How To Boil Potatoes

Take the time to learn how to boil potatoes correctly as a part of preparing a perfect meal. Considered a staple for any meal, potatoes can be mashed, added to soup or stews, or eaten as a side dish. Learning how to boil potatoes is easy once you understand the basics.

To boil potatoes, you will need:

  • Potatoes
  • Water
  • Salt
  • Potato peeler
  • Fork
  1. Peel the potatoes. If you are using any type of white potatoes like russets, new, or small white potatoes, it is best to peel them. Begin by washing the potatoes thoroughly in water. Use the end of the potato peeler to dig out and remove any eyes. Eyes are small bulges of growth on the surface of the potatoes. Use the blade of the potato peeler to remove the potato skin. Once the potato is completely peeled, rinse it in clear water.
  2. Cut the potatoes. The way to cut a potato depends on what it will be used for. For instance, if the potatoes is used for Cheddar Potato soup, the potatoes will be finely diced (the size of a pencil eraser) for boiling. Potatoes for stew or for mashing are cut into approximately one inch cubes.
  3. Boil the potatoes. Place the chopped potatoes in the bottom of a pot. Add enough water to cover the potatoes with two inches of water. Add a teaspoon of salt to the water. Bring the water to a full boil over a high heat. Once the water boils, reduce the heat to medium for the duration of cooking.
  4. How long to boil potatoes. The length of time for boiling potatoes depends on what the potatoes are being used for. If the boiled potatoes are going to be mashed, they need to boil until they feel slightly mushy to the touch when a fork is inserted into the potato. This takes between 40 to 60 minutes of boiling. Potatoes used in stew are precooked by boiling for 25 minutes then added to the stew.


The smaller the potatoes are cut for mashed potatoes the faster they cook.

Always pierce boiled potatoes with a fork to check for doneness. The fully cooked potato should feel soft with no hardness.                     



Some cooks like to leave the peel on the potato to preserve more of the potato’s nutritional value. However, unpeeled potatoes make for messy, lumpy mashed potatoes.



Food Network Kitchens, "How to Boil Water." Food Networks 2006

Bittman, Mark, "How to Cook Everything." Wiley Publishing 2003

Betty Crocker, "Betty Crocker Cooking Basics." 2008

Miller, Bryan, "Cooking Basics for Dummies." Wiley Publishing 2011



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