Types of red potatoes

It’s St. Patrick’s Day, which means a tide of green-clad frat bros have probably already kicked down your front door and puked in your shoes. This survival guide is designed to get you through the worst day of the year in as few pieces as possible.

Ireland and the humble potato have a lengthy, tumultuous relationship. In the 1700s, potatoes were extensively cultivated in Ireland — many sources even claim that the average Irish peasant consumed about 10 pounds of potatoes each day, which, life goals.

At the time, potatoes were the ideal food — they provided protein, vitamins and complex carbohydrates. In fact, many believe that potatoes were the impetus for the Irish population more than doubling between 1780 and 1840.

But then came the blight — a fungus that caused mildew to form on all parts of the potato plant, turning the once-beloved spuds into a mushy, inedible mess — and Ireland’s relationship with the potato turned sour. The ensuing events have come to be known as The Great Famine, which was utterly devastating. Ireland relied on potatoes, and without them, many people were at risk of starvation on top of the loss of their homes and farmland. By 1848, about one million people are believed to have perished, and another 1.5 million forced to migrate, mostly to the U.S.

You might think that such a catastrophe would forever ruin the potato for Irish people, but for some Irish-Americans, at least, planting (and celebrating) potatoes on St. Patrick’s Day is a tradition that continues to this day (gotta love that endless quest for “authenticity!”).

But of course, potatoes come in many shapes and forms, some healthier than others, which brings me to why we’re here: In celebration of St. Patrick’s Day — and the potato — I asked nutritionist David Friedman, author of Food Sanity: How to Eat in a World of Fads and Fiction, to help me rank common types of potatoes — from super healthy to super not.

Here’s what he came up with…

1) Red Potatoes: “Red potatoes contain the highest levels of vitamins, minerals and healthy phytochemicals,” Friedman explains. “They’re high in quercetin, a flavonoid with powerful anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties. They also offer more lutein (for eye health) and choline (for brain health) than any other potato on this list. One large red potato supplies half of the recommended dietary allowance of vitamin B6, which aids in the metabolism of protein, carbohydrates and lipids and helps in the formation of red blood cells. A single red potato also supplies 30 percent of the recommended daily intake of niacin, which is essential for energy production from food and helps digestion. Niacin also helps lower LDL cholesterol — i.e., ‘bad cholesterol’ — and supports healthy skin and nerves.”

“When it comes to the mineral potassium, which is vital for heart, nerve and muscle control, most people think of a banana as the go-to — actually, a banana only contains 422 milligrams of potassium, compared to a red potato, which contains a whopping 1,670 milligrams of potassium,” Friedman continues. “Increased potassium intake allows the body to excrete more sodium through the urine, which may help lower blood pressure. Also, much of the nutritional value of the red potato is found in its skin, so never peel them. Prepare them baked in their skin for the best nutritional value.”

2) Sweet Potatoes: “Even though they have the word ‘sweet’ in their name, these potatoes are diabetic-friendly and won’t spike your blood sugar,” Friedman says. “In fact, their high fiber content actually helps with blood glucose control and weight management.”

“Orange-fleshed sweet potatoes are one of nature’s unsurpassed sources of beta-carotene, which is needed for healthy skin and mucous membranes, our immune system, good eye health and vision,” Friedman continues. “Sweet potatoes are also high in manganese, which aids in the formation of connective tissue, bones, blood-clotting factors and sex hormones. This mineral also plays a role in fat and carbohydrate metabolism, calcium absorption and blood sugar regulation.”

Lastly, a hot tip: “After a strenuous workout at the gym, consume a sweet potato with a little cinnamon on top (which has anti-inflammatory properties) and your muscles will recover twice as fast,” Friedman suggests.

3) Purple Potatoes: “These are considered to be part of the sweet potato family, but instead of being orange on the inside, they’re purple,” Friedman explains. “What makes them different than the orange-colored sweet potatoes are two genes — IbMYB1 and IbMYB2 — that get activated to produce the pigments responsible for the rich purple tones of the flesh. The purple is due to anthocyanins — primarily peonidins and cyanidins — that have important antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. In fact, purple potatoes contain four times as many antioxidants as russet potatoes.”

