Questions for the Cook

Is it safe to eat sprouted potatoes?

Dear Cooks:

Is it safe to eat potatoes when the eyes have sprouted? I have heard that they can be poisonous but have a hard time believing it – what’s the scoop?


Bob A.

Dear Bob:

A sprout of any size can be toxic, but you’d have to eat many sprouts to get sick. Potato sprouts are considered toxic due to their potentially high concentration of glycoalkaloids, which can exert their toxic effects on the nervous system by interfering with the body’s ability to regulate acetylcholine, a chemical responsible for conducting nerve impulses. Phew – got that?

In addition, when potatoes sprout, the starch in the potatoes is converted into sugar. If the potato is firm, it has most of the nutrients intact and can be eaten after removing the sprouted part. However, if the potato is shrunken and wrinkled, it should not be eaten.

Sometimes potatoes develop a green tinge – a potato exposed to light, sprouted or unsprouted, may itself have an increased concentration of glycoalkaloids. If this is the case, the toxic area will turn green. You can cut the green part off and eat the rest of the potato.

When buying potatoes, pick firm ones and do not buy if they have sprouted or have a green tint to the skin. As for storing,  keep potatoes in a cool dry spot for longest storage.

6 Responses to “Is it safe to eat sprouted potatoes?”

  1. AnnMarie says:

    This was very useful Thanks I cannot tell you how many times I have broken of the sprouts or peeled and cooked a potato that has gotten wrinkled. Tikes !! I know for next time THANKS

  2. Betty says:

    One other thing my daughter found out the hard way, green potato skins are very bad for dogs. her 105# dog got one and was very sick for over a week. Any small of a dog and he’d be dead.

  3. Jatin Dewan says:


    Very informative and helpful.



  4. maggie b says:

    very helpful information…many times I have used a potato that was a wee bit wrinkled. My family seems to believe that if you eat potatoes that have sprouted you increase the chances of getting breast cancer…. Is there any truth to this or myth???

  5. Bweez says:

    My mother (a farm girl) always made sure every spot was off the potato. I just recently began to wonder if there was a practical purpose rather than having pretty potatoes. Thx for clearing this up! Glad I always followed her lead in peeling my potatoes.

  6. Susanna D says:

    Why should the wrinkled potatoes not be eaten? My mother said they were OK if you break off the sprouts and they taste just fine.

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