Cooking potatoes in the oven takes too long, especially when you are hungry. Deep-fried and pan-fried potatoes require too much attended-cooking time, and boiling potatoes to make a mash is too complicated of a process.
The quickest and easiest method is for making potatoes, is microwaving them.
But how long to microwave a potato? You can microwave potatoes for 5 minutes on each side. However, cooking time may vary by a few minutes depending on the variety of potato and size of the spud.
The microwaving process is the same for all types of potatoes. You can also modify the process to bake or boil potatoes or serve other potato dishes and sides.
This article is a comprehensive guide to microwaving potatoes. From instructions to tips and ideas for serving, we have covered it all.
Is It Safe to Microwave Potatoes?
If you are not much of a cook or simply don’t have time for complicated recipes, then microwaving potatoes for dinner is a great option.
It is completely safe to microwave potatoes so long as you do it right. The key thing to remember when cooking these vegetables is the following.
Poke the potato with a fork to prevent them from exploding while cooking. The steam created in the potato should have a way to escape, if it doesn’t, well, you suffer the consequences.
How to Microwave a Potato
Microwaving potatoes is incredibly easy. If you want a perfect microwave-baked potato, here’s what you should do:
- Wash and scrub the potatoes. As you are cooking the potatoes with the skin on, it is essential to thoroughly wash them and scrub the skin with a brush to get the dirt off. If there are any spots on the skin, remove them with a knife.
- Pat the potatoes dry.
- Poke the potatoes with a fork. As we have already mentioned, this step is key. If you skip it, the potato will explode creating a mess in your microwave.
- Smear olive oil on the potatoes. If you’re not feeling like a rich but subtle olive oil flavor, you can be bold and use bacon grease for added flavor.
- Season with salt and pepper, and any other spices that strike your fancy.
- Microwave the potatoes for 5 minutes on High setting. Make sure you are using a microwave-safe plate. You can line it with a paper towel so that the potato doesn’t roll around.
- Flip to cook the potatoes evenly. The potato gets very hot. Flip it using a fork.
- Microwave for another 3 to 5 minutes. If you are cooking only one potato, 3 more minutes are enough to fully cook most potatoes. If there is more than one potato on your plate, microwave for up to an additional 5 minutes.
- Remove the potatoes from the microwave and serve.
If you follow this process properly, you should have a soft, fresh, delicious baked potato on your hands in no time!
If you’re more of a visual learner, we’ve found a simple video tutorial by the How Do You Do channel on YouTube. Take a look!
How Long to Microwave Different Types of Potatoes
How long it will take for a potato to cook in the microwave largely depends on the size of the potato and also your microwave. However, there might be some differences between the cooking time of different varieties of potatoes.
In the table below you will find how long different potato types commonly take to cook in the microwave. The cooking time is estimated for one medium-sized potato:
How Long to Microwave Potatoes Chart
|Potato Type||Cooking Time|
|Russet Potatoes||8 minutes|
|Yukon Gold||4-6 minutes|
|French Fingerling (1 pound)||8 minutes|
|Red Potatoes||4-6 minutes|
|Sweet Potatoes||5 minutes|
As the cooking time depends on the wattage of the microwave you are using, we recommend you test the potatoes for doneness before you serve them.
A few tries of microwaving your favorite potato varieties will help you come up with your own time chart that you will follow every time you cook a potato in the microwave.
While it may take a bit of experimenting, it won’t take you long to end up with a perfect recipe for quick microwave potatoes at the touch of a few buttons!
What Types of Potatoes are Best for Microwaving?
If being a chef is not your call, you may find it useless to go into the specifics of each potato variety.
However, if you are a home cook that enjoys cooking with this extremely easy and versatile ingredient, you might want to differentiate between such key features of potatoes as waxy, starchy, and all-purpose.
Why does this matter, you may wonder? The importance of knowing the differences between waxy, starchy, and all-purpose potatoes lies in the fact that it will help you pick the right variety for a specific cooking method.
How we define potatoes as starchy or waxy depends on how much starch and how much moisture the potato contains.
1. Starchy Potatoes
As you have already guessed, the starch content in these types of potatoes is higher than the moisture content. The high starch content also provides the even flesh color of these potatoes.
