various types of potatos

Potatoes 101

Whether you like ’em mashed, baked, boiled, roasted or grilled, these popular, versatile vegetables are surprisingly packed with power and nutrition.

By Rebecca Heaton

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Most widely used in the United States, brown-skinned russets have a mild, earthy flavor with a bit of sweetness. A favorite use is baking, resulting in a light, fluffy center surrounded by a crispy, roasted skin. Russets are also good for mashed potatoes and pan-fried potatoes.


Mashing is a common use for these subtly sweet, creamy, all-purpose potatoes. Their skin is so delicate, you don’t even need to peel them, even when mashing. Also try grilling whites (whole or thickly sliced) to bring out a more full-bodied flavor, or use them in soups or stews, as they hold their shape well when tender.


Because their texture stays firm throughout the cooking process, reds do well in soups and stews. Keep the skin on—no need to peel them—to add color to any dish. Slightly sweet, with a smooth, creamy, always-tender texture, reds are ideal for potato salads or creamy mashed potatoes.


Grilling is a favorite use for yellows, because it brings out their sweet, caramelized flavor. Plus, the crispy, golden skin enhances the dense, buttery texture of the flesh. This smooth texture also lends itself well to lighter versions of baked or roasted potatoes.


With a rich, vibrant color and distinctively nutty taste, cooked purples and blues are a great fit for potato salads, as well as green salads. Their moist, firm flesh retains its shape and ranges from purple to lavender to almost white. They’re delicious roasted, but microwaving best preserves their color.


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