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How Long Does It Take To Boil Potatoes?

by Gina Elizabeth

Want to know how long it takes to boil potatoes for mashed potatoes or potato salad?

You’ve come to the right place.

Here’s everything you need to know!


  • How Long To Boil Potatoes For Mashed Potatoes (Cooking Times)
  • Tips for Boiling Potatoes
  • Potato Prepping Tips
  • Potato Mashing Tips
  • Potatoes Cooking FAQs



Cook potatoes in boiling water until tender, then reduce heat to medium and cook at rapid simmer until potatoes are fork tender, about 10 minutes for 1-inch cubed potatoes and 20 minutes for whole potatoes.

Low-starch red potatoes cook faster but are better suited for salads than for making mashed potatoes.

Cubed Potato Cooking Times

Size of CubeCooking Time
2-inch cubed potatoes12-15 minutes
1-inch cubed potates10-12 minutes
1/2 inch cubed potatoes8-10 minutes
Note: Times reflect once the water has started to boil.

Important! Boil until the potatoes are fork-tender. They should have a little bit of give — as they will continue to cook even after you’ve removed them from the heat.

How do you boil potatoes quickly?

Bring a pot of water to a rolling boil. Meanwhile, dice potatoes into small 1/2-inch cubes. Place the diced potatoes in the pot over a high heat and boil until tender, about 5 minutes. The potatoes should be slightly submerged in boiling water while cooking.

Whole Potato Cooking Times

Follow the table below to determine how long to boil whole potatoes:

Potato TypePotato SizeBoil Potatoes Time
Baby potatoes1 inch (2.5 cm)12 minutes
Small potatoes2 inches (5 cm)15 minutes
Medium potatoes3 inches (7.6 cm)20 minutes
Large potatoes4 inches (10 cm)25 minutes
Extra-large potatoes6 inches (15 cm)30 minutes
Note: Times reflect once the water has started to boil.

Here are some guidelines for perfect, fluffy mashed potatoes every time.

How do you know when boiled potatoes are ready to mash?

Your boiled potatoes are ready to mash when they are fork tender in the center. Do not overcook your potatoes, but if they’re undercooked in the center when you poke them with a fork, continue cooking them so that you won’t have hard bits in the mash.

Creamy Mashed Potatoes Recipe

Thanksgiving just isn’t a holiday without mashed potatoes. And homemade will definitely beat any store-bought salad.

How To Make The Creamiest Mashed Potatoes

You’ll never go back to instant mashed potatoes again.


for 4 servings

  • 4 lb Yukon Gold potatoes
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, 1 stick, melted
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • butter, for serving
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste (optional)
  • chive, finely chopped, for serving


  1. On a cutting board, peel the potatoes. Place the potatoes in a large bowl of cold water after peeling to prevent discoloration.
  2. Dice the potatoes into 1-inch (2-cm) cubes.
  3. Add the potatoes to a large pot of cold water, along with the salt. Bring to a soft boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 12 minutes, until the potatoes are fork-tender.
  4. Drain the potatoes in a colander, then return to the pot. Increase the heat to medium-high and stir the potatoes around for 2-3 minutes to evaporate any excess moisture.
  5. Transfer the potatoes to a large bowl and mash with a potato masher, potato ricer, or by pushing through a fine mesh sieve with a spatula.
  6. Add the melted butter and stir to incorporate, then season with salt to taste.
  7. In a small saucepan, simmer the heavy cream. Optional: add rosemary and garlic to the heavy cream while simmering. Then remove the pot from the heat and strain through a fine mesh sieve. Gradually add cream mixture, a little at a time, stirring until fully incorporated.
  8. Top with a pat of butter, freshly ground black pepper, and a sprinkle with chives.
  9. Serve warm.
  10. Enjoy!

Yukon Gold is in between a starchy and a waxy potato and great for creamy mashed potatoes. They’re hard to over mash and have a foolproof creamy texture.

Mashed Potatoes Recipe Tips

Tip #1: Never add cold milk, cream or butter to potatoes while mashing. This will change the consistency of the potatoes. Use warmed or room temperature ingredients only.

Tip #2: Always add your butter before your cream. This is going to ensure that the texture of the potato remains firm before adding milk or heavy cream.

Tip: 3: If you add your butter and your heavy cream all at once it’s going to create a soupy texture.

Tip #4: Do not use a food processor or hand mixer to mash the potatoes. This is going to over work the potatoes creating a gummy like paste.

Optional Toppings & Add-Ins


  • Cream cheese, sour cream, cheddar cheese, Parmesan cheese, light yogurt or mayonnaise


  • Garnish with parsley, dill, chives, or oregano
  • Bacon bits
  • Gravy

Everyone will be fighting for the last scoop!

Potato Boiling Tips

Tell me about it, spud.

Potato Skin

Potatoes can be boiled with the skin still on. This better preserves the flavor during the boiling process and adds texture. A potato skin is also nutrient rich.

Tip: Chop the potatoes once cool. After boiling and draining, place your potatoes in the refrigerator for an hour until they cool.


If you prefer potatoes without the skin:

  • Wash the potato to remove any dirt on the skin.
  • Use a potato peeler to remove the skin and eyes.
  • You can also boil starchy potatoes (like Russets) with the skin still on, they’ll absorb less water. And it’s easier to peel potatoes after boiling.

Tip: Place peeled potatoes in cold water as you work to prevent oxidation (discoloration)

Types of Potatoes To Use

There are basically three types of potatoes: High-starch, medium-starch, and low-starch.

For fluffier mashed potatoes you want a starchy and low moisture potato like Yukon Gold. Although many people swear by Russet potatoes for mashing.

