There are Eight types of potatoes, and within that, over 100 varieties. If you’re a clueless cook, those numbers can make this vegetable look like quite the intimidating staple.
But because it is a staple, and because it is such a versatile veggie, there’s no reason to avoid it.
In this guide, we’ll go over all seven types of potato, defining characteristics of each, and the best ways to prepare the individual types.
Types of Potatoes
Potatoes are starchy, tuberous vegetables from the nightshade family. They can’t be eaten raw, but luckily, there are tons of ways you can prepare them.
Let’s start with the most familiar type first.
1. Russet Potatoes
These are the medium to large, light brown skinned potatoes that most people use to make baked potatoes and mashed potatoes.
Russet potatoes have skin that is dry to the touch, and have an earthy smell.
If you buy them fresh and unwashed, they are usually caked with dirt, which you need to scrub off before you start to prepare them.
If they are sprouting, or the inside of the potato is green, dispose of it.
Russet potatoes are great for baking whole, frying in strips to make french fries or potato chips, mashing, or roasting in quarters and wedges.
2. Red Potatoes
Red potatoes are smaller than russets, with smoother, almost waxy skin that is a – as its name suggests – red color, almost like a light or dull burgundy.
Unlike russet potatoes, they do not fluff up as lightly when cooked, remaining firm and making them great for soups or stews.
Red potatoes are usually used in potato salads, but they can also be baked or fried. If you’re bored of regular country potatoes at breakfast, for example, red potatoes are a good alternative.
Potatoes are great in vegan and vegetarian diets.
3. Yellow Potatoes
Yellow potatoes come in extremely varying sizes, from very small to medium-large.
They are usually round like red potatoes, and have the same kind of waxy skin, only they are a very light, dull yellow, almost the same color as the flesh of most potatoes.
Yellow potatoes are creamier than most, and are best grilled or roasted, though they can be mashed as well.
Potatoes are cheap, making them a great budget food.
4. White Potatoes
White potatoes are a few shades lighter than yellow potatoes, and don’t come as small, usually. They’re starchier than yellow potatoes, and not as creamy.
Because of the thin, sweet skin of white potatoes, they don’t need to be peeled before a mashing, which is what they’re best for. Most potato salads use white or red potatoes.
5. Sweet potato
Sweet potatoes have a creamy texture and a sweet-spicy flavour that makes them ideal for savoury dishes. There are two types, one with bright orange flesh, the other with pale cream flesh.
Sweet potatoes are native to the tropical Americas and are sometimes referred to as ‘yams’ in the USA.
These tubers are rich in fibre, vitamins A, C and B6, and an excellent source of carbohydrates. The orange-fleshed variety are also rich in betacarotene.
Sweet potatoes have traditionally been baked, roasted or mashed, but they can also be added to risotto, pasta or curry.
6. Purple Potatoes
Some people think these potatoes are purple. Others think they’re blue. Whatever color you see, these are the darkest potato, and probably the most unusual.
It isn’t often you see purple (or blue) potato chips, or purple mashed potatoes.
For one reason or another, most people tend to avoid these when cooking, simply because they don’t know much about them.
Purple potatoes are an extremely starchy variety that come in all sizes small to medium, with an almost marbled mix of white, lavender, and purple flesh.
The flesh will lighten when grilled or roasted, which is how they are best prepared. They have an earthy flavor that is nuttier than most other types of potato, and less salty.
7. Petite Potatoes
Petite potatoes are the same variety of red, yellow, white, and purple potatoes, but much smaller! Really small.
They’re great if you want small, easily roasted, bite-size potatoes in a stew or soup, and are best roasted.
8. Fingerling Potatoes
Like petite potatoes, fingerling potatoes are the same variety of the potatoes listed above, it’s only their shape that’s different.
Unlike petites, though, fingerling potatoes are known for their long, skinny shape. They can be purchased altogether, as a medley, and are great for adding some visual variety of dishes.
Step By Step Guide How To Cook Jacket Potatoes
Right now we have found out the different types of potatoes but lets find out how to cook the perfect jacket potatoes.
How to Bake a Sweet Potato in the Oven
What You Need
1. Preheat oven and wash the sweet potatoes: Preheat oven to 375°F. Scrub the sweet potatoes well and pat them dry with a dish towel.
2. Oil them up: Prepare squares of aluminum foil for as many sweet potatoes as you are roasting. Place each potato on a foil square and drizzle with a small amount of vegetable oil. Using your hands, rub the oil in a thin, even layer all over the potatoes.
3. Prick with a fork, wrap, and roast: Prick each sweet potato several times with a fork and wrap loosely in the foil. Be sure the foil is well-sealed. Place on a baking sheet and put them into the oven to roast.
4. Check for doneness: Depending on the size of your potatoes, it may take between 30 minutes to 1 hour for them to be done. Check at 30 minutes by squeezing one of the potatoes in a oven mitt protected hand and inserting a sharp knife or fork into the center.
They should feel quite soft and the knife should easily glide all the way through. If not return to the oven and check again in 10 minutes.
5. Enjoy now or save for later: Enjoy your sweet potatoes in the many ways listed below or store them in the refrigerator for later.
For storage, I leave them wrapped in their foil jackets on the counter until cool and then pop them into a plastic bag or glass container and put them into the fridge.
They will keep for several days. Reheat in a microwave or toaster oven or use in recipes as needed.
Step By Step Guide How To Bake a Potato
What You Need
1 russet potato per person
A baking sheet covered in foil
- Heat the oven to 425°F: Turn on the oven while you’re preparing the potatoes.
- Scrub the potatoes clean: Scrub the potatoes thoroughly under running water and pat them dry. You don’t have to remove the eyes, but trim away any blemishes with a paring knife.
- Rub the potatoes with olive oil: Rub the potatoes all over with a little olive oil. It’s easiest to use your hands, but a pastry brush also works fine.
- Sprinkle the potatoes with salt and pepper: Generously sprinkle the potatoes on all sides with salt and pepper.
- Prick all over with a fork: Prick the potatoes in a few places with the tines of a fork. This allows steam to escape from the baking potato.
- Bake the potatoes: You can bake the potatoes directly on the oven rack, or you can place them a few inches apart on a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake the potatoes for 50 to 60 minutes. Flip them over every 20 minutes or so and check them for doneness by piercing them with a fork. Potatoes are done when the skins are dry and the insides feel completely soft when pierced.
- To cut down the baking time, microwave the potatoes for 3 to 4 minutes in the microwave before baking.
- For softer skins, wrap the potatoes in foil before baking.