Which Type of Potato to Use

Different Types of Potatoes

From russet to white to purple to red and more, potatoes come in all sorts of different colors, shapes, sizes, textures, and flavors. In some recipes, it’s fine to substitute one variety of potato for another, but in others, the success of your recipe depends on choosing the right variety of potato.

Choosing the right potato for your dish can mean the difference between fluffy mashed potatoes or gluey mashed potatoes. It can mean the difference between crispy fries or mushy fries.

Here’s how to pick the best potato for your dish every time.

Your Potato Guide

Russets, the most widely used potatoes in the U.S., are oval in shape and have a brown skin and a white to off-white flesh. Russets are high in starch and have a light and fluffy texture when cooked/baked, making them ideal for baking, mashing, and roasting.

Russet potatoes are also known as Idaho potatoes, bakers, or Burbank potatoes.

When to Use Russet Potatoes

Choose Russets when you are looking for a neutral-flavored potato that cooks/bakes up fluffy. Russets are also good for roasting or frying if you want the final product to be crispy and crunchy.

Russets don’t work well for potato salad as they tend to fall apart during cooking.

Best for:
baked potatoes
roasted potatoes
mashed potatoes

As their name indicates, red potatoes have a rosy-red skin. Red potatoes are smaller and smoother-skinned than Russet potatoes.

These potatoes have a smooth, moist texture. Red potatoes that are harvested immature are small, low in starch, and have a fabulous flavor.

When to Use Red Potatoes

Because red potatoes hold their shape when cooked, they are well-suited for boiling and steaming. They also taste great roasted.

Best for:
potato salad
boiled/steamed potatoes

White potatoes taste similar to Russet potatoes, but their light tan-colored skin is much thinner than the skin of russets. They have a somewhat creamy texture and hold their shape fairly well when cooked.

When to Use White Potatoes
Versatility makes these all-purpose potatoes a popular option.

Best for:
baked potatoes
roasted potatoes
mashed potatoes

Can also be used for hash browns, potato salad, and gratins.

Though they are all generally small and slender, fingerlings come in a variety of colors. They are smooth, creamy, somewhat waxy in texture and quite flavorful.

When to Use Fingerling Potatoes

Fingerlings potatoes are a good option if you want to serve whole (uncut) potatoes. Use fingerling potatoes if you need your cut potatoes to maintain their shape and firm texture when cooked.

Best for:
potato salad
roasted potatoes
boiled/steamed potatoes
baked potatoes (some varieties)

With dark blue or purple skin and lavender, white, yellow, or blue-colored flesh, these potatoes are some of the most beautiful potatoes available. Blue potatoes usually have a slightly nutty flavor.

When to Use Blue Potatoes/Purple Potatoes

Use blue or purple potatoes if you need your potatoes to hold their shape well during cooking. They work great for salads.

Best for:
boiled/steamed potatoes
baked potatoes
potato salad
roasted potatoes

Yellow potatoes are a very popular potato due to their luscious buttery flavor and texture.

Yellow-skinned potatoes are dense and creamy-textured. They are often cooked with their skins on as their skin is thin.

When to Use Yellow Potatoes

Yellow potatoes are well-suited to steaming, baking, mashing, and roasting.

Best for:
potato salad
roasted potatoes
mashed potatoes
boiled/steamed potatoes
baked potatoes

Which Type of Potato Should I Use for …

Which type of potato should I use for soup?

Non-Dairy Creamy Vegan Potato and Kale Soup

If you want your potatoes to hold their shape in the soup, use yellow potatoes, small red potatoes, or white potatoes.

> Here’s my favorite potato soup recipe.

Which type of potato should I use for pureed soup?

Russet potatoes will fall apart and absorb liquid in soup which makes them a good choice for a creamy soup that gets pureed.

Which type of potato should I use for baked potatoes?

Baked Potato with Vegan Creamy Italian Dressing

Russet potatoes are ideal for baked potatoes.

Fingerlings and Blue/Purple potatoes also work well as baked potatoes.

Which type of potato should I use for mashed potatoes?

Dairy-free, vegan mashed potatoes

Russets make excellent mashed potatoes. You can also use Yukon Gold or blue/purple potatoes.

> Here’s my favorite mashed potato recipe.

Which type of potato should I use for potato salad?

Non-Dairy Mexican Vegan Potato Salad

To ensure your potato pieces hold their shape, use yellow potatoes, white potatoes, or small red potatoes in potato salad.

> Here’s my favorite potato salad recipe.

Which type of potato should I use for smashed potatoes?

Yukon Gold (a type of yellow potato) are a favorite for smashed potatoes.

Which type of potato should I use for roasted potatoes?

If you want your roasted potatoes to be crispy, use Russets.

Other varieties, like fingerlings and white potatoes, are also good if you don’t mind the final product being not so crispy.

Which type of potato should I use for french fries?

Homemade No-Oil, Baked French Fries

Russet potatoes are perfect for French Fries. They produce fries that are crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside.

White potatoes will also work.

> Here’s my No-Oil French Fry recipe.

Which type of potato should I use for hash browns?

Both Russets and white potatoes work well for making crispy-textured hash browns.

Which type of potato should I use for scalloped potatoes and gratins?

Vegan Non-dairy Scalloped Potatoes

To be sure your potato slices remain intact, use red potatoes, white potatoes, or yellow potatoes.

> Here’s my Skinny Scalloped Potato recipe.

Are Potatoes Healthy?

The humble potato is not only delicious and versatile, it’s also very good for you!

Many people avoid potatoes, but that’s unfortunate because potatoes have a long association with good health. Potatoes are a great source of potassium (helps lower blood pressure), B vitamins (for a healthy nervous system), and other important nutrients.

And they are also quite filling and satisfying.

Unless you fry them or cover them in butter or cream, potatoes are an exceptionally nutritious, low calorie, high-fiber food that are not at all fattening. (Here is a healthier topping for potatoes.)

Here’s why you should be eating more potatoes.

Ready for some deliciously healthy potato recipes?

I gotcha covered.

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