“They also may help to lower the potential health risk posed by heavy metals and free radicals,” Friedman continues. “Purple potatoes have been found to slow the growth of certain types of cancer cells in test-tube studies, including bladder, colon, stomach and breast cancer. Finally, a study presented by the American Chemical Society found that eating purple potatoes may lower blood pressure. This could be because of their high concentration of a phytochemical called chlorogenic acid, which has been linked to a reduced hypertension.”

4) Russet Potatoes: “Many confuse russet and white potatoes as being the same thing, but they’re quite different,” Friedman emphasizes. “If you’re a steak-and-potato person, russet is your go-to. Russet potatoes are larger and more oblong in shape than white potatoes, and they have a tougher skin, which is also commonly kept for skin-on French fries.”

Russet potatoes are also generally healthier than white potatoes. “Russet potatoes offer a higher fiber content than white potatoes, which helps improve gut health,” Friedman continues. “Russets are also a good source of iron, which supports healthy blood, and magnesium, which is needed for heart, nerve and immune system function.”

However, the way you eat your russet potatoes can really change up how healthy they are. “If you top a baked russet potato with butter, sour cream and bacon bits, it can quickly become an artery-clogging monstrosity,” Friedman says. “But eaten plain or with heart-healthy garnishments, such as olive oil and chopped chives, a russet potato contains nutrients and fiber that can benefit your heart, bones, immune system and metabolism. Make your baked russet potato even healthier and more flavorful by adding some parsley or green onions, or topped with sautéed mushrooms and bell peppers.”

5) Fingerling Potatoes: “A fingerling potato is a small, stubby, finger-shaped potato,” Friedman says (hence the name). “Fingerlings are an excellent source of vitamin B6, which plays an important role in the production of red blood cells, liver detoxification and maintenance of the brain and nervous system. Fingerling potatoes are also rich in vitamin C, which has immune boosting properties.”

6) White Potatoes: “White potatoes are a good source of several nutrients, including potassium, magnesium, dietary fiber and vitamin B6,” Friedman explains. “The white spud is also an excellent source of resistant starch, which feeds the friendly bacteria in your intestines. White potatoes are a great source of high-quality protein, too, because of their superior amino acid complex. White potatoes actually exceed the recommended amino acid levels for lysine, methionine, threonine and tryptophan — amino acids that play a vital role in cellular repair.”

However, white potatoes also have a downside. “The negative aspect of white potatoes is that they’re considered a high-calorie food compared to other staple foods, such as rice and pasta,” Friedman says. That said: “The carbohydrate or starchy part of this potato also ranks high on the glycemic index — that means it enters the bloodstream faster, which is a plus if you’re an endurance athlete. Food is fuel and a plain baked potato makes an excellent meal before a challenging workout.”

7) New Potatoes: New potatoes aren’t really a variety by themselves — they’re simply the baby version of any potato that a farmer grows, Friedman explains. “New potatoes get purposely thinned out early in the season in order to make room for the rest of the potatoes to mature.”

“A single cooked new potato contains only 25 calories, and about 85 percent of those calories come from carbohydrates, while nearly 10 percent come from protein and four percent or less from fat,” Friedman continues. “New potatoes offer some vitamins and minerals, however, because they haven’t fully matured, new potatoes have less nutritional value than their fully-grown counterparts.”

8) Mashed Potatoes: “A traditional homemade serving of mashed potatoes can contain 237 calories or more when they’re prepared with butter and whole milk,” Friedman says. “Some restaurants use heavy cream to prepare their mashed potatoes, which drives the fat and calorie count even higher. Top your mashed potatoes with gravy, and they could easily reach 450 calories.”

However, you can make healthier mashed potatoes at home — if you’re willing to skimp on the butter, that is. “Blend cauliflower with the potatoes to get a buttery, smooth flavor with fewer carbs,” Friedman suggests. “You can also whip potatoes with Greek yogurt to get a creamy consistency. Then, instead of butter, you can give your mashed potatoes some zest by using extra virgin olive oil and seasonings, like chives, paprika, garlic or thyme. Lastly, forego fatty milk and try using healthier cashew milk instead.”

9) French Fries: “I’ve had many patients who believe that eating French fries is adding a healthy vegetable to their diet,” Friedman says. “Unfortunately, that’s not true. French fries aren’t only unhealthy — they’re potentially deadly. In an eight-year study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, fried potatoes can actually increase your risk of mortality. Eating more potatoes in general didn’t have any health risks associated with them, but researchers found that fried potatoes of any kind, like French fries and hash browns, increased mortality risk twofold.”

