Potato. Potahto.

Potato. Potahto.

Does it really matter what type of potato you use in a recipe?  Up until a few years ago, I used Russet for baking and red for everything else. Why? I don’t know, I guess it was simply because I thought that it wouldn’t make much of a difference. But, when I started to write my cook book, I spent some time learning about the different varieties of potatoes and have fell in love with yellow fleshed potatoes (e.g. Yukon Gold) for many recipes.

Potatogoodness.com was a website resource I used to find information on all the potato varieties. On this site was a brochure,  Fresh U.S. Potato Reference Guide 2017, that explained the different types of potatoes.

Potato Varieties

There are seven potato type categories: russet (brown), red, white, yellow, blue/purple, fingerling and petite. Did you think I missed the sweet potato? Well, no, I didn’t. It is actually from a different plant family.


Russets are the potato of choice for baking and frying with a finished product that is crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. They also make heavenly mashed potatoes—light and fluffy. Their flavor and fluffy texture when baked go well with all kinds of toppings, from traditional sour cream and chives to bold Mediterranean and Latin seasonings. Cut them into planks or wedges to make hearty oven-roasted fries.


Yellow potatoes have grown exceedingly popular with consumers and chefs thanks to their sumptuous, buttery flavor and creamy texture. Grilling gives them a crispy skin that enhances those qualities while also creating a slightly sweet, caramelized flavor. The creamy texture and golden color of yellow potatoes mean you can use less or no butter for lighter, nutritious dishes, and their naturally smooth texture lends itself well to lighter versions of baked, roasted or mashed potatoes. Simmer yellow potatoes until fully cooked, then drain, chill, and gently smash into flat disks. Brown these in oil or clarified butter and serve as a side or appetizer topped with sour cream and chives or other garnishes.


Because of their waxy texture, red potatoes stay firm throughout cooking, whether roasted or stewed. Their thin yet vivid red skin adds appealing color and texture to sides and salads. Reds are frequently used to make tender yet firm potato salad and to add pizazz to soups and stews. They are also delicious mashed or roasted.


White potatoes hold their shape well after cooking. Their delicate, thin skins add just the right amount of texture to velvety mashed potatoes without the need for peeling. Grilling whites brings out a more full-bodied flavor. White potatoes are also good for frying. To create signature potato salads, just toss cooked white potatoes with dressings and ingredients borrowed from other salads: Caesar dressing and grated Parmesan, or ranch dressing, chopped egg and bacon crumbles.


Most purple-blue potatoes’ flesh is moist and firm and retains its shape while adding eye-catching color and luscious taste to salads. Their purple hue is preserved best by microwaving, but steaming and baking also complement purple-blue potatoes. Because of their mild yet distinctly nutty flavor, purple-blue potatoes naturally pair well with green salad flavors. Combine them with white and red potatoes in salads or roasted medleys to make all three colors pop.


Fingerlings’ color and shape are a welcome visual addition to any dish. Pan-frying and roasting enhance their robust taste and showcase their wonderful nutty or buttery flavors. Consider fingerlings as a change-of-pace foundation for a unique potato salad. Split fingerlings lengthwise and oven-roast to serve as a small-plate or sidedish alternative to fries, enjoyed with a flavored dipping sauce like spicy ketchup, romesco or Sriracha mayo.


Roast a combination of colors for an attractive side. Their concentrated flavor and quicker cooking time make them a smart choice for potato salads. Or simply toss in olive oil, rosemary, salt and pepper to make colorful, delicious and fun roasted potatoes. They save prep time because they can be prepared and served whole, without slicing or chopping.

SOURCE: Fresh U.S. Potato Reference Guide 2017.