How to Boil Potatoes (Whole or Cubed)

5 from 10 votes
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Learn how to boil potatoes with my foolproof method and top tips. The boiled potatoes are delicious and perfect for potato salad, mashed potatoes, and more!

Boiled cubes of potatoes in a colander

If you’re looking for the best way to boil potatoes, I have all the tips and tricks of the trade to ensure they come out perfect every time. Boiling potatoes unlocks their creamy texture and subtle sweetness, making them ideal for various dishes. Cutting or cubing will reduce how long potatoes take to cook if you’re short on time; boiling them whole and unpeeled will retain nutrients.

Once cooked to perfection, these humble spuds can be enjoyed as a simple side dish with a dab of butter. They are also great to use in potato salads, fluffy mashed potatoes, or in hearty soups. Plus, you can make Italian-inspired gnocchi or Indian aloo paratha. Let me show you how to boil potatoes, then you can choose how to enjoy them!

A bowl with peeled boiled potatoes

Ingredients

A bunch of potatoes of different sizes
  • Potatoes: It’s best to use waxy potatoes with a lower starch level so they will hold their shape during cooking. I like using Yukon gold potatoes, red potatoes (Red Bliss), or Russet potatoes. Alternatively, use all-purpose potatoes.
  • Salt
  • Cold Water: Use enough water to cover the potatoes in your saucepan.

How to boil potatoes

You need to follow just two simple steps: prepare the potatoes and boil them covered in water. Read on for my top tips and cooking times.

Prepare the potatoes

  • Clean the Potatoes: Rinse the potatoes under cold water and scrub them with a vegetable brush, especially if you decide to boil them whole without peeling.
  • Small or Baby Potatoes: It’s best to boil them whole without peeling.
  • Large Potatoes: Peel or leave the skin on, depending on your preference, and cut them into smaller pieces to reduce cooking time. If you decide to boil them whole, there’s no need to peel them, as it’s much easier to do so after boiling. Plus, the skin helps the potatoes hold their shape. Note that boiling whole large potatoes will take a longer time.
  • Ensure Uniform Size: If you have potatoes of different sizes and want to boil them together, cut the larger ones to match the smaller ones. This ensures even cooking. Ideally, select potatoes of similar size, but you can always adjust by cutting the larger ones.

If you’re boiling whole potatoes

Place the washed, unpeeled potatoes in a large saucepan and cover them 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 (see below for timing). Cook uncovered. 

  • 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.
Steps for boiling whole unpeeled potatoes

When ready, the potatoes should be fork-tender, 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, herbs (dill, rosemary), a bit of butter or olive oil, etc.

If you’re boiling potato cubes

Once washed well, 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. Then, 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.

Bring them to a boil over medium heat, then reduce to medium-low and cook for about 10-12 minutes. If foam forms at the surface, skim it off. Once cooked, drain the potatoes well. 

Steps for boiling cubed potatoes

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

Pro tips for boiling potatoes

  • Choose the Right Potatoes: To get the best texture for your dish, use waxy potatoes like Red or New potatoes for salads. If you want to make mashed potatoes, then it’s better to use starchy potatoes like Russets.
  • Uniform Size: Cut potatoes into similar-sized pieces to ensure even cooking. If boiling whole, try to select potatoes of similar size or cut larger ones to match smaller ones.
  • Start with Cold Water & Add Salt: This ensures even cooking from the inside out and better flavor.
  • Check for Doneness: Potatoes are done when they are easily pierced with a fork or knife. Avoid overcooking to prevent them from becoming mushy, and drain them immediately to stop the cooking process.
  • Peeling After Boiling: If you boil whole potatoes with the skin on, it’s easier to peel them after boiling once they are cool enough to handle. The skin slips off easily.
  • Quick Cool for Salads: If using boiled potatoes for salads, drain and spread them out on a baking sheet to cool quickly. This helps maintain their shape and texture.
  • Fluff for Mashed Potatoes: For fluffier mashed potatoes, drain them well and let them sit in the pot for a few minutes to evaporate excess moisture before mashing. This prevents them from being watery.
  • Storing leftovers: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 3 months.
Three bowls with boiled potatoes of different sizes

If you boil some potatoes, let me know how it goes in the comments below. I’d appreciate a recipe card rating and would love to see your recipe recreations – tag me on Instagram @Alphafoodie!

How to Boil Potatoes (Whole or Cubed)

5 from 10 votes
By: Samira
Learn how to boil potatoes with my foolproof method and top tips. The boiled potatoes are delicious and perfect for potato salad, mashed potatoes, and more!
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 10

Ingredients 
 

  • 3.9 lb potatoes Yukon, red, or Russet
  • 1.5 Tbsp salt
  • water enough to cover the potatoes in your pot

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.

Boil whole potatoes

  • After cleaning, there is no need to peel them, as they are easy to peel once cooked. However, if preferred, you can peel them now.
  • Place the potatoes 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 until fork-tender:
    – 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. 

Boil cubed potatoes

  • After cleaning, peel the potatoes.
  • Cut the potatoes into 1-inch cubes and keep the cubes in a large bowl of cold water, while you chop the rest.
  • Place the potato chunks in a large saucepan and add cold water and salt. Optionally, to preserve the cubes' shape, add a little vinegar (1-2 tsp).
  • Bring them to a boil over medium heat, then reduce to medium-low and cook for about 10-12 minutes. Skim off the foam that forms at the surface.
  • Once cooked, drain the potatoes well and enjoy!

Notes

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.
Check the blog post for more tips!
Course: Side
Cuisine: 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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