There’s nothing complicated about boiling potatoes, but as far as basic cooking skills go, it’s a good one to master because you’ll likely use it often. Potatoes are one of the most versatile and widely loved foods out there, largely because you can turn them into so many delicious dishes. Whether you’re planning to boil potatoes for mashed potatoes or for a potato salad, there are a few tips and tricks that will ensure you’re happy with the finished results. Let’s start with a quick breakdown of the different types of potatoes so you can make sure you’re using the right one for the dish you want to make.
Because the starch content in potatoes differs from type to type, some are better for boiling than others depending on what you plan to make with the cooked spuds. The amount of starch in the potato can affect the texture, so you want to make sure you’re using the right type of potato for the dish you’re making.
BH&G Test Kitchen Tip: Many people like to substitute sweet potatoes for standard spuds in their favorite recipes. Learn the best way to boil sweet potatoes if you want to make the swap.
One of the things that makes potatoes such a popular food is that they are relatively inexpensive and available year-round. When you’re choosing spuds at the store, look for clean potatoes that have smooth, unblemished skins. They should be firm and have a shape that is typical for the variety. Avoid potatoes with green spots or ones that are soft, moldy, or shriveled.
Store potatoes in a dark, cool, well-ventilated place for up to several weeks. Do not store them in the refrigerator.
Start by scrubbing the potatoes with a clean produce brush to remove any dirt, then rinse. If desired, peel the potatoes with a vegetable peeler or paring knife, cutting away from your hand. Remove any sprouts and any green areas with the tip of a potato peeler.
Cut the potatoes into quarters or cubes. Leave small new potatoes whole and halve larger ones. To cube potatoes, slice them to the desired thickness, then stack several slices and cut crosswise several times in both directions.
If you’re doing your prep in advance and won’t be cooking for a while, submerge the peeled and cut potatoes in water and store in the refrigerator. Potatoes left out at room temperature and uncovered with brown. You can keep them in water for up to 24 hours before you cook them.
There’s lots of debate about whether or not you should peel potatoes before boiling them but neither way is really wrong. While leaving the peel on during the boiling process can help the potato hold on to some of the vitamins and nutrients found in the peel, it really just comes down to personal preference.
If you do decide to leave the peel on but don’t want the peel in your finished dish, use a paring knife to score the skin around the middle of each potato. After boiling, rinse the potatoes is cool water and you should be able to peel the skin right off with your fingers.
If you’re boiling small Red Potatoes or New Potatoes, don’t bother cutting before putting in the pot, and adjust your cooking time to around 15 to 20 minutes. Again, use your fork to check tenderness.
BH&G Test Kitchen Tip: You can boil potatoes ahead of time for use later as long as you cover and refrigerate them. They’ll last for up to three days in the fridge.
If you want to boil potatoes quickly, try using your microwave. It’s the perfect solution for small batches of spuds.
For the ultimate in easy solutions, use your slow cooker to boil potatoes. It’s perfect for times when you want to be able to work on other dishes do other housekeeping tasks, or see a movie! Your slow cooker doesn’t actually “boil” the liquid, but the effect is the same, and if you’re planning to use the cooked spuds for mashed potatoes, you can mash and even serve right from your slow cooker.
There are tons of ways you can use cooked potatoes. Here are a few of our favorite ways to use boiled potatoes in savory side dishes.