lemons (about ½ cup)
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 3 or 4 average cloves of garlic, minced
  • ½ cup water, plus more as needed
  • chopped fresh oregano, a couple of tablespoons (or a teaspoon or two dried)
  • salt and pepper to taste


Cut up the potatoes (peel if you wish; I don’t) into same-sized pieces so they cook evenly. Your call what size; cooking time will vary accordingly.

Combine all the ingredients except the potatoes to make a marinade.

Marinate the potatoes in the liquid for a half-hour or several hours (if more than briefly, place in the refrigerator and turn occasionally).

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Choose a baking pan big enough for potatoes to fit in a single layer. Arrange potatoes on the pan, and pour all the juices over them.

Roast for 20 or 30 minutes. If more liquid is needed, add another quarter- or half-cup of water. Turn the potatoes so they cook and brown evenly.

Continue roasting until done (test with a fork). If tender, they’re done, but…

…I can’t help myself: I always put them under the broiler toward the end, because of course what I really want is French fries (my favorite food ever, perhaps).  Have a look at the other recipes in the “add-on’s” suggestions below, to see what “done” looks like elsewhere. In that Greek restaurant of my youth, they were a little brown but still soft, too. My broiler habit is why I use a heavyweight metal pan, but if I were not taking that step, I’d probably use Pyrex. Cleanup would be easier!

add-on’s and add-in’s

  • Kalamata olives (before cooking, about ½ cup, pitted), as in this Food52.com member recipe, or as a garnish, chopped, on top (note: careful with the salt if you use the olives)
  • Swap chicken broth for the water, as award-winning Greek cookbook author Aglaia Kremezi does in this recipe
  • Chopped fresh parsley (before cooking or as garnish)
  • Lemon zest from one of the lemons (before cooking, or as garnish

more potatoes

  • How to cure and store potatoes
  1. Terri says:

    I LOVE roasted potatoes! My favorite? Cut the potatoes in same-size pieces. Toss them in olive oil, add chopped garlic, chopped rosemary and kosher salt. Bake about 20 minutes at 400 degrees. Flip them over, bake an additional 15 minutes or until browned and soft. Roasting sweet potatoes tonight, same concept except without the garlic and rosemary. Fantastic! Any leftovers tonight will be great with breakfast tomorrow. As always, thanks for the GREAT blog.

  2. Karen Budnick says:

    Love potatoes and love your post! The other way I like potatoes is garlic, olive oil and chopped sage, mixed together and roasted. Or try cutting potatoes in half anddtip them in olive oil, then the chopped herbs and parmesan and roast face down on a cookie sheet. The herbs and cheese get all crusty! They’re done when you can poke them with the tip of a knife.

  3. bavaria says:

    I remember having these on the island of Crete, sitting in the sun, with the scent of the sea and wild oregano all around.
    I usually lay the potato wedges on a cookie cooling rack set in a parchment lined half sheet pan. The bottoms crisp and I don’t have to turn them during roasting.
    Thanks for prompting the lovely memory.

  4. TyrantFarms says:

    Great recipe Margaret, thank you! Potatoes are such a versatile food, especially when considering the tremendous variety of heirlooms out there that you’ll never find at a grocery store. Do you have a favorite variety that you grow in your garden each year?

  5. ecr says:

    Okay, which restaurant and where in Greece? We had the pleasure of living in Athens for three years. We are always homesick for taverna food.

    Let me not miss an opportunity to tell you how much your website means to me.

    1. margaret says:

      Hi, ECR. It was actually on Eighth Avenue in NYC’s theater district, when I worked at The New York Times eons ago, not in Greece (though I have been there!). And thank you for the kind words; much appreciated.

      Hi, TyrantFarms. I always grow Yukon Gold or Keuka Gold, and I like Adirondack Red and Kennebec and German Butterball…oh, and so many! I think it’s important to choose a variety that does well in your location (region) in particular.

  6. Patricia says:

    My Greek mother used to make these potatoes, too. Delicious. If we were having roasted turkey, she would roast them in the turkey juices. That was the best. I am not a vegetarian, although I try to go veggie at least once or twice a week, and roasting the potatoes with the turkey or a chicken was my idea of delicious. Sometimes I just pop the veggies into the turkey cavity and let them cook in there instead of the stuffing.

  7. Dahlink says:

    We think roasting is great for almost any vegetable–it concentrates the flavors and elevates the veggie. I love Bavaria’s suggestion about cooking potato wedges on a rack–must try that! My usual method for most vegetables is to cut into fairly uniform size, sprinkle with some olive oil, shake the pan to distribute, add some kosher salt and perhaps pepper and fresh herbs, and then roast at high temperature, checking frequently. I like to add whole sprigs of thyme and just crumble the herbs when the veggies are done. Rosemary and parsley are also favorites, but I tend to add those at the end, after removing from the oven.

    Last weekend I needed to prepare food that I could heat up quickly when a Monday night dinner guest arrived from the airport. I made a deconstructed ratatouille by roasting grape tomatoes, three colors of Bell peppers, and chunks of eggplant–each veg done in a separate roasting pan, as they all have different cooking times. My husband thinks it was the best ratatouille ever, and our guest seemed to like it as well.

  8. Layla says:

    the potatoes look divine. i might have to try making them this week ! We are always looking for fun variations on cooking potatoes. lemon and oregano sounds delish. love that you include recipes too.

    1. margaret says:

      Hi, Layla. I really like the mix of flavors — and you can (of course!) use more of less of any ingredients, and make them soft and tender or crispy or to your liking. Enjoy!

  9. Daisy Marshall says:

    Hi Margaret, my favorite Sunday off thing, to open my mail and find a brand new inspiration from your blog and read the wonderful comments. Next best thing, to share those delicious potatoes with good friends. Still waiting for the cool spell to make your soup. It’s coming………..

  10. narf7 says:

    A fantastic gardening blog AND a vego? My happiness is complete! :) We go through 10kg of potatoes a fortnight because aside from living in a potato producing state of Australia (Tasmania) they are cheap $6.95kg, we can’t grow them on our rocky soil (aside from in bags and that is going to be our next growing challenge) and they are so incredibly versatile and can be used in just about everything from breads, cakes right through to puddings and confectionary. Cheers for another great potato recipe to add to our repertoire :)

  11. Eileen says:

    I will try this tonight! I make potatoes similar to this but do not marinate and do not use lemon juice or water. I only toss the potato wedges or chunks in olive oil and scatter with coarse salt and rosemary (and sometimes sliced garlic) before roasting to a browned crust.

    I think this recipe will be way better than my old way, and my old way is fabulous! Thanks Margaret.

  12. Sandra Christensen says:

    Tried the potatoes, but didn’t find the oregano held up to the heat in the oven (burned). I wouldn’t add water to the marinade, but might soak the potatoes in it first to rinse off the starches. Next time I will try this with a marinade of olive oil, lemon juice, zest and lots of garlic, sea salt and pepper. I’ll pour this all into the pan and add the oregano in the last 10 minutes. Actually, I love rosemary with potatoes even more than oregano, but I am willing to give the oregano another chance. This is a perfect time to use convection cooking for the crisp we all desire. Bottom shelf works best. Thanks for the recipe, Margaret.

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