How to Boil Potatoes That Are Whole or Cubed

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Perhaps the easiest way to cook potatoes, my handy guide makes boiling potatoes quick, easy, and delicious. Learn how to boil potatoes, how long to boil potatoes, and lots of helpful tips.

Boiled whole and halved potatoes in a pot

Is this you? You boil potatoes time and time again, but they never seem to quite come out right. The flavor’s off, they’re too soft or too hard, and they’re never as good as they seem when the pros do it.

If you’re looking for the best way to boil potatoes, I have all the tips and tricks of the trade to keep them coming out perfect every time. Here’s everything you need to know about how to boil potatoes.

What Are the Best Potatoes for Boiling

The type of potato you use will determine how long you boil potatoes – and you want a variety that will hold its shape during cooking, but will still soften and go fluffy on the inside. You want a waxy potato with a lower starch level so it doesn’t fall apart. I like using Yukon gold potatoes, red potatoes (Red Bliss), or Russet potatoes. 

Cubed boiled potatoes in a colander

You can also use all-purpose potatoes. They will also hold their shape well. In any case, make sure to select good potatoes – no sprouts or bruises.

How to Tell If Potatoes Are Bad

As root vegetables, it’s relatively easy to tell if a potato is bad. Before you boil potatoes, check for these signs:

  • Soft and squidgy to the touch
  • Wrinkles or dark spots on the skin
  • Bad smell 

Sometimes, your potatoes may even have sprouts or roots growing out of them, but this isn’t always a sign they’ve gone off as they can be easily chopped off.

How to Clean Potatoes

Even when potatoes look clean, they can still contain tiny pieces of dirt. So before you boil potatoes, put them into a bowl or a colander and clean them with a vegetable brush and cold water. Scrub well to remove any dirt, then rinse again.

Potatoes scrubbed with vegetable brush

Boil Whole Potatoes or Cubed? Peel or Not?

There are a lot of determining factors when it comes to making the perfect boiled potatoes. How long should potatoes boil? Are they better peeled or not? Cubed or kept whole?

Ultimately, it depends on what you need them for. You need to give boiled potatoes time to cook thoroughly. If you’re in a hurry, cooking them whole or peeling them wastes a lot of time. I don’t usually peel or cube potatoes because they lose some of their essential nutrients. 

If you’re short on time, cutting or cubing will drastically reduce how long potatoes take to boil. 

How to Boil Cubed Potatoes

First, peel your potatoes. Then, cut them into 1-inch cubes. While chopping, keep the cubes in a large bowl of cold water so they don’t brown too much.

Steps for preparing chopped potatoes

How Long to Boil Cubed Potatoes

Place the potato chunks in a large saucepan and add cold water and salt. If you want to preserve their shape, add a little vinegar.

How long to boil cut potatoes will depend on the size you cut them to. Bring them to boil over medium heat, then reduce to medium-low and cook for around 15 minutes. Drain potatoes well. 

These potatoes are great for my Potato Salad with Egg. They are also delicious when served as a side dish to protein or alongside other veggies.

Steps for boiling chopped potatoes

How to Boil and Peel Whole Potatoes

First, scrub the potatoes well. There’s no need to peel them in advance as they are easy to peel once cooked.

How long does it take to boil potatoes that are whole? That will depend on how large they are, so it’s helpful to make sure they’re all the same size so they cook evenly.

How Long Does It Take to Boil Whole Potatoes

Place in a large pot, and cover with cold water. Add salt (1 tsp per pound of potatoes). Bring the potatoes and water to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce to medium-low and simmer till fork-tender. Cook uncovered. 

Boiling potatoes in a pot

First, you might wonder – how long do potatoes take to boil. It might take 10-15 minutes for the water to come to a boil. Then, much like considering how long to boil diced potatoes, different varieties of potatoes will have different cooking times.

  • New or small potatoes (around 1oz/30g each) – once boiling, cook for 15 minutes.
  • Medium potatoes (around 3.9oz/110g) – once boiling, cook for 25-30 minutes.
  • Large potatoes (around 8oz/225g each) – once boiling, cook for 40 minutes.

The potatoes should be fork-tender when ready, so check a couple of times before removing them from the heat.

Once cooked, drain the potatoes, peel or leave the skin (it comes off easily with a paring knife), and enjoy. You can season to personal preference with salt and pepper, or herbs (dill, rosemary), or a bit of butter or olive oil, etc.

Any leftovers can be stored in an air-tight container in the fridge for 3 days.

Three bowls with boiled potatoes of different sizes

Best Potatoes for Mashing

The best potatoes for mashing are Yukon Gold or Russet and should be prepared by scrubbing well.

How Long to Boil Potatoes for Mashed Potatoes

Place in a pot, cover with cold water, and add salt. Bring to a boil over medium heat. 

Once boiling, reduce to medium-low and cook for 40-45 minutes. 

Once cooked, you need to mash them with a potato masher or ricer and add butter and cream. For more tips on making the best mashed potatoes, check out my Creamy Mashed Potatoes Recipe

Steps for making mashed potatoes

Can You Boil Potatoes in an Instant Pot

Yes! Clean the potatoes then place them in the instant pot on top of the trivet with a cup of water. Pressure cook on steam mode at HIGH pressure for 10 minutes. For medium potatoes, cook for 8 minutes, and for large, cook for 15 minutes. Let the pressure release naturally. 

Can You Boil Potatoes in the Microwave

Yes! Place two whole large potatoes, with the skin still on, on the microwave turntable. Place a glass of water in the center to stop them from getting wrinkled. Microwave on HIGH for 7 minutes or till cooked. Remove and peel.

Boiled cubed potatoes

Can You Freeze Boiled Potatoes

Yes. They will keep in the freezer for about three months. First, flash freeze on a tray without the potatoes touching, then place in an airtight freezer bag. 

How to Reheat Boiled Potatoes

These potatoes are best reheated in the oven or the microwave for a few minutes before serving.

Boiled whole and halved potatoes

FAQs

What does it mean when a potato is green under the skin?

The greening of potatoes is natural – they produce chlorophyll when exposed to sunlight. However, they produce a bitter taste and can eventually produce toxins if left for too long.

Are russet potatoes good for mashed potatoes?

Yes! They’re waxy potatoes and have a lower starch level so they’ll absorb liquid but won’t get gluey. 

How to boil potatoes quickly?

Peel and chop to boil potatoes quicker – it should only take about 15 minutes. 

Should I peel potatoes before boiling them?

If you prefer, but it’s not necessary. 

How much salt to add to boiling potatoes?

I add 1 tsp per pound of potatoes. 

Can I peel and cut potatoes ahead of time?

Yes. Keep in a bowl of water for 3-4 hours, but no longer than this as they will absorb too much water and won’t cook well. 

Should potatoes be covered when boiling?

No, it will make them mushy. Cook uncovered. Be sure to add plenty of water and if needed, during cooking, add a bit more boiling water.

More Potato Recipes

If you try this recipe for how to boil potatoes, I’d love to hear your thoughts and questions below. Also, I’d appreciate a recipe card rating below, and feel free to tag me in your recipe recreations on Instagram @Alphafoodie!

How to Boil Potatoes That Are Whole or Cubed

5 from 10 votes
By: Samira
Perhaps the easiest way to cook potatoes, my handy guide makes boiling potatoes quick, easy, and delicious. Learn how to boil potatoes, how long to boil potatoes and lots of helpful tips.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 10

Ingredients 
 

  • 3.9 lb potatoes Yukon, red, or Russet
  • 1.5 Tbsp salt

Instructions 

Clean the Potatoes

  • Put the potatoes in a bowl or a colander and clean them with a vegetable brush and cold water. Scrub well to remove any dirt, then rinse again.

How to Boil Cubed Potatoes

  • Clean the potatoes, then peel them.
  • Cut the potatoes into 1-inch cubes. While chopping, keep the cubes in a large bowl of cold water.
  • Place the potato chunks in a large saucepan and add cold water and salt. If you want to preserve their shape, add a little vinegar (1-2 tsp).
  • Bring them to boil over medium heat, then reduce to medium-low and cook for around 15 minutes.
    Drain the potatoes well. Enjoy (they are great in a potato salad).

How to Boil and Peel Whole Potatoes

  • Clean the potatoes well. There's no need to peel them in advance as they are easy to peel once cooked. However, if preferred, peel them now.
  • Place in a large pot, and cover with cold water. Add the salt. Bring the potatoes and water to a boil over medium-high heat (this might take 10-15 minutes), then reduce to medium-low and simmer till fork-tender.
    Different varieties and sizes of potatoes will have different cooking times:
    – New or small potatoes (around 1oz/30g each) – once boiling, cook for 15 minutes.
    – Medium potatoes (around 3.9oz/110g) – once boiling, cook for 25-30 minutes.
    – Large potatoes (around 8oz/225g each) – cook for 40 minutes once boiling.
    Once cooked, drain the potatoes, peel or leave the skin (it comes off easily with a paring knife), and enjoy. 

How to Boil Potatoes for Mashed Potatoes

  • Clean the potatoes well. Personally, I don't peel and chop them.
  • Place in a pot, cover with cold water, and add salt. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Once boiling, reduce to medium-low and cook for 40-45 minutes. 
  • Once cooked, you need to mash them with a potato masher or ricer and add butter and cream. For more tips, check out my Creamy Mashed Potatoes Recipe

Storage Instructions

  • Store: Any leftovers can be stored in an air-tight container in the fridge for 3 days.
    Freeze: flash freeze on a tray without the potatoes touching, then place in an airtight freezer bag. Keep in the freezer for about 3 months.
    Reheat: These potatoes are best reheated in the oven or in the microwave for a few minutes before serving.

Notes

Always use cold water and bring it to a boil together with the potatoes. Use 1 tsp salt per pound of potatoes. Cook the potatoes uncovered. Be sure to add plenty of water, to begin with, and, if needed, add a bit more boiling water during cooking.
Instant Pot Method: Clean the potatoes then place them in the instant pot on top of the trivet with a cup of water. Pressure cook on steam mode at HIGH pressure for 10 minutes. For medium potatoes, cook for 8 minutes, and for large, cook for 15 minutes. Let the pressure release naturally. 
Microwave Method: Place two whole large potatoes, with the skin still on, on the microwave turntable. Place a glass of water in the center to stop them from getting wrinkled. Microwave on HIGH for 7 minutes or till cooked. Remove and peel.
Check the blog post for more tips and answers to top FAQs!
Course: Main
Cuisine: American, Global
Freezer friendly: 3 Months
Shelf life: 3 Days

Nutrition

Calories: 140kcal, Carbohydrates: 32g, Protein: 4g, Fat: 0.1g, Saturated Fat: 0.05g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 0.004g, Sodium: 1070mg, Potassium: 738mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 1g, Vitamin A: 2IU, Vitamin C: 10mg, Calcium: 24mg, Iron: 2mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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