“One reason French fries are so bad for you is the amount of trans fats they contain,” Friedman continues. “Consuming trans fats has been shown to increase the risk of coronary artery disease in part by raising levels of ‘bad cholesterol,’ lowering levels of ‘good cholesterol’ and increasing triglyceride levels . Then there’s a chemical in French fries, acrylamide, which has been linked to an increased cancer risk.”

Worse yet, dipping them in ketchup only adds fuel to the unhealthy fire. “Ketchup contains high fructose corn syrup, which has been linked to causing attention deficit disorder, obesity, heart disease and cancer,” Friedman says. “Two tablespoons of ketchup also contains eight grams of sugar, and most people gob more than this on their plate of fries.”

“If you love French fries, there’s a healthier way to eat them,” Friedman continues. “Instead of frying them, try baking them in the oven using extra virgin olive oil. Then, instead of white processed salt, use a healthier variety, like black Hawaiian salt or Himalayan sea salt.”

So it looks like, once again, fries should be off the menu. But if I get to compensate by yeeting a couple pounds of regular potatoes into my mouth, that doesn’t sound so bad.

Ian Lecklitner

Ian Lecklitner is a staff writer at MEL Magazine. He mostly writes about everyone’s favorite things: Sex, drugs and food.

Red Potatoes

Information About Red Potatoes

Learn more about red potato calories and nutritional value. Find links to our favorite red potato recipes, including Roasted Red Potatoes, Red, White and Blue Potato Salad and Mashed 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

Red Potatoes for Cooking

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 below.

Red Potato Nutrition & Calories

One red potato (5.2 ounces in size) has 110 calories and is an excellent source of potassium (more than a banana) and vitamin C. Reds are also a good source of vitamin B6 and are fat, sodium and cholesterol free.

Red Potato Recipes

Roasted Red Potatoes

Roasted Potatoes with Bacon and Parmesan

Roasted Red Potatoes with Pesto

For more recipe ideas, see our Red Potatoes Recipes.

Potatoes are a popular and well-loved veggie. However, they can be quite controversial. Some people say they cause weight gain and other health issues. But what does the science say? Are potatoes healthy? And should they be a part of your regular diet?

You probably have fond memories of eating potatoes. Whether baked, mashed, roasted, or grilled, these veggies are crowd-pleasers and can be delicious comfort foods.

In fact, potatoes are by far the world’s most popular vegetable. And each year, Americans eat an average of 126 pounds of them.

But a lot of confusion and differing opinions exist about potatoes.

So what’s the truth? Are potatoes healthy? And should you eat more or less of them? After reading this article, you might change the way you think about potatoes.

Why Are Potatoes Controversial?


If you do an online search for potatoes, you’ll see a lot of discussion about whether they’re healthy or not.

Many nutritionists and health professionals recommend limiting potato consumption. And some food guides don’t even include potatoes in the vegetable group.

So why do people argue against eating potatoes?

Here are the three main reasons:

  • Potatoes are high in carbohydrates, which some people believe causes weight gain.
  • Potatoes digest rapidly and have a high glycemic load, which means that they can cause your blood sugar and insulin levels to spike and then dip.
  • Highly processed foods like French fries or potato chips are the most frequently eaten forms of potatoes — and we all know how unhealthy those are.

But do potatoes deserve to be viewed as dangerous? And do they also provide some benefits?

First, let’s look into the weight concerns…

Do Potatoes Pack on the Pounds?

A 2011 study conducted by Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health tracked the diet and lifestyle habits of 120,000 men and women for up to 20 years, looking at how small food choices contribute to weight gain over time.

The researchers concluded that there’s a strong association between potatoes and weight gain. Potato consumption was also linked to increased risks of heart disease and type 2 diabetes, as well.

But it’s not all bad news for spud lovers. According to St. Louis-based registered dietitian Alex Caspero, RD, “…potatoes are not the enemy! How we eat them is.”

While many of us eat veggies, like spinach and broccoli, in their natural state, we eat most of our potatoes processed or fried as chips and french fries. Even our baked or boiled potatoes are often peeled (losing the vitamins, minerals, and fiber found in the skin), mashed with sticks of butter or cream, and loaded with fatty toppings like chili and sour cream.

