How to Perfectly Boil Potatoes

Hey there, fellow food enthusiasts! Let’s discuss potatoes, shall we? Specifically, let’s dive into the art of boiling potatoes to create the creamiest mash or a scrumptious, buttery side dish.

You might think that boiling potatoes is a simple task that doesn’t require much effort. And you’re right! It’s not rocket science. However, I always approach even the most basic culinary tasks with fresh perspectives and unique twists. So today, I want to bring some extra life to this seemingly mundane task.

Believe it or not, boiling potatoes has its own subtle art if you want to achieve that perfect balance of creamy goodness and satisfying crunch. As an avid cook, I’ve experimented with various methods over the years. Now, I’m excited to share this comprehensive guide to beautifully boiled ‘spuds.’

Choose the Perfect Potatoes

Not all potatoes are created equal, of course. Before we dive into the boiling process, let’s talk about selecting the right type of potatoes. This choice greatly impacts the texture and taste of the final result. Here are a few options to consider:

Russet Potatoes

Russet potatoes (also known as Idaho potatoes) are my go-to choice for boiling. With a high starch content and a fluffy texture when boiled, Russet potatoes are perfect for mashing or creating crispy roasted potatoes. They are versatile, widely available, and absorb additional flavors, herbs, and cooking juices beautifully.

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Yukon Gold Potatoes

Yukon Gold potatoes strike a perfect balance between waxy and starchy varieties, making them an excellent choice for boiling. They have a creamy texture and a slightly sweet flavor. These potatoes hold their shape well after boiling, making them ideal for potato salads or dishes where you want the potatoes to remain intact.

New Potatoes

New potatoes are small, young potatoes harvested just before they reach maturity. They have thin, almost fragile skin and moist waxy flesh. Boiling new potatoes brings out their natural sweetness and full tender texture. They are perfect for simple buttered potatoes or adding to rich, hearty stews and soups.

Choose wisely, my dear reader. Whether you opt for the floury texture of Russet potatoes, the rich creaminess of Yukon Golds, or the delicate sweetness of new potatoes, your choice will subtly affect the end result. Any of them will work perfectly fine for boiling!

The Basics

Let’s begin our potato-boiling adventure by covering the fundamental steps. First, let’s address the age-old question: to peel or not to peel?

While some recipes call for leaving the skin on, I believe that boiling peeled potatoes yields a smoother and more consistent result. So, if you agree with my pro-peeling philosophy, grab your trusty peeler and give those potatoes a quick trim.

Now that our potatoes are peeled, it’s time to get the water boiling. Grab a sturdy pot with a thick bottom for even heat distribution. Fill it with enough water to cover the potatoes, and don’t forget to generously salt the water. This step is the secret to enhancing the natural flavors of the potatoes. Feel free to use your preferred salt—I personally like to use Kosher salt, but any salt will do just fine at this stage!

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Cooking Time

Ah, the burning question: how long does it take to boil potatoes? Generally, the cooking time depends on the size of the potatoes being used. Usually, it takes about 15 to 20 minutes for small to medium-sized potatoes to become tender when boiled. To check if they’re properly cooked, simply insert a fork. If it slides into the potato effortlessly, your potatoes are ready to be transformed into something special.

Then, drain and serve—voilà! Boiling a potato really is as straightforward as that. Now that we have the basics covered, let’s dive into techniques that can take your boiled potatoes to a whole new level.

Infusing Flavor

If you want to enhance the taste of your boiled potatoes, consider adding chicken stock to the plain water. The stock imparts an amazing savory richness that pairs wonderfully with various dishes. Trust me, your taste buds will thank you!

Seasoning with a Twist

Why settle for regular salt when you can use kosher salt? Its coarser texture allows for better absorption and distribution of the seasoning. Your potatoes will burst with flavor just from this simple addition—though any salt will work fine, Kosher salt seems to complement boiled potatoes particularly well.

Herbaceous Delights!

Let’s get a little creative with herbs! Try adding aromatic herbs like thyme and parsley to the boiling water. They infuse the potatoes with a tantalizing fragrance, transforming your kitchen into a gourmet restaurant and giving your potatoes an extra edge.

A Garlic Infusion

For a subtle yet irresistible garlicky essence, toss a few cloves into the boiling water. The cloves will release their unique aromatic oils, infusing the potatoes with flavor. Be mindful not to overdo it—two or three cloves are enough to avoid overpowering the potatoes.

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Butter Love

If you’re a fan of buttery goodness (and who isn’t?), try this technique. After boiling the potatoes, melt some butter in a saucepan and toss the drained potatoes in it. The butter will coat the potatoes, adding a luxurious and velvety touch to each bite.

Keeping Firm but Tender

To ensure your boiled potatoes remain firm yet tender, try this clever trick. After draining the cooked potatoes, immediately plunge them into ice water. The cold shock halts the cooking process, helping the potatoes retain their texture. I find this technique perfect for potato salads or dishes where you want that unique bite.

Sweet Potato Twist

Let’s not forget about sweet potatoes! Boiling them is pretty much the same as boiling regular potatoes, but cooking time may vary. Keep an eye on them and check for tenderness with a fork. When cooked, they are ready to be transformed into mouth-watering sweet potato casserole or mashed sweet potatoes. Check out this recipe for a scrumptious sweet potato casserole dish!


And there you have it, fellow foodies! My own personal guide on how to boil potatoes, from the basic steps to the more intriguing flavor-enhancing techniques. These tips will lead you to creamy mashed potato dishes and soul-enriching potato salads.

By the way, one of my personal favorites is Swiss steak over mashed potatoes, so please check it out! Your loved ones will thank you, I promise.

Remember, there’s always something delicious cooking with Family Cuisine, so stay tuned for more culinary adventures! And as always, be careful with that hot water—but don’t forget to have fun! The journey of cooking should be as delightful as the destination, and something as simple as boiling potatoes is no exception to that rule.

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Happy boiling!

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