If you’re wondering how to boil potatoes perfectly every time, you’ve come to the right place! Whether you have waxy or starchy varieties, our quick and easy step-by-step guide ensures you never end up with mealy, waterlogged potatoes again. From mashed potatoes to potato salads, you’ll be ready to create the most delicious dishes once you master this essential cooking skill!

A bowl full of boiled Yukon gold potatoes with parsley.

Here in the South, potatoes are an absolute staple. Whether I’m creaming them into classic mashed potatoes, tossing them into a delicious potato salad, or getting fancy with Duchess Potatoes or smashed potatoes, I can confidently say I’ve never met a potato recipe I didn’t absolutely love!

Many might think boiling potatoes is dull and mundane, but I believe it’s a crucial step to ensuring your finished potato dish (or simple side of boiled potatoes!) has the perfect texture and flavor. I’ll dive into the details, but here are my top tips for getting perfectly cooked, fluffy potatoes that are never waterlogged or mealy.

My Top Tips for Perfect Boiled Potatoes

  • Boiling waxy potatoes differs from boiling starchy ones. Waxy potatoes can be peeled before boiling, while starchy varieties tend to get waterlogged if peeled prior to boiling.
  • Choose potatoes of similar size to ensure even cooking. Whether you’re boiling them whole or cut into cubes, uniform size is key for consistent results.
  • Start with cold water. Beginning with potatoes and water at the same temperature helps you avoid mealy and unevenly cooked spuds.
  • Don’t forget to add salt. Salting the water enhances the flavor of the potatoes as they cook.

(Learn how to boil sweet potatoes if you prefer their oranger cousin!)

A bag full of yukon gold potatoes, red potatoes, and russet potatoes that will be used in a how to boil potatoes recipe.
Email this recipe!
Simply enter your email and get it sent to your inbox! You’ll also get the newest recipes from us every week!

Selecting Potatoes

Before you get to boiling, you need to make sure you choose the best potato. Here are a few key things to look for:

  • Check the color. Choose potatoes with a nice brown, yellow, or red hue, and steer clear of any that are turning green. Also, make sure there are no bruises or soft spots.
  • Avoid sprouts. Opt for potatoes that are free of any sprouts to ensure freshness.
  • Similar size. If you’re boiling the potatoes whole, pick ones that are similar in size so they cook evenly.

How to Boil Potatoes

Below you’ll find the simple step-by-step directions for boiling potatoes. Please see the recipe card for printable instructions.

1. Prepare the potatoes.

Since potatoes grow underground they can be very dirty. You’ll want to first wash the potatoes to remove any visible dirt and debris. Use a designated vegetable brush to scrub into all of the nooks and crannies.

If Peeling Potatoes: Use a vegetable peeler or paring knife to remove the skin from the potatoes if desired. You can also leave the skin on, as it will easily come off once cooked.

If Cutting into Cubes: Cut potatoes into large 2-inch chunks. This is about the size you get when quartering medium-sized potatoes such as Yukon gold and red varieties. Doing this will help them cook faster.

2. Boil potatoes in pot of salted water.

Place potatoes in a large pot or Dutch oven and cover with enough water so they’re covered by at least 1 inch. Add a teaspoon of salt for every pound of potatoes and bring to a boil. (Placing potatoes into cold water will ensure the outside does not cook faster than the inside.)

Once boiling, reduce the heat to medium heat and keep a rapid simmer. Boil cubed potatoes for 10 to 12 minutes, small whole potatoes for 15-20 minutes, and medium-large whole potatoes for 20-30 minutes.*

You’ll know they’re done when the center pierces easily with a fork. If you have larger potatoes, you may need to insert a knife to check the middle. Avoid over cooking them as you’ll end up with mushy potatoes!

Note: Difference in Cook Times

*The cooking time may vary slightly depending on the type of potato used. Starchy potatoes, such as Idaho and russet, will break down more quickly when boiled, while waxy potatoes, such as Yukon gold, red, and new potatoes, may take a little longer to become tender.

3. Drain and Serve

If boiling cubed potatoes, drain in a colander in the sink or remove from the pot using a slotted spoon.

Serve with butter or olive oil, fresh herbs, and a sprinkle of salt, or turn into mashed potatoes, Shepherd’s Pie, or Duchess potatoes.

How to Boil Starchy Potatoes

Starchy potatoes, like Russets and Idahos, are my go-to for making the creamiest mashed potatoes. The trick with these spuds is to keep the skin on while boiling to minimize water absorption and prevent them from getting waterlogged.

My big tip: Choose smaller potatoes, no more than half a pound each, and make sure they’re all about the same size for even cooking.

If you need to boil them peeled, add them to simmering (not boiling) water to prevent them from releasing too much starch and sticking together. After boiling, I like to spread them out on a sheet pan so any absorbed water can evaporate.

Remember, keeping the skin on while boiling is key to perfectly boiled starchy potatoes!