But, in a study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition in 2014, researchers found that when people followed healthy recipes, they lost weight even while eating five to seven servings of potatoes per week.

So it looks like potatoes are no weight loss panacea. But it also seems that their preparation, what you eat with them, and how they fit into your overall diet is what matters.

What Happens When People Eat a LOT of Potatoes?

When traditional indigenous populations have enjoyed potato-heavy diets, their rates of disease have often been low.

Take the Kitavans of Papua New Guinea. Their traditional diet is based heavily on sweet potatoes, yams, and other tubers as food sources.

According to a study published in the Journal of Internal Medicine, as of 1994, when many Kitavans were still eating their traditional diet, they almost never suffered from strokes or heart disease. They also had lower blood pressure and lower weight when compared with a Westernized population.

Other native groups, like the Tukisentas, eat a more than 90% carbohydrate diet (mostly from sweet potatoes). They are fit and healthy, with low and nearly non-existent rates of modern chronic diseases like heart disease and diabetes.

And let’s not forget about the longest-lived people in the world, the Okinawans, who get more than 50% of their daily calories from a type of purple sweet potato.

What About the Glycemic Load of Potatoes?

When you eat carbohydrates, your blood glucose (also known as blood sugar) levels rise and fall.

The glycemic load indicates the rate at which various amounts of carbohydrates are formed into glucose and released into your bloodstream. Potatoes have a relatively high glycemic load, but it varies between different types of potatoes.

On a scale of 0 to 100, a baked white potato has a glycemic load of 29 (which is considered high). And sweet potatoes generally have a GL of 19 (which is considered moderate).

Due to their high antioxidant content, colored potatoes (like red and purple) have a lower glycemic load than white.

Why Some People Might Want to Watch Their Potato Consumption

Potatoes can be a healthy choice for most people, but three groups might want to minimize their consumption (particularly of white potatoes): pre-diabetics, diabetics, and people who are overweight.

Diabetes is a condition in which the body can’t properly produce or respond to insulin. Carbohydrates aren’t metabolized as they should be, which leads to a higher concentration of blood glucose.

As Dr. Joel Fuhrman says, “In the case of white potatoes, the literature is still incomplete, but it is clear that a large variety of more healthful carbohydrate sources exist, and that these options should be emphasized, especially in those who are obese and/or diabetic.”

For those who are not healthy or at an optimal weight, he advises eating fewer potatoes and more beans, greens, cauliflower, mushrooms, and onions.

What Nutrients Do You Get When You Eat a Potato?


While different types of potatoes have different nutritional profiles, they all share certain health benefits, including:

  • Potatoes are high in antioxidants. Some potatoes have more antioxidants than others, but all potatoes contain carotenoids, a class of plant pigments that protect against chronic disease and inflammation.
  • Potatoes may help with digestion. Potatoes contain resistant starch, a particular kind of starch that isn’t broken down by the small intestine. Instead, it reaches the large intestine and feeds your body’s beneficial bacteria. When resistant starch reaches the large intestine, your body’s beneficial bacteria turn it into short-chain fatty acids such as butyrate. A 2011 study published in the World Journal of Gastroenterology found that butyrate can help protect against colon cancer and reduce inflammation in the colon.
  • Potatoes may aid bone health. The minerals iron, phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, and zinc in potatoes help the body build and maintain bone structure and strength. Keep in mind, however, that most of the minerals are in the potato skin and are lost if you peel them.

The russet is by far the most widely eaten potato in North America, and it’s definitely not the most nutritious spud out there. Even so, one medium, baked russet potato with its skin intact contains:

Types of Potatoes and Their Different Health Benefits


Potatoes are a diverse bunch. More than 200 different varieties of these starchy veggies are sold in the U.S., with more than 4,000 existing in the wild.

