13 Potato Peeling Hacks You'll Wish You Knew Sooner

The humble potato is, by far, one of the most versatile vegetables out there. Between roasting, boiling, mashing, and stuffing, you can get away with enjoying those hearty tubers in a number of ways. 

In summer, nothing beats the steamy goodness of buttery potatoes combined with onion and garlic grilled in a tight-shut foil packet. During winter months, you can look to your oven to double as a productive potato roaster and instant kitchen warmer. In all the months between, you can appreciate pairing meaty dishes with heaping piles of fluffy mashed potatoes.

The thing about these beloved starchy vegetables is that they need a little extra love and care compared to other vegetables found in the garden. Towards the end of the harvest season, as gardeners delight in digging potatoes up like they are made of gold, you can't help but notice the embedded dirt within tiny dips and gaps on the exterior. Dirt, pesticides, and bacteria love spending quality time on the skin of a potato, which can all be unsafe to ingest. For that reason, washing potatoes is imperative. Even after they have been scrubbed clean, some recipes instruct you to peel the skin too. But the painstaking task doesn't have to be a burden. In fact, there are so many peeling hacks that peeling potatoes can be fun. So grab your sack of Yukon golds and let's get to peeling.

1. Score and boil your potatoes before peeling

When it's time to whip up a big batch of buttery mashed potatoes, we routinely run to our utensils drawer, grab a vegetable peeler, and move on to the potato sack. Like many other mundane kitchen tasks, peeling potatoes can become mindless. But what if we told you you've been peeling potatoes wrong your entire life? What if we told you peeling potatoes can be much simpler and, dare we say, exciting? While digging potatoes out of the garden and enjoying them alongside a big juicy steak deserves all the glory, peeling your potatoes can get a little recognition too.

You will need a sharp paring knife to get the job done, so don't bother grabbing your peeler. Start by filling a pot with cold water, select a few potatoes you plan to cook, and give them a good scrub. Once clean, hold a potato in one hand, then take the paring knife to score around the outside of the skin. Your score mark should only pierce through the thin skin and not go deeper.

From there, plop your potatoes into the pot of water, bring them to a boil, and cook them like you usually would. Once your potatoes have cooked through, remove the water and let your potatoes cool enough to touch. Gently peel the skin using your fingers and enjoy the deep potato flavor that your cooked skins helped provide during the boiling process.

2. Shock the skin with an ice bath

If you thought scoring your potato with a sharp knife, boiling it, and peeling it with your fingers was a cool trick, we have something that tops it. At some point or another, you've probably heard that your two hands are the most essential tool you have in the kitchen. This little potato peeling hack is proof of that.

You won't need any special tools — just a pot of water, your potatoes, and an ice bath, which is a fancy culinary term that really just means a bowl of ice water. Essentially what you will do, is boil your potatoes until they have cooked through. Once they have boiled, transfer your potatoes to the ice bath, where they will be shocked and begin to cool.

You can remove the potato from the bowl of iced water once it is cool enough to touch. From there, twist the potato using both hands and watch as the potato skin literally slips off from the firm potato. You won't find a faster method for peeling potatoes. Next time you need to prep mashed potatoes, potato salad, or even a batch of home fries, don't bother rummaging your kitchen for any tools. Your hands will do just fine.

3. Push the peeler back and forth without ever lifting it

Remember when we said to put your potato peeler away? Well, you'll need it this time around, so run back to your utensils drawer and grab that handy prepping tool. You'll appreciate this straightforward method for peeling when you have long tubers like sweet potatoes, russets, or even little fingerlings. The process works wonders beyond potatoes when you have other long root vegetables to peel. Carrots, parsnips, cucumbers, and butternut squash are all fresh produce you will love peeling this way.

Grab your long potato and hold on tight; with your fingertips out of sight, slide your vegetable peeler back and forth, like in this TikTok video by content creator Jenniabs3. By sliding your peeler up and down the potato, you'll finish peeling in half the amount of time because you don't waste time picking your potato up.

The trick is tried and true and works well once you get the hang of it. However, several commenters pointed out that this TikTok potato peeling hack can be dangerous because peeling towards you can lead to slicing your skin. Jenniabs3 replied with another video by explaining that you won't cut yourself by following her trick "because you're never really lifting your blade off of the potato." She also had another genius tip keeping your fingers safe using a fork.

