The Fastest Ways to Cook Potatoes Perfectly Every Time

fastest way to cook potatoes

Cooking potatoes quickly can be a challenge. Depending on the method, it can take upwards of an hour to get tender, fluffy spuds ready for serving. Ain’t nobody got time for that, especially on busy weeknights!

Luckily, there are some simple tricks to slash the time needed to cook potatoes. In this ultimate guide, you’ll learn the fastest ways to prepare potatoes so you can enjoy homemade mashed potatoes, roasted potatoes, baked potatoes, and more in no time.

How Long Does It Take to Cook Potatoes?

Before jumping into the fastest cooking methods, it helps to understand what factors affect total cook time for potatoes:

  • Potato type – Waxy potatoes like red potatoes cook faster than starchy russets. Smaller varieties cook quicker too.
  • Size and cut – Whole potatoes take longer than cubed or sliced potatoes. Larger potatoes need more time than smaller ones.
  • Cooking method – The cooking method makes a big difference in cook time. Boiling is faster than baking.

Here’s a comparison of approx cook times for common whole potato sizes using various cooking methods:

Cooking MethodSmall Potato (2″ diameter)Medium Potato (3″ diameter)Large Potato (4″ diameter)
Microwave6-8 mins8-10 mins10-14 mins
Oven Bake45-60 mins60-75 mins75-90 mins
Boiling15-20 mins20-25 mins25-30 mins

As you can see, microwaving is by far the fastest way to cook potatoes from start to finish. Other methods like boiling and baking take at least twice as long. Now let’s look at the fastest techniques for cooking potatoes using common kitchen appliances.

Microwaving Potatoes for Speedy Spuds

The microwave produces lightning-fast cooked potatoes in just 10 minutes or less, depending on size. Here are the key benefits of microwaving and tips for success:

Benefits of Microwaving Potatoes

  • Super fast compared to other methods – great for weeknights
  • Minimal prep needed – just poke with a fork
  • Cooks with no oil or added fat

Tips for Microwaving Potatoes

To microwave potatoes perfectly:

  • Prick the potato skin several times with a fork. This allows steam to escape and prevents exploding.
  • Adjust cook time by potato size:
    • Small (~2 inches): 6-8 minutes
    • Medium (~3 inches): 8-11 minutes
    • Large (~4 inches): 12-14 minutes
  • Let potatoes stand for 5 minutes after cooking before handling.
  • Wrap in a paper towel or microwave-safe cover for more even cooking.

You can microwave whole potatoes or cubed potatoes. Just cut larger potatoes into 1-inch cubes first. This reduces cook time substantially.

Some of the best microwave potato dishes include:

  • Twice baked potatoes – Scoop out cooked flesh and mix with cheese, bacon, etc. before replacing.
  • Loaded baked potatoes – Top with butter, cheese, bacon bits, etc.
  • Cheesy microwave mashed potatoes – Cook chopped potatoes with milk and make creamy with cheese.

So next time you need a potato side in a pinch, reach for the microwave first!

Baking Potatoes for a Classic Baked Potato

Popping potatoes in the oven yields a crunchy, browned exterior and fluffy interior when done right. Here are some tips for quickly oven-baking potatoes:

Benefits of Baking Potatoes

  • Achieve the classic baked potato with crispy skin
  • Cook evenly all the way through
  • Can prepare potatoes ahead by baking, then reheat

Instructions for Fast Oven-Baked Potatoes

Follow these steps for the fastest baked potatoes:

  • Scrub potatoes clean and prick several times with a fork.
  • Rub lightly with oil or butter to promote browning.
  • Bake at 425°F for cook times based on size:
    • Small potato (~2 inches): 45-60 mins
    • Medium potato (~3 inches): 60-75 mins
    • Large potato (~4 inches): 75-90 mins
  • Check for doneness by poking with a knife to see if tender.

Once cooled slightly, pile these quick baked potatoes high with toppings like:

  • Butter, sour cream, cheese, and bacon bits
  • Chili and shredded cheese
  • Broccoli and cheddar cheese sauce
  • Taco meat, beans, salsa, and more!