Each type of potato boasts different health benefits. Here’s more information on some of the more popular potato varieties:

  • Yellow (Yukon) potatoes. Yukon Gold potatoes are a cross between a North American white potato and a wild, yellow South American potato. They have a similar nutritional profile to white potatoes and russets.
  • Red Potatoes. These rosy-hued varieties have a thin skin that’s packed with antioxidants and other nutrients. A 2004 review published in the journal Plant Soil and Environment found that red-skinned (and purple) potatoes have two to three times more antioxidant potential than white potatoes. Their red color also means that these potatoes contain anthocyanins, a specific pigment that’s been shown to improve visual and neurological health, protect against various diseases, and lower LDL (bad) cholesterol.
  • Purple and blue potatoes. A 2011 study published in The Journal of Nutrition found that purple potatoes significantly decreased both inflammation and DNA damage in healthy males. Another study published in 2012 in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that within hours of consumption, violet-hued potatoes increased the antioxidant capacity of the bloodstream. Researchers concluded that purple potatoes lower the risk of heart disease and stroke in patients with hypertension without causing weight gain.
  • Sweet potatoes. Surprise! Sweet potatoes actually aren’t in the potato family at all. They’re dicots — a family of flowering plants that also includes morning glories. Sweet potatoes are incredibly nutrient-dense and have anti-cancer, antidiabetic, and anti-inflammatory properties. They contain vitamins A, C, B6, B5, potassium, and manganese.
  • GMO potatoes. In 2015, a genetically modified “Innate” potato was approved by the USDA and FDA. The company, J. R. Simplot, created the potato primarily to resist bruising and browning. They might make sense if, while slicing potatoes, you’ve felt a great need for a high tech way to avoid ever having to cut bruises out of potatoes again.

Editor’s note: Potatoes are on the Environmental Working Group’s “dirty dozen” list of the most pesticide-contaminated foods. So if you want to reduce your exposure to pesticides and GMOs, look for potatoes labeled 100% organic or non-GMO. (See the difference between organic and non-GMO here.)

What Matters Most If You Want to Eat Potatoes?

A large body of evidence tells us that for most people, potatoes (and especially sweet potatoes) can make a valuable contribution to a healthy diet. But a potato’s preparation is what makes it a healthy or unhealthy choice.

A 2017 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that eating fried potatoes two or more times per week doubled the risk of death.

Processed foods, like potato chips, are full of unhealthy fat and huge amounts of sodium. And when people eat baked potatoes and mashed potatoes, they often use lots of butter, salt, and other unhealthy ingredients.

How to Enjoy Potatoes the Healthy Way

When it comes to lowering your glycemic load and maximizing your nutritional profile, sweet potatoes are the clear winner. And whichever type of potato you eat, the best way to maximize the health potential of potatoes is to eat them whole with the skin on.

If you’re looking for something lighter and more nutritious to put on your potatoes, here are some healthier toppers to try on your baked potato or sweet potato:

  • Use salsa instead of sour cream. Use this healthy, tomato-based mix to top your potato instead of sour cream. It adds a spicy kick, and there are only 17 calories in a ¼ cup.
  • Add nutritional yeast to boost the protein and nutrients. Instead of cheese, opt for this cheesy-tasting, savory, nutrient-dense topping.
  • Make it a meal with vegetarian chili. While chili-topped baked potatoes are a classic favorite, traditional beef chili has all the problems that typically come with modern meat. Try this recipe for Loaded Veggie Chili from Veggie Quest and fill up on beans, onions, and bell peppers, instead!

5 Healthy, Plant-Powered Potato Recipes That Keep the Nutrients Intact

1) Plant-Based Potato Salad

Made with a variety of fresh, crunchy veggies, this potato salad is creamy (without traditional mayo) and is perfect for a potluck.

Get the recipe here (from Nora Cooks)

Photo Courtesy of Nora Cooks

2) Smashed Potatoes

This comfort food dish is made healthy, with a satisfying flavor, and uses potatoes with the skin intact.

Get the recipe here (from Plants-Rule)

3) Curry Potato Stew

Creamy and comforting, this stew is nourishing and delicious. It’s also packed with immune-boosting, disease-fighting nutrients — making it perfect for colder weather.

Get the recipe here (from Katie Mae at Plantz St.)

4) Southwestern Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

Load up nutrient-packed sweet potatoes with beans, cabbage, avocado and other healthy ingredients to create a flavor-packed meal.

Get the recipe here (from Katie Mae at Plantz St.)

Photo Courtesy of Katie Mae at Plantz St.

5) Purple Potato Breakfast Hash

To maximize your antioxidant quotient, try this colorful breakfast hash that uses purple potatoes, rosemary, sage, eggplant, and onion.

Get the recipe here (from Plants-Rule)

A Final Concern: What’s the Deal with Green Potatoes?

Keep potatoes around long enough, and the spuds will start turning green (thanks to chlorophyll) and grow sprouts.

The question is: Are potatoes safe to eat when they’re green and have sprouts?

