Potato Types

There are more than 100 varieties of potatoes sold throughout the United States. Each of these varieties fit into one of seven potato type categories: russet, red, white, yellow, blue/purple, fingerling and petite. Learn more about the characteristics and cooking recommendations for each type below.

To see videos about what makes each type of potato unique, please visit our Potato Types Videos page.

Russet Potatoes

Appearance: medium to large, oblong or slightly flattened oval, light to medium russet-brown, netted skin, white to pale yellow flesh
Texture: floury,dry; light and fluffy; hearty skin that is chewy when cooked
Flavor: mild; earthy; medium sugar content
Preferred uses: baking, frying, mashing, roasted

Russets are ideal for light and fluffy mashed potatoes. They also fry up crisp and golden brown, and they are the potato of choice for baking. The delicate flavor and fluffy texture of baked russets go well with all kinds of toppings, from traditional sour cream and chives to spicy and bold Mediterranean or Latin flavors. Try cutting into planks or wedges to make hearty oven-roasted “fries.” For more information, watch Potato Types and Tips: Russet Potatoes.

Red Potatoes

Appearance: small to medium; round or slightly oblong; smooth, thin red skin; white flesh
Texture: waxy, moist and smooth; creamy
Flavor: Subtly sweet; mild medium sugar content
Preferred uses: Roasting, mashing, salads, soups/stews

Because of their waxy texture, the flesh of red potatoes stays firm throughout the cooking process, whether they are being roasted or cooked in a stew. Their thin yet vibrant red skin adds appealing color and texture to side dishes and salads. Reds are frequently used to make tender yet firm potato salad or add pizazz to soups and stews, as well as being served baked or mashed. Round reds are often referred to as “new potatoes,” but the term “new” technically refers to any type of potato that is harvested before reaching maturity. For more information, watch Potato Types and Tips: Red Potatoes.

White Potatoes

Appearance: small to medium; round to long shape; white or tan skin; white flesh
Texture: medium starch; slightly creamy, slightly dense; thin, delicate skin
Flavor: subtly sweet; mild; low sugar content
Preferred uses: mashing, salads, steaming/boiling, frying

White potatoes hold their shape well after cooking. Their delicate, thin skins add just the right amount of texture to a velvety mashed potato dish without the need for peeling. Grilling whites brings out a more full-bodied flavor. Create signature potato salads–just toss cooked white potatoes with dressings and ingredients “borrowed” from other salads, e.g., Caesar dressing and grated Parmesan; or ranch dressing, chopped egg and bacon crumbles. For more information, watch Potato Types and Tips: White Potatoes.

Yellow Potatoes

Appearance: marble to large size; round or oblong shape; light tan to golden skin; yellow to golden flesh
Texture: slightly waxy, velvety, moist
Flavor: subtly sweet; rich; buttery; medium-sugar content
Preferred uses: grilling, roasting, mashing, salads

Grilling gives yellow potatoes a crispy skin that enhances the dense flesh, 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, healthier dishes. The naturally smooth and buttery texture also 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. For more information, watch Potato Types and Tips: Yellow Potatoes.

Purple/ Blue Potatoes

Appearance: small to medium-size; oblong to fingerling; deep purple, blue or slightly red skin; blue, purple lavender, pink or white flesh
Texture: moist; firm flesh. Note–all blue and purple Peruvian varieties have higher starch content and a floury texture
Flavor: earthy, nutty, low sugar content
Preferred Uses: roasting, grilling, salads, baking

Most blue/purple potatoes have moist, firm flesh that retains its shape while adding rich, vibrant color and luscious taste to salads. The purple color is preserved best by microwaving, but steaming and baking are also great ways to cook blue/purple potatoes. Because of their mild yet distinctly nutty flavor, blue/purple potatoes naturally complement green salad flavors. Red, White and Blues—Combine blue potatoes with whites and reds in salads or roasted medleys to make all three colors “pop”. For more information, watch Potato Types and Tips: Purple/Blue Potatoes.

Fingerling Potatoes

Appearance: 2-4 inches long; finger-shaped or oblong; red, orange, purple or white skin; red orange, purple, yellow or white flesh–sometimes streaked with veins of color
Texture: waxy, firm, try
Flavor: buttery; nutty; earthy; medium sugar content
Preferred uses: pan-frying, roasting, salads

Fingerling color and shape are a welcome visual addition to any dish. Pan-frying and roasting enhance their robust flavor and showcase their wonderful nutty or buttery tastes. 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 side-dish alternative to fries, with a flavor dipping sauce, like spicy ketchup, romesco, or sriracha mayo. For more information, watch Potato Types and Tips: Fingerling Potatoes.

Petite Potatoes

Appearance: these small, bite-sized potatoes are actually a grade standard based upon size (“C-size” and smaller, oftentimes referred to as pearls or marble-size)
Texture: they are the same skin and flesh color as their larger-sized cousins, as well as the shape, texture and sugar content
Flavor: similar but with a more concentrated flavor to their larger-sized cousins.
Preferred uses: salads, roasting, frying

Petites make a great substitute for pasta, adding nutritional value as well. Roast a combination of colors for an eye-catching side dish. Their concentrated flavors and quicker cooking time makes petites a good choice for potato salads. Simply toss petites in olive oil, rosemary and salt and pepper to make colorful, delicious and fun roasted potatoes. They save you prep time, because they can be prepared and served whole, without slicing or chopping. For more information, watch Potato Types and Tips: Petite Potatoes.

Ready to try a new potato type? Click the “advanced search” tab in potato recipes section.

Beyond the Produce Aisle

Chard Hash

Chard Hash

Frozen

Take a trip down the frozen aisle of any grocery story and you’ll find many different frozen potato options, from wedges, shreds, hash browns and tots to slices, dices, crinkle cut and waffle fries. These products are instantly quick frozen to lock in the taste and nutrients of fresh potatoes, and maintain a longer shelf life. Baking frozen potatoes is a great time-saving option for breakfast, lunch, dinner or a snack.

Mashed Potato Croquettes

Mashed Potato Croquettes

Dehydrated/Instant

Contrary to popular belief, dehydrated/instant potatoes found in boxes in the center aisle of the grocery store are REAL potatoes. Whole potatoes are actually put through an advanced process to create premium dehydrated/instant potato products. Thanks to the careful processing techniques used, dehydrated/instant potato products retain most of their nutrition. Dehydrated/instant potatoes provide significant amounts of potassium and some B vitamins, as well as smaller amounts of other vitamins and minerals including iron.

French Fries

French Fries

French Fries

French fried potatoes are made from fresh white potatoes. Like potatoes cooked by other methods, French fried potatoes provide important shortfall nutrients and are now prepared with healthier oils. Innovations in food science and technology are driving continuous improvement to ensure this nutritious and popular vegetable continues to align with dietary guidance. When eaten in moderation, French fries can be part of a healthy, well-balanced diet.