Types of Potatoes: Ultimate Guide to Different Kinds of Potatoes and Their Uses

Types of potatoes: Categories, Varieties, images

There are thousands of types of potatoes that come in all shapes and sizes. Some kinds of potatoes such as Russet or Idaho have a starchy texture and are good for mashing, frying, and baking. Other kinds of potato such as red varieties have a waxy feel and are good for boiling and serving in salads. Different colored potatoes such as the purple varieties are a type of potato that has even more health benefits than regular all-purpose potatoes.

Sweet potatoes such as the Japanese sweet potato (which has red skin) and Hannah sweet potato are actually not ‘true’ potatoes.

With around 4,000 varieties of potatoes to choose from, there should be a kind of potato to suit everyone’s taste. Potatoes (also called spuds) are also one of the most versatile root vegetables. You can enjoy many different types of potatoes mashed, boiled, baked, steamed, or fried.

Despite getting a bad rap due to their high carbohydrate content, potatoes are actually a good source of nutrients.

In this article, you will find out about the most popular types of potatoes available. You will also learn why these edible tubers are good for you.

Types of Potatoes (With Pictures and Names)

Varieties of potatoes (Solanum tuberosum) can be further classified into 3 main categories, depending on their texture when cooked. This is important information if you want to know how to select the best type of potato for your recipe.

Starchy types of potatoes

As their name suggests, varieties of starchy potatoes contain a lot of starch. Starchy potatoes such as Idaho Russet have a fluffy texture when cooked. This makes these “mealy” types of potatoes great for baking, mashing, frying, or boiling.

Waxy potatoes

Varieties of waxy potatoes have a lot less starch and more moisture than the starchy types of tubers. Because they have a firm flesh and hold their shape well after cooking, they are good for roasting, boiling, or making potato salads.

All-purpose types of potatoes

Varieties of potatoes that have medium levels of starch, sugar, and moisture are all-purpose potato types. Potato cultivars such as Yukon Gold and Marcy hold their shape well and have a fluffy texture when cooked. These kinds of all-purpose tubers are good for use in most recipes.

Types of Potatoes: Different Potato Varieties (With Pictures and Names)

Let’s look in more detail at a few of the thousands different kinds of potatoes that you can use for cooking:

Russet (Starchy Type of Potatoes)

russet potato picture

Type of potato: Russet potato

Russet potatoes (also called Idaho potatoes) are one of the most popular varieties of potatoes. These starchy potato types are fairly large and have an oval shape. The potatoes have dark “russet skin” that can be anywhere from light brown to dark brown in color.

When baked, boiled, or roasted, Russet potato varieties become light and fluffy. Russet potatoes are also one of the most popular and best types of potatoes to make French-fries with. (1)

Russet Idaho potatoes also make great mashed potatoes as they absorb milk and butter well.

The nutritional value of Russet potatoes is quite impressive. For example, one large baked Russet potato (300 g) with its skin contains 38.6 mg of vitamin C, which is 64% of your recommended daily intake (RDI). The potato also has over half of your vitamin B6 RDI and is rich in other B-group vitamins. (2)

Russet potatoes with their skins also contain 64 g of carbs, from which 7 g is dietary fiber. This means that eating one large baked potato gives you 28% of your daily fiber needs. Potatoes are also rich in potassium, magnesium, iron, calcium, manganese, and copper. (2)

There are nearly 200 varieties of Russet potatoes alone! (1)

Russet Burbank

Burbank Russet potatoes are the most popular Russet varieties. This “mealy” potato has white flesh that is covered with dark brown skin. Because they make such good fries, Burbanks are the kind of potato that many fast food outlets choose to use.

Ranger Russet

This large, oblong type of Idaho potato has brown skin and white flesh. Ranger Russets are harvested late in the season and are used mainly as baked potatoes or fries.

Umatilla Russet

Umatilla Russet potatoes are long and oblong with dark tan skin color and white to yellow flesh. These Russet potato varieties are popular kinds of potatoes for making frozen fries.

Sweet Potatoes and Yams (Starchy Potatoes)

yams sweet potato image

Sweet potato is not a ‘true’ potato

Sweet potatoes (Ipomoea batatas) are not a ‘true’ potato from the nightshade Solanum tuberosum variety. Types of sweet potatoes such as the Japanese sweet potato and Hannah sweet potato are starchy tubers from the Ipomoea batatas plant. Compared to regular potatoes, sweet potatoes have an irregular, long oblong shape. There are also hundreds of varieties of sweet potatoes that are cultivated in various countries.

Yams are another edible starchy tubers cultivated in many tropical and temperate regions with many cultivars. In some parts of the United States, yams are also referred to as sweet potatoes although they are not related. For example, some people refer to the Japanese sweet potato as Japanese yam.

