Versatile, delicious, and available all year round, potatoes are the ultimate comfort food. There are many varieties of potatoes and each one is unique and has different culinary uses.
To make things simpler, potatoes are classified into several categories based on their cooking texture. To help you choose the right potato for recipes, we’ll list different types of potatoes, the most common varieties, and the best ways to prepare them.
How Many Varieties of Potatoes Are There?
There are more than 4000 varieties of potatoes in the world and they come in many different shapes, sizes, and colors. It’s estimated that 200 different varieties of potatoes are sold in the United States, each of which has specific culinary qualities.
What Are the Three Types of Potatoes?
For culinary purposes, the commercial varieties of potatoes are distinguished by their waxiness and divided into three categories. The three types of potatoes you can find at your local farmers’ market are starchy, waxy, and all-purpose potatoes.
The way a potato cooks will depend on the type of starch it contains – amylopectin or amylose, and water content. Being familiar with different types of potatoes can make choosing the right variety for your next meal less confusing.
Different Popular Types of Potatoes
With so many different types of potatoes out there, finding the right variety for recipes is no small feat. Below, we’ll list the most common varieties of potatoes and the best ways to cook them.
Starchy potatoes, also known as mealy, are high in starch and low in moisture. Great for baking, boiling, mashing, and frying, starchy potatoes get a fluffy texture when cooked and will become gluey if overcooked.
Russet potatoes, also known as Burbank or Idaho, are large, oblong-shaped potatoes that have rough and spotty brown skin and white flesh. Russets are commonly used for french fries, hash browns, and homemade mashed potatoes.
Jewel yam is actually an oblong-shaped sweet potato with reddish-brown skin and orange flesh. Starchy and sweet, jewel yams are ideal for baking, roasting, steaming, boiling, and can also be used in deserts.
Japanese Sweet Potato
The Japanese Sweet potato has an oblong shape, a pointed tip, pink skin, and white flesh. This variety has a sweet and nutty flavor and can be grilled, baked or steam cooked.
Hannah Sweet Potato
The Hannah Sweet potato, also known as Yellow Hannah or Sweet Hannah has an oblong shape, semi-smooth tan skin, and yellowish tender flesh. They are easy to work with and can be boiled, stir-fried, mashed, baked, pureed, or steamed.
Waxy potatoes are high in moisture and sugar, low in starch, and hold their shape after cooking. Smaller in size and rounder, waxy potatoes have thinner skin and are best for boiling and roasting.
Rose Finn Apple
The Rose Fin Apple is a fingerling potato with a rose-beige, lumpy skin and deep yellow flesh. This variety has a distinctive earthly flavor and can be grilled, boiled, fried, or served in salads.
The Russian Banana is a popular fingerling potato distinguished by firm texture, creamy yellow flesh, and pale yellow skin. They have a mild nutty flavor and are great for boiling, roasting, baking, or steamed for potato salad.
Also a fingerling potato, the Red Thumb has red skin, pink flesh, waxy texture, and a rich earthy flavor. This variety holds its shape when cooked and is ideal for potato salad, but can also be roasted, boiled, grilled, or steamed.
The French Fingerling has a bright rose-red smooth skin and yellow flesh with an occasional red ring. Since the flesh is creamy and smooth, the French Fingerling is ideal for boiling and roasting.
LaRette is a French heirloom fingerling variety with smooth golden skin, very dense yellow flesh, and a nutty flavor. This variety keeps its shape when cooked and holds a lot of fat so it is ideal for roasting or boiling.
Australian Crescent has a firm waxy texture, yellow flesh, and smooth tan skin. It can be used in salads, but it also tastes great when roasted, boiled, or steamed.
All-purpose potatoes fall somewhere between starchy and waxy potatoes and have medium starch levels. These traits make them great for any potato dish, and they are also good for mashing.
Red Gold is a medium-sized potato with yellow flesh and tan or red skin. It has a moist texture and a sweet flavor which makes it ideal for baking, boiling, roasting, or mashing.
Also a medium-sized potato, the Purple Majesty has a smooth blue skin and bright purple flesh that’s high in antioxidants. Its moist flesh remains firm after cooking making this variety great for roasting and baking, or for soup and salad recipes.
The Norland Red produces medium to large size tubers with smooth red skin and creamy white flesh. This red potato holds its shape when cooked and can be boiled, roasted, mashed, or baked.
The Yukon Gold potato has smooth thin skin and firm golden flesh. Like all other all-purpose potatoes, Yukon Golds can be prepared in any way possible and used in any potato recipe.
The Kennebec is a large white potato that has a thin tan skin with small brown spots. This is the most common all-purpose potato variety and can be used for boiling, roasting, pureeing, mashing, frying, or just about anything else.
The All Blue is an heirloom variety with deep blue skin and blue flesh that has a white ring. Being an all-purpose potato, the All Blue can be boiled, roasted, baked, or steamed, and will add color to any dish.
Since there are over 200 varieties of potatoes in the United States alone, choosing the right kind for your next meal can be confusing. To make things simpler, potatoes are classified based on the cooking texture to starchy, waxy, and all-purpose potatoes.
Starchy potatoes are best for baking, frying, mashing, and boiling, on the other hand, waxy potatoes are ideal for roasting and boiling. All-purpose potatoes fall in the middle and can be used in any potato recipe without losing their shape and flavor.