When & Why to Microwave Your Potatoes

Microwaves are much a little under-valued, forgotten about pieces of kitchen equipment. evening though a lot of people own a microwave, most of us ( including ourselves… ) by and large use a microwave to ( ra ) heat food. A microwave is very effective at heating food, that ’ mho decidedly dependable, but it can do more and in some cases, can actually be a choose way of cooking your food !
cook potatoes is a bang-up model of getting the most out of your microwave. Microwaving a potato actually has a few great benefits, that can help big better ( and easier ) potato dishes. Our favorite : combining a microwave + air fryer/pan frying to make lusciously crisp potatoes .
Microwaving a potato international relations and security network ’ t hard and we could explain that in a infinitesimal or two. But of course, we want to know what happens when you cook that potato. Why is a microwave so dependable at it ? And, as such, how else could you use a microwave to prepare your food ?

How does a microwave work?

How you always considered how you ’ five hundred always use gloves or towels when putting your hand in a hot oven, but that there ’ s no need to do that when putting your hand in a microwave ? You might need a gloves or towel to take out your food after it ’ second been heated in the microwave. But your hand doesn ’ thyroxine get hot from good being in an open microwave that has merely worked !
This is because microwaves don ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate heat up your food in the same way as say an oven or a stave dress. A natural gas stave burns boast to create heat. An electric oven uses electricity to heat up coils, that become hot to the touch. A product heats up from the outside going in through conduction of the heat. particularly for big food products, it can take a long time for the heat to travel all the direction through .
Microwaves on the other hand don ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate make this direct heat. alternatively, they use radiotherapy to warm up food. This radiation is made up of waves of a specific length and frequency ( 0,3 – 300 GHz, but most consumer marketplace microwaves work at 2,45 GHz ). Humans can ’ t determine microwaves, they ’ re not the correct length to be registered by our eyes .

Microwaves fall on the alleged electromagnetic spectrum. This is made up of ways of very light to very long wavelength. visible light, roentgenogram, UV-light, but besides radio receiver waves are all exchangeable electromagnetic waves, but with different wavelengths .

potato and green bean samosas with mint chutny and raitaPre-cooking potatoes to use as filling in samosas works great!

Exciting water molecules

In a microwave, these ways move through your food. The waves themselves aren ’ t warmly. however, this specific type of wave is very full at ‘ exciting ’ respective types of molecules in your food, water specially. If microwaves travel through water, the urine molecules will start to vibrate well. This causes the temperature to increase ( the kinetic energy increases ). Microwaves are specially full at heating up liquids and then will have more trouble with solid ( freeze ) methamphetamine .
Potatoes contain a set of water ( over 80 % of the weight of a raw potato is urine ). This makes microwaves suitable for heating up potatoes .

Hot spots

You may have noticed that microwaves aren ’ thyroxine always capital at evenly heating up food. rather, microwaved food might contain hot spots where the food is identical hot. other areas might not yet be as warm. This is because of how the waves travel through the food. They can strengthen but besides weaken one another. It is why some microwaves contain a rotate platter, to have the food move through these unlike areas. In early cases, you might be advised to mix your food midway to even out the heat .
For potatoes specifically our know is that the bottom of the potatoes cooks faster than the top. As such, you might need to rotate them mid way .

A lot of the behavior of the waves in a microwave is very exchangeable to that of waves in water, on a lake, or ocean. They ripple through, might interact, and cause different patterns .

Waves traveling through

When heating your potatoes the waves travel through your potatoes. When a wave hits your potato it does weaken the further it gets into the potato. besides, large potatoes need a bunch more waves traveling through them before all the water molecules are amply excited. large potatoes still take longer to cook than smaller ones, but still well faster than if you ’ vitamin d cook them in a pot of boiling water or a regular oven .
microwaved potatoes ready for the final bake in the ovenPotatoes were cooked in the microwave and are now ready for the final bake in the oven to brown and crisp up.

What Happens When You Microwave Potatoes

So the microwaves heat up the body of water molecules within the potato. This is what finally ‘ cooks ’ the potato. The heating system will cook ( gelatinize ) the starch in the potato, the cell walls between cells will soften and break down. Some cells within the potato might even break down, releasing their components. All these processes are very exchangeable to what happens whenever you cook a potato. The chemistry and skill remain the lapp .

Drying out the potato

even though the processes are the like, a microwaved potato will come out slenderly different than that like potato cooked in boiling water. For one thing, you can microwave potatoes without any extra water. All you need to do is place them in the microwave on a microwave-proof stadium. As such, the potatoes won ’ thymine be able to absorb any extra moisture ( which they would do to some extent when boiled in water system ). What ’ s more, microwaves do dry out food a little. Because they heat up water thus well, some of that water system will evaporate .
Drying out a potato ( or at least not adding any extra urine ), has a lot of advantages if you ’ re planning to continue cooking that potato ! When you ’ ra fry, whether that ’ randomness in a pan or deep-fryer, you spend a distribute of department of energy evaporating moisture. The moisture needs to be evaporated to get a crisp outside. If your potato starts with less water, you need to evaporate less. besides, it runs less of a hazard to stick to a pan .
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Did you know that a well-developed ready-to-heat meal for a microwave has a unlike optimum constitution than one for the oven or stovetop ? Developers might use a small extra water or purpose the box condition in such a way that the waves can travel through optimally !

No browning

A microwave can cook your potato to make it fix to eat. however, it can ’ metric ton brown your potatoes or rightfully crisp them up. Browning alone happens at higher temperatures, where the Maillard reaction can take place quickly. Potatoes in the microwave just don ’ thymine pay back blistering enough .

