Needless to say, as one of the cheapest starches, there are just so many types of potatoes out there. But how many types of potatoes are you familiar with? Do you cook with the same type of potato every single week? If the answer is yes, then you’re missing out on a lot!
Types of Potatoes - Best to Use
Potatoes really are one of my favorite ingredients to cook with - so cheap, delicious, and versatile. There are countless - yes, countless! - amazing dishes you can cook with only potatoes as your main ingredient. You name it, there is a recipe using it!… Hasselback potatoes, soup, latkes, Indian aloo curry, gnocchi, and salad. Some types of potatoes are even amazingly delicious coming straight out of the oven with just salt and pepper!
Trust me, you’ll never say you’re bored with potatoes after knowing each and every one of them. And in this article, not only am I going to discuss the 7 types of potatoes you need to know… I’m also going to give you some ideas on how you can use them based on their flavor and texture.
Types of Potatoes - Starch Level
Knowing the starch level of the potatoes you’re going to buy on your next shopping trip is very important. Different types of potatoes have varying levels of starch content, which will really affect your cooking. In fact, the starch level is the main determinator for the texture of your cooked potatoes.
Generally, potatoes are categorized into 3 types:
- Starchy Potatoes
As the name suggests, starchy potatoes have the highest level of starch and are low in moisture. Cooked properly, they are fluffy and delightful. The flesh breaks down quite easily, which makes them great for mashed potatoes. Starchy potatoes are also perfect for baked and deep-fried potatoes. Examples: Russet potatoes, red potatoes
- Waxy Potatoes
Waxy potatoes are low in starch and high in moisture. They tend to have firmer flesh, which turns creamy (but not mushy) if cooked properly. Waxy potatoes hold their shape pretty well, making these types of potatoes a go-to for boiling, roasting, and baking. Examples: Fingerling potatoes
- All-Purpose Potatoes
As the name might suggest… they are all-purpose. You can use them for any kind of cooking. And because they have a good balance of starch and moisture content, they are great as substitutes for both starchy and waxy potatoes. Examples: Yukon Gold, purple potatoes
Types of Potatoes
Russet potatoes are “the” classic potato. The skin is thick, the flesh is dry and flaky, but still fluffy. Thus, these types of potatoes are great for baking and deep-frying especially. High in starch and low in moisture, they crisp up beautifully with a very soft and fluffy interior.
The Russet potato is sometimes considered a little bit bland, but I think that they're misunderstood and underrated. The truth is, these types of potatoes are a perfect blank canvas. They're highly absorbent and are able to soak up anything you add, from melted butter to types of milk, from sour cream to chicken stock. And that’s why these types of potatoes are ideal for classic Thanksgiving mashed potatoes. However, due to their high level of starch, avoid mashing them too much or you’ll end up with gluey mush.
Russet Potatoes: Use these types of potatoes for mashed potato, twice-baked potatoes, French fries.
Just like the name… Yukon Gold has golden flesh with smooth skin. Yukon Gold is an all-purpose potato, which means it can be used for almost anything. And for that very reason, I always have Yukon Gold in my pantry … they're just so versatile. And have I mentioned that they're delicious? They're so creamy, but fluffy at the same time. They hold their shape pretty well, which means that they are great for soups and stews. But you can also mash them easily. Remember, when in doubt, go for Yukon Gold, because you’ll never go wrong with this type of potato.
Yukon Gold: Use these types of potatoes for anything… boiled, baked, fried, mashed, anything!
Red potatoes are probably one of the most beautiful potatoes available. They have purplish-red skin like the color of beetroot, but their flesh is white. The good news is that the red skin won’t stain your work surface or the potato flesh itself, thus creating a stunning contrast in your cooking. In fact, I never peel red potatoes when I’m cooking them as they look so good with the skin on. Ah, and red potatoes are also very delicious. They're low in starch and high in moisture, which means they hold their shape pretty well.
Red Potato: Use these types of potatoes for garlic roasted potatoes, skin-on mashed potatoes, stews.
