How to Boil Sweet Potatoes (And Why You ShouldnÍt Bother)

Process of Parboiling

Parboiling is defined as partial cooking of food in boiling water. In order to parboil any vegetable, take enough water to immerse the vegetables and bring it to boil. Once the water boils, add the vegetables, and cook for a few minutes in boiling water. Another method is to put the vegetables in room temperature water and boil. This method may take longer, as compared to the former. The food should only be partially done and not overcooked. You can check the doneness by poking the vegetables with a fork. The outer parts of the vegetables must be soft with cooking. Once taken out of boiling water, the vegetable may cook for some more time. In order to prevent such further cooking, drain them right away.

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4 More Way to Bake Sweet Potatoes

1. Baked Sweet Potatoes

If you're in the market for a more savory sweet potato side dish, give this simple recipe a try. "Very healthy and tasty sweet potatoes that will be a great addition to any meal. Very easy!"

Get the recipe: Baked Sweet Potatoes

2. Twice-Baked Sweet Potatoes

Recipe creator SDELATORE says, "This creamy sweet potato recipe is a huge hit with everyone. A friend served a version of these at a luncheon, and I absolutely loved it. I found some sweet potatoes in my fridge that I hadn't used and decided to try it. Everyone at work flipped over them! They're great with pork chops or steak, too!"

Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes Photo by Sugarplum

Get the recipe: Twice-Baked Sweet Potatoes

3. Roasted Beets ‘n’ Sweets

"This is a great autumn or winter side dish, especially for those who like things sweet and salty. The colors are beautiful and make a nice autumn presentation," says recipe creator DRUMNWRITE.

Get the recipe: Roasted Beets 'n' Sweets

4. Yummy Sweet Potato Casserole

Recipe creator TINA B says, "My family begs me to make this creamy baked dish every Thanksgiving and Christmas. What makes it so good is the pecan topping! Try it and I'm sure it will become your new tradition!"

Get the recipe: Yummy Sweet Potato Casserole

What Oil Is Best

Oils with a mild flavor and a higher smoke point are best for roasting potatoes as they can be heated to the higher temperatures used in roasting. These oils include extra virgin olive oil, canola, and grapeseed oil.

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Lets Make Crispy Roasted Potatoes

Learn how to make perfect Roast potatoes with this foolproof recipe for roast potatoes that come out perfect every time!

4.99 from 73 votes

Prep15 minutes Cook50 minutes

Total 1 hour 5 minutes

Why Do You Parboil Potatoes?

Now that we have the method part down, let us explore the reasoning behind the methods. Why on earth do you need to partially cook your potatoes before you fully cook them? Do they need practice cooking or something? Not quite. There are actually quite a few reasons why you may choose to parboil your potatoes before cooking them in the oven or fryer.

Parboiling Makes Potatoes Crunchier

Earlier, I mentioned those mushy home fries that I

Earlier, I mentioned those mushy home fries that I used to make in my own kitchen, in contrast to the deliciously crispy ones I used to get at brunch on Sunday morning! One of the main reasons for this is parboiling. Potatoes are extremely starchy, as you may know, which makes them really tough to break down during the cooking process. One of the best ways to do this is by boiling, but obviously, boiling will not produce that delicious crunch that we are working toward. The process of parboiling your potatoes actually gets rid of a lot of the simple sugars and starches in your potatoes, and gelatinizes a layer on the surface of the potatoes. When you then transfer the potatoes into a different cooking method, this layer becomes dehydrated and browns as it cooks, creating that nice crunchy, crisp outer layer that we love to bite into!

Parboiling Makes Potatoes Cook Faster

This one has been a lifesaver to me on so many occasions since discovering parboiling. The fact is, potatoes are dense. And they take forever to cook, right? Right. Parboiling actually pre-cooks the potatoes in the easiest way, and now they will roast, bake, or sauté much faster, just to name a few of my favorite methods for cooking parboiled potatoes. I used to think that my potatoes were too soggy because I hadn’t cooked them long enough, so I would try to roast them even longer and end up with burnt (and yet somehow still soggy on the inside) potatoes. In reality, now that I have discovered parboiling, I can get that delicious crunch and save time to boot–and anything that saves time in my kitchen is a positive! This is great if you are grilling as well, because the potatoes don’t have to take up space on the grill for hours before being ready to eat!

Not only does parboiling save you time, but can help your kitchen run more efficiently and effectively as well! Because your potatoes will cook faster when parboiled, their cooking time will be more in sync with whatever other ingredients you are using. One of my biggest frustrations with putting together a vegetable medley is that they each take different lengths of time to cook properly, so you try to use a medium length of time, and end up with soggy zucchini and potatoes that are practically still cold on the inside. With parboiling, your potatoes will take much less time to cook, so your other vegetables won’t be sitting around waiting for them to be done (and neither will your family). Think of cooking a stew, soup, or casserole, for instance. If you parboil your potatoes, they will be perfectly in tune with the rest of the ingredients throughout the slower cooking process.