Potatoes before and after cooking in the microwave. Notice how the potatoes have dried out slightly, the skin has gotten wrinkly

When to microwave your potatoes

Knowing all of the above, when would using a microwave to cook your potatoes be a dependable option ? :

  • To cook a whole potato; because the waves travel into the food more easily than heat would travel through conduction, your potato will cook quickly
    • You could use it to make a whole baked potato
  • To pre-cook potatoes for (deep) frying. The microwave quickly heats up the whole potato and dries it out slightly. This provides the ideal starting point for then frying and browning those potatoes.
    • Microwave + air fryer is a great combination that we tested previously!
  • To cook your potatoes. If you just want cooked potatoes, a microwave does the job very well. They might be a little drier compared to ones boiled in water, but if you prefer it that way, it’s a great fit!

Of course, the microwave international relations and security network ’ t a charming creature and it doesn ’ metric ton always add value. If you ’ re plan on making a gratin for case, with thinly sliced potatoes, we don ’ thyroxine recommend using the microwave. Making thin slices of your potato is just about impossible after you ’ ve pre-cooked the potato.

microwaved potato cut into wedgesPotato cut in wedges after being cooked in the microwave. Notice how the cuts aren’t super smooth? This is ideal for creating crispiness when frying your potatoes!

Skin on or off?

The peel of a potato protects it during storehouse. A skin raw potato will dry out a fortune more promptly than a potato that still has its skin on. The skin performs this same function in the microwave ! By keeping on the skin more moisture will remain in the potato. In our have, it ’ s about always better to keep on the skin. Peeling the potato can result in potatoes that are in truth excessively dry. Doesn ’ t think of it can ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate be done, but for most applications it ’ s not desirable .

Of course, there are exceptions to equitable about every rule. If you ’ ra looking for a way to cook and truly dry out your potato peeling the potato can help a lot here. In that case, be certain to besides let some of the steam and water safety valve from the microwave center during cook .

To cube or not to cube?

Since we ’ d recommend leaving the clamber on, we besides recommend not cutting your potato into smaller pieces. once you cut them, you ’ re efficaciously peeling parts of the potato, making them vulnerable to drying out. besides, a microwave is actually reasonably dear at cooking large potatoes. As such, the motivation to cut them into smaller pieces ( as you would when wanting to boil them cursorily in a pot of boiling water ) precisely international relations and security network ’ metric ton very there .
If you ’ re planning to use your microwave potatoes for making fries, we decidedly recommend cutting them after cooking in the microwave ! By pre-cooking the potatoes they turn soft and good a little crumbly. Your cuts won ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate be as smooth anymore and you ’ ll have little bits and pieces on the sides. These pieces crisp up very well during baking or frying. As such, it ’ sulfur even easier to get crisp potatoes !
microwaved potatoes

Microwave Potatoes

homework time :

2 minutes

cook time :

10 minutes

total time :

12 minutes

Preparing potatoes in the microwave is quite dim-witted. The accurate method acting will depend on the size and shape of your potatoes and your microwave. You might need to do a little trial and mistake to get it right for you .
Keep in beware what you want to do with your microwaved potatoes. If you plan to eat them as such you may want to cook them a little further along than if you ‘re still planning to fry them off in a pan. If the latter, you want them to be just a little firm to make it easier to cut them .
Keep in mind that it ‘s very crafty to peel the potatoes after they ‘ve been microwaved so it ‘s best to use this method for dishes where you do n’t mind the skin to still be on the potatoes. You can remove the skin with some rub, but it ‘s a bit of a hassle .


  • As many whole, unpeeled potatoes as you need. Ideally, the potatoes are all of a similar size, but this is not a requirement.


  1. Wash your potatoes to remove any remaining dirt. Do not peel the potatoes.
  2. Place your potato on a microwave-resistant plate or dish.
  3. Poke a few holes in each potato to help let steam escape (optional).
  4. Place the potatoes + dish in the microwave. You can cover the potatoes with a microwave lid (optional), since this keeps the steam closer to the potatoes this can help cook the potatoes a little quicker
  5. Turn on the microwave on maximum wattage (we use 900W, exact settings may depend on your microwave) for 3-10 minutes (see notes for guidance on times).
  6. Take the potatoes out of the microwave (take care, quite a bit of steam might be coming out of the microwave!) and gently squeeze or skewer them with a knife to check if they’re cooked. If you plan on frying them after they don’t need to be fully cooked and you can feel a little resistance.
  7. If the potatoes are cooked sufficiently, either cut them for your preparation or enjoy them with your dish. If they are not yet cooked enough simply place them back in the microwave and cook for several more minutes, depending on how close to done they are. If your potatoes are of different sizes the smaller ones will be cooked a little faster than the larger ones. Simply take out the small ones and continue cooking the larger ones!


Keep in beware that the clock to cook your potatoes depends on how many potatoes you ‘re cooking, the size and baron of your microwave, and the size of the potatoes. Use the guidelines below as a starting point and optimize from there for your site .

  • Small potatoes (2-5 cm / 1-2 inches) tend to take anywhere from 3-6 minutes to cook
  • Medium-sized potatoes (5-8 cm / 2-3 inches) tend to take 5-8 minutes to cook
  • Large potatoes will take >8 minutes to cook


Marc Regier, Kai Knoerzer, Helmar Schubert, The Microwave Processing of Foods, Chapter 1 & 2, 2016, Woodhead Publishing, link