While chlorophyll itself is harmless, it can indicate the presence of solanine, a toxin which protects the potato against insects, bacteria, and other threats.

While all potatoes contain small amounts of solanine, green potatoes produce more.

The consumption of high levels of this toxin can cause cell damage and intestinal issues in humans.

While you can’t tell solanine concentration just by looking at a potato, it’s likely that the greener the potato, the more solanine it contains.

Cooking doesn’t reduce solanine levels, but you can cut the green parts out and remove the sprouts. Peeling a green potato can also reduce its solanine levels, but if a potato is very green or tastes bitter, it’s best to avoid eating it for safety’s sake!

To prevent your potatoes from turning green, store them in a dark, cool place.

The Bottom Line: Are Potatoes Healthy?

Colorful potatoes, such as purple potatoes and sweet potatoes, have the most nutrients. And if the Okinawans are any indication, they can make a considerable contribution to your long-term health.

However, if you are diabetic or struggling with weight issues, you may want to limit your intake of white or russet potatoes. For most people, whole potatoes (especially sweet potatoes) can make a valuable and affordable contribution to a healthy, balanced diet. But no matter how you eat them, it’s best to avoid them fried, processed, or covered in unhealthy toppings.

Tell us in the comments:

  • Do you still have questions about potatoes?

  • What are your favorite types of potatoes? And how do you like to prepare them?


Read Next:

  • GBOMBS — The healthiest foods on the planet you should be eating to prevent disease and thrive

Michael Gray/iStock/Getty Images

Red potatoes are the workhorses of the potato world. As a rule, red varieties are low in starch, so they tend toward waxy and dense rather than airy and fluffy in texture once cooked. Red potatoes retain both their color and shape when cooked, although their hue can fade if held too long in storage.

New Potatoes

Sometimes various varieties of round red potatoes are sold under the moniker “new potatoes,” especially in the spring. However, technically speaking a new potato can be of any variety, red-skinned or not; its defining characteristic is that it’s freshly harvested and incompletely cured, unlike winter “storage” potatoes. Quite high in moisture, new potatoes are well suited for roasting, boiling or steaming. Try them in a spring potato salad as well, and leave their thin and delicate skins on.

Red Peel, White or Yellow Flesh

Most red potatoes have white, off-white or yellow flesh inside. Red Bliss potatoes are denser and low-moisture compared with other red varieties. Red gold potatoes have yellow flesh and red skin, a particularly striking combination. Other red-skinned varieties include red la soda, Dakota rose, Dakota jewel, red cloud and Norland. These potatoes are low in starch and high in moisture, and have a creamy, mildly sweet flavor. Red potatoes are highly versatile and hold their shape well when cut; use them in soups or stews, roast or boil them for a side dish, prepare a gratin or turn them into potato salad. You can also mash red potatoes, but it’s best to aim for a rustic and lumpy mash rather than a silkier texture better achieved with a higher-starch variety.

All Red

A handful of varieties of potato possess not only red skin but pink flesh. Cranberry — also known as all-red — is one such variety. The variegated pink and white flesh retains its color after it’s cooked, making for a striking presentation. You can utilize these potatoes the way you would any other red-skinned variety, but try all-reds in a potato salad to truly showcase their bright hue.


Fingerlings are a type of potato named for their shape — the potatoes are long and narrow, looking a little like fingers, rather than round or oval in shape. Like other red potatoes, red fingerling varieties hold their shape well and are low in starch. Varieties include rose Finn apple, red thumb, French and ruby crescent. Their flavor is nuttier and less sweet than other red potatoes. One of the best ways to utilize fingerlings is to simply roast them whole; their slender shape speeds cooking time. You can also try cutting them into long slices and roasting them this way. You can also cut them into segments and add them to soups and stews.

The Cookful

by Kevin Kessler 1 comment ”

How Many Types of Potatoes are There?

Just how many types of potatoes are there? We’re covering the different types of potatoes out there so you can choose the right potato with confidence.

There are over 200 kinds of potatoes sold in the United States but all these diverse starches fit into one of seven categories. What are these seven tent poles of the potato world, and what dishes are they perfect for?

1. Russet Potatoes

These are probably the most common form of potato. When someone mentions potatoes you usually think of medium-to-large oval shaped brown potatoes with netted skin. Those are russet potatoes.

