How To Boil Potatoes Recipe


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Foolproof boiled potatoes turn out perfectly fork tender every single time! Learn how to boil potatoes whole or cubed. You can use russets, red potatoes, baby potatoes, fingerling potatoes, or Yukon gold potatoes to make the best mashed potatoes or potato salad.

Boiled Potatoes

These super easy to follow instructions yield perfectly boiled potatoes every single time! Whether you want to boil potatoes for mashed potatoes or potato salad, learn how to boil them perfectly, easily, and evenly on the stove top.

Another bonus is that the potato skins peel off so easily after they’ve boiled and cooled. It’s such a time saver when I’m making Thanksgiving mashed potatoes for our whole family!


Starchy Potatoes: Russet potatoes are a starchy potato that are perfect for mashing. I recommend boiling russet potatoes if you plan to make mashed potatoes.

Waxy Potatoes: Waxy potatoes (yellow potatoes, red potatoes, gold potatoes, fingerling potatoes, and baby potatoes) have a lower starch content, so they hold their shape well after boiling. That makes them perfect for potato salads.

The labeled ingredients for how to boil potatoes.

How Long To Boil Potatoes

Depending on the size and variety of potato, they need to be boiled for anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes. Start by gently scrubbing the potatoes with a vegetable brush under cool running water, then add them to a large pot. Add enough cold water to cover the potatoes by 1 1/2 inches. (See the recipe card below for the full written instructions.)

A variety of clean potatoes on a plate being added to a large pot of water.

Add salt to the water, then bring the potatoes to a boil. Once the potatoes are boiling, cook them according to the cooking times in the recipe card. See the recipe card below for the full written instructions, including ingredient amounts, cooking times, and helpful tips, etc.

A baby potato and russet potato being pulled from a pot of boiling water after being cooked.

Do You Put Potatoes In Before Or After The Water Starts Boiling?

Always put potatoes in the water before it starts boiling. Putting the potatoes in the cold water and then bringing that water to a boil allows the potatoes to cook evenly. If you add the potatoes to boiling water, the outside will cook faster than the inside, which creates an overcooked exterior and an undercooked interior.

Can You Boil Potatoes For Too Long?

Yes. If you boil potatoes for too long, they’ll lose their structure and absorb too much water. That means that they’ll become mushy, won’t have the correct texture, and won’t hold their shape.

A variety of potatoes cut up into small sizes with text cook times above each potato.

Do You Peel Potatoes Before Boiling?

It totally depends on what you plan to use the boiled potatoes for. You can boil potatoes with either the skin on or the skin off. I like to leave the skin on for potato salads, and I prefer peeling the potatoes that I’m going to use in mashed potatoes.

Why Do You Add Salt When Boiling Potatoes?

There are two reasons. First, salting the cooking water is your only chance to season the interior of the potato – you don’t want to miss that chance to enhance the flavor! Second, salting the water allows the water to boil hotter. That means that the starches will cook more thoroughly, and the potato will have a creamier texture.

An image of a turkey with mashed potatoes dinner illustrating how you could use boiled potatoes.

How Long To Boil Potatoes For Mashed Potatoes

The best potatoes for mashing are russet potatoes (sometimes called mashing potatoes or baking potatoes). How long you boil them depends on the size of the potato and whether or not you boil them whole, quartered, or cut into chunks. Whole russets will take about 30 minutes, quartered russets will take about 15-20 minutes, and potato cubes will take about 10-12 minutes.

How Long Can Boiled Potatoes Sit Before Mashing?

If you want to boil your potatoes in advance of mashing them, leave them sitting in about 1-2 inches of the cooking water for up to 2 hours. Then when it’s time to mash them, you can bring the water to a simmer to reheat the potatoes.

