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Which Potatoes Work Best for Mashing, Frying, and Roasting?

A rustic burlap bag on a wood table, filled with different varieties of potatoes.

Whether it’s the soul-satisfying drizzle of warm gravy on your mashed taters or the crowd-pleasing French fries you love most, potatoes come in all yummy forms. However, not all spuds are created equal.

Potatoes are a fantastic go-to ingredient for soups, stews, and taste amazing roasted or fried. But before cooking up these healthy high-carb delights, it’s good to know that some potatoes work better than others, depending on what you are making.

With the holidays right around the corner, we’ll teach you how potatoes work and which to choose for the best results every time. So let’s grab a sharp peeler or fry cutter and dig in.

Starchy Potatoes: For French Fries and Mashing

Starchy potatoes like russet, Idaho, and sweet potatoes are best used for dry cooking like roasting and baking. Russets and Idahos tend to fall apart when boiled because the starches harden and expand, so avoid using them for soups, stews, and curries. If you are looking for the perfect potatoes for French fries, russets are the way to go.

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These superabsorbent potatoes are the perfect candidate for mashed potatoes, especially if you hope for a super fluffy side dish. If you’ve always wanted to learn the trick to perfect mashers, check out these steps to mastering mashed potatoes. 

Waxy Potatoes: Great in Potato Salads and Soups

Waxy potatoes have a low starch content, and they are high in moisture. This means (unlike starchy spuds), they hold shape when cooked.

Various casseroles, potato salads, and chowders are all dishes that work best with waxy potatoes. Varieties include fingerlings, red bliss, or new potatoes. In short, if you need the potato to stand up to the abuse of cooking or getting mixed around with other ingredients and still maintain its shape, waxy potatoes are the way to go.

All-Purpose Potatoes: All-Around Great

All-purpose potatoes are the perfect in-between spud as they are semi-starchy and semi-waxy. They maintain shape when boiled, make fantastic mashed potatoes, and do well fried, grated, or smashed. They are pretty much the holy grail of versatile tubers.

Whether you are making corn chowder for the first time or giving latkes a try this holiday season, all-purpose potatoes get the job done. Next time you need a pound for a recipe, reach for Yukon golds, whites potatoes, or purple potatoes.

The potato spectrum isn’t too complicated—but when in doubt, go all-purpose.

Emilee Unterkoefler Emilee Unterkoefler
Emilee Unterkoefler is a freelance food writer, hiking enthusiast, and mama with over ten years of experience working in the food industry. Read Full Bio »
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