Do You Need to Boil Potatoes Before Smoking?

Do You Need to Boil Potatoes Before Smoking
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The potato is such a versatile, wholesome, and filling vegetable that people have developed a myriad of different ways to prepare it. 

Smoking is a great way to lend a smokey, barbecue-like flavor to baked potatoes or potato salad. 

Smoking potatoes is actually a relatively easy process, but you will need to use a smoker for the best results. Alternatively, though, you can create a makeshift smoker using a grill and aluminum foil. 

Aside from getting the correct equipment and utensils ready, you will also need to learn a few basic rules, tips, and tricks before smoking your potatoes. 

For example, should you boil the potatoes before smoking them? What does the process of smoking potatoes look like? How long should you smoke cubed potatoes? 

We’ll be answering all these questions in today’s article, so stay tuned!

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Do You Need to Boil Potatoes Before Smoking?

Because so many of us are used to boiling potatoes as a default method of preparation, it’s natural to assume that you might need to boil potatoes before smoking them. 

However, you don’t need to boil or cook your potatoes in any way before putting them on the smoker. 

The reason for this is that the process of smoking itself introduces moisture into the potatoes, so boiling is not required to achieve the ideal, soft and fluffy potato texture. 

The moisture comes from the water pan (you may need to purchase this separately) that goes underneath the food. As the water is heated up, moisture in the form of condensation envelops the potatoes, softening them. 

With that being said, you may need to prepare your potatoes in other ways before you place them on the smoker, depending on which recipe you are following. 

It is essential to thoroughly wash and dry your potatoes before preparing them in any way. This will remove any potentially harmful bacteria as well as general dirt and debris that might have accumulated on the vegetables. 

You may also wish to marinade your potatoes for even more flavor. If you choose to do this, you should start preparing a couple of hours before cooking time.

Put your potatoes into a sandwich bag along with the other ingredients for your marinade (oil, herbs, and spices) and place the sealed bag into the refrigerator for as long as your recipe instructs. 

How do You Smoke Potatoes?

How to Smoke Potatoes

Once you’ve finished all the preparations called for by your smoked potato recipe, it’s time to actually get smoking! 

This part can seem daunting initially if you’ve never used a smoker before, but don’t worry; it’s actually very simple. 

If you’re using a purpose-built smoker to smoke your potatoes, you won’t have to worry about adjusting your grill settings. However, you will need to prepare an aluminum foil tray for your potatoes to sit on during the smoking process. 

You can purchase an aluminum foil tray ready-made, or you can make one yourself by layering several sheets of foil, one on top of the other until you have a relatively functional tray. 

Once you have your tray, be it handmade or shop-bought, you’ll also need to puncture some holes in it. This is to allow the smoke to rise and cover the potatoes. 

When your smoker is ready for cooking (it should be preheated to approximately 225 degrees Fahrenheit), you can go ahead and place your potatoes on the smoker. 

Make sure to carefully monitor your smoker, but be prepared to wait a little while for your potatoes to be ready. 

It will usually take between 40 minutes and an hour to smoke whole potatoes, so patience is key, but you should also be vigilant for any signs of fire, especially if you’re cooking your potatoes alongside greasy meat such as bacon. 

Remember to turn your potatoes once in a while to monitor their progress and ensure all sides are smoked evenly. 

How Long do You Smoke Cubed Potatoes?

The above description of how to smoke potatoes refers to whole potatoes. This is because most people choose to smoke their potatoes whole and cut them up after smoking. 

However, it is entirely possible to smoke cubed or sliced potatoes - you just need to adjust the cooking time accordingly. 

A whole potato will take longer to smoke than a sliced or diced potato because there is quite simply more potato for the smoke and moisture to penetrate. 

When smoking cubed or sliced up potatoes, you can keep the smoker at the same temperature as you would for smoking whole potatoes, which is 225 degrees Fahrenheit. However, your cubed potatoes will take about half the time to cook. 

Cubed potatoes will rarely take more than half an hour to smoke fully and can be ready in as little as 20 minutes. However, this will ultimately depend on how small or large your cubes are. 

The best course of action when smoking cubed potatoes is to watch them carefully and turn them regularly. It’s much easier to accidentally overcook cubed potatoes than whole potatoes on a smoker. 

Check out our Guide to Smoking Potatoes in an Electric Smoker


Final Thoughts

Smoking potatoes is much easier than you might think! All you need are your ingredients, some aluminum foil, a grill or smoker, the appropriate fuel, and a roasting tray for the water. 

You don’t need to boil potatoes before smoking them, but you will need to make sure that you start preparations a couple of hours early if you’re planning to marinade your smoked potatoes. Don’t forget to wash your potatoes before you do anything else! 

The best temperature to smoke potatoes at is 225 degrees Fahrenheit. This applies to both whole and cubed potatoes, although cubed potatoes will cook much more quickly on a smoker than whole potatoes. 

Whole potatoes will take up to an hour to smoke, while cubed potatoes usually won’t take much more than half an hour. If you want your cubes to cook quicker, make them smaller. For longer smoking times, create chunkier cubes. 

Remember to monitor the smoking process and turn the potatoes or potato cubes as needed to ensure even flavoring, and always remain alert and aware since a smoker is a fire hazard.