How Long Does It Take to Boil Potatoes?

The potato is quite possibly the humblest of all the ingredients. But this down-to-earth vegetable (pun intended) is also one of the most versatile ingredients in cooking. It can be fried, baked, and grilled. But the most popular way to cook it is to boil them. From there, you can use it in several dishes! But what I want to address mostly is how long will it take?

How long does it take to boil potatoes? Cubed potatoes, red potatoes, and new potatoes take about 15 minutes to boil. Large potatoes and old potatoes can take up to 20 to 25 minutes to boil. To know if the potatoes are fully boiled, stick a fork through them. If the fork easily pierces through the potato, then they are boiled.

The needed time to perfectly boil a potato depends on many factors, such as the variety of the potato, the boiling method used, and more.

Boiling is a fundamental skill in cooking. Boiling is also one of the simplest methods of cooking a potato. Cooking this vegetable shouldn’t be that difficult. However, just like any form of cooking, there’s a chance that everything can go wrong. Overcooking the potatoes is one of them.

But not to worry, read on and you can master the art of boiling the perfect spuds, every single time. You can also find out how to fix overcooked potatoes. But first, let’s talk about how long does it take to boil potatoes, as well as what can make the cooking time longer.

How Long Does It Take to Boil Potatoes?

Boiling is one of the simplest ways to cook a potato. After boiling potatoes, you can use them to make mashed potatoes and salads. You can also use them in many different recipes. So it’s very crucial to boil these spuds to perfection. How long does it take to boil potatoes for your next mash potato dinner?

On average, it would take 12-15 minutes to boil potatoes. New potatoes, red potatoes, and diced potatoes are ready within that time. Older spuds and bigger slices would take at most 25 minutes of boiling to be cooked. These are the ideal times you need to cook potatoes in a pot of water.

As you can see, not all potatoes boil at the same rate. Cooking times of these spuds may differ depending on what variety you’ll be cooking with, or what method of boiling you’ll be using.

What Factors Can Affect Potatoes’ Boiling Time?

Not all potatoes are made equal. Regardless, they all are very delicious and nutritious. It’s also true when it comes to cooking them. Here are the factors that can affect the time required to transform these spuds into the perfect boiled potatoes.

Types of Potatoes

There are over 200 different varieties sold in the United States alone. You can further classify each of these tubers into seven kinds. These are yellow, white, red, russet, purple/blue, fingerling, and petite. Each one of these classes has different moisture and starch content which can affect cooking time. Scroll down to find more about these types of potatoes.

Method of Boiling Used

To boil potatoes, we use a pot of water over medium heat, That is the most-used method of cooking the spuds. However, there are other methods to boil potatoes. You can use different kitchen appliances to boil them. You can use a slow cooker, a microwave, or an oven. Cooking time may vary depending on the methods used.

Size of the Potatoes

Smaller potato slices, like cubed or julienned, cook faster than bigger chunks. Small varieties of potatoes, like baby potatoes, also boil faster than their average counterparts.

Heat

Setting your stove to medium heat is the best way to boil potatoes. Using high heat could cause the potato to boil faster but may end up unevenly cooked, or overly-cooked and mushy. Low heat will take far too long to boil.

Other Minor Factors

Other factors such as covering the pot, or using a larger pot or pan, can potentially speed up the boiling process. 

How Long Do Different Types of Potatoes Take to Boil?

how long to boil potatoes

According to the International Potato Center, they found more than 4000 species of potatoes. In the USA alone, you can find 200 different types of spuds sold on the market. People often divide these tubers into seven classes.

Yellow Potatoes

Yellow potatoes are generally oval-shaped and often come with yellowish-brown skins and flesh. They also have waxy, moist, and buttery flesh, and are slightly sweet to the taste. These types typically have low to medium starch content. They are best suited for boiling, roasting, baking, and grilling.

Yukon Gold, German Butterball, Carola are some of the varieties that belong to this class of potato. Because their inside is soft and waxy, they tend to boil quite fast, around 15 to 20 minutes for a medium-sized yellow potato.

White Potatoes

As the name implies, these types of spuds have slightly paler skin and flesh. They are either round or long. They have medium to low starch content and are slightly denser. They have a mildly sweet and creamy flavor. These spuds are perfect for boiling, frying, and steaming. 

Kennebec, Atlantic, and White Rose are some of the varieties that belong to these classes of potatoes. Because white potatoes have a denser texture, they tend to take a bit longer to boil to perfection, about 20 to 25 minutes depending on the size.

Russet Potatoes

Russet potatoes are the most common spuds you can find on the market. They are also called old potatoes. They are medium to large-sized tubers. They often have brown and netted skins. These spuds are starchier and have lower moisture content. These are better used for frying, baking, and baking. 

Some varieties of russet potatoes are Burbank, Arcadia, and Norkotahs. It’s not recommended to boil russet potatoes as it takes longer, around 25 minutes, and is too easy to over or under-boil.

Purple and Blue Potatoes

These potatoes have grayish-blue to deep purple skin and flesh. They are very waxy and have a high moisture content. They are earthy in flavor, with a very small hint of sweetness. These types can be used for boiling, grilling, frying, and steaming.

All Blue, Purple Peruvian, and Purple Viking belong to this type of potatoes. These potatoes can boil very quickly for smaller ones. The smaller purple and blue potatoes can take under 15 minutes. Larger sizes are also fast to cook, with their high moisture content, and take only about 15 to 20 minutes to cook well in boiling water.

Fingerling Potatoes

As the name suggests, these tubers are shaped like human fingers. They can range from two to four inches in length. Their skin can be red, yellow, white, or purple. They are waxy in texture which helps them hold their shape when cooking. People use them for frying and roasting. 