How To Make Mashed Potatoes

After the potatoes have finished boiling, drain them through a colander and let them rest for 5 minutes. Add in some room temperature butter and mix it into the potatoes to let it melt. Go ahead and mash the potatoes, then stir in room temperature half and half, room temperature sour cream, and your favorite seasonings. If you’re looking for a fun spin on mashed potatoes, be sure to try this delicious Colcannon Recipe!

How Long To Boil Cubed Potatoes

If you want to boil potatoes fast, you can cook them more quickly by cubing them before you boil them. Cubed and peeled potatoes normally take about 10-12 minutes to cook in boiling water.

An image of a cooked russet potato cut in half.

How To Boil Potatoes for Potato Salad

I prefer to boil whole potatoes for potato salad so that they don’t absorb too much moisture. Since having evenly cooked tender yet firm potato cubes is important in potato salad, I recommend using waxy potatoes that aren’t too large. Medium sized potatoes or smaller will give you the most even results.

Boil the potatoes whole with the skin on, then drain them and let them cool for 5 minutes. If you’re going to peel them, wait until they’re cool enough to handle before removing the peels. Cut them into evenly sized chunks, and then proceed with the potato salad instructions. Be sure to try this Baked Potato Salad Recipe!

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A Pinterest pin image with a picture of how to boil potatoes, with title text at the top.

Side Dishes

If you like this recipe, be sure to check out all of our side dishes! Some reader favorites are:

Yield: 4 servings

How To Boil Potatoes {For Mashed Potatoes or Potato Salad}

The best how to boil potatoes recipe.

Foolproof boiled potatoes turn out perfectly fork tender every single time! Learn how to boil potatoes whole or cubed. You can use russets, red potatoes, baby potatoes, fingerling potatoes, or Yukon gold potatoes to make the best mashed potatoes or potato salad.

Prep Time 2 minutes
Cook Time 12 minutes
Total Time 14 minutes


  • 3 pounds potatoes
  • 2 teaspoons fine sea salt


  1. Either peel the potatoes or gently scrub the potatoes with a vegetable brush under cool running water to remove any dirt or debris.
  2. Place the potatoes in a large pot. Add enough cold water to the pot to cover the potatoes with 1 1/2 inches of water. Add the salt to the cooking water.
  3. Move the pot to the stove. Bring the potatoes to a boil over high heat. Once the water has come to a rolling boil, turn the heat down to medium. Boil for 12-30 minutes (depending on the size of the potatoes). The potatoes are done when a fork easily slides into the potato (you want to stop cooking the potatoes before the fork easily breaks the potatoes apart).
  4. Drain the potatoes. Serve with some butter, fresh herbs, salt, and pepper. Allow the potatoes to cool before handling them if you're peeling them or using them for a potato salad.
  • Peeled and cubed potatoes - 11 minutes
  • Baby potatoes (1 inch) - 13 minutes
  • Small potatoes (2 inches) - 15 minutes
  • Medium potatoes (3 inches) - 20 minutes
  • Large potatoes (4 inches) - 25 minutes
  • Extra large potatoes (6 inches) - 30 minutes
  • Nutrition Information:

    Serving Size:


    Amount Per Serving: Calories: 198Total Fat: 0.3gCarbohydrates: 42.3gFiber: 11.2gProtein: 8.7g

    Nutrition information isn’t always accurate.


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    To boil potatoes properly, just follow these easy instructions! They’re the perfect easy side dish.

    The best how to boil potatoes recipe.

    3 thoughts on “How To Boil Potatoes Recipe”

      • Hi Janet, Cooked potatoes will normally stay good in an airtight container in the fridge for 3 days. Hope that helps! -Alexa

    1. I learned to boil potatoes by waterless cookware. Scrub potatoes or peel, then cut potato lengthwise in half. Place evenly in pot, and add enough water to reach about a quarter of the way up your pot. Place lid on pot and bring to a boil so steam comes out, turn down heat to just above low and cook 20 minutes more till done. Do not remove lid during process. Remember that steam Cooks hotter and faster. You also lose less nutrients from your potato.


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