Here’s How To Tell Potatoes Are Done Boiling

Boiling potatoes seems very simple until you end up with potatoes that are still hard even after boiling. Sometimes, they are too soft and do not hold their texture. How then can you tell your potatoes are done boiling and ready to eat?

You almost cannot have a potato dish without boiling the potatoes. Whether you want to mash the potatoes, make potato salad or eat them with eggs, you have to precook potatoes by boiling them.

Continue reading to see the signs that tell that your potatoes are done boiling. This article also shows you how to boil potatoes correctly so they are perfectly tender.

How do you know potatoes are done boiling?

When potatoes are done boiling, they become very tender.

Take a fork and see if it pierces through one potato. If the potato feels tender and does not resist the fork, then you can tell it is done boiling and ready to.

This applies to all potato dishes. Whether you need potatoes for salad, roast, or mashed potatoes, they need to be very tender before you go ahead with your recipe.

How long does it take to boil potatoes?

How long it takes potatoes to boil depends on whether you’re boiling whole or cut-up potatoes.

Moreover, how long it takes to boil potatoes varies with the type of potatoes you’re boiling.

For instance, russet potatoes take longer to boil. Large whole russet potatoes take 20 to 30 minutes to cool properly. Yukon gold and red potatoes take 15 to 20 minutes to boil. Cut-up potatoes will be ready in 10 to 12 minutes.

In addition, smaller potatoes boil in less time than whole potatoes. You can tell any of the different types of potatoes are done boiling when they feel tender.

How to boil potatoes

Boiling potatoes is the first step of most potato dishes. You must get the best potatoes. When buying potatoes in the supermarket, go for the freshest.

Also, carefully examine the potatoes for signs of spoilage. Do not buy any potato that is no longer firm.

There are different ways to boil potatoes. You can boil potatoes on a stove, in a microwave, or a slow cooker.

1. On a stove

  • Prep the potatoes by washing and peeling them (peel only if you want to or your recipe requires peeled potatoes)
  • Put the potatoes in a pot and fill it with water
  • Thereafter, add salt and leave them to boil for 15 to 30 minutes
  • Halfway through boiling, poke the potatoes with a fork to check the tenderness
  • Once they are well cooked, drain off the water and serve

2. In a microwave

Boiling potatoes in a microwave is a timesaver. It is the best choice when you have little time to cook your meal. Here’s how to:

  • Wash and peel the potatoes (peel them if you wish)
  • It is best to cut them up when boiling potatoes in a microwave. But you can also boil them whole
  • Put the peeled potatoes in a microwave-safe bowl and fill the bowl with water to cover the potatoes
  • Add salt and olive oil to prevent the potatoes from boiling over
  • Cover the bowl with clean plastic wrap and make little holes in the plastic wrap for steam to escape
  • Microwave the potatoes for about 5 minutes
  • Bring it out and check. If the potatoes are not tender enough, microwave for another 5 minutes
  • When they tender enough to your satisfaction, drain the water and serve

3. In a slow cooker

Boiling potatoes in a slow cooker will take longer, but it allows you to do other things while cooking the potatoes.

  • Prepare the potatoes for cooking
  • Cut them up into chunks and place them into the cooker
  • Add water and boil for 3 or 4 hours on high heat. Boiling on low heat will take 6 to 8 hours
  • When the potatoes are well-cooked, you can serve

How to make mashed potatoes

  • Get your potatoes ready
  • Wash and peel them
  • Then, add one teaspoon of vinegar to a pot of water and add the potatoes. The vinegar will help to retain the original color of the potatoes
  • Afterward, boil the potatoes for about 20 minutes until they are tender
  • When the potatoes are very tender, drain off the water
  • Mash the potatoes in the pot
  • Season and garnish as you like. Then, serve


Should you peel potatoes before boiling them?

No, you don’t have to.

It is not advisable to peel potatoes before boiling them. Peeled potatoes absorb more water while boiling and are more likely to leave you with a mushy mess.

Can you overcook potatoes?

It is possible to overcook potatoes, but it’s not advisable.

When you cook potatoes longer than you should, they become mushy and do not hold their texture.

Is it better to boil potatoes whole or chopped?

How you boil your potatoes is a matter of preference.

Boil potatoes the exact way your recipe requires. However, cut-up potatoes will boil faster than whole potatoes.

Why are your sweet potatoes hard after cooking?

If your sweet potatoes are still hard even after boiling them, you did not cook them long enough.

Also, potatoes will remain hard even after boiling them if you do not add salt to the cooking water. That’s because the pectin in potatoes needs salt to break them down.

Can you eat raw potatoes?

Yes, you can. It is safe to eat raw potatoes, but you should do so with caution. Eating too many raw potatoes can cause diarrhea and stomach upset.


If you don’t boil potatoes correctly, you’ll either have them undercooked or overcooked, and neither tastes pleasant. Whole, large potatoes will take a longer time to boil than small or chopped potatoes.

The best way to tell potatoes are done boiling is to pierce a large one with a fork. When potatoes are done, they’ll be very tender, and a fork will easily pierce through them.

If your potatoes still feel hard after boiling, leave them to cool a little longer. Also, be mindful of overcooking them.

Do you know when it is time to stop cooking fish? See signs that tell you your fish is cooked and ready to be served.

Thanks for reading.

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