This type of spuds is characterized by dryness and flakiness. You can easily mash these potatoes for a perfectly creamy potato mash.
The secret of starchy potatoes being the best for boiling is that the starch particles expand and create the airy texture we are looking for in a mash. Starchy potatoes are also good for baking. They turn out light and fluffy.
Russet and Idaho are two of the widely used starchy potato varieties. Red potatoes also contain a high amount of starch.
Russet potatoes are the most used variety when it comes to baking spuds in the microwave.
2. Waxy Potatoes
Waxy potatoes contain more moisture than they do starch. This results in a creamy flesh.
Waxy potatoes in most cases are smaller and have a round shape. The skin is thinner and more delicate. You don’t always need to peel them before cooking.
These type of potatoes hold their shape well. They are a great choice for boiling. However, don’t think of mashing them. They will be better in a potato salad. You can also bake waxy potatoes in the microwave.
New potatoes, fingerling, and red-skinned potatoes are all waxy spuds. Baby potatoes also have a high moisture content. You can bake these in the microwave expecting them to hold their shape and have a firmer texture than starchy potatoes.
3. All-Purpose Potatoes
If it depends on your mood whether you want the potatoes bakes, boiled, or roasted, then the best thing for you to do is to go with all-purpose potatoes. These have medium starch content and the water content is not high either.
White and purple potatoes are all-purpose potatoes. They can be an easy alternative to any starchy or waxy potato.
Yukon gold potatoes, however, are some of the best choices for baking potatoes in the microwave. Once cooked, they have the perfect texture – a balance between creamy and firm. The inside of the potato turns creamy while it still holds the shape.
How Do You Know When Potatoes are Done?
Cooking potatoes is easy whether you are baking them, boiling, or roasting. However, the key to delicious potatoes even when they are seasoned with only salt and pepper is their perfect degree of doneness.
Though recipes generally suggest how long the potatoes need to be cooked, you should know how to check it yourself whether they are cooked through or not.
You may be using a different kind of potato, of a size smaller than in the recipe, and your microwave may not be as powerful. So, you should know what a cooked potato looks like.
The easiest method to check the doneness of potatoes without running the risk of getting it wrong is the good old skewer method.
If a wooden skewer easily enters the potato and you don’t have to apply any pressure, then the potato is done. You can also use a knife or a fork to poke through the potato to check the doneness.
Once you have more experience with potatoes, you can easily identify whether your baked potatoes are done or not by simply touching them. Potatoes that are done can be easily squeezed and are soft.
In any case, remember that when it comes to food safety, you’re better off overcooking potatoes rather than undercooking them. You may risk a slight loss in quality, but it’s better than getting sick.
How to Store Microwaved Potatoes
Put microwaved potatoes in an airtight container and store them in the fridge. They will keep safely in the fridge for around five days.
Reheating microwaved potatoes is as easy as it is to cook them. Microwave for a few minutes until they are properly heated.
Can You Boil Potatoes in the Microwave?
Boiling potatoes in the microwave is different from cooking them. To boil them, you will obviously need water.
It should be noted though, that boiling potatoes requires a little more hustle than simply baking them in the microwave. If you are not going to mash them, it is better to bake the potatoes without water.
You can boil both cut potato pieces and a whole potato, but for the best results, boil potatoes in the microwave whole, without removing the skin.
While boiling can affect the nutrient content of potatoes, boiling them with the skin on will allow you to retain the nutritional value. Additionally, it is no secret that whole-boiled potatoes turn out more flavorful.
Boiling Whole Potatoes in the Microwave
Here is how to boil a potato whole in the microwave:
- Wash the potatoes and scrub the skin to get it all clean.
- Poke the potato and place it in a microwave-safe deep plate.
- Add a cup of water to the potato. The liquid should be enough to cover the potato. You can also boil the water first and then add the potato.
- Cook the potato for around 8 minutes on the High setting.
- Take the potato out of the water. Check to see if it’s done.
- Let it rest for 5 minutes as it will continue to cook while it cools down.
- Peel the potato, cut into smaller pieces, season, and serve.