Baking yields delicious classic baked potatoes every home cook should know. While baking takes about twice as long as microwaving, you can prep potatoes in advance or bake while doing other meal prep to help streamline the process.

Boiling Potatoes on the Stove

Boiling potatoes on the stovetop takes more active cook time than the oven or microwave, but it’s one of the fastest ways to cook potatoes with standard kitchen equipment. Here’s how to do it right:

Benefits of Boiling Potatoes

  • Faster than baking with average cook time of 15-30 minutes
  • Allows seasoning or flavoring the cooking water
  • Works for mashes, potato salads, soups, etc.

Instructions for Boiling Potatoes

Follow this process for perfect boiled potatoes:

  • Peel potatoes before boiling if desired, or keep skins on.
  • Cut larger potatoes into 1-2 inch cubes to reduce cook time.
  • Place potato cubes or whole small potatoes in a pot and cover with water. Use a 2:1 ratio of water to potatoes.
  • Add 1-2 tsp salt to season water. Other flavor additions could include garlic, bay leaves, vinegar, etc.
  • Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat and simmer until fork tender:
    • Small chopped potatoes (~1-inch): 12-15 mins
    • Medium chopped potatoes: 15-20 mins
    • Large diced potatoes: 20-25 mins
    • Small whole potatoes: 20-25 mins
    • Medium whole: 25-30 mins
    • Large whole: 30-35 mins
  • Drain and serve potatoes immediately, or cool for potato salads.

The lower water temperature when simmering prevents potatoes from getting mushy or overcooked. Test tenderness periodically by piercing with a fork or knife tip.

Boiled potatoes work well for potato salad, soups, stews, mashed potatoes, and more. Add herbs, vinegar, or spices to the boiling water for extra flavor.

Other Quick Ways to Cook Potatoes

If you want to change things up, here are a few more ways to cook potatoes quickly:

1. Grill in Foil Packets

  • Toss potato chunks with oil, salt, pepper, and herbs.
  • Wrap tightly in foil packets and grill for 20-30 mins, flipping once.

2. Air Fry

  • Cut potatoes into wedges or 1-inch cubes.
  • Toss with oil, salt and pepper.
  • Air fry at 400°F for 15-20 minutes, tossing halfway.

3. Slow Cooker

  • Place chopped or whole potatoes in a slow cooker with seasoning.
  • Cook on low heat for 7-8 hours or high for 3-4 hours.

4. Pressure Cook

  • Pressure cooking whole potatoes takes only 12-15 minutes.
  • Cubed or sliced potatoes take just 2-5 minutes under pressure!

By grilling, air frying, slow cooking, or pressure cooking, you can get tender potatoes in under 30 minutes with minimal active effort.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

It’s easy to end up with undercooked or overcooked potatoes if you’re not careful! Avoid these mistakes for perfect spuds every time:

  • Don’t undercook potatoes. Test doneness to ensure they are fully tender, not crunchy.
  • Avoid overcrowding the pan or microwave. This extends cook time.
  • Remember to poke fork holes in the potato skin before microwaving or baking to allow steam to escape.
  • Don’t cook potatoes too far in advance. Reheating can make the texture mealy.

Follow the proper methods and cook times outlined above based on potato size and you’ll never miss the mark!

Enjoy Faster Homemade Potato Dishes

Armed with this guide to quickly cooking potatoes, you’ll be able to enjoy more homemade potato delights any night of the week.

To recap, microwaving whole potatoes or cubed spuds is the fastest option, taking as little as 6-14 minutes. For a classic baked potato, allow 45-90 minutes for baking based on size. Boiling on the stove takes about 20-35 minutes depending on if they’re whole or cut up.

Grilling, air frying, slow cooking, and pressure cooking also minimize hands-on time so the potatoes are ready when you are.

No matter which fast cooking method you choose, proper prep is key. Prick whole potatoes with a fork, cut larger potatoes into smaller pieces, use proper cook times and temperatures, and test doneness.

Now you don’t have to wait over an hour to enjoy fluffy mashed potatoes, crispy roasted potatoes, or delicious baked potatoes piled high with all the fixings. Get ready to enjoy more homemade potato recipes with half the cook time using these speedy methods.

Similar Posts