Can I Prep Potatoes Ahead of Time?



Anyone who has tried to get ahead by peeling or chopping potatoes in advance of cooking knows what happens—brown city. When you slice into a spud, you expose its natural phenols to oxygen, a chemical reaction that results in an almost immediate pinkish hue. They’re still safe to eat, and it doesn’t change the taste, but who wants to serve mauve potatoes?

The way to keep prepped potatoes from turning brown is to submerge them in cold water. This is a very handy trick that will serve you best when used as follows:

– The longest potatoes should sit in water is overnight.
– If keeping potatoes in water for more than an hour, refrigerate.
– Small cuts, like diced potatoes, get waterlogged faster, so are best kept in cold water for a short time, like while you prep other ingredients.
– Bigger cuts can hang out happily in water for 8-12 hours. One of the best ways to use this trick is when making mashed potatoes—you don’t have to cut them small and you’ll be adding liquid anyway. In the morning, put peeled, quartered potatoes in a pot of cold water and refrigerate; when it’s time for dinner, just put the pot on the stovetop and fire it up!
– Don’t keep shredded potatoes in water. Such a fine cut takes on water quickly and is typically cooked until golden (think latkes), so none of that discoloration will show anyway.
– If your dish depends on the most crisp exterior (like pommes Anna) or requires your potatoes to give off very little moisture (like a gratin with other water-heavy veggies) your best bet is to cut those tubers right before use.

Great Potato Recipes:


  1. Susan Parsons

    Thanks for the info on the potatoesame. I would have ruined the potatoes.

    November 23, 2016 at 4:53 pm
  2. diane lea

    can I put boiled potatoes in soup broth overnight?

    August 5, 2016 at 9:34 am
  3. kim

    I often cut potatoea, UNpeeled as we love the skins, into medium-lg dice and leave in a pot of cold water along with 2-3 whole garlic cloves. I prep in the morning or if dinner is early, late the night before. I generally use red or yukon golds for mashed and have never experienced a problem. I drain the starch rich water and cover with fresh cold. Perfect every tome. Mash the garlic along with the potato. Yum!

    February 20, 2016 at 2:58 pm
  4. denise

    I want to steam/par-boil red baby potatoes AND pre-cut them 1 1/2 days before, for breakfast home fries to save time that morning. Is that ok, or will they still oxidize?

    February 18, 2016 at 12:46 pm
  5. MickinMD

    As a teenager in the 60’s, when fast-food used fresh potatoes for fries, we had to fill the cut-potato bins with raw fries (50 lbs each in 2 bins), covered with water at room temperature, after closing the store 11 pm on weeknights. The store opened at 8 am. (no breakfast menu back then) and there were never problems with the fries – which wouldn’t be used up for perhaps 12 hrs after cutting.
    The one extra thing we did was remove excess starch by washing the potatoes twice: we ran our hands through the cut potatoes covered with water for about 30 seconds, draining and refilling the water after each wash.
    Since then when getting ready to feed a holiday crowd, I’ve often cut 5 lbs of more of potatoes later in the evening then prepared them in potato salad the next morning so they’d be hot when served (though microwaving is ok). I stored them under water in a covered pot at room T. I don’t wash them ahead of time since the boiling takes care of that. I have to make so much because my father’s recipe for potato salad (, is so popular among coworkers, friends, and relatives they often want to take some home.

    December 24, 2015 at 1:07 pm
  6. Mary Barnes

    Can I preboil my white potatoes today and bake it the next day

    December 18, 2015 at 7:05 am
  7. Ann

    I peeled purple potatos cut in halves put in cold water and left overnight are they OK to put in a roast after being out over night

    December 5, 2015 at 2:06 pm
  8. Clia Goodwin

    Is there any harm in leaving peeled potato halves in water unrefrigerated before cooking? They are not turning brown (red skin boiling potatoes). Thanks

    November 28, 2015 at 2:01 pm
  9. Alexandra Sprague

    Thank you SO much for the info on peeling potatoes ahead of time. This is such helpful information. You made my day (Thanksgiving on Friday)!!

    November 27, 2015 at 8:35 am
  10. donna baker

    Bill- Trader Joe’s has a frozen potato that is passably good. They are frozen in little disks so you can count out however many servings you need, microwave then add some butter, salt and pepper. Pretty good compared to most boxed fake spuds.

    November 26, 2015 at 1:42 pm
  11. nancy

    I think the brand is Simply Potatoes. You can find them in the refrigerated section of the grocery store. They are premade mashed potatoes and taste pretty close to home made.

    November 26, 2015 at 10:25 am
  12. Bill Barnett

    I have often wondered what I could do to make cooking potatoes go faster. I really appreciate the tips you offered and I will definitely try them out. But are there potatoes that can be bought pre-prepared?

    October 14, 2015 at 3:52 pm
    • Elizabeth Hebenstreit

      They had a frozen version of real potatos that you could microwave and mash so they were still real ‘homemade’. I tried them one year thinking it would be nice to save time but they were NOT good. Just in case you come across them🙂

      November 26, 2015 at 12:06 pm

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