4. Save your own skin with a fork

Maybe you are a bit of a newbie in the kitchen, and sharp objects worry you. Or perhaps you have mildly traumatizing experiences from accidentally grating your fingertips on the box grater. We won't mention how scary a mandoline slicer can be when placed in novice kitchen hands.

If that sounds a lot like you, you'll appreciate this next tip for keeping your own skin intact while shredding that potato skin off like a pro. All you'll need for this are your potatoes, of course, and a regular old eating fork. After scrubbing your potatoes under cool running water, pat them dry. Select a potato, then stab your fork (not your hand) on one end. Instead of holding onto your potato using your palm and fingers, you'll be able to stabilize and control the potato using the fork.

After that, use your peeler to graze the skin off in rows. You can even use that neat TikTok trick we mentioned to slide the peeler up and down the potato until all the skin is removed.

5. Use a sharp paring knife instead

We might be getting a little daring for the beginner home cooks out there, but if you are looking for new ways to hone your knife skills, this hack is a must. Before vegetable peelers, home cooks used a handy-dandy utility knife to get the job done.

For some, this might not sound much like a hack but more like a standard kitchen task. But for anyone who typically runs to the vegetable peeler for potato skin removal, this new method for you might eventually become second nature. Not only is this method seamless once you've practiced enough, but you'll also save on cleaning extra utensils.

To peel a potato with a sharp paring knife, you'll need to hold the knife in your hand while controlling the potato with your thumb. Rather than pulling the knife towards you, rotate the potato into the blade while removing thin slices of potato skin. You can remove thicker peelings from your potato in small areas with eyes, or the little sprouts that have begun to grow on your potato. At some time or another, you'll notice these creepy growths pop up on your spuds. It's essential to always remove them, as the sprouts themselves are considered toxic and unsafe to eat.

6. A chef's knife works, too

If paring knives aren't your thing but you love pulling out your culinary workhorse, then, by all means, have at it. Peeling russets and other varieties with a chef's knife can be done one of two ways. For starters, if you have a smaller chef's knife, consider peeling it using the same method as described for a paring knife.

Larger chef's knives can also be used the same way, but the blade's size may make it a little tricky. Instead of rotating the potato towards you while removing the skin, consider stabilizing your potato on the cutting board.

Hold your tuber over the board and slice your potato down the center crosswise. Place your potato back on the panel cut side down. Then, use your chef's knife to slice the skin from the top of the potato down to the cutting board, working carefully not to make thick cuts. This is an excellent option if you can't find your peeler and want to get your potatoes peeled promptly.

7. Try a palm-held peeler

Most inventions are born out of necessity, while others are created for consumer ease. While the vegetable peeler has made a name for itself over the years, unique variations of the gadget have come up to help change how fruits and veggies are stripped of their exterior shell.

That's where the palm-held peeler comes into play. Palm peelers feature a small ring loop to insert your finger and hold the peeler steady in your palm while peeling. The design is ergonomic and comfortable for your hand, but it's super compact and easy to store in tight spaces as well.

Depending on your chosen brand, you'll find that most palm peelers are designed with safety in mind, with blade guards to keep your fingers safe from knicks and booboos. Sometimes you'll even find brands that offer a fancy built-in eye remover. Using a palm peeler is seamless for most seasoned cooks and great for anyone with fine motor challenges too.

8. Make sure to use the potato eyer feature

When it's time to peel ginormous piles of potatoes, it's essential to have all the right tools for the job to make the process seamless. But having the right tools is only one part of the equation. What good are those tools if you don't know how to use them?

Besides actual peeling, your vegetable peeler can be a handy tool for other nifty cooking tasks. Use it to create thin shreds of vegetables for fancy salads, make quick potato chips, or use it for pretty chocolate shavings to top your cake.

