Which Potato Do I Use?

No need for bewilderment in the potato aisle. This easy guide will have you shopping for the right potato for your recipe with confidence.

No need for bewilderment in the potato aisle. This easy guide will have you shopping for the right potato for your recipe with confidence.

Potatoes are a regular part of the average American diet. We’ve already learned that there are over 200 different varieties of potato fitting into seven different groups, and sometimes it’s difficult to choose between them.

As we mentioned in our post about the different types of potatoes, specific potatoes work best with certain types of preparations. This is based on their texture and flavor and whether they are floury (their cells separate when cooked, making them fluffy and light) or waxy (their cells stay together when cooked, maintaining their original shape).

I’ve chosen four common potato based foods to focus on today. While I won’t be going through recipes for each, I will give you my opinion on which variety of potato is the best for that particular dish.

1. Which Potato Goes With French Fries?

Ah, French fries. Everyone’s favorite side dish. These perfect accompanying starches need to be crispy on the outside but light and fluffy on the inside. I’ve always found that russet potatoes work best for this.

Russets are the most common form of American potato. Usually, when you mention potatoes to someone they will picture the russet’s brown coloring and oblong shape. As a floury potato, it creates that signature fluffiness when cooked. Their delicate flavor also goes well with a variety of toppings like ketchup or gravy.

2. Which Potato Goes With Potato Salad?

Potato salad is a summertime favorite. This creamy cold dish is a perfect side at any barbecue. I love potato salad made with red potatoes.

Reds can be used to create a tender but firm salad. Their high moisture content also gives them a pleasing texture while cold. Keeping the signature red skin on the potato helps to keep its subtly sweet taste. The waxy flesh of this versatile starch holds up well to chopping and tossing in dressing.

3. Which Potato Goes With Shepherd’s Pie?

This Irish dinner favorite is a full meal in one complete package. It combines meat with vegetables and a layer of fluffy mashed potatoes.

It is to russet potatoes that we turn once more for this easy to prepare meal. Their flavoring blends so well with the meat, vegetables and brown gravy often found in these recipes. Also, their floury nature makes them easy to mash by hand once they are peeled and cooked. I love when the potatoes found on a shepherd’s pie are as light and fluffy as possible. You only get that from russets.

4. Which Potato Goes With Soups and Stews?

Potatoes are a great addition to most chunky soups or stews, and my childhood favorite for these hearty hot dishes has always been red potatoes.

Russets are the exact wrong potato to go with here, as their high starch levels and low moisture do not take well to the soup and stew cooking process. They tend to soak up the liquid and lose their shape. Red potatoes (usually peeled) are perfect for this kind of meal. They maintain their shape and remain just firm enough to soak up the liquid to make for flavor soaked explosions of yummy delight with every bite.

So, what are your favorite potato dishes? What kind of potatoes do you use and why? Sound off and let us know!

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.