Fingerling types include Russian Banana, Austrian Crescent, Purple Peruvian, and Ruby Crescent.

Baby Potatoes

Also called Baby potatoes, these types are tiny in size. Small spuds, no matter the variety, are called Petites. So as long as the potatoes are small and bite-sized, they are called Petites. People use Petites for salads and baking. These baby potatoes only take about 10 minutes to boil to perfection.

New Potatoes

Similar to Petites, new potatoes are not technically a classification according to their varieties. These are the ones harvested earlier than usual. Because of this, they are sweeter and waxier than their mature counterparts. The majority of Baby potatoes are also New potatoes. They are perfect for baking, boiling, and frying. It only takes about 10 minutes to oil new potatoes.

In general, waxy and smooth potatoes are best for boiling. They contain higher moisture and hold their shape very well. Floury and fluffy potatoes, on the other hand, are better used in baking and roasting. These spuds are dry and delicate and break up easily. Potatoes with medium starch and moisture content are all-purpose.

How to Perfectly Boil Potatoes

Boiling is usually done using a pot of water over a stove. Here are the steps in how to boil the perfect potatoes using the conventional method.

Step 1 – Prepare Your Potatoes

Start by removing any dirt left on the potatoes. You can use a brush to scrub the soil away. There’s an on-going debate on whether you should peel your potatoes or leave it unpeeled. Some say that the nutrients are in the skin, and that is true. Some prefer to remove the skin of their spuds.

The truth is that it depends on what type of tubers you are using and how you’ll be using them. For example, spuds rich in starch are best for mashed potatoes, but their skin can be thick and tougher to chew. Some may like the added texture of the skin, others don’t. So at the end of the day, it also depends on your preference. Either way, they can be cooked with or without the skin.

Step 2 – Cut the Potatoes

Dicing or slicing the spuds into smaller pieces will speed up the cooking process. For best results, try to cut them in equal sizes. By doing so, you’ll cook all of them at the same time. New and baby potatoes can be boiled whole. Starchy spuds are also better suited to be cooked whole because they tend to be mushy when boiled into small slices. 

Step 3 – Prepare the Pot

The potatoes go inside the pan or pot. Fill it with enough water, covering the potatoes. Remember to use cold water when boiling. Do not use hot water. Do not add the spuds to boiling water. By doing so, the outer layer will cook faster than the inside, making them cooked unevenly. Salt is usually added to the water to taste.

You can also add herbs and spices, or broths. The spuds will absorb the flavor making them more delicious. Put on the lid and boil the potatoes for roughly 12-15 minutes. For larger and older potatoes, it can take up to 20 minutes. If you sliced them or if you use the smaller varieties, they’ll be ready in 10-12 minutes. Use a knife or fork to test if they are cooked. If the fork slides smoothly through the potatoes, they are ready.

Step 4 – Drain the Potatoes

Drain the potatoes immediately after cooking.

See the below video for more on how long to boil potatoes and other tips:

How to Boil Potatoes in a Microwave

You can also boil potatoes in a microwave. Microwaves are perfect for cooking small batches of spuds.

  1. Prepare your potatoes just as you prepare them for boiling using a pot including cleaning and chopping or slicing.
  2. Place the potatoes in a microwavable bowl. Put enough water to fully submerge the potatoes. Put a pinch of salt and a dash of cooking oil. You can cook the potatoes without a cover. You can also cover the bowl using a plastic wrap with holes. Do not completely cover the bowl.
  3. Cook the potatoes in three to five-minute intervals. Regularly check if they are done using a fork.
  4. Drain the water once the potatoes are done. Potatoes are known to retain heat. You can place them in an empty pot and cover them until ready for consumption.

How to Cook Potatoes Using a Slow Cooker

Potatoes can also be cooked in slow cookers. Slow cookers don’t actually ‘boil’ the spuds. However, they still offer the same result. These are perfect if you want to have cooked tubers after a long day. This is the slowest way to prepare potatoes. It is also the method that requires the least amount of supervision.

  1. Prepare your potatoes as usual. For slow cookers, it is recommended to cut them into smaller pieces.
  2. Add a cup of water, broth, or any cooking liquid. Add herbs and spices, if desired.
  3. Cover them and cook them for 6 to 8 hours on medium heat, or until completely tender. Most of the extra water will be absorbed by the potatoes. 

How to Fix Overcooked Potatoes

It’s very easy to overcook the potatoes. Overcooked tubers become soupy and watery. Most people will throw out these potatoes, not knowing that they can still be used. The real problem is that they may not be suitable for your intended use. If you boil your potatoes too long, follow the below steps:

  1. Pour out some of the water from the pot. Do not completely drain the potatoes because the starch and other nutrients are in the water. 
  2. Place the pot back to medium heat. Mix and mash the potatoes constantly to avoid burning at the bottom. While stirring, you’ ll notice water will start to evaporate. It may take a lot of stirring until the potatoes become smooth.
  3. Cook the mashed potatoes as usual. You may add milk and cream to make it smoother.

The result will be mashed potatoes. It may not be what you had in mind, but at least you still saved the potatoes. You can also use mashed potatoes for croquettes and pancakes. Next time you overcook some potatoes, just turn it into mashed potatoes.

So to recap, how long does it take to boil potatoes? Smaller potatoes such as red potatoes and new potatoes take only about 15 minutes to boil. Bigger-sized potatoes take about 20 to 25 minutes to boil. If in doubt, simply stick a fork or knife in the boiled potato. If the fork or knife slides through cleanly and easily, then it should be boiled to perfection.