Sweet potatoes can actually be parboiled as well, although sweet potatoes do typically cook differently than regular potato varieties, so keep an eye on them during this process!

You Can Prep by Parboiling the Potatoes Early

As if better flavors and saved time were not enough to convince you to parboil, you can even prep your potatoes early this way. Parboiled potatoes are good  for up to one to two days after you remove them from boiling. So if you have a dinner party coming up, friends coming over, or just want to get a headstart on your meal prep for the week, parboiling potatoes helps you be able to cut down on cooking time before the actual event. Simply parboil your potatoes, wrap them in an airtight container, and place them in the fridge as you would any leftovers. When you’re ready to finish cooking them, you’re ready to go with delicious potatoes every time that will cook much faster than if you started from scratch. You can even freeze potatoes after they have been parboiled, and they will last for up to two or three months! That way, an easy side dish is always ready to go when you need it.

Heating the Tray Oil

The other part of my technique is to heat the cooking tray and oil whilst the potatoes are parboiling. This gives the cooking a headstart. I use exactly the same technique when roasting Parsnips.

The other benefit of getting the oil smoking hot before adding the potatoes is that the potatoes will cook in the oil. Cold oil will simply be absorbed by the boiled spuds and that can make them greasy and less crispy.

How to Par Cook Potatoes

Cut your potatoes into 1-inch cubes and bring a pot of water to a boil. Use about 3 parts water to 1 cup potatoes by volume. Add the potatoes to the water; cook for 1 minute and drain immediately. Alternately, add the cubed potatoes to the water before you start the heating process; heat the water and potatoes until they come to a boil and then turn off the heat and drain immediately.

If you cut your potatoes into larger chunks, they’ll take a little longer to parboil, and if you cut them in smaller pieces, they’ll parboil more quickly. When in doubt, remove a piece from the pan and test it for doneness. It shouldn’t be fully tender, but it shouldn’t be completely crunchy either. Refrigerate parboiled potatoes if you aren’t going to use them immediately because they’ll continue to cook if they sit for too long.

What’s Old Bay?

Old Bay pairs perfectly with potatoes, so we think it’s essential on these grilled sweet potatoes. Never cooked with it? Old Bay is an American seasoning blend that’s often used to season seafood, most notably in shrimp boils or chowders. The main ingredients in Old Bay are paprika, celery salt, black pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes. It’s some kind of magic, because it makes anything you sprinkle it on taste irresistible.

You can find Old Bay in your grocery store in the spices aisle, or buy Old Bay online. Or, you can make your own! Here’s our homemade Old Bay seasoning.

2. Place in water

Place the potato pieces in a stockpot and cover the potatoes with water by a few inches. Add a generous pinch of salt.

Ingredients for grilled sweet potatoes

Because sweet potatoes are so flavorful in themselves, you can get away with few ingredients in this recipe. Here’s all you need for grilled sweet potatoes:

  • Sweet potatoes
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Old Bay (more on that below!)

How to make the best extra crispy roasted potatoes:

  1. Chop the potatoes. It’s important that all the potatoes are cut in a uniform shape and size so that they cook evenly. Having some small and some large pieces may leave you with some that are crispy while others are soft.
  2. Boil the potatoes. Bring a large stockpot full of water to a boil. Once boiling, season liberally with a couple of tablespoons of kosher salt and a hint of baking soda. Add the potatoes and stir to combine. Allow the potatoes to boil for 8-10 minutes or until you can easily pierce through them with a paring knife but still get a bit of resistance.
  3. Drain and prep for roasting. Drain the potatoes in a colander, then put them back in the stockpot. Using a metal spoon, toss the potatoes so the edges start to mush up and become soft. Season with salt and pepper, and drizzle with the oil. 
  4. Toss with garlic herb oil. Roast the potatoes until they’re golden and start browning a bit. Then, heat the remaining oil, grated garlic, and herbs in a small bowl and toss the potatoes with the mixture before returning to the oven for several more minutes.
  5. Allow the potatoes to sit before eating. They crispy up a bit more if they have a chance to sit for a few minutes!
What if I didn’t want to boil the potatoes,

What if I didn’t want to boil the potatoes, will they still turn out crispy?

No, unfortunately, this recipe requires a parboil before you roast the potatoes in the oven. In my recipe testing, I was never able to achieve the same crispy edges if I did not boil the potatoes before roasting them.

Can I make these in advance? How do you suggest reheating leftover roasted potatoes?

This recipe is best when consumed shortly after preparing them. I’ve reheated leftovers in a 350ºF oven and they reheat just fine, but they do not get as crispy if you reheat them. And the texture is best the day of, in my opinion.

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