The sweetest varieties of sweet potato are the kinds that have deep orange flesh. These are also the healthiest types of potatoes due to their high levels of antioxidants. Sweet potatoes are a unique starchy root vegetable that have anti-inflammatory, antioxidative, and anti-obesity properties. (3)

There are also varieties of sweet potato with white, yellow, purple, and even red flesh.

The most impressive nutritional aspect of sweet potatoes is their vitamin A content. One large baked sweet potato (180 g) contains a whopping 692% of your RDI of vitamin A. Sweet potatoes are also rich sources of vitamin C (59% of your RDI), vitamin B6 (26% of your RDI), potassium, (24% of your RDI, and manganese (45% of your RDI). (4)

A large sweet potato also contains 37 g of carbs, from which 6 grams are fiber and 11 grams are sugar.

Purple sweet potatoes are a healthy variety of “potato” to add to your diet due to anthocyanins in the vegetable. Anthocyanins are a type of antioxidant that give dark fruit and vegetables their color. (5)

sweet potato varieties

Sweet potato varieties: Beauregard, Jewel and purple

Beauregard variety of sweet potato

The red-skinned Beauregard type is the most widely cultivated sweet potato in the United States. This is an all-purpose sweet potato that is good for baking, mashing, frying or boiling. Beauregard sweet potatoes have bright orange flesh and a delicious sweet flavor.

Jewel sweet potato variety

Jewel varieties of sweet potatoes have an orange or copper-colored skin with deep orange flesh. Some people say that jewel sweet potatoes aren’t as tasty as the Beauregard varieties.

Purple sweet potatoes

Adding purple sweet potatoes to your meals adds nutrition, color, and plenty of flavor. Purple sweet potatoes have firm, purple-colored flesh that has an earthy sweet taste. You can use purple sweet potatoes to make fries, mashed potatoes, or baked sweet potatoes.

Learn about the many types of sweet potatoes.

Red Potatoes (Waxy Variety of Potato)

red potatoes picture

Type of potato: Red potato

Generally, red varieties of potatoes have less starch and are smaller than their starchy counterparts. Because these red varieties of potato hold together well when cooked, they are great for roasting or chopping up to put in salads.

Compared to Russet potatoes or all-purpose potatoes, red potatoes have a sweeter taste. If you cook them with their skins on, you will not only increase your fiber intake, but you will also add some vibrant color to your meal.

If you are looking to reduce your carb intake, then red potatoes may be healthier than Russet potatoes. The nutritional value of red potato varieties shows they have slightly fewer carbs and calories than starchy potatoes. As with most potato varieties, cooking and eating them with their red skins on gives you more vitamins, fiber, and nutrients than peeling them. (6)

Red Bliss waxy potatoes

The Red Bliss type of potato has smooth red skin that covers white flesh. Because the skin is fairly thin, you can cook and eat Red Bliss potatoes in their skins. Red Bliss varieties aren’t the best for making mashed potatoes as they are low in starch. They are great sliced, chopped, or diced in gratins or salads.

French Fingerlings

French Fingerlings are a type of red waxy potato that sometimes resemble the shape of large fat fingers. Their rose-colored smooth skin covers a yellowish-white flesh that has a distinct waxy feel to it. As with most waxy types of potatoes, French Fingerlings hold their shape well when baked, fried, boiled, or roasted.

Red Pontiac

The Red Pontiac is also called the Dakota Chief and is a delicious red variety of potato. This kind of red potato has dark red skin and white flesh. As with all types of potatoes, if you cook it with the skin on, be sure to thoroughly scrub the skin.

Red Norland

Red Norland potato varieties are small red types of potatoes with an oblong shape. These waxy potatoes go great in salads. There are also different types of Red Norlands depending on the skin color. For example, the Dark Red Norland is a popular type of this red-skinned potato.

White Potato (All-Purpose Kind of Potato)

white potatoes pictures

Type of potato: White potato

Due to their versatility, white potatoes are popular kinds of potatoes to use. White potatoes are good to use in a wide range of cooking.

Unlike Russet potatoes, white potatoes have light-colored skin and lower levels of starch. However, they still have enough starch to make these tubers good for mashing, boiling, steaming, baking, and roasting.

Comparing white potatoes with red potatoes and Russet varieties, they have similar nutritional content. For example, 100 g of baked white potatoes has 21 grams of carbs, the same number as Russets. As with all potato varieties, all-purpose potatoes are good sources of vitamins, mineral, and fiber when eaten along with their skins. (7)

Yukon Gold potatoes

Yukon Gold varieties have yellow flesh

Yukon Gold potato has yellow flesh

For potato lovers, Yukon Gold varieties have yellow flesh and are the perfect type of potato for cooking with. Yukon Gold potatoes have a good balance of starch and moisture. They have enough starch to make them light and fluffy when cooked but still retain some sweetness. These potato varieties are good for boiling, steaming, roasting, and baking.