There is another excellent feature found on your peeler that comes especially handy for your potatoes — more specifically for the potato eyes. Some peelers feature an accessory called a potato eyer, used to remove eyes that have sprouted from the tuber. Not every vegetable peeler comes equipped with one, but you'll notice a potato eyer is present if your peeler has a small cutout, nub, or scoop at the end of the tool. The little feature can be used to scoop out parts of the potato where you may find eyes. Because those sprouted little roots can be toxic if ingested, you'll appreciate using this eyer moving forward.

9. Push potatoes through a cooling rack

You probably never thought to push your potatoes through a cool rack to remove the peels from the exterior. Believe it or not, a cooling rack doubles as both a peeler and masher if used in this unique way.

Start by bringing your pot of potatoes and water to a boil and cook your potatoes through. Once they have cooked through, drain them and let them cool until they are safe to touch with bare hands. While the potatoes cool, place a cooling rack over a large, sturdy bowl. Now that the potatoes have cooled enough, the fun part begins. Cut each potato in half, then place the potato cut-side down over the cooling rack. Use both hands to press the potato downwards. You'll notice the skin remains while all the potato's flesh is easily pushed through.

Set the skins aside before adding some sea salt, butter, a generous dash of heavy cream, and perhaps a bit of roasted garlic to the bowl. Mash the potatoes further to your desired consistency and enjoy.

10. Cut both ends and peel in an up-and-down motion

Potatoes come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. In fact, some of the fancier dishes will feature fingerling potatoes because of their unique appearance and delicate texture and flavor. But more often than not, the humble potato is thought to be oval in shape, featuring a long body. If you have several longer sweet potatoes and russets that need some peeling, you might appreciate this method. Simply cut both long ends from your potatoes. These cut ends will act as stabilizers during the potato peeling process.

Place your potato cut side down on a clean damp kitchen towel. The kitchen towel will grip better over your counter, and the potato won't slide like it might over a wooden or bamboo cutting board. Use your fingers to press down on the top end of the potato, then run your peeler in an up-and-down motion, rotating the potato when necessary. Finish the end like you usually would peel a potato. You can do this until all your potatoes have been peeled.

11. Cook, cut, and scoop

Sometimes you have to think a bit outside of the box when it comes to mindless kitchen tasks. In the case of peeling potatoes, you'll find this to be true, thanks to all the mad methods available out there.

If you've ever enjoyed eating (and preparing) the delicious side dish we call twice-baked potatoes, then you know it is a labor of love. First, you must cook your potatoes. Either bake them in the oven, throw them in the air fryer, or use that conventional toaster oven. Then, you have to cut your potato in half and scoop the soft cooked insides with a spoon. From there, you'll usually add ingredients to your potato, mix it around and stuff your potato skins again before baking for the second time. The method works great for twice-baked potatoes but doubles as a snazzy skin-removing hack where peeling doesn't necessarily occur. 

12. Use a cookie cutter

Another fun way to get to the good part of the potato without actually peeling at all involves using a cookie cutter. Whip out whatever simple cookie cutter shape you have in your cupboards, as long as it is small enough to cut through the center of your potato. If your potatoes are smaller than the cutter itself, this method won't work.

Next, cut your freshly scrubbed potatoes into half-inch thick slices without worrying about the skin. Lay each potato down on a cutting board, then take your cutter and press down to cut shapes out of your potato. You can then fry the potatoes in oil like you would if you were making french fries. Otherwise, you can brush them with seasoned oil and roast them in the oven. If you're celebrating an anniversary or looking to make a fancier dinner, consider cooking them fondant potato style.

13. Pull out that hand-cranking apple peeler

You might only whip out your old-reliable hand-crank apple peeler in the fall months when apples are in season and tastier than ever. But did you know that fancy apparatus can peel and core more than Granny Smiths and McIntosh Reds?

Just like you turn to your hand-cranking contraption for peeling loads of apples during pie baking season, you'll love its ability to peel dozens of potatoes for great recipes too. You can choose to use the peel-only part of the device, or you can core and spiralize the potato, depending on what recipe you are making. For big batches of boiled potatoes, buttery mashers, or casserole dishes, consider peeling your potatoes before prepping any further. The spiralizer would be great for frying potatoes into fun shapes but can also be helpful in dishes like scalloped potatoes. Once you see how seamless and quick this hack is, maybe you'll consider keeping the hand-crank peeler closer for year-round use.