Methods of Cooking Potatoes

Erin Coleman, R.D., L.D.
raw potatoes

The different ways to prepare and cook potatoes are endless, which is one reason you'll never be bored when choosing potato recipes. Whether you're in the mood for baked potatoes, boiled potatoes or mashed potatoes, you're covered.

Preparing Potatoes

When preparing potatoes for cooking, first choose the type of potato you want to serve. A wide variety of potatoes in different shapes, sizes and colors are available to pick from. See what's available at your local supermarket, or try growing your own! To prepare potatoes for cooking:

  1. Wash potatoes thoroughly with water (or in a solution of water mixed with 2 to 3 tablespoons of white vinegar to help get dirt off potatoes).
  2. Scrub remaining dirt off of potatoes with a vegetable scrubbing brush.
  3. Rinse potatoes with water once again.
  4. Peeled potatoes if desired, and/or slice potatoes if your recipe calls for it.

Baked Potatoes

Baked potato

Baked potatoes are extremely versatile. Top them with broccoli and cheese, chili and cheese, salsa, or bacon and cheddar. Or, simply add butter with salt to enjoy this all-American starchy veggie and enjoy! Before baking, pierce washed potatoes with a fork, coat the skin with olive oil or butter, sprinkle with salt, place on a baking sheet, and cook at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for about 65 minutes.

Scalloped potato dishes highlight one way of making flavorful baked potatoes. It includes washing and slicing potatoes; then placing them in a baking dish with a variety of other flavorful ingredients, such as cream, cheeses, herbs and spices. Simply follow scalloped potato recipe instructions for combining ingredients, and bake for about 45 minutes at 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

Roasted Potatoes

Roasted potatoes

When making roasted potatoes, red skin or Yukon gold potatoes work well.

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Quarter 2 pounds of potatoes during the final step of preparation.
  3. Place them in the roasting pan with 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil.
  4. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Spread out potatoes in a single layer in the pan.
  6. Bake for 20 minutes (stirring or flipping them occasionally).

Consider adding herbs to the potatoes and other flavorful ingredients to the basic method and you'll have a great side dish for any meal.

Microwaved Potatoes

Microwaved potato

Sometimes, microwaving your potatoes instead of baking them is more convenient, especially when you're tight on time. Simply:

  1. Wash and scrub your potatoes to prepare them for being cooked.
  2. Prick each potato several times with a fork.
  3. Rub a little olive oil on the outside of each potato skin.
  4. Place potato on a microwave-safe plate.
  5. Cook each potato on full power for 5 to 6 minutes on each side (10 to 12 minutes total; flip potato over at halfway point).
  6. Make sure your potato is soft.
  7. Cut the potato lengthwise, and add your favorite fixings.

Virtually any traditional baked potato topping is perfect for a microwaved potato. Microwaving just gets to the end result a little faster!

Boiled Potatoes

boiled potatoes

Boiling potatoes is the perfect cooking method when you want to serve smaller potatoes whole, or prepare soft potatoes for mashing or potato salads. Boiling potatoes is easy and is a quick way to prepare them. Simply:

  1. Scrub and rinse potatoes to prepare them for boiling.
  2. Use small whole potatoes or cut larger potatoes into smaller cubes (peel if desired).
  3. Place potatoes in a large pot and fill with water (enough to cover tops of potatoes).
  4. Add about 1 teaspoon of salt to the water.
  5. Bring water to a boil using high heat.
  6. Reduce heat to low or medium low.
  7. Cover the pot with a lid; water should be gently boiling.
  8. Simmer (gently boil) potatoes for about 15 to 25 minutes, or until soft.
  9. Drain potatoes in a colander, cool them, add seasonings if desired, and enjoy!

If you want to mash potatoes after boiling them, heat 2 tablespoons of butter with 1 cup of milk over low heat. Then blend the milk mixture with the potatoes until they reach your desired consistency. When making potato salad recipes, simply wash and boil potatoes, simmer until soft, cool the cooked potatoes, and follow your favorite potato salad recipe.

Fried Potatoes

French fried potatoes

When frying potatoes, simply wash and cut potatoes into wedges or strips (peel first, if desired). Other ingredients you'll need include oil, shortening or lard for frying (depending on which frying method you choose), and seasonings of your choice. You'll use a shallow frying pan for shallow frying, or a deep fryer (or large pot) to deep fry. Fry potatoes in oil, shortening or lard for about 5 to 6 minutes; then drain potatoes on paper towels and add seasonings.

Steamed Potatoes

Another method for cooking potatoes you may not have heard much about is steaming potatoes. For this method, simply:

Steamed potatoes
  1. Peel 7 small potatoes (yellow potatoes work well).
  2. Boil 1 cup of water (add a pinch of salt) in a saucepan with a steamer basket inside it.
  3. Add potatoes to the basket and steam for about 20 minutes (or until tender and the water has evaporated).
  4. Transfer potatoes to a bowl and add 1 tablespoon of butter and 1/4 teaspoon of salt; toss to coat.

If desired, you could add some fresh herbs to the butter and salt before tossing. Choose ones that complement the rest of your meal.

Enjoying Potato Recipes

There are so many ways to cook and enjoy potato recipes. You can eat potatoes every night of the week and never be bored as this starchy veggie is one of the most versatile you'll find.

Methods of Cooking Potatoes