How to Peel a Potato

Two Methods:Using a Potato PeelerBoiling Away the Skin

Though your grandma’s potato peeler may seem indestructible, you may want to trade it in for a new method. This article will cover the traditional way of peeling potatoes, and then it will talk about a method, much, much easier by boiling away the skin. Both will work and leave you with perfectly peeled potatoes.

Method 1
Using a Potato Peeler

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    Hold the potato in one hand and the peeler in your other hand. Stand at the sink or over the garbage before you go to peel your potato. This way you don’t end up with bits of potato skin all over your kitchen. There are two generic "shapes" potato peelers; here's how to hold each one:
    • If you have a standard long potato peeler, hold it like a paint roller, with your thumb balancing it in your fingers, but still away from the blade.
    • If you have a Y-shaped potato peeler, hold it like a pencil. This way is more efficient, and you’re less likely to hurt yourself. It should be resting between your middle finger and thumb (of your dominant hand), with your pointer finger holding it in position.
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    Starting at the base of the potato, slowly peel the skin off away from you. Imagine drawing a line with the peeler going away from you, with your elbow pointing out, away from your body. Start at the base and try to make one swift motion all the way up the potato. Ideally, you should be peeling off the skin in strips.
    • This goes for both shapes of potato peelers, even the y-shaped ones. Though it's possible grandma held it differently and drew it into her, this way you'll find results in a much cleaner potato.
    • Some potatoes are a bit fussier than others and the skin will come off in chunks – especially if the potato isn’t smooth and round. Pay special attention to these areas to get every last bit off; they'll need extra work (and a slower peel, lest you hurt yourself).
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    Rotate the potato and continue the peeling process. As you get one side done, rotate it in your hand, developing a rhythm of peeling and rotating, peeling and rotating. Don't worry about peeling the top and bottom just yet.
    • This isn't a speed contest; go as slowly and patiently as you have to to avoid hurting yourself or taking off the good parts of the potato. Going slowly at first can help you perfect your technique for later, too.
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    Peel through any dark spots. You may find that as you expose the inside of the potato, you see dark spots. This is pretty normal – few potatoes are perfect. Focus on this area and keep peeling until you’ve peeled away the dark layers entirely.

    • Sometimes the dark “meat” of the potato goes pretty deep (this is often called an "eye"). If this is the case, cut out the area with a knife or the edge of your peeler. The potato won't be perfectly round, but it'll still be good to eat.
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    Continue the process with the top and bottom of the potato. This part is sort of like shaving your knees – maneuver the peeler around the curves as best you can, going back to those teeny spots you inevitably end up missing.
    • Rinse with cold water when finished. Your potatoes are then clean and ready to be prepared.

Method 2
Boiling Away the Skin

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    Place your potatoes in a large pot with plenty of water. You want a pot that's large enough for your potatoes to be well covered with water and not to be too cramped. Aim for at least 1 or 2 inches (2.5 - 5 cm) of water on top of the potatoes.
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    If you’d like, score your potatoes. You may find that the skin comes off easier (or at the very least, is easier to grip) with the potatoes scored. Just make a line into the skin (only about ¼ inch deep (.6 cm) around the center of the potato, like an equator.
    • Don't make the cut too deep; it just needs to go past the layer of skin. Try to cut every potato evenly so each one cooks evenly, too.
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    Bring it to a boil for about 15 minutes. A good-size pot with 6 or 7 potatoes will take around 15 minutes to cook through. You’ll need more or less time depending on how many you’re dealing with. When you think they’re done, pierce one with a fork – if it punctures the skin and then slides right in, you’re good to go.
    • Don't even worry about draining the pot just yet – move right onto the next step so the potatoes' heat is preserved.
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    When they’re cooked through, immerse them one by one in ice cold water for 5-10 seconds. Have a bowl of ice water ready for when your potatoes are done. With your tongs (do not touch the potatoes directly), grab each potato and put it in the bowl of ice cold water.
    • They don’t need to be left in there for too long to cool down – 5 -10 seconds is plenty.
    • With each potato, you may need to add an ice cube or two to the water; the heat of the potato will likely have transferred.
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    Peel off the skin. Here’s the magic: with just your fingers applying pressure to the skin, it will come right off, like a tablecloth. If you've scored the potato, place your thumbs on this line and pull toward the end of the potato, leaving a skinless potato in your wake.
    • Dispose of the skin one by one in the garbage (or in a designated bowl next to you), to keep the bowl of ice water clean and as cold as possible.


  • Save the peels and add them to soup or fry them. A potato's skin is full of vitamins and minerals and shouldn't be wasted.
  • Use the pointy tip of the peeler to extract potato "eyes." Simply gouge the tip into the potato and twist with your wrist.
  • If you boiled the potato, also consider eating it without peeling; the skin contains important micro-nutrients.


  • Peelers are sharp. Be mindful of how you hold the potato because a peeler can frequently "jump" when you hit a tough spot on the potato.
  • Do not throw your scraps down your garbage disposal. It will actually cause your disposal to break and it will cost you more in the end.

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