If you are going to boil more than one potato, plan on an extra 2 minutes of cooking time for each potato you add.
Boiling Cut Potatoes in the Microwave
Boiling cut potatoes involves the same basic process as above. To boil cut potatoes, just make a few simple modifications in the process as follows:
- Wash the potatoes.
- Cut the potato into pieces at the desired size.
- Place them in a microwave-safe dish with a lid that is not less than 2.5 centimeters deep.
- Add water. The water shouldn’t cover the potatoes but instead should just be enough to create steam. A cup of water is usually enough.
- Cover the plate with the lid (not tightly). Alternatively, use a plastic wrap to cover the potatoes. Make sure it is microwave-safe.
- Do a few holes on the wrap to not trap the steam inside.
- Microwave for 10 minutes on the High setting or until ready.
- Drain the liquid from potatoes.
As you can see, the greatest difference is that you need less water to boil cut potatoes; instead of covering them with liquid, you only need enough to create steam around the covered potatoes.
How to Serve Microwaved Potatoes
If you think of a microwaved potato as something simple and boring, you haven’t tried spicing it up with toppings or fillings, sauces, and spices. Even adding some herbs to the potatoes before cooking them will take them from boring to exciting.
A simple baked potato is a blank canvas you can add numerous flavors to. Here are a few ways to elevate potatoes cooked in the microwave.
Toppings and Fillings
There is a range of delicious toppings and fillings you can add on your baked potatoes to make your dinner more exciting. All you need to do is to cut the potato half-open, leaving it connected at the bottom, and putting all your favorite ingredients on top.
Bacon and cheese will certainly do the job, and it’s a classic combination for a baked potato.
However, there are so many other ideas you can try. Keep in mind that for some of the fillings you will need them cooked beforehand. Reserve these options for days when you have time to put together a ‘fancier’ dinner.
Here are some other great baked potato toppings:
- Smoked fish
- Minced Beef
- Sour cream or Greek yogurt
- Fried egg
- Caramelized onions
- Cottage cheese
If you are lazy and or too hungry to put the potatoes back into the microwave to warm up the toppings, serve them with sauces. Hot sauce, pesto, garlic sauce, you name it. Eat baked potatoes with any condiment you like.
Making Mashed Potatoes in the Microwave
Once your potato is cooked through, remove it from the microwave. Make a long cut in the middle of the potato from one end to the other.
Mash up the inside of the potato while still keeping the skin intact. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Top it with butter and your favorite melting cheese. Put the potato back into the microwave for 60 seconds to melt the cheese.
Take it out and top with a spoonful of sour cream. Chopped green onion is a great addition if you like a sprinkle of freshness in your dish.
And here you have a boring microwave-baked potato elevated into a delicious mash.
Making Herbed Potatoes in the Microwave
If you want to eat baked potatoes straight out of the microwave and don’t want to spend extra time on stuffing them but still want them to not be boring, then you should try making herbed potatoes.
All you need to do is to wash and cut the potatoes into wedges and cover them with a mixture of butter and olive oil. Then, make a mix of herbs and garlic powder. Thyme and oregano go perfectly with spuds.
Add the mix to the potatoes. Make sure to cover them evenly with the mix.
Microwave for around 10 minutes and your delicious herbed potatoes are done. And the best part is that no one will ever know you have cooked them in the microwave.
Making Potato Salad in the Microwave
If you want your microwave-cooked potatoes to be the side dish, you can try making a quick salad.
To make a potato salad, peel the potatoes and cut them into medium-sized cubes. Mix it with your desired ingredients.
You can use bacon and cheese, or make it lighter with celery and greens. Or, you can do it both! Add seasonings and sour cream to bring all the flavors together.
More Side Dishes for Microwaved Potatoes
Many people don’t even bother to serve a side dish with baked potatoes. They love them so much as to eat them on their own as a wholesome meal.
However, potatoes baked in the microwave can make your dinner preparation process much easier and cut the time in half.
Luckily, baked potatoes are very versatile and so neutral in taste that you are not likely to have any trouble trying to pair them with a side dish.
If you have run out of ideas, here is what we recommend you serve baked potatoes with:
- Shredded pork with gravy
- Roasted vegetables, such as carrots, peppers, zucchini, eggplant, etc.
- Beans or lentils with olive oil, herbs, and spices
- Chili con carne
- Grilled pork chop
- Crispy buffalo wings
- Pan-fried salmon
- A classic meatloaf
When choosing a side dish for your baked potatoes, consider which variety you have. For example, you have sweet baked potatoes, adding a side dish with lots of sweetness may not work.
If you have already stuffed your baked potatoes with a few ingredients and they have turned out quite filling, it is better to serve the potatoes with a lighter side dish. A green salad or an easy vegetable salad may be appropriate.
Tips for Cooking Potatoes in the Microwave
Microwaving potatoes is easy as pie. It seems like there is no need to make it easier. However, as for everything you cook, there are tips and tricks to make the process even simpler:
When cooking multiple potatoes at the same time, choose ones that are of similar size. This way you will make sure they all get evenly cooked.
If you microwave potatoes of different sizes, make sure to take out the smaller ones a few minutes early.
To easily peel a potato baked in the microwave, do it with a paper towel. Using a paper towel to remove the skin while the potato hasn’t cooled down yet is an effortless way of peeling it. You can use a clean kitchen cloth too.
This method won’t work with potatoes that are not hot. Peel cooled down potatoes with a knife.
If you are going to bake potatoes in the microwave to later stuff them with various ingredients, don’t poke them with a fork or knife before baking. Instead, make a long and deep cut from one end to another.
You will then easily open the potato while it is still hot and load it with your favorite toppings.
An easy way to boil potatoes is by placing the washed and scrubbed spud on a microwavable plate along with a cup of water. Don’t forget about poking the potato.
The steam will cook the potato making it softer than microwaving without water would. It will also prevent the skin from wrinkling.
An easy way to microwave a few spuds at a time is by using a microwaveable, resealable bag.
Peel the potatoes and wash them. Don’t pat them dry before putting them in the bag. Water droplets will create steam inside the bag making the potatoes cook nicely.
Also, don’t zip the bag all the way through. Leave the corner open to allow the steam to come out. Trapping the steam in the bag will cause it to melt.
Baking potatoes in the oven takes a long time. But it makes the potato skin delightfully crispy. So, should you sacrifice the crispy skin of potatoes for cooking them for 10 minutes in the microwave?
No, you shouldn’t. There is a way to get the best of both worlds.
While your potatoes are cooking in the microwave, preheat the oven to 425 °F. Once they are ready, transfer them from the microwave straight on the baking sheet and into the oven to get them all crispy, in half the time.
If you are not smearing the potato with oil before microwaving it, it is preferable to not pat it dry. A little water left on the skin is helpful in preventing it from wrinkling too much.
- 1 medium to large potato (per person)
- olive oil
- additional herbs/toppings to taste
- Optional herb mixture:
- garlic powder
- Wash and scrub the potatoes. If there are any spots on the skin, remove them with a knife.
- Pat the potatoes dry.
- Poke the potatoes with a fork. If you skip it, the potato will explode creating a mess in your microwave.
- Smear olive oil on the potatoes.
- Season with salt and pepper, and any other spices or herbs.
- Optional: A mixture of thyme, oregano, and garlic powder rubbed onto potatoes with butter and olive oil will make the perfect herbed potatoes with almost no added effort.
- Microwave the potatoes for 5 minutes on High setting, using a microwave-safe plate. You can line it with a paper towel so that the potato doesn’t roll around.
- Flip to cook the potatoes evenly. Microwave for another 3 to 5 minutes, depending on whether you are cooking a single or multiple servings.
- Remove the potatoes from the microwave. Add any toppings you enjoy with a baked potato (such as bacon, green onions, cheese, etc.). Serve and enjoy!
You can use also this recipe to make mashed potatoes by mashing up your already baked potato and seasoning to taste with salt, pepper, and butter.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 1 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 513Total Fat: 37gSaturated Fat: 17gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 18gCholesterol: 61mgSodium: 791mgCarbohydrates: 43gFiber: 6gSugar: 2gProtein: 6g