Tip: Look for firm potatoes with smooth skin and no sprouts. Avoid soft potatoes with dark spots.

  • High-starch Potatoes: Potatoes such as the Russet or Idaho, have a light, mealy texture. Once boiled, they are ideal for mashing.
  • Medium-starch Potatoes: Varieties such as the Red Gold and Yukon Gold are all-purpose. They contain more moisture so they don’t fall apart as easily. They work well for mashing, adding to soups or casseroles, and serving as a side dish. They can also be used for potato salad.
  • Low-starch Potatoes: Potatoes such as the Round Red, Round White, and New Potatoes, are often called waxy potatoes. They hold their shape better than other potatoes when boiled, making them perfect for potato salads or tossing with seasoned butter as a side dish. They usually have white flesh.

*Note that potato starch levels also affect cooking time.

Chunk Size

  • Consult your recipe for the correct sized chunks. When not following a recipe, chunk about an inch or half an inch thick (2.5 or 1.2 centimeters).
  • You can boil the potatoes whole but cutting them up reduces the cooking time. Which is also saves on utilities.
  • Make sure the cubes are relatively the same size so they cook evenly.

Use Cold Water

  • It’s really important that you always place potatoes in cold water rather than boiling water (like you would with pasta).
  • This gives the inside of the potatoes more of a chance to come up to the same temperature as the outside. And also for the starch to soften.

Amount of Water

  • Fill your pot with about enough water that it will cover the potatoes with about an inch of water, then bring it to a boil.
  • Add salt before boiling. This ads more depth of flavor to the potatoes.

Best Pot For Boiling Potatoes

  • Aluminum, stainless steel, and cast iron vary quite a bit in how quickly they come to a boil. And the discrepancies can affect cooking time.
  • Use any type of pot for boiling potatoes. But avoid aluminum, it can cause the potatoes to discolor. And imparts an off flavor to spuds. Never mash potatoes with metal utensils in an aluminum pot. The metal “scrapes” the soft aluminum as you mash.

Did you know?

Russet potatoes are also known as Idaho potatoes in the United States. – Wikipedia

Check out the FAQ section below for more amazing mashed potato facts …

Potato Prepping Tips

  • Most potato peelers have a potato eye remover at the end of the tool; and has a pointed shape that makes it easy to scoop out any eyes or discolorations.
  • Soak peeled potatoes in cold water while you’re working to avoid oxidizing (discoloring).
  • Peel the ends of the potatoes first. This will allow you to grip the potato better when peeling.

Potato Mashing Tips

  • Cool your potatoes before mashing them.
  • Do not use a food processor, hand mixer, or blender to mash your potatoes. This will make them gluey.
  • Use a fork, potato masher, potato ricer, or sieve to mash your potatoes.
  • After removing the pot from the heat, drain the potatoes through a colander. Then place the potatoes back in the pot over medium high heat, and cook briefly on the stove for 2-3 minutes. This will remove any excess moisture.

Potato Cooking FAQS

How long does it take to boil potatoes in the microwave?

Yes, It takes 6-8 minutes to boil large whole potatoes in a microwave. Just place 2 potatoes in a microwave-safe dish and add 2 tablespoons of water. Cover and microwave on high. Let them rest for 2 minutes before serving.

How long does it take to boil potatoes in a slow cooker?

Cover and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours or until tender. Your slow cooker doesn’t actually “boil” the liquid, but the effect is the same, and you can mash and even serve right from your slow cooker. Place your cut potatoes in your slow cooker. Add a cup of cooking liquid like water or broth. Most of the liquid will cook off or be absorbed by the potatoes during the cooking process, making draining unnecessary.

Can I boil the potatoes ahead of time for mashed potatoes?

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.

Can I refrigerate potatoes?

Store potatoes in a dark, cool, well-ventilated place for up to several weeks. Do not store them in the refrigerator.

How do I mash potatoes without a masher?

Heat milk or cream until just under a boil. Pour over boiled potatoes and add olive oil and butter. Use a large fork to mash to your preferred consistency, then transfer to a serving bowl.

How do I peel boiled potatoes?

  1. Turn off the heat. Remove the pan from the stove, and pour the hot water away from you so that you don’t steam yourself.
  2. Place the potatoes in a large bowl. Run cold water over the potatoes.  Pick a cooled potato up in your hand and peel off the cooked skin.

Are waxy potatoes good for mashing?

Waxy potatoes like red potatoes are more suitable for salads, stews and soups. Starchy potatoes like Yukon Gold are more suitable for mashing.

What is the serving size per potato?

As a rule, one medium sized potato per person. Or 3 large potatoes for 4 people.

Can you over boil potatoes for mashed potatoes?

Yes, check them regularly, they should be fork tender with a bit of give. If you overcook them they will crumble and your mashed potatoes will be soupy.

How long can boiled potatoes sit before mashing?

Leave the potatoes at room temperature with the lid on. They can sit in about a 1/4 inch of water for an hour, or two. Heat them back up by setting the pot over low heat and the simmering water.

How do you boil potatoes quickly?

Cover plastic wrap or container with lid. Microwave for 5 minutes, depending on the size of your potatoes.

Why do my potatoes turn black after boiling?

  1. When slicing they were exposed to air (which will cause them to quickly turn dark). One method to avoid this is to place peeled potatoes in water before cooking.
  2. If the potatoes were left in an aluminum pot or tray the potatoes could still color from the aluminum.

How do you dry potatoes after boiling them?

Drain them in a colander then put them back in the pot and set over medium heat to remove excess moisture. Stir the potatoes around for 2-3 minutes with a wooden spoon so they don’t stick to the pot.

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