How To Boil Potatoes

Boiling potatoes may not seem like a very difficult task, but it’s a decent one to have in your cooking repertoire. 

Potatoes are versatile and used in several different dishes, so it’s a good idea to make sure that you’re well-versed in this skill. 

How To Boil Potatoes

Whether you plan on mashing your potatoes or serving them on the side of a main course, you’ll find out how to boil potatoes properly in this post. 

We’ve covered a few different methods below, including boiling potatoes on the stove, in the microwave, or in a slow cooker. 

You’ll also find out what the best potatoes for boiling are, so you can be fully prepared before you start cooking. 

Keep reading to learn how to boil potatoes!

Boiling Potatoes On A Stove

Most people boil potatoes with the stove method. 

Follow the steps below to boil potatoes on a stove.

Step One: Prepping

Begin by scrubbing your potatoes with a clean brush. Make sure they are free from dirt and grime, then rinse with clean water. 

If you prefer, you can peel your potatoes with a paring knife or vegetable peeler. Take care to avoid cutting your hand. Use the peeler to remove any green spots or sprouts. 

People differ as to whether you should or shouldn’t peel your potatoes before boiling them, but both ways are fine. 

Leaving the peel on the potatoes may help preserve any nutrients or vitamins within the peel, but this isn’t a necessity. 

Step Two: Slicing Into Pieces

Slice your potatoes into cubes or quarters. Making them smaller will help accelerate cooking time. 

If your potatoes are quite small, you can leave them whole, but always halve bigger ones. Aim to cut your potato pieces in the same size, as this ensures they finish boiling at the same moment. 

If you are prepping your potatoes beforehand and won’t be cooking until later, soak the sliced potatoes in water and keep them in the fridge. 

This prevents them from turning brown, as potatoes left uncovered at room temperature will oxidize. The submerged potatoes will keep for a maximum of 24 hours before they need to be cooked. 

Step Three: Boiling

Add the sliced potato pieces into a Dutch oven or a big saucepan. A four to five-quart pot is large enough for three pounds of potatoes. 

Pour cold water into the pan so it covers the tops of the spuds. Add a teaspoon of salt to the pan. 

Next, switch your burner on high to heat the water. Once the water boils, lower the heat to low or medium-low and put the lid on the pot. 

Leave the potatoes to cook until they turn tender. This should take around 15 minutes for cubed, small, or new potatoes. If your potatoes are quartered, they should take longer, between 20 and 25 minutes. 

Use a fork to see if the potatoes are done. The fork should slide through the potatoes without much effort once they are cooked. 

Step Four: Draining 

Transfer the cooked potatoes into a colander, or remove the pieces with a slotted spoon and add them to a bowl. 

If your recipe needs cooled potatoes, soak them in an ice bath or rinse them with cold water to accelerate the cooling time. 

How To Boil Potatoes

Boiling Potatoes With A Microwave

If you need to boil potatoes fast, try the microwave method. This works quite well for smaller potato batches. 

Follow these steps to boil potatoes with a microwave:

Step One: Prepping

Prep your potatoes with the steps outlined in the previous method. Once you’re done, add the sliced potatoes into a microwave-safe container. 

Cover the potatoes with water and add a little salt. Next, use plastic wrap to cover the bowl, then poke some holes in the film to make a vent.

Step Two: Microwaving

Microwave the potatoes on high heat for five minutes. Take the bowl out of the microwave and stir the contents.

Cover the bowl with the wrap once more and microwave for a further five minutes. Remove them from the microwave and use a fork to check if they are tender.

Step Three: Draining

Once you’re happy with the potatoes, drain them with a colander. 

Boiling Potatoes With A Slow Cooker

A slow cooker is an easy method of boiling potatoes. It’s great when you want to work on other kitchen tasks that need to be done on the stove.

The slow cooker won’t ‘boil’ the water, but it will have the same result – tender boiled potatoes! 

If you plan on mashing the spuds later on, you can mash them inside your slow cooker, which means less cleanup! 

Follow these steps to boil potatoes with a slow cooker:

Step One: Prepping

Prep the potatoes as outlined above, then transfer the sliced potatoes to the slow cooker. 

Pour 1 ¼ cups of water into the cooker. The potatoes should soak up most of the water as they cook, so you won’t need to drain them later on.

Step Two: Cooking 

Cover the appliance and cook on a high setting for three to hours, or on a low setting for six to eight hours. 

Best Kinds Of Potatoes To Boil

As various kinds of potatoes contain different starch levels, some types are better for boiling compared to others. This also varies based on what dish you want to make with them.

High Starch Potatoes

Potatoes like Idaho or russet have a mealy, light consistency. These are great for mashing after they are boiled.

Medium Starch Potatoes

Types like Yukon Gold or yellow Finn potatoes have more moisture. This means that they won’t disintegrate as quickly or easily as spuds that have more starch. 

Medium starch potatoes are great to mash with, serve as a side dish, or add to casseroles or soups.

Low Starch Potatoes

Potatoes like round white, red, or new potatoes are also known as waxy potatoes. 

These retain their form better than other types after they are boiled. This is why they are great for side dishes or potato salads, as they remain intact. 

Final Thoughts

Now you know how to boil potatoes properly! 

Boiling potatoes on the stove may be the most popular method, but it’s good to master the slow cooker and microwave techniques outlined above.

You may need them if you ever need boiled potatoes in a rush or need to use your stove for other kitchen tasks. 

With a little practice, you should end up with tasty boiled potatoes every time you make them! 

Mark Williams
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