When you head to the produce section at the grocery, do you grab russet potatoes because that’s what you’ve always bought? If so, we think it’s time to expand your potato horizons. There is a huge variety of potatoes available, and some of them are better suited to certain dishes than others.
In this post, we’ll cover the differences between six varieties of potatoes, including the beloved russet, and offer recipe suggestions to help you get started.
Types of Potatoes: Russet
Russets are the most popular potato. They’re high in starch, low in moisture, and tend to fall apart when cooked. Therefore, russet potatoes are well-suited to baking, frying, and mashing. They also have a mild flavor that goes well with a range of seasonings and toppings. The skin can be chewy or crispy when cooked, and the flesh is light and fluffy.
How to cook russet potatoes: While you can bake, fry, or mash them, try this recipe for roasting them instead. It’s a delicious way to turn russet potatoes into a simple side dish. Serve these roasted potatoes with steak seared in a cast iron skillet. You can even call it steak-frites if you’re feeling fancy.
Types of Potatoes: Yellow
Yellow potatoes, like the Yukon Gold, are also a grocery store staple. They have less starch and more moisture than russet potatoes. They won’t fall apart like russets, so you can dice and roast them. But they’re also tender enough to mash without turning pasty. Their rich flavor and creamy texture make them good for lighter dishes with less added butter.
How to cook yellow potatoes: This recipe also makes a simple side dish that’s perfect for either dinner or breakfast. Yukon Gold potatoes have thin skin that roasts nicely. We especially like the suggestion in the comments to put all the diced potatoes, olive oil, and seasonings in a zipped bag to mix them before roasting.
Types of Potatoes: White
White potatoes are similar to yellow potatoes in terms of starch and moisture content. They have a milder flavor though, which makes them a good choice for soups and other dishes where they are the vehicle for bigger, bolder flavors. Like yellow potatoes, they have thin skin and don’t need to be peeled before cooking.
How to cook white potatoes: This recipe for potato soup caught our attention for a few reasons. We love the addition of roasted chickpeas as a topping instead of bacon bits, along with greek yogurt instead of sour cream. While the recipe calls for peeling the potatoes, we think the skin could add nutrients and texture to the soup. We might also experiment with a Vidalia onion in place of white onion.
Types of Potatoes: Red
Red potatoes are the opposite of russet potatoes: they are low in starch and high in moisture. Likewise, they retain their shape when cooking, instead of falling apart like russets. This characteristic makes red potatoes ideal for potato salad or any other recipe where you want your potatoes to stay firm. They also have thin skin; no need to peel.
How to cook red potatoes: This recipe isn’t your typical mayonnaise-and-mustard potato salad. It does include those ingredients, but it’s the bacon drippings in the dressing that gives this salad its signature flavor. The recipe also includes celery, onion, and green pepper, but they’re finely diced so the potatoes are still the star of the show.
Types of Potatoes: Purple
Purple potatoes are similar to red potatoes in terms of starch and moisture content, but they have a more distinct flavor in addition to their characteristic purple-blue color. They also stay firm when cooking. Use purple potatoes when you want to highlight both their bright color and earthy, nutty flavor.
How to cook purple potatoes: This recipe for marinated potatoes also includes red onion, oil and vinegar, plus garlic, parsley and hot peppers. It’s simple to assemble and requires mostly inactive prep time. We think this salad could be a great option if you need to bring a side dish to a gathering — there won’t be anything else like it there!
Types of Potatoes: Fingerling
Fingerling potatoes are finger-shaped, with different colored skin and flesh. Similar to red and purple potatoes, fingerlings have a waxy texture, with low starch and high moisture. They’re ideal for pan frying, roasting, or making potato salad.
How to cook fingerling potatoes: This recipe features pan fried fingerling potatoes. It caught our eye because it uses two of our favorite pieces of cookware — a cast iron Dutch oven and a cast iron skillet. We’re also fans of compound butter for cooking and seasoning at once. Consider this recipe when you need to whip up a side dish while roasting meat in the oven.