5 Secrets to Healthier Family Dinners
Tips & recipes for getting yummy — and healthy — meals on the table.

Storage and Reheating

  • Refrigerator. Allow boiled potatoes to come to room temperature before storing in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
  • Freezer. Seal cooked and cooled potatoes in a freezer-safe airtight container and freeze for up to 3 months.
  • To reheat on the stovetop: Place the boiled potatoes in a saucepan with a splash of water or broth to prevent them from drying out. Cover the pan and heat over low to medium heat, stirring occasionally, until they are warmed through.
  • To reheat in the microwave: Put the potatoes in a microwave-safe dish and add a tablespoon of water. Cover with a microwave-safe lid or plastic wrap with a small vent. Heat on high for 1-2 minutes, checking and stirring halfway through until they are evenly heated.
  • To reheat in the oven: Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C). Place the potatoes on a baking sheet, drizzle with a little olive oil or butter, and cover with aluminum foil. (This helps to trap the moisture in and prevent them from drying out!) Bake for about 15-20 minutes or until heated through.

FAQs

Do I need to peel potatoes before boiling?

It is not necessary to peel potatoes before boiling. Once they are cooked the skin will come off easily.

Are boiled potatoes healthy?

Yes! Boiling potatoes is a healthy way to prepare them since you are not adding any oil. Potatoes offer nutritious vitamins and minerals as well as fiber and protein.

Should I cover potatoes while boiling?

You can cover the potatoes while they are cooking but you don’t have to.

Do you put potatoes in cold water to boil?

Yes. If you place potatoes in already boiling water the outsides will cook first resulting in unevenly cooked potatoes that are more likely to break down.

More Potato Recipes

Haven’t gotten enough of this tasty spud? Try out these other healthy potato recipes:

Easy Homemade Scalloped Potatoes

Crispy Smashed Potatoes

Instant Pot Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Loaded Hasselback Potatoes Recipe

Parmesan Roasted Yukon Gold Potatoes

Air Fryer Roasted Potatoes

Air Fryer French Fries

Potato Gnocchi

Other Boiled Vegetable Guides

Don’t want to stop at just potatoes? Learn how to boil beets, tips on boiling carrots, and the best boiled green beans recipe!

Tap stars to rate!

5 from 22 votes

How to Boil Potatoes

If you're wondering how to boil potatoes perfectly every time, you’ve come to the right place! Whether you have waxy or starchy varieties, our quick and easy step-by-step guide ensures you never end up with mealy, waterlogged potatoes again.
Yukon gold potatoes that are cut in half and have been boiled.
Yield 4
Prep 5 minutes
Cook 20 minutes
Total 25 minutes
An image of an envelope sealed shut with the Evolving Table logo.

Email this recipe!

Enter your email and we’ll send it directly to you.

Ingredients 

  • 1 lb. potatoes scrubbed and peeled, if desired*
  • 1 tsp. salt

Instructions 

  • If chopping, cut larger potatoes into 1 to 2-inch pieces.
    1 lb. potatoes, 1 tsp. salt
  • Add potatoes and salt to a large pot and cover with 1 inch of water. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to medium, keeping a rapid simmer.
  • Cook cubed potatoes for 10 to 15 minutes, smaller whole potatoes for 15-20 minutes, and larger whole potatoes for 25-30 minutes. You’ll know the potatoes are done when they pierce easily with a fork. Remove from pot with a slotted spoon or drain excess water in a colander.
Last step! If you make this, please leave a review letting us know how it was!

Tap stars to rate!

5 from 22 votes

Video

Notes

My Top Tips:
  • Boiling waxy potatoes differs from boiling starchy ones. Waxy potatoes can be peeled before boiling, while starchy varieties tend to get waterlogged if peeled prior to boiling.
  • Choose potatoes of similar size to ensure even cooking. Whether you’re boiling them whole or cut into cubes, uniform size is key for consistent results.
  • Start with cold water. Beginning with potatoes and water at the same temperature helps you avoid mealy and unevenly cooked spuds.
  • Don’t forget to add salt. Salting the water enhances the flavor of the potatoes as they cook.
Storage Directions
  • Refrigerator. Allow boiled potatoes to come to room temperature before storing in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
  • Freezer. Seal cooked and cooled potatoes in a freezer-safe airtight container and freeze for up to 3 months.

Nutrition

Calories: 87kcal, Carbohydrates: 20g, Protein: 2g, Fat: 1g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 1g, Sodium: 7mg, Potassium: 477mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 1g, Vitamin A: 2IU, Vitamin C: 22mg, Calcium: 14mg, Iron: 1mg

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

Made this recipe?Leave a comment below!

5 Secrets to Healthier Family Dinners
Tips & recipes for getting yummy — and healthy — meals on the table.

You May Also Like

Thanks for
Stopping By!

I’m London! Join me as we cook up nourishing meals for you and your loved ones and learn a few healthy cooking tips and tricks!

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating




Comments

    1. Yay! So happy to hear you enjoyed the recipe, Karen! Thanks so much for taking the time to leave a comment and rating!