Marcy Potato

The Marcy potato is another good, all around potato that is good in a wide range of recipes. Marcy tubers have an oval shape that is slightly flattened. The skin is light compared to Russet potatoes and the fleshy is a light-yellow color.

All-Purpose Pike Potato

Pike potatoes are one of the most commonly used potatoes to make potato chips. Pike potato tubers are round and their light skin color has a flaky surface.

Superior Potato

This white “superior” potato variety has a very light-colored skin that covers white flesh. Superior potatoes have a very high yield, making them a popular variety of all-purpose potato.

White Rose

Sometimes called the American Giant, the White Rose type of potato is a large, long white potato that has a high yield. These white-fleshed potatoes have a relatively low starch content and waxy texture. They are good for boiling then combining with milk and butter to make a delicious creamy mash.

Purple Potatoes (All-Purpose)

purple potatoes image

Type of potato: Purple potato

Purple potatoes are an extremely healthy type of potato that has all the nutritional value of regular potatoes. However, the high levels of anthocyanins in this potato variety makes it a rich source of antioxidants. This makes purple potatoes one of the healthiest types of potato you can eat.

Research has found that the antioxidant levels in purple tubers depend on their different colors. For example, dark purple or black potato varieties have more anthocyanins than the lighter shades of purple potatoes. (8)

Purple potatoes are a rare type of potato to see on a dinner plate. If you have never tried a purple variety of potato, you may be pleasantly surprised by its flavor and color. The purple flesh will also be a great talking point at your meal.

Adirondack Blue: A Type of Purple Potato

blue potato picture

Adirondack varieties of purple potatoes

Adirondack varieties of purple potatoes are oval or pear-shaped and their skin and flesh have a blue-purple color. You can use these varieties of purple tubers to make purple mash, chips, fries, baked potatoes, or in salads. Unlike some other purple potato varieties, these potatoes retain their purple color during cooking.

Violette potato

purple type of potato

Violette potato

This is a variety of blue-purple potato cultivated in France and used in gourmet French cuisine. This type of elongated purple potatoes have a dark purple almost black skin and dark purple flesh. Their skin is thick and they keep their shape well. They retain their purple color in cooking and have a nutty flavor.

New Potatoes

Sometimes referred to as “baby potatoes,” new potatoes are a younger type of full-grown potatoes. New potatoes are generally available from April to July. Because they are a younger variety of potato, the starch hasn’t had time to form. This means that new potatoes are sweeter and less starchy than other types of potatoes.

The best way to enjoy new “baby” potatoes is to boil them whole for 10 minutes and add some butter or olive oil. You can use new potatoes as a delicious side dish or in a potato salad.

What are Fingerling Types of Potatoes?

type of small potato

Fingerling potato has small, long oblong shape

Fingerlings are an unusual type of potato due to their small, long oblong shape and slightly curled end. There are a number of varieties of fingerlings that come in white, red, and yellow-skinned varieties. Due to their strange shape and knobby features, many people call these weird potatoes.

Some popular type of fingerlings including French Fingerling, Russian Banana, Swedish Peanut Fingerling, and the Rose Finn Apple.

What are Petite Kinds of Potatoes?

As their name suggests, petite potatoes are types of tubers that are small in size. Because they are small varieties of potatoes, they cook quicker. The skin and flesh color of petite potatoes are similar to other kinds of potatoes.

How to Select the Right Kind of Potato

Choosing the perfect kind of potato for your recipe depends on the variety of potato. So, which are the best potatoes to use when cooking?

If you want to create delicious healthy baked potatoes or mashed potatoes, then Russets or white potatoes are the best. These potatoes are great for baking or boiling due to their high starch content. Starchy types of potatoes tend to lose their shape and become fluffy when cooked.

The best variety of potato for salads, soups, and stews are types of waxy potatoes that retain their shape. Some people love to use new potatoes in early summer as part of a delicious, healthy salad. Other types of red waxy potatoes are excellent for adding to other dishes if you want the cubes, slices, or chunks to hold their shape.

potato pictures

Potato preparation in various ways – clockwise from top left: baked, mashed, fried, grilled

How to Store Potatoes

It is important to store potatoes properly to prevent them from going bad or developing toxins.

Potatoes are a member of the nightshade family and will turn green if stored in bright conditions. The green color is a toxic chemical called solanine that develops when exposed to light.

The best way to store potatoes is in a cool dark area between 50°F and 65°F (10°C and °C 18°C). Storing potatoes in temperatures lower than 40°F (4°C) causes the starch to turn into sugar. This results in a sweeter type of potato; however, they may burn easier if you fry them or turn gray during cooking. That is one reason not to store potatoes in the refrigerator.

Read more: Types of Sweet Potatoes: Japanese, Hannah, Jersey and More