Why Soak Potatoes In Cold Water Before Cooking? (Texture and Flavor)

If you’ve ever wondered why your mom or grandma always soak potatoes in cold water before cooking them, I’m here to give you the answer. It’s not just an old wives’ tale; there’s science behind it.

So, why soak potatoes in cold water before cooking? The process helps to remove some of the starch, which results in a better texture and flavor.

Keep reading to learn more about how the process can improve your cooking.

Why Soak Potatoes in Cold Water Before Cooking

Peeling potatoes. Credit: canva

Removing Excess Starch

Soaking potatoes helps to release some of the starch.

Excess starch can inhibit the potatoes from cooking evenly and create a gummy or sticky texture outside your potatoes.

When potatoes are cooked, the starch granules absorb water and swell. However, the starch granules will remain hard if the potato isn’t properly cooked.

The starch released can then be reabsorbed during cooking, resulting in softer, more flavorful potatoes. 

It also helps to prevent them from sticking to the pan or other cooking surfaces. And, as a bonus, it can reduce the cooking time.

So if you’re short on time (or don’t feel like hanging out by the stove for an hour), soaking your potatoes beforehand can be a big help.

Prevent from Overcooking

potato wedges
Potato wedges. Credit: canva

Another reason is to help prevent them from overcooking. When potatoes are cooked in boiling water, the outside will cook faster than the inside, leading to an uneven result.

It helps to even out the cooking time so that your potatoes will be perfectly cooked. The potatoes will be evenly brown and crisp and hold together better when cooked.

How to Soak Potatoes

Soaking potatoes. Credit: canva

The process is pretty simple:

  1. Just place your potatoes in a large bowl or pot and cover them with cold water.
  2. Let them soak for at least 30 minutes (or up to 24 hours if you have the time).
  3. Then drain the water and proceed with your recipe.

How Long to Soak Potatoes

The best time is anywhere from 30 minutes to overnight. The longer you soak, the less starch they will retain.

But if you have the time, I recommend at least a few hours or overnight. 


Submerged potatoes. Credit: canva
  1. Place your potatoes in a large bowl or pot and cover them with cold water. Make sure that all of the potatoes are completely submerged.
  2. Then, cover the bowl or pot with a lid or plate and place it in the fridge.
  3. Let them soak for at least 30 minutes or up to overnight. 
  4. Drain the water and give them a good rinse under running water. Then, they’re ready to be used in any recipe. 


  • Don’t soak too long, or the potatoes may start to break down and become mushy. Potatoes can also lose nutrients if it’s too long.
  • Make sure to rinse the potatoes to remove any excess starch that may have been released.
  • Only use cold water, as hot water can begin cooking the outside of the potatoes before they’re even in the pot.
  • Remember that it will cook more quickly, so keep an eye on them and adjust the cooking time accordingly.


What happens if you don’t soak potatoes before baking?

They will still bake, but not as fluffy, and the skin may be harder.

Potatoes should be soaked in cold water for about 30 minutes before baking to remove some of the starch.

What happens if you don’t poke holes in potatoes before baking?

The potatoes will explode. The high pressure that builds up inside a potato as it cooks can cause the potato to explode, especially if you cook the potatoes in a microwave oven.

To prevent this, pierce the potato’s skin several times with a fork before cooking.

Do you salt the water when soaking potatoes?

No, you don’t have to. However, putting the potatoes in a saltwater bath will help draw out some moisture, resulting in crispier fries.

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