How Long to Boil Potatoes
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The essential guide on how long to boil potatoes! With some simple tips, you can make perfect boiled potatoes faster – in as little as 12 minutes on the stovetop or 6-8 minutes in the microwave. We cover how to boil potatoes whether for salads, soups, casseroles or other dishes.
How long to boil potatoes
Perfect boiled potatoes hold their shape after cooking with a smooth texture and skin that comes off easily.
Do you know how to make perfect boiled potatoes every time? Boil them on the stovetop for 12-30 minutes depending on the size of your potatoes. Or if you’re in a hurry, there’s a shortcut for getting them ready in just 6-8 minutes in a microwave!
You can serve boiled potatoes on their own or add them to other dishes. Boiling is a healthy option with no added fat and only 87 calories per 100 grams according to the USDA. Plus, there’s virtually no cleanup!
How to boil potatoes
- Scrub the potatoes gently under running water to remove any dirt.
- Place potatoes in a medium-to-large pot.
- Cover with 1-inch (2.5 cm) of cold water, adding optional salt for flavor.
- Place on high heat and bring to a boil.
- Boil for 12-30 minutes according to size chart below.
- Remove potatoes to a plate to cool for at least 5-10 minutes before use.
Types of potatoes for boiling
While almost any potato can be boiled, you’ll find that some potatoes are best suited to certain types of recipes:
- Baking Potatoes: Starchy potatoes like Russets, Idahos, Purple potatoes, Yams and Sweet Potatoes have a floury texture that disintegrates easily and is suitable for mashed potatoes only.
- All-purpose Potatoes: Medium-starch potatoes like Yukon Gold and Red Gold will hold their shape and are suitable for use in potato salads, soups, casseroles etc. They typically have yellow flesh.
- Waxy Potatoes: Low-starch potatoes such as Round White, Round Red (Red Bliss) and Fingerling are classic boiling potatoes that will retain their shape and are also suitable for use in potato salads, soups, casseroles etc. They usually have white flesh.
Boiled red potatoes are called for in many recipes, while Russets and Idahos are top picks for mashed potatoes. Here are a few tips when you’re shopping for potatoes:
- Look for firm potatoes with smooth skin and no sprouts. If they’re getting soft with dark spots appearing, they’re too old and should not be used.
- Choose similar-sized potatoes so they cook in the same amount of time.
Should I peel potatoes before boiling?
No. Potatoes with skin on will absorb less water while being boiled, therefore preserving the starch. If you don’t like eating potato skins, you can peel them AFTER boiling. Just make sure to let them cool down first before peeling.
How long does it take to boil whole potatoes?
When you’re boiling whole potatoes, cooking time depends mainly on the size of the potatoes. It goes without saying that bigger potatoes require more boiling time!
Follow the table below to determine how long to boil whole potatoes:
|Potato Type||Potato Size||Boil Potatoes Time*|
|Baby potatoes||1 inch (2.5 cm)||12 minutes|
|Small potatoes||2 inches (5 cm)||15 minutes|
|Medium potatoes||3 inches (7.6 cm)||20 minutes|
|Large potatoes||4 inches (10 cm)||25 minutes|
|Extra-large potatoes||6 inches (15 cm)||30 minutes|
Notes: Times listed reflect once the water has started to boil.
How long to boil potatoes for mash? The boiling times above will work whether you’re making mashed potatoes, potato salad or other dishes. However, plan on some cooling time after boiling when making potato salad for the best texture (using an ice water bath will speed up this cooling process).
How to tell when potatoes are done? Simply insert a fork into the middle of the potato. The center should be fork-tender and have the texture of a ripe pear, or firm but not mushy.
How to boil potatoes faster on the stove?
To boil potatoes quickly, cut them into smaller, 1-inch chunks and they cook within 15 minutes. You can also pre-boil the water to save a few extra minutes, although the texture of the potatoes will be slightly inferior to starting with cold water.
How long to boil potatoes in a microwave (fastest method)
It takes 6-8 minutes to boil large whole potatoes in a microwave. Just place 2 potatoes in a microwave-safe dish and add 2 tablespoons of water. Cover and microwave on high. Let them rest for 2 minutes before serving.
Ways to use boiled potatoes
Boiling sweet potatoes
Sweet potatoes and yams are boiled the same way as other potatoes. If cut into chunks, they’ll usually be done in 15-20 minutes and will be soft and fork-tender when done.
- 1-2 pounds boiling potatoes, waxy or all-purpose potatoes*
- 2 teaspoons salt, optional
- 1 tablespoon butter, optional
- fresh parsley, minced - optional
- Wash and scrub the potatoes gently under running water to remove any surface debris. Optionally you can cut the potatoes into chunks for faster cooking.
- Put the potatoes in a medium pot or saucepan. Add the salt and enough cold water to cover by 1-inch. (Note: starting with cold water helps the potatoes to cook more evenly.)
- Place on high heat and bring to a boil.
- Lower heat to medium and boil uncovered for 12-30 minutes depending on the size of the potatoes.
- Check doneness by inserting a fork or skewer. The center of the potato will be fork-tender with a pear-like texture when done.
- Drain the potatoes. Serve with optional butter and parsley, or use as called for in recipes.
- *Waxy or all-purpose potato varieties include Yukon Gold, Red Gold, Round White, Round Red (Red Bliss) and Fingerling among others.
- Use smaller potatoes for faster cooking, or larger potatoes when you need quantity for recipes such as mashed potatoes.
- Should you peel potatoes before boiling? Peeling is optional and does not affect boiling time. Note: the skin contains a significant amount of a potato’s nutrition.
- Save some boiling liquid to flavor gravy or mashed potatoes with no added fat.
- Let whole potatoes cool for at least 15 minutes before cutting for the best texture and to avoid burning your fingertips. An ice-water bath will help speed this process.
- Boiled potatoes can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days once fully cooled. For longer-term storage, place the cooled potatoes in a resealable plastic bag for up to 3 months.
Please read our nutrition disclaimer.
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