You won't believe how much better they'll taste.

By Betty Gold
Updated June 30, 2020
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Now that we’ve nearly reached the Fourth of July weekend, all we’re thinking about is what we'll be barbecuing next. (Burgers? Veggies? Eggplant? Chicken, pork, lamb? We’ve got grill guides for that.)

We’d never want potatoes to miss out on the fun. Cooking potatoes on the grill is a super simple way to make a deliciously smoky side dish. You can also grill your potatoes before you mix them into a potato salad—like in this recipe for Grilled Potato and Onion Salad—to add depth and complexity to your dish. And heads up: they pair just as perfectly with burgers as French fries do, but require a lot less elbow grease (and actual grease). But the one complaint we’ve heard time and again from cooks about making grilled potatoes is that their insides can’t cook fast enough to beat their skins from burning.

The solution is simple: if you’re aiming to serve spuds with a soft, tender center and crispy skin, par-boil them first.

Why Par-Boil?

Even cooking, for one. Potatoes are dense and super starchy, which means that if you fail to cook them all the way through they'll be inedible. Giving your potatoes a quick boil at the start guarantees they’ll be creamy on the inside and charred on the outside. Skip this step and you’ll be left with burnt potatoes with raw or overly dry insides.

The par boiling process will also cut your cook time, as grilling raw potatoes can take ages. But if you want to really save time, you can do the boiling up to a day ahead of when you grill.

Lastly, boiling your potatoes in heavily salted water first helps infuse them with seasoning—and therefore flavor—by allowing them to soak up the salt. When you toss your spuds on the grill without having boiled them ahead of time, their surface is the only part that gets seasoned.

How to Par-Boil Potatoes for Grilling

Before you fire up your grill, bring a well-salted pot of cold water to a rolling boil and add potato wedges or whole potatoes. We recommend using Idaho or russets for their size and sturdy texture. Cook until very slightly softened, about 10 minutes. You should be able to poke a fork inside with ease but it shouldn’t be cooked through. Drain them and cool slightly. Drying them thoroughly will help promote even browning.

Before tossing the parboiled potatoes on the grill, we love to coat them in garlic-herb oil. Stir together a couple of smashed garlic cloves, chopped fresh herbs (like parsley, rosemary, or oregano), salt, pepper, and a generous drizzle of olive oil. Grill them over medium-high heat, covered, for about five minutes. Make sure to turn them over halfway through. Your wedges should be perfectly crispy and golden brown with a soft interior. Give them a second toss in the herb oil before serving.