Russets are a floury potato with a light and fluffy texture. The skin becomes chewy when cooked. These are commonly used for baked, mashed and roasted potatoes.

2. Red Potatoes

Another common addition to most dinner tables, red potatoes are waxy, which means they have cells that stay together when cooked. When sliced into chunks they will retain their shape and not break up, even when boiled.

This small, smooth, round potato with thin red skin has a creamy moist texture with a subtly sweet flavor. Red potatoes are perfect for salads, soups, stews and roasting.

3. White Potatoes

White potatoes get their name from the white coloring of their skin and flesh. This mild, low sugar medium starch is slightly dense with a thin delicate skin. Much like russet potatoes, whites are perfect for mashing. They also can be used well in salads and are perfect for steaming, boiling and frying.

4. Yellow Potatoes

Yellow potatoes are waxy, velvety and moist. These marble to large-sized potatoes have a buttery flavor with a very subtle sweetness. Their crispy skin can enhance the dense flesh which, combined with a creamy texture, lessens the need for butter. Yellow potatoes are perfect for dishes that involve grilling and roasting.

5. Purple Potatoes

Purple potatoes are waxy and moist with firm flesh. Their name is derived from their deep purple skin and matching lavender flesh. They have an earthy, nutty flavor with low sugar content. They’re perfect for grilling, baking and roasting.

6. Fingerling Potatoes

Fingerling potatoes range in size from two to four inches and are shaped like a human finger. They’re waxy and firm with red, orange, purple or white skin. The flesh of this potato is very diverse, ranging from red orange to purple, yellow or white. Veins of color are also sometimes streaked along the flesh. These are very popular for pan-frying and roasting.

7. Petite Potatoes

These little guys get their name from their teeny tiny size. These aren’t actually a type of potato, but a classification of size. Smaller potatoes of the other six categories are classified as petites. Their flavors tend to be more concentrated than their larger sized counterparts and are perfect for salads, roasting and frying.

last updated on October 1, 2019

Kevin Kessler

Kevin J. Kessler is an experienced professional writer and published author living in Orlando, Florida. With a lifelong passion for food, this sandwich loving Italian boy enjoys exploring unanswered questions about the foods we all know and love so well. Kevin’s foodie lifestyle was born through his love of Walt Disney World and the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival. A lover of stories, he enjoys trying new dishes from all over the world and learning everything there is to know about where food comes from, how its prepared, and what variations on it exist.

Types of Potatoes

  • Fingerling potato: With thin, tender skins and small size, fingerling potatoes are not new potatoes. Rather, they are cultivars of potatoes—often of heritage varieties—bred to naturally grow to only a small size and narrow width. Unlike new potatoes, fingerlings are harvested at maturity, which means that they have time to develop more complexity of flavor—sometimes described as “nutty”—and that they store well. You can find them in a variety of colors, including yellow, orange, red, blue/purple, and of course white. Popular varieties include the Russian Banana, French (orange skin), Butterfinger, Purple Peruvian, Red Thumb and the LaRatte.

  • Finnish yellow wax potato: This waxy potato has deep yellow flesh. Its rich taste and “buttery” appearance may convince you to forgo butter.
  • Long russet potato: Typified by the Russet Burbank, these are the favorites among baking potatoes and are the leading variety grown. Most “Idaho” baking potatoes are Russet Burbanks. These large, oval-shaped potatoes, which can weigh up to 18 ounces each, have a hard brown skin and starchy flesh. Typical of a russet is a fine netting pattern over the skin called “russeting.”
  • Long white potato: The White Rose is one of the better-known varieties of all-purpose potatoes. When new, they are thin-skinned and waxy; when mature, they are starchy and weigh an average of half a pound.
  • Marble potato: These are tiny (yes, marble-sized) potatoes. They are very small versions of one or another of the round red or round white potato varieties.
  • Round red potato: These red, smooth-skinned boiling potatoes, notably the Red LaSoda and Red Pontiac, are most commonly sold “new” or small. But they are also available in larger sizes.
  • Round white potato: The Katahdin (the principal variety grown in Maine) and the Kennebec are representative of these multipurpose potatoes. They have a light tan skin and are smaller than the long whites, averaging three per pound.
  • Yukon gold potato: These are yellow-fleshed all-purpose potatoes, fine for baking or boiling.

Click here to learn how to store potatoes safely.

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