Sweet potatoes usually come in a yellow or orange color. I personally love sweet potato a lot. They're soft, and fluffy, and sweet on their own. Delicious! Not to mention that they're very healthy. Sweet potato is rich in fiber and vitamins. They are also high in starch, which means that they're great for a healthy alternative to regular mashed potato or oven fries. Or bake them and top them with a dollop of Greek yogurt mixed with garlic and lemon. Or roast the sweet potato with ginger and cumin seeds, or even bake them into sweet potato pie.
Sweet Potato: Use these types of potatoes for boiled potatoes, roasted potatoes, oven fries, mashed potato, pie.
Sweet Potato vs Yam
Many people confuse sweet potatoes and yams even though they’re actually quite different, both taste-wise and texture-wise. Yams have white flesh and bark-like skin. (And FYI, you don’t want to eat the skin as it’s tough and doesn't taste very nice) They are also very firm, with a grainy texture and some people consider them to taste a bit bland. On the other hand, sweet potato is tender, fluffy, sweet, and earthy.
Purple Types of Potatoes
These types of potatoes sure will catch your attention the moment you see them in the grocery store or farmers’ market. Purple potatoes have a vibrant violet-blueish color inside and outside. They can add such a beautiful color to your dish. And the taste is just as delicious as it looks. Purple potatoes are sweet, earthy, and slightly nutty. They hold their shape pretty well, but you can mash them easily too with a potato ricer or food processor.
Purple Potato: Use this type of potato for roasted potatoes, potato puree, and desserts such as the Filipino style ube halaya and ube cake.
Fingerling potatoes have a size and shape like… well, human fingers. It might sound unappetizing, but it’s actually pretty adorable! The color of fingerling potatoes ranges from white, yellow, to purple and red. Their skin is thin, making them perfect for boiling and baking. Low in starch and high in moisture, these types of potatoes are very creamy and even buttery. Yum!
Fingerling Potatoes: Use these types of potatoes for roasted potatoes (super delicious with crème fraiche and dill as the dip), sauteed potatoes.
New potatoes are sometimes called petite potatoes, pearl potatoes, or baby potatoes. Small and bite-sized, they're really cute and can go as small as a marble. New potatoes are basically the tiny version of their original standard-sized version. So, you can find the new potato version of russet, to fingerling, to sweet potato. The flavor is the same as its standard version but often just slightly waxier and creamier.
New Potatoes: Use these types of potatoes for eating by themselves! My Scottish husband always says that there is nothing better than boiling new season baby potatoes in salted water and cooking them until tender. Drain, add a tablespoon of butter, and a pinch of freshly ground black pepper. Enjoy!
Types of Potatoes - Tips
How to Choose Good Potatoes
Choosing good potatoes is actually very simple. There are at least 3 things you should pay attention to when buying any types of potatoes.
- Good potatoes are firm with no bruises or blemishes.
- Make sure that the potatoes you pick don’t have sprouts on them. The sprouts indicate that the potatoes are old.
- Avoid potatoes with green spots, as the green spots indicate the presence of solanine toxin - it’s dangerous and quite poisonous.
How to Store Potatoes
Store all types of potatoes in a dark, dry, and cool place. Inside your pantry is usually a good spot. And don’t suffocate your potatoes. Don’t keep them inside an airtight plastic bag. Instead, opt for a plastic bag with holes, a paper bag, or a lidless basket. Never store your potatoes in the refrigerator as the freezing cold temperature will make them rot faster by turning the potato starch into sugar.
Is it Safe to Eat Green Potatoes?
BIG NO! Throw them right away. It’s certainly not safe to eat greenish potatoes, not even if the green parts are pretty tiny. You see, the green spots indicate the presence of a toxin called solanine. This can be poisonous and dangerous - not worth it, guys!
Is it Safe to Eat Sprouted Potatoes?
Actually, the answer is yes, but only after you’ve removed all the sprouts. However, you might consider this… If your potatoes are wrinkled and shriveled with sprouts, some of the nutrients may have been transferred to the sprouts. But if your potatoes look fine (with only a few tiny sprouts coming out), you can just cut off the sprouted parts and cook them as you usually would.
Types of Potatoes - In Conclusion
Now that you know the 7 most common types of potatoes and how to use them, I bet you’ll never say that potatoes are boring ever again. Yup, the “potatoes are boring” statement is just so last year. So, now repeat after me: Potatoes. Are. Exciting!