7 Categories of Potatoes

Just like some apples are best for sauce and others are great for eating raw, different potatoes work better for different purposes. More than a hundred varieties of potatoes are sold in the US, but they fall into seven major categories for cooking.

Here are the categories and their best uses in the kitchen:

Russet Potatoes

Russet Potatoes have an earthy flavor and are the perfect choice for baking and making light, fluffy mashed potatoes. They can be cut into wedges or planks for oven ‘fries’ and dipped into everything from light sour cream to spicy salsa.

Best for: Baking, Mashing, Roasting

Red Potatoes

Red Potatoes have a thinner skin and a subtle, sweet flavor. Their waxy texture helps them stay firm throughout cooking, making them ideal for stews, soups and salads. They roast beautifully and are a colorful addition as a side dish.

Best for: Boiling, Steaming, Sauté, Scallop, Soups, Salads

White Potatoes

White Potatoes also have a thin skin, so they can be easily mashed without peeling. They hold their shape well after cooking; their creamy texture and mild flavor make them perfect for grilling, steaming and boiling.

Best for: Boiling, Steaming, Mashing, Roasting, Scallop, Soups, Salads

Yellow Potatoes

Yellow Potatoes are great for lighter dishes, since their golden color means that less oil or butter needs to be added. Their naturally smooth and buttery texture lends itself to baking, roasting and mashing, as well as pan ‘frying.’

Best for: Mashing, Steaming, Baking, Boiling, Roasting

Purple/Blue Potatoes

Purple/Blue Potatoes have a moist, firm flesh and nutty, earthy flavor. Their rich, vibrant color makes them a lovely addition to any salad. The best way to preserve the color is microwaving, but steaming and baking are also delicious.

Best for: Boiling, Steaming, Baking

Fingerling Potatoes

Fingerling Potatoes come in multiple colors. Their size and shape make them a visually interesting addition to almost any dish. Split fingerlings roast quickly in the oven, serve with ketchup or more exotic sauces like spicy sriracha.

Best for: Boiling, Steaming, Baking

Petite Potatoes

Petite Potatoes are bite-sized versions of larger potato varieties. While the skin, color and flesh can come in any of the types above, their flavor is more concentrated. Cooked and served whole, they reduce prep time, especially when roasted.

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