Is It OK to Eat Sprouted Potatoes?

Learn whether it's safe to cook potatoes with eyes—or if it's time to let them go.

Updated on December 22, 2023

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Beginning to sprout potato tubers on wooden background.


Is it safe to eat sprouted potatoes?

Photo by: Nebasin/Getty Images

Nebasin/Getty Images

By Leah Brickley and Emily Saladino for Food Network Kitchen

Leah Brickley is a senior editor and Emily Saladino is a culinary editor at Food Network.

Whether you've had a bowl of russets on the counter for days, or just picked up a handful of fingerlings the farmers market, your potatoes might start to sprout. Sometimes called eyes, these frilly growths can look worrisome but are entirely natural. Sprouted potatoes are safe to eat, too; just remove the eyes and check the rest of the potatoes for freshness. Here's how to know if it's safe to eat sprouted potatoes and when it's better to toss them—or if it's time to give them a new life beyond the kitchen.

Why Do Potatoes Sprout?

Potatoes sprout when they're stored in a space circa 68 degrees F. These conditions make the plants think that it's spring and thus time to regenerate; those fuzzy "eyes" on the surface of a sprouted potato are actually the start of new potato plants, which would grow fresh tubers if planted in soil.

A potato that has grown eyes is still safe to eat so long as it's firm to the touch and its skin isn't shriveled. Sprouts, however, are not edible and should be removed and tossed.

Close-up of seed potatoes spilling out of a paper bag onto a white background


Close-up of seed potatoes spilling out of a paper bag onto a white background

Photo by: Jenny Dettrick

Jenny Dettrick

How to Remove Sprouts from Potatoes

It's easy to remove sprouts from potatoes with a sharp paring knife or vegetable peeler. If you're using a paring knife, simply cut a small indentation around 2 sides of the sprout and pop it out with the tip of your blade. Whether you have a Y-shaped or swivel peeler, it was built to remove sprouts and brown spots. Use the intentional scoop-shaped tip of your peeler—or the plastic tab on the side of a Y-shaped peeler—to dig out sprouts.

What to Do With Sprouted Potatoes

If your potatoes have sprouted so much that there isn't enough left to salvage, toss them or use them to plant new potatoes. Cut into chunks around the frilly green sprouts and plant it in your garden as if it were a seed. For more on home gardening, check out our guide, A Beginner's Guide to Vegetable Gardening.

How to Grow Potatoes at Home

Learn how to grow different types of potatoes in your garden, from planting to harvesting, with help from the experts at HGTV.

Are Green Potatoes Safe?

When potatoes take on a green tinge they are not safe to eat, regardless of whether they've also sprouted. Exposure to light causes potatoes to produce an excess of chlorophyll, or green pigment, but chlorophyll isn't the problem: Sunny conditions also make it possible for opportunistic glycoalkaloid toxins to thrive, and those are dangerous to consume.

How to Store Potatoes

Potatoes will keep up to 2 months from purchase if stored in a cool, dry place. A cardboard box or breathable bag in a cool basement is ideal. Kitchens and pantries are usually too warm, and will likely make them start to sprout sooner. Be sure to store your potatoes and onions separately, too, to prolong the shelf life of your potatoes.

Do not store potatoes in the refrigerator. Cold conditions will trigger their starches to convert to sugars, which means sweeter potatoes (no, they won't turn into sweet potatoes!) that will quickly go brown when cooked.

Sprouted Potato Fast Facts

It's NOT safe to eat potatoes that are:

Soft, squishy or wrinkly

Greenish in color on the outside or under the skin

Rotten and/or smelly

It is safe to eat potatoes that are:

Firm when squeezed

Normally colored, with no greenish tint

Sprouted — simply dig out the sprouts with a peeler

Potato Recipes to Try

There are so many ways to enjoy potatoes, whether they never once sprouted or you've carefully dug out the "eyes" that appeared on their surfaces. Here, some of our favorite potato recipes.

Classic 100 Mashed Potatoes

The best mashed potatoes recipe from the Food Network

Photo by: Caitlin Ochs

Caitlin Ochs

This is our go-to recipe for classic mashed potatoes, made with plenty of butter and cream. To make them fluffy and flavorful, be sure to simmer them slowly and add plenty of salt to the cooking water. And don't skip the step of steaming off the excess water; leaving in too much moisture will make the mash loose and gluey.


Hasselback potatoes with bacon and scallions from Food Network

Photo by: Gentl & Hyers

Gentl & Hyers

These show-stopping hasselback potatoes look more complicated than they are to create. Crumbled bacon and chopped parsley and scallions create lots of flavor and texture.

Crispiest Ever Potatoes

Crispiest Ever Potatoes recipe from Food Network

Photo by: Teri Lyn Fisher

Teri Lyn Fisher

Somewhere between oven-roasted potatoes and crispy hash, these little creamer potatoes are boiled in water with baking soda to help the skins crisp up quickly.

Potatoes au gratin recipe from B. Smith on the Food Network

Photo by: Matt Armendariz

Matt Armendariz

Potatoes Au Gratin

This elegant dish from legendary restaurateur B. Smith combines Gruyere, Parmesan and a dash of paprika. Prep time is minimal; the oven does most of the work giving the thinly sliced potatoes an irresistibly velvety texture.

Food Network Kitchen’s Loaded Baked Potato Casserole.

Loaded Baked Potato Casserole recipe from the Food Network

Photo by: Matt Armendariz

Matt Armendariz

This casserole combines all the irresistible features of a loaded baked potato, but is cooked and served family style for an extra-hearty side.

Potato latkes recipe with apple pear sauce from Food Network

These classic potato pancakes are super crispy on the outside but soft and moist on the inside. We use shredded potatoes for a traditional look, and a little bit of onion for that hint of sweetness.

Easy Caesar potato salad recipe from the Food Network

Photo by: Armando Rafael

Armando Rafael

Lemon, garlic and anchovies rule this creamy potato salad for a Caesar-inspired side dish.

Related Links:

Potato Recipes That Are Absolute Perfection

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