How To Cube Potatoes

Cubed potatoes are a fixture of many dishes, and mastering how to prepare them easily and efficiently is a crucial skill for the home cook.

Cubed potatoes can be served on their own, fried or sauteed, for breakfast or dinner, or as part of a soup or potato bake. 

In a decade and a half of working in professional kitchens, there hasn’t been a single place where I haven’t had to cube potatoes. 

In this article, I will explain a method of cubing potatoes that has served me well anywhere I have worked, and at home.

Preparation   

Cleaning

Chef washing potatoes

Potatoes, pommes de terre in French – which directly translates to “apples of the earth” – grow in the soil, and can come to you quite dirty.

The first step in preparing your potatoes is to rinse them thoroughly. Run them under cold water, and gently rub away any visible dirt or sand. 

Mind any pits or indents in the potato that can harbor dirt or sand, or even small rocks or pebbles. Biting into any of that will ruin someone’s day.

Potential Spoilage

While you’re rinsing the potatoes, pay close attention to how they feel. You want them to be firm, with no soft spots.

If a potato is beginning to germinate, it will have sprouts, or “eyes”. This is a sign that it will spoil soon. The potato is safe to consume if the sprouts are removed.

You can easily remove the sprouts by hand, with the blunt end of a peeler, or even with the end of the handle of a spoon or fork. A rounded handle would be most ideal if using the latter.

A Sharp Knife

Cutting potato

The obvious part of having a sharp knife is that it will cut through the potato easier, but a byproduct of this is that it will reduce the chance of injuring yourself.

When you use a dull blade, you will tend to overcompensate by using more physical force.

This applies to more than just cutting potatoes. You want your sharp blade to do most of the cutting for you.

A chef’s knife is more than suitable for this job.

A Spacious Surface

While potatoes don’t take up too much space themselves, cubed potatoes can crowd a smaller cutting board quickly.

There is no need to go overboard, but keep in mind that cubed potatoes, spread out and piled up, will take up more space than the potatoes themselves.

This can be remedied by moving cubed potatoes to another container as you go.

The main point is to make sure you can cut and cube comfortably without feeling cramped. 

To Peel or Not to Peel 

potato peeled

It is not a requirement to peel potatoes before you cube them, and sometimes it may be better to leave them unpeeled depending on the dish. 

Use your discretion and mind the needs of the meal. 

It may simply even come down to personal preference.  

How To Cube Potatoes 

Side Cut for Stability

side cut potato

Place the potato so that it is the long way away from you, positioned like the letter “I”. 

Potatoes are round and it is easy for them to roll away.

Make a cut on both sides. This is a shallow cut, and doesn’t need to be more than a quarter inch into the potato. 

This exposed surface area will provide a stable base for the next steps. 

Cut and Remove the Ends

Position the potato in front of you so that it is the long way side-to-side, left to right. I like to think of this as “the hamburger way.”

It may seem like a needless step, but the intent is to limit the movements you need to make, and to help prevent any contorting or odd angles while you cut.

Cut off each end. 

It is small things like this that help reduce the amount of wear and tear on the joints while working in busy kitchens.

Pro Tip: You want a long stroke when you slice, and pay mind to shallow, back and forth motions. You do not want a sawing action. This results in a cleaner cut, and less stress on your body.

Cut Into Flat Rounds

flat rounds potato

Rotate the potato 90 degrees, oriented in an “I” shape. Turn it onto the flat cut edge.

Begin cutting from the side in quarter to half inch increments. This depends on how big you want your cubes to be. Proceed until you reach the other side of the potato.

Smaller cubes are easier to work with in soups, and bigger cubes may be more appropriate for sauteing potatoes, or frying them for American fries.

You should have flat “rounds” of potatoes now, and keep the segments together, as if they were part of a potato “puzzle” or “stack”.

Pro Tip: For bigger, chunky cubes, cut the potato in half the long way from this position, and each half once again.   

Cut Into Strips 

strips potato

Turn the stack on its side so that the sliced part is facing out.

Begin cutting from the side in quarter to half inch increments. This depends on how big you want your cubes to be. Proceed until you reach the other side of the potato.

You should have “strips” now. If you were making french fries, you would be done cutting now!

Cut Perpendicularly

potato cubes

Now, rotate the stack 90 degrees, so that it is the long way side-to-side, left-to-right, or “the hamburger way.”

Start cutting from one side in quarter to half inch increments, depending on how big you want your cubes to be.  

Voila! You now have cubed potatoes!

Pro Tip: Depending on the size of the potatoes, your knife, and your ambition, you may want to do your perpendicular cuts with two stacks of potatoes at a time. Just line each stack of strips so that each cut will go through both stacks. 

Storage

potato cubes in water

For potatoes with a fluffier texture, consider using them right away.

For crispier potatoes, such as American fries, storing them for later use will be ideal.

Submerge cubed potatoes with water in an appropriately sized bowl, cover and refrigerate. Add a tiny amount (a teaspoon or less) of vinegar to the water for a bit of flavor.

This will prevent the cubed potatoes from browning. It will remove some of the starch as well.

Removing starch will result in crispier potatoes when cooked, and has the potential health benefit of reducing carbohydrate content.

Properly stored and refrigerated, the cubed potatoes will keep for about 24 hours. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What does cubed potato mean?

A cubed potato is one that has been cut at square angles and into cubes, in contrast to long strips like ones used for French fries, or slices like used in an au gratin.  

How do you cut diagonals when dicing potatoes?

At the step where you are making perpendicular cuts, orient the potato at an angle.
I want to stress that for safety and ease, it is better to reposition your product than it is for you to cut or slice at odd angles.

How big should my potato dice be?

If you are making a soup, a smaller cube or dice will be more ideal. Cubed potatoes that are too big will take up too much volume in a soup, and could potentially displace or overpower other ingredients.

Use bigger cubes for American fries, sautees, or potato bakes.

Print
clock clock iconcutlery cutlery iconflag flag iconfolder folder iconinstagram instagram iconpinterest pinterest iconfacebook facebook iconprint print iconsquares squares iconheart heart iconheart solid heart solid icon
how to cube potatoes

How To Cube Potatoes


  • Author: Ryan Limbag
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: Varies

Description

Learn how to prepare potatoes in uniform cubes at various sizes. These are perfect for frying or sauteing, as part of a soup or potato bake.

 


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 Medium or Large Potato

Instructions

  1. Rinse the potato thoroughly under cold water to remove any debris.
    rinse potato
  2. If you prefer no skins in the end product, peel the potato now.
    peeled potato
  3. Side cut the potato so that you have opposing flat surfaces to rest it on.
    side cut potato
  4. Cut and remove the ends of the potato.
  5. Slice across the potato at uniform intervals to create flat rounds.
    round potato
  6. Cut the rounds into strips at the desired width of your cubes.
    potato stripes
  7. Cut perpendicular across the strips to create cubes.
    cubes of potato

 

Notes

Move finished product to a bowl or storage container as you go. Maintaining a clean workspace will help you complete this knife prep safely and successfully.

  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Category: Knife skills
  • Cuisine: Any

Keywords: how to cube potatoes

Photo of author

Ryan Limbag

About the author

Ryan worked the Twin Cities circuit as a line cook, sous chef, and kitchen manager for over 15 years. Though he doesn’t cook professionally anymore, he loves to share his restaurant expertise with anyone that needs a tip. Once a cook, always a cook.