I've mostly seen people peel a potato after it has been boiled and then cutting it to pieces if required. Given it's muddy exterior, I find it cleaner (and probably takes less heat) to remove the skin with a peeler before boiling. Am I losing anything when I use my method? What do you suggest?

  • 4
    Muddy? You should at least wash it first...
    – Ray
    May 13, 2011 at 17:16
  • Even then, I'm sure there will be some residue left. Mud is not all that easily soluble in water. May 13, 2011 at 18:15
  • 7
    You don't just rinse it, you rub it, or maybe use a brush if it's really dirty or has crevasses.
    – Cascabel
    May 13, 2011 at 18:17

8 Answers 8


A lot of us just eat the peel, but assuming you don't want to...

Certainly it's going to be a lot faster to boil a potato that's already been cut up than to boil a whole one, so between boiling whole and peeling, dicing, then boiling, I'd certainly pick the latter. It doesn't really have much to do with cleanliness, though; a good washing leaves the peel plenty clean and safe (and like I said, I eat it). You're not losing anything with your method, besides the nutritional value of the peel.

I imagine the reason a lot of people boil their potatoes whole is to be able to peel them without a peeler. You could sort of have it both ways. If you partially cut the potato (thick slices, probably), you could boil them in not much longer than it'd take to boil small cubes, then peel the slices by hand, and cut further if necessary. Not sure it'd really save you a ton of time, but if your peeler is dull/broken/missing/stolen, it'd be a decent fallback. (You could probably also partially boil them whole, peel, chop, then finish cooking, but that's starting to sound like it just makes more work.)

  • What type of potato do you normally use? I don't mind the skin from a Yukon Gold potato but normally remove the skin of your plain old Idaho potato due to looks and taste. May 13, 2011 at 16:15
  • 3
    @duchess: Depends what's on sale, or what I'm trying to make (baking vs boiling, starchy vs waxy). But I'll happily eat the skin on any potato.
    – Cascabel
    May 13, 2011 at 18:16
  • 2
    For mashed potatoes try baking them instead of boiling and using a spoon to scrape out the flesh. Also, make sure they are still warm before being mashed -- keeps them from turning to glue.
    – Adam S
    May 14, 2011 at 4:38
  • Eating potato skin, especially if it's sprouting, used to be a good way to give yourself solanine poisoning. At least in the US, they seem to have gotten rid of the high solanine cultivars in the 1980's. I'd still beware of funny type potatoes from the farmers market or coop. When cooking diced, it's important to turn the heat down to simmer once boil is achieved. The cubes will erode if they collide too hard, especially with non-waxy taters. Sep 3, 2019 at 23:12

Boiling potatoes with the skin on leads to much less absorbtion of water. This is particularly desirable when making mash.

And I'm not sure who upthread said mud isn't water-soluble or why. Do you know what mud is made of? Dirt and water. In what universe would that not be water-soluble?

Scrub your taters, toss 'em in cold water, bring to boil. Peel if needed (personally I love leaving the peel in mash I make at home, nice texture).

  • I said that mud isn't "all that easily soluble". I meant that a simple rub-and-rinse is not always enough to get the thing mud free. May 14, 2011 at 5:11
  • @Vulcan: But if you wash them properly, you'll get essentially all of the dirt off. Residue? Perhaps, but they won't be any dirtier than plenty of other plants you eat.
    – Cascabel
    May 14, 2011 at 6:24
  • Most other plant parts I eat were grown above the ground. May 14, 2011 at 6:32

If I HAVE to boil potatoes, I prefer boiling them whole, with the skin on. This keeps them from getting too water logged and "soggy". This may also help with your "Muddy water" problem, since the inside of the potato is protected by the skin. Give them a good scrub with an old tooth brush, under running water.

If you're making a small quantity, microwaving potatoes works really well.

  • 3
    Please don't use your old toothbrush when you're making potatoes for guests. Nass-ty.
    – Aaronut
    May 13, 2011 at 19:59
  • Yeah that is unbelievably gross. -1
    – daniel
    May 13, 2011 at 21:51
  • @Aaronut, @daniel what's gross about it, they said old tooth bush, not current one?
    – TFD
    May 14, 2011 at 1:04
  • This is exactly why you should boil potatoes whole -- they get to much water in them when peeled and cut first. Keeping the skin on also prevents flavor from seeping out while cooking. Do an A/B test and you will see what I mean.
    – Adam S
    May 14, 2011 at 4:36
  • 3
    @daniel You'd eat in very few restaurants if they advertise their cleaning practices at all May 15, 2011 at 17:38

It's very easy to peel a boiled potato. You just rub it a bit and the skin falls off. I've seen this recommended in recipes for potato salad that use red potatoes. Since the red potatoes are smaller, they are more of a pain to peel, but they do cook relatively fast, so it end ups being easier to boil, peel, cut instead of peel, cut, boil.


Where I live (my household, the households of my family & the households of my friends), people always peel potatoes before boiling them. Most don't use a peeler, but a kind of paring knife (for more information, but not in English: link).

I think this is the case because a lot of people still buy potatoes from farmers, so the potatoes are really really dirty. Washing them could be too much work. Even when the potatoes are store bought, people peel them before boiling. I think it's just a habit.

The only thing I've heard is that it's better to not cut the potato in pieces before boiling, because you lose nutrition. I have no idea whether this is true.

Once in a while, people here do boil potatoes with the skin on, but only if these are 'new potatoes' (the first potatoes of the new season).

  • 1
    Same here, in Poland, where boiled potatoes are the staple food. Sometimes potatoes are boiled with skin, though. E.g. when used for a salad. Mar 23, 2012 at 22:14
  • We now have fake new potatoes in the US. They look right, but that "new" flavor is gone. :-( Sep 3, 2019 at 23:30
  • I am genuinely surprised some people find washing is more work than peeling... wouldn't you be getting mud all over your hands, cutting board, and newly bare potato edges while peeling? I've had to rinse off dirt fingerprints from minor contamination, like dust that fell off before washing, I can only imagine peeling actively-muddy potatoes would be worse.
    – Megha
    Sep 5, 2019 at 3:45

I would suggest washing your potatoes. This link has a fine step-by-step. I typically use a brush with a medium-hard bristle, meant for scrubbing vegetables.


It depends on the result you're after. If you are going to eat it boiled or steamed, just go ahead as you already do.

However, if you want to make mashed potatoes, then it's recommendable to leave the peal on. That way, the potato takes less water and absorbs the milk, butter, nutmeg, or whatever...


Its much better to peel it before boiling............

  • 5
    Why do you think so?
    – Mien
    Mar 23, 2012 at 15:06

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