How to Boil Potatoes

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Learn How to Boil Potatoes of all sizes, quickly and easily. Use them in mashed potatoes, potato salads, scrambled eggs, and and burritos. Or, enjoy them plain or with your favorite toppings. You can do a lot with the humble potato!

A saucepan full of peeled, diced red-skinned potatoes.


 

Potatoes are an economical, nutritious side dish for any meal of the day. Boiled, baked, roasted, fried, mashed, scalloped, they’re all delicious! I never met a way with a potato I didn’t love.

Boiled potatoes are the basis of many potato side dish recipes. And even if recipes don’t call for it, sometimes the recipe is quick and tastier if you boil the potatoes first, anyway.

Start with cold water and salt (so the potato gains flavor as it cooks). And whatever size or type of potato you’re boiling, you’ll want everything to be of a similar size so they cook evenly. For large potatoes like russets, I like to chop them first. Peeling is optional depending on your goals, and some people prefer to peel after boiling.

Ingredient notes

  • Potatoes: When shopping, look for potatoes that are heavy, firm, and have unblemished skin (the fewer eyes, the better). To ensure evenly cooking, make sure the potatoes are the same size, or cut into uniform pieces. For russets, peel if desired and chop into uniform pieces about 1 or 1 ½ inches in size. For baby potatoes, leave the skins on and keep whole.

Step-by-step instructions

  1. If using large potatoes, peel if desired, then chop into uniform pieces (1 or 1 ½ inches in size). If using baby potatoes, keep whole. In a large pot, add potatoes, 1 tablespoon salt, and cold water to cover by 1 inch.
A Dutch oven with diced potatoes covered with water.
  1. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium, and cook uncovered until potatoes are tender and can easily be pierced by a knife, about 10 to 15 minutes. Drain well, tossing in colander to remove excess water.
A colander full of boiled potatoes.

Recipe tips and variations

  • Yield: 1 pound of potatoes will make about 4 side-dish servings. You can double the recipe without having to increase your cooking time so long as the pieces are approximately 1 to 1 ½ inches in size.
  • Storage: Store leftover boiled potatoes in the refrigerator for up to 4 days (cool completely before chilling and never wrap in foil). Chop up leftovers and add to scrambled eggs and burritos or as a thickener in soups and stews.
  • Make ahead: Peel and cube the raw potatoes up to 24 hours in advance. Cover with water and chill in the refrigerator.
  • Doneness: Ready to go when they potatoes are tender and a fork (or tip of a sharp knife) can be slipped into the center with very little resistance,
  • Par-boiling: Pre-boiled potatoes (especially snappy fingerling potatoes) can be roasted later with a little olive oil and salt or pan-fried in a skillet with butter or rendered bacon fat.
Bowls of Guinness Stew with Colcannon.
Bowls of Guinness Stew with Colcannon, a side dish made with mashed potatoes and kale or cabbage.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you put potatoes in cold or boiling water to cook them?

Always start potatoes in cold water, turn on the heat, and bring them to boil. Adding potatoes to already-boiling water can cause a reaction with the starch and result in a mealy potato. Here is a rule to remember: If it grows below the ground, start it in cold water. If it grows above the ground, add it to boiling water.

How long does it take to boil potatoes?

It will take between 10 and 25 minutes depending on the size of the potatoes or chunks that you are boiling. Always start with cold water to cover the potatoes.

How many potatoes are in a pound?

The quantity of potatoes in a pound always depends on the size of your potatoes, but in general, 1 pound of potatoes 1 large potato, 2 to 3 medium potatoes, 3 small potatoes, or 8 to 10 baby potatoes.

How many cups in 1 pound of potatoes?

1 pound of potatoes is about 3 ½ cups chopped potatoes.

All the mashed potatoes

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Boiled potatoes in a silver saucepan.

How to Boil Potatoes

Learn How to Boil Potatoes of all sizes , quickly and easily. Use them in mashed potatoes, potato salads, scrambled eggs, and and burritos.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Calories 365
5 from 3 votes

Ingredients 

  • 1 pound potatoes scrubbed well and peeled if desired (see note 1).
  • Salt

Instructions 

  • If using large potatoes, peel if desired, then chop into uniform pieces (1 or 1 ½ inches in size). If using baby potatoes, keep whole. In a large pot, add potatoes, 1 tablespoon salt, and cold water to cover by 1 inch.
  • Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium, and cook uncovered until potatoes are tender and can easily be pierced by a knife, about 10 to 15 minutes (20 to 25 minutes for larger potatoes). Drain well, tossing in colander to remove excess water.

Recipe Video

Notes

  1. Potatoes: When shopping, look for potatoes that are heavy, firm, and have unblemished skin (the fewer eyes, the better). To ensure evenly cooking, make sure the potatoes are the same size, or cut into uniform pieces. For russets, peel if desired and chop into uniform pieces about 1 or 1 ½ inches in size. For baby potatoes, leave the skins on and keep whole.
  2. Yield: 1 pound of potatoes will make about 4 side-dish servings. You can double the recipe without having to increase your cooking time so long as the pieces are approximately 1 to 1 ½ inches in size.
  3. Storage: Store leftover boiled potatoes in the refrigerator for up to 4 days (cool completely before chilling and never wrap in foil). Chop up leftovers and add to scrambled eggs and burritos or as a thickener in soups and stews.
  4. Make ahead: Peel and cube the raw potatoes up to 24 hours in advance. Cover with water and chill in the refrigerator.

Nutrition

Calories: 365kcalCarbohydrates: 43gProtein: 6gFat: 20gSaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 4mgSodium: 241mgPotassium: 1004mgFiber: 3gSugar: 3gVitamin A: 871IUVitamin C: 13mgCalcium: 78mgIron: 2mg
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Meggan Hill is a classically-trained chef and professional writer. Her meticulously-tested recipes and detailed tutorials bring confidence and success to home cooks everywhere. Meggan has been featured on NPR, HuffPost, FoxNews, LA Times, and more.

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Comments

  1. I had always boiled them whole before reading your post. This was SO much better to get them to cook evenly